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I would like to start riding gravel rally events like these:

http://www.dirtyboar.be/

https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/

So far the maximum I did like this was about 3 days doing 60 km a day on similar terrain. I feel I could have done more, but not 100% sure on how I would end up if I did 200 km straight.

So my question is, how should one train for these kind of events before signing up?

  • How much time do you have to allocate per week to training? – Criggie Sep 27 '17 at 9:07
  • What's your aim - to place in the top three (ie a podium finish for your age group) or just to complete the course? – Criggie Sep 27 '17 at 9:08
  • How many km have you ridden in the last week, last month, and last year? What percentage of that was "gravel" similar to the events? – Criggie Sep 27 '17 at 9:08
  • I just want to be able to finish it and not die afterwards, so basically to have fun doing it. I don't have experience with gravel, I ride my bike to work 12km each way everyday and I ride on the weekends, day tours on gravel/off road. During summer I do one 3 day tour every month, but that is mostly on paved cycleways with about 20kg of luggage + food, we do an average of 200 km for those 3 days. I don't really feel tired afterwards. – simao Sep 27 '17 at 9:25
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I suggest given your goals (finish and enjoy) you can train for fitness largely on road, but try to get out and train on gravel whenever you can.

I've had some fun on my tourer on gravel tracks recently and can say that it's well worth getting in some practice on that surface, in a range of conditions -- the bike will handle very differently. You should choose your gravel tyres soon and use them for practice (there's no real harm in leaving them on for on-road training in your case).

Luckily your goals are compatible with not having much chance to ride the course in advance, as it looks like you're planning to travel to at least one of the events. Also the Dirty Boar doesn't permit riding in advance as they've got special permission for some of the route.

In your position I could be quite tempted to sign up for the 130km version and just go for it with only enough specific training to try out your gravel tyres (and bike?) on gravel.

  • In fact if it wasn't the other end of the country I'd probably follow my last paragraph myself. It looks like fun. – Chris H Sep 27 '17 at 12:43
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The main tricks/techniques for completing a race or course are

  • knowing how to pace yourself for the whole distance so you don't burn yourself out before halfway.
  • knowing the course so you know what's about to come up and be ready for it. IE have a gel 10 minutes before a climb starts, or where a specifically steep grade might surprise you, or which corners you can take faster and which corners have to be a bit more restrained.

So the best training you can do is to ride the planned routes before hand. That gives you all the knowledge you need of the course.

If the route is a one-way trip then consider riding the first half then turn around, and some later week drive to the end, ride back to halfway and finish the rest.

Riding the course the wrong way is almost as useful as riding it forward.

Since you don't have a lot of experience with gravel, you need to practice ON gravel or similar. Try and find some road or track near you that replicates the conditions found in the race route. There's little point riding sealed road or mud if they are not like the course.

That said, if the weather could make it poggy, having mud practice could be beneficial.

Try and get at least one ride in each weekend, and an endurance-style ride in the week (perhaps on the way home from work?)

  • I cannot ride the courses because I'll need to travel, but I will try to find similar courses. Thanks for your answer – simao Sep 28 '17 at 8:21

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