Gravel Racing – what are we getting into

In the good ol’ USA they can’t afford to tarmac all their roads, so they have thousands of miles of gravel road. Racing big distances on these tracks has taken off as the next cycling niche over there. Bored with 29’ers, and fat bikes, manufacturers need a new excuse to sell another bike so they are getting interested too. Wise man of the South Charlie explains.

If that happened in the UK it would probably be called “Endurance Cross”  and where would the distance come from, big forests in Wales, Kielder or Scotland probably. Maybe the way our councils can’t afford to repair back roads it could be we all need a Burly Cross bike in the garage.

Gravel fire roads in our forests don’t strike me as being the graded gravel tracks of the states. A 100 mile rides on these in a Welsh forest would be brutal. Kona Rove and Dirty Disco

Thanks to Wildcat Gear (who is that handsome dude in the banner pictures 😉 )  and BearBones we have a chance to find out. The Gravel100 and the Bear Bones 2 Ton O’ Gravel  are here, and those are big British statute numbers of pain.

Entries are in for me in the 200 and Ravy Davy for the 100, now the fun starts. What bike and what tyres for shedloads of Fire road. Will it become yet another big mountainbike ride, or will an established faster way to eat the miles appear. Good luck to anyone on 30mm tyres and big gearing, this route is going to break bodies I reckon.

Two big routes

Running clockwise from the Start dot the yellow track is common to both routes. Then it’s onto the full Red loop of the 200 route before finishing off on the final yellow section.

It’s an unsupported ITT (independent time trial) event, and as the rules say, if you get lost your just going to have to get un-lost.

We are going to need some big training rides as I think finishing within 24 hours might be a realistic target.

If it took me 10 hours to do the Kielder 100 flat out with support, double that and add 10 hours of darkness and it might even be a touch optimistic.

Finishing will be challenge enough, but the fun for me comes in the planning and bike building, while getting in some big training miles.

Hope you’ll follow our progress and see how we get on.


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