UCI Gravel Worlds: Getting to the start is the hardest part

How I tried making it to the World Championships gravel racing.

So, my buddy Jan, who used to be a world champ on the track, asked me back in May to join a gravel race in Drenthe, The Netherlands. He said, “Hey, it’s a chance to qualify for the World Championships gravel.” He had already qualified a few months earlier at another event in Limburg. To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I thought, “Why not?” So, I coughed up 60 bucks and waited for more info. It came a bit later. The Gravel One Fifty is a 150-kilometer race, and let me tell you, it wasn’t a walk in the park. I scouted the course two weeks before the race and quickly realized that 45mm tires would’ve been a good idea.

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French Winter Gravel

Why did I say yes in the first place?

In January my buddy and I rode Gravelman Paris – a 350 km gravel race around Paris with start and finish close to l’Arc de Triomphe. They call it a race but that’s not really what it is. Riders can start from Thursday 5.30 am and have until Sunday 11 am to finish. A little 200 km is gravel, the other 150 km is asphalt. One rider actually approached it as a race, and finished within 25 hours, including 4 ‘inactive’ hours. He rode an average of 16.8 km/hr.

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