Please welcome back Dave, who is training for a 60-mile gravel ride with over 7,000 feet in elevation gain. Dave is the marketing manager at Big Peach Running Co. in Atlanta, Georgia. While he usually works from home, he is busy managing 9 different locations. Dave has been running for years but only recently decided to sign up for a gravel bike ride. You can read our introduction to Dave and his gravel race training in this article.
How Is Your Gravel Race Training Going?
Preparation Outside of Training:
Being prepared for anything on race day is essential, or you won’t finish. Unlike running, you need a lot more gear to stay prepared in case something happens during the race. I’ve heard of getting flats and punctures or having other equipment issues, so I needed to learn new things and figure out what to bring on race day. For instance, you can lower tire pressure for more traction and improve comfort, which makes for a softer ride.
My bike is already set up with tubeless tires and sealant. The sealant helps with tiny punctures. It automatically seals those holes that you may not even realize are in your tire. However, the adhesive needs to be maintained, and it helps to add a few ounces every 3-4 months as the glue could dry up over time.
While the adhesive takes care of small holes, larger punctures are also possible. So having some tire plugs will help seal up the larger holes. I also needed a tool to push those into the tire. I bought a multi-tool from Crank Bros. that holds the plugs and has the means to make the pins, additional hex and Torx keys, and a chain tool. A multi-tool is always a good idea to take care of any roadside adjustments or repairs.
I also have a CO2 cartridge to fill up the tire if it goes flat. So having plans A, B, and C for any bike ride is good. I even have a spare tube as plan D! Best to be prepared and not have a DNF due to an issue that could have been prevented or repaired.
Weather in Atlanta:
The weather is just starting to feel good. The mornings are fantastic. We’ve still got some lows in the 40s, but the highs now hit the 70s to 80s in the afternoon.
However, we have gotten a good amount of rain, and it does seem like it happens on the weekends, so getting out on a gravel course to train hasn’t worked out. I’m trying to find a weekday to squeeze a half-day off from work and ride some gravel because most of my training has been indoors on the Wahoo Kickr and Zwift.
I’ve picked up a few things that have worked well for me. Most of my fuel is taken in liquid form using Tailwind. I’ve never had any stomach issues, and it seems to provide me with everything I need for those 1-2 hour rides.
Once I get over 2 hours, I start getting hungry and prefer something more solid. I will use Huma Gels and GU Stroopwafels and alternate between them along with water.
For the more challenging rides, especially after the race, I plan on using Tailwind Recovery. Every time I’ve used it, I feel like my legs recover faster than if I’m not using anything.
Has Your Gravel Race Training Changed at All?
It hasn’t changed except that the indoor sessions are longer and harder. I’m doing the Zwift Gran Fondo training plan, designed for a race typically 75–150 miles long.
There have been a few interval sessions where I’m above my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for a few minutes, which takes a lot out of me. The last interval is always the hardest, and I’ve had to adjust the resistance to get through the workout.
At this point, I’m about two weeks away from this race, and having not ridden the course and knowing that there will be 7,000 feet of elevation gain has me a bit worried. At the same time, I know I’m putting in the work, and if I’m conservative at the start and consistent in my effort, I can finish.
I won’t know how well I’ll do until I finish. But that’s why I signed up for this event; I need to find out what I can or can’t do to make changes for the next event.
Overall, my goal is to finish and have fun. I’ve seen nothing but a great community and vibe around gravel riding. I want to experience that for myself and maybe help someone else find that community as well.