You’re about to embark on a great adventure. Whether you’re going for a 25, 50, 100 or 200-mile DIY gravel quest, you will probably push a few boundaries. That’s why we are sharing our 7 golden gravel tips to ensure you don’t hit that wall before your cycling computer celebrates another ‘route completed.’
1. Test your gear!
Ensure you’ve tested all your gear before using it on the all-important riding day. Don’t start with brand-new tires, chains, cassettes or whatever. Instead, make sure you’ve done at least a one-hour chill spin the day before to determine whether you can rely on your rig. The same goes for nutrition, hydration or even stuff like bibs, water bottles or camel bags. We understand it’s pretty cool to show up in or with fresh, shiny gear. But what’s even cooler? Hitting that finish line.
2. Be well rested
Your form on riding day is the culmination of condition minus fatigue. If you’re following a training plan, which we hope you do through JOIN, follow the set taper period. This taper will also ensure your carbohydrate storages in the liver and muscles are completely topped off, as long as you keep eating properly. And hey, why not throw some extra carbs in during the run-up for REBOUND?
3. Keep your stops to a minimum
One of the rules of REBOUND is to keep the rest stops to a maximum of 2. But our added advice is to make sure those stops aren’t too long. Eating and drinking can be quickly done on the bike instead of when you’re resting. If, for example, you pedal for 10 minutes at 15 km/h while eating, you’ll still knock out a few km. If someone needs to close that gap while you speed up to 30km/h, he or she would need to ride at 35 km/h for 30 minutes, which is a big effort.
4. Eat, eat, eat
This event might come across as a cycling event, but it’s actually an eating contest. The aim here is to start eating right from the get-go, preferably glucose and fructose, in a 2:1 ratio. The most limiting factor in your performance will likely be the amount of carbs you’ve got left in your tank. You can empty the complete storage of approximately 600 grams within 60-90 minutes of near-threshold work, and you can only replenish this with about 90 grams an hour. For this, you’ll need to eat a lot and train enough to match your efforts. Especially for longer rides, this is the key to completing your challenge.
5. Hold your horses
Once your nutrition plan is dialed in, it’s all about pacing. Check if you’ve got your intensity right. Too intense for too long means you won’t be able to keep up with your nutrition. The solution is to preserve carbs as much as possible. For this, you must ride at an intensity where you mostly burn fat instead of carbs. For most mortals, this means staying under 80-85% of your threshold power/heart rate. Try to aim at an intensity below this at all the road sections, downhill blasts and tailwinds. That way, you will save carbs for a higher power uphill and on gravel sections.
6. Hydration is key
Hydrate with hypotonic or isotonic beverages instead of water. Research shows your body can take in hypotonic, such as some carbohydrates and electrolytes and isotonic, around 20-30g per 500ml bottle of carbs, drinks better than and faster than plain water or hypertonic beverages. With hypertonic beverages, reaching 90g of carbs per hour is more accessible, but you might end up dehydrated. Try to drink 500 to 750ml every hour depending on the weather conditions.
7. Party time!
Celebrate your achievement! Celebration is an integral part of every goal. Don’t only celebrate because REBOUD tells you to. Use this time to reflect on your journey. Keep yourself off the bike for a few days and consider your next challenge. This way, you will not end up in a monotonous routine that can lead to overtraining.
With these seven tips, you should be ready almost ready to go. But we saved the best for last. Of course.
For every big and challenging goal, you need a good plan. A plan that’s based on what you need as an individual, tailored to your availability, a plan that’s accessible and adaptive to changes in circumstances. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with our JOIN Cycling plans. Download the app and use the link below for a free subscription on our platform until REBOUND. And if REBOUND is already around the corner, then we still recommend you sign up, and we will set you up with an excellent offer after REBOUND to get you ready for your next goal.