So, I guess it's fairly well known one of my season targets is the 2019 Gravel Worlds.
So what are the Gravel Worlds?
It is a 240km race, almost all on gravel roads, with over 3,000 metres of climbing. Held in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA on the 17th of August it is a one day race.
Why am I doing this?
Its the world champs for gravel and I want to be the best gravel racer...in the world!
Does that mean I'll win? no...no it doesn't, I might not even finish let alone win.
Why is this?
- Firstly, I don't know the course and I've never ridden gravel in the US of A.
- We are travelling from the NZ winter to the USA summer so riding in the heat may/will be an issue.
- The competition. I've never raced gravel in the USA and I've no idea how fast anybody is. Al I do know is that the race record is around 7.5 hours. 240km in 7.5 hours on gravel = bloody fast!
- Lack of race training. its winter in NZ and racing has pretty much ground to a halt so the northern hemisphere riders will have more race fitness than yours truly.
What to do....
I'm not big on excuses, in fact I hate them so here's my coping strategies for the race.
- Course Homework
I've been swotting like a school nerd, I know the gravel runs way faster than NZ, I also know it's less corrugated, I have viewed pictures, You-Tube video's, been on Google Maps and even chatted to heaps of people who have done the race before. If I can ride NZ's 'rough-as-guts' gravel then I know I will love the gravel conditions in Nebraska.
Leaving the New Zealand winter to ride in the American late summer may/will be an issue. There's not much I can do here as I don't have a heat chamber, however I do have an Elite Smart Trainer, a well insulated garage and a Zwift account, so Tuesdays and Thursdays my training is on Zwift with no fan blowing away in an attempt to adapt to stifling heat... it's better than nothing!
- Race Nutrition
I'll be carrying a supply of Cramp Fix Gels for consumption before, and during, the race. I don't normally cramp but with the environmental changes its better to be safe than sorry.
- The Competition
Having never raced gravel in the USA I have no idea how fast anybody is or will be on the day. The race record is around 7.5 hours, so for 240km I know it will be quick. I also know that Neil Shirley and I used to be at similar levels when we were road pro's (That's only my opinion, he was probably better!). A down-side is that I have stopped racing professionally, gained some weight, broke 2 legs at once (No joke!) and lost my 'pro level'.However I've been on the 'GMC El Starvio' diet, training as hard as I can and I think I'm going okay, not pro level but ok. I also think that over 7.5 to 8 hours being able to have a 6 watts per kg threshold isn't as important, it's about being able to still pedal hard at the back end of the race when you are essentially toast.
- Lack of Racing
Obviously it's winter here in NZ and racing has pretty much ground to a halt, so the northern hemisphere riders will have more race fitness than your truly. My good friend Zwift comes back into play here, basically I just do all the races. I have also invested in a power meter again after a few years of not having one. At this stage of the NZ winter I'm the only person trying to hit a Mid Winter peak, so I'm my best competition, Strava KOM's also get the motor running well.
A couple of other personal things I'll be doing include;
Using a Top Tube bag on my 3T Exploro
As much as I hate them I want to keep stops to a minimum so I'm taking all my food from the start, water stops will be it for me.
Double Wrapping the Bars
Upper body fatigue should/will be kept to a minimum...hopefully.
Before I finish this blog I would like to thank my personal sponsors.
Daikin/Thermal Solutions - for my NZ funding.
Frezzor Supplements - Noel at Frezzor has been very generous and I wouldn't be heading to Gravel Worlds without his support.
Lastly, thanks to Cory and the crew from the Gravel Worlds themselves. Pammie and I are travelling a very long way for this event and they have been more than understanding and generous with their time in helping us with logistics, etc ... The beers after the race are on me!
So winning overall? That is the dream, the reality is maybe I can race for my age group...or maybe I'll just end up riding it out...time will tell.
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