Tips From a Pro: How to Approach a Gravel Race

By Tom Danielson, CINCH Cycling / CINCH Racing

How do I approach a GRAVEL RACE? …. or any endurance race for that matter including: Gran Fondos, Enduro Mountain Bike Races and Century Rides?

Last year, we competed in the Belgium Waffle Ride while we are sad to miss it this year. We have a couple of our athletes competing in the 2019 addition — from cyclists that have been riding for less than a year to some that probably could’ve been pro had they discovered cycling a little bit earlier in life. There’s something for all of our athletes to gain in this type of event.

It’s important to know the approach you are going to take before race day.  For an endurance event or gravel race such as this, there are two different approaches you can take.

The Steady-Eddy – LEAD WITH YOUR ZONES. Your strategy should center around your low threshold, medium, and endurance zones so this might mean not trying to go with the fastest guys in the beginning but instead matching the zones to your terrain and staying on top of your nutrition. Cut out the noise by focusing solely on yourself because you are responsible for getting YOU to the finish line. Self-awareness and pacing is the key to success with this proactive approach.

In It To Win It – LEAD WITH POSITIONING- you are focused on staying in the front especially in the beginning. This will mean carrying all the necessary equipment and nutrition with you.  There’s going to be a critical moment where the elastic in the race is going to spilt — and the universe will decide that for you- make sure you don’t decide it prematurely. Your objective should be going ALL IN to make a group towards the front. Realizing that once that group is established they will slow down and you can begin using your zones, nutrition, and strategy to do the best you can in the group you are in with more reactive approach overall. 

Both approaches are hard but the most important part is COMMITING to your approach prior to lining up at the start line. And no matter how you race it, you are going to have to dig deep to finish it. 



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