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Meet Dave: Training For His First 60-Mile Gravel Ride

Training for gravel ride

Please welcome Dave who is training for a gravel ride. This ride is 60 Miles and has over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. Dave is the marketing manager at Big Peach Running Co. in Atlanta, Georgia. While he generally works from home, with 9 locations he finds himself busy almost all of the time. Dave has been running for years, but it was only recently he decided to sign up for a gravel bike ride.

Location: Atlanta, GA

How did you get into sports?

I tried team sports (soccer, basketball, & football) in middle and high school but never made the team. It was in college that I went out for Crew, and since it was a club sport, I got on the team. It was the first time I did any training, which did include some running. I did that for a year because I couldn’t keep up with my classes while working through college.

After college, I started running 5Ks, but I wasn’t serious about it and never trained for it. It always hurt afterward, and I had knee pain. Running was always something I did off and on, and I even took ten years off after my second half marathon. It was when I was almost 40 that I started running regularly and learned how to train and commit to it.

Cycling has always been a part of my life, but just like running, there were times when that’s all I did (especially when I gave up running) and I did nothing. Typically, if I was running regularly, the bike gathered dust. Eventually, I got into triathlon and did my first Ironman 10 years ago.

How did you decide on a 60-mile gravel ride with 7,000 feet of elevation?

Have you always ridden gravel bikes?

What is your goal for the race?

I’m new to gravel cycling. I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos on various events, and I like the energy and the festival atmosphere. As someone who has done road cycling and mountain biking, gravel riding would be the best of both worlds. I purchased a used gravel bike a month ago and signed up for an event.

In Georgia, the 6 Gap Century is one of the toughest road events, and I’ve always hesitated to sign up because I would need to get better at descending on steep roads. 6 Gap announced their first-ever gravel ride, and I figured, why not. I’d be better off descending on a bike with disc brakes, and I don’t think the speed would be as fast as the road. As for the elevation, I know it’s a lot, but I don’t know what to expect.

Five years ago, I did a metric century on the road with about 6,600 feet of elevation. I remember that it was hard, but I finished. I surprised myself because I didn’t know what I was getting into or how difficult it would be. Sometimes I’ll sign up for something and purposefully not look at how difficult the course will be. That information can quickly lead to doubt and deter me from signing up.

I aim to finish, have a great time, enjoy a new experience, and remind myself that I can do difficult things.

What is a typical training week like for you?

I’m either only running or only cycling during the week. I use both to complement each other, keeping me from being bored. For the bike, I’m mostly riding indoors using Zwift. They have a  a six-week FTP building program that I recently finished. This program required that I cycle 4–5 times a week for about 100 miles. I went 2-–3 weeks without running. I also volunteer with the Atlanta Winter Bike League as a ride leader, which meets every other Saturday (depending on the weather) for rides over 3 hours or approximately 40–60 miles.

When taking a break from the bike, I usually do long runs (10–15 miles) either on the road or trail. I just remembered that I have a 30K trail race coming up. The events I sign up for are supposed to keep me motivated and focused on the training, but I guess it only works if I remember what I’m training for. LOL!

What do you do for work? Is it easy to make time for training?

I’m the Director of Marketing for Big Peach Running Co., a local running specialty store with 9 locations in the Atlanta area. I typically work from home, so finding the time to train is easier. I have my bike on a Wahoo Kickr in the basement and use Zwift, so it’s convenient to hop on the bike anytime.

Because of my area, the roads could be safer to run on. There are not a lot of sidewalks, and there can be a lot of traffic with speeds posted at 45 mph. So, I usually have to drive somewhere if I want a long run. I’m lucky to live about 6 miles from Stone Mountain Park, a great place to run around; plus, there’s a nice trail system to run off-road.

What are some struggles you’ve had?

The difficult part of working from home is that it’s almost always a 10-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job because that’s when the stores are open. I’m not required to work those hours, but I’ve always been a workaholic and feel guilty if I take time to train. It’s very easy to get caught answering another email or doing one more thing, and then my day is gone, and I’ve missed the opportunity to train.

I’ve had to put a mental stop time to the day to get my training in. For example, I do most of my Zwift training rides in the late afternoon/evening. So, I’ve set 5 p.m. as my stop time to disconnect from work. Once I’ve completed my training session, I can go back and check my email or even do some more work. It’s weird to think I can stop working, train, and then get back to work. I’m so used to work being a predetermined set of hours that you work. Once you’re done, it’s your time.

Anything else you want to add?

Everyone struggles with the mental part of training, especially the longer sessions. It’s easy to cut it short. Or I’m just bored and wish it was over. Cutting short a long bike ride or run is easy, especially if I rationalize that I have other more important things to do. Those things can include work projects or housework. Someone recently told me that this is called “microquitting,” and it can greatly affect the outcome of your training. So now, I remind myself not to “microquit.” 

Also, when I get tired or think I’m tired, I tell myself, “I can do hard things” to help push and motivate me. Overall, I’m not looking to compete or PR. My overall goal is to cross the finish line feeling like I challenged myself. This includes feeling like I accomplished something while experiencing something new. It’s one of the reasons why I no longer sign up for the same races.

Training for gravel ride
Training for gravel ride

Hollie is a runner, hiker, swimmer, residing in California. She has worked in run specialty for nearly 8 years and has fit hundreds of people for shoes. Outside of the running world, she enjoys the general aviation world, her two cats, and spending time with her spouse.