If you’re a seasoned gravel grinder, a roadie who reckons they can mix it with the off-roaders or a mountain biker who dabbles with drop-bar fun, we’ve got an epic, super tough, doubleheader off-road challenge for you this summer and autumn.
First up, on the 26th of June, is the UK leg of the gravel tour with our Ridgeway in a day. Arguably the toughest single-day event we’ve ever put on, we’ve scheduled this 135km/1885m epic close to the summer solstice to give you as much daylight as possible to get the job done.
Having tackled the Ridgeway, it’s then off to the Alps on 16th-20th September for the 3-day Suisse Gravel Explorer. Although the three days of riding only tot up to 175km, you’ll be logging close to 6000m of ascent and topping out at 2000m altitude. You’ll either be tackling gruelling off-road Alpine climbs or flying down technical descents – there’s not a lot of flat to catch your breath!
So, what will it take to tick off both?
With the Ridgeway just seven weeks away, you need to be focussing on it now. Your weekend long ride should be at least four hours plus at this stage and you’ll be wanting to build up to six or seven hours (riding time that doesn’t include time sat in pubs and cafés!).
Don’t put off your long rides as you’ll also want a couple of weeks to taper down to ensure you’re rested, fresh and ready to roll.
Get off-road for as much of your training as possible.
A key part of those long rides is ensuring your fuelling and hydration strategies are nailed down. A nine-hour plus epic like the Ridgeway is as much about fuelling as fitness.
Don’t neglect your quality sessions during the week. Riding hard on technical trails is a great way to develop gravel-specific fitness.
Big gravel days are total body workouts so all-around robustness is essential. Off the bike conditioning, such as yoga and pilates, should be part of your plan.
You’ll want to give your body a really easy week to recover from the Ridgeway and then it’ll be just under 12 weeks until the Suisse Gravel Explorer.
Hold weekend rides at four or five hours but really go in search of climbing metres. The longer the climbs the better as you’ll be wanting to get used to continuous climbing for hours rather than minutes.
Schedule in a couple of double day weekends when you do big climbing days on back to back days.
Some indoor sessions where you tackle big virtual climbs can be a good way to get your legs used to a constant uphill load.
If you’re coming from a mostly road background, focus of developing your off-road skills as well as your engine.
The Ridgeway has some technical sections and, especially if it has been wet, you won’t be able to just muscle your way through.
If you’re tense and not relaxed when the going gets rough, you’re going to be wasting an awful lot of energy.
The best way to build your gravel skillset is to ride off-road. Challenge yourself technically when choosing routes rather than always riding the same trails.
A dedicated gravel steed is a must have for both of these events.
Think about your gearing and, for both, a 1:1 bottom gear or lower is recommended.
Tubeless means fewer ride halting punctures and the ability to run lower pressures for improved traction and a plusher ride. It’s really a no-brainer off road.
Keep an eye on the weather in the lead up to the Ridegway and, if it has been at all wet, you’re going to need some knobblies.
For the Suisse Gravel Explorer you can opt for something faster rolling but, for both, 38mm is the minimum tyre width you should go for.
As you taper your body in the final weeks before both events, show your bike some love too. You want to be 100% confident in your bike so book it in for a full pre-event service.
Become a Premium Hotchillee member today to access the exclusive Ridgeway event and you’ll also receive a 10% discount on the Suisse Gravel Explorer!
In the week of the summer solstice make the most of the daylight hours and tackle what is arguably the toughest single-day event we’ve ever laid on.
Throw in the technical challenge of riding the country’s oldest road and you have a gravel adventure worthy of the most seasoned off-road aficionado.
Explore the breathtaking Swiss Alps on gravel tracks, forest trails and silky smooth tarmac.
With some punchy climbs and grin inducing downhills this adventure’s not for beginners!
The Suisse Gravel Explorer 2022 has sold out. Join the waiting list to be contacted if cancelled places become available.