If you’re looking for a challenge on your road bike for 2019, and a story to tell at the end of a day’s bike racing, sign up for the Gravel and Tar Classic. This was one of our most challenging single days of cycling on the bike and had us puffed, exhausted and absolutely stoked at having taken on the task of some of the Manawatu’s most brutal roads.
The Slicks and Stones Gran Fondo, the UCI Men’s and Women’s Classics, all will be taking on the gravel that we took on when we lined up in Feilding to ride some 110km and 4 of the 5 gravel sections that make up next month’s Gravel and Tar Classic. Aided by Stephen Stannard, Thomas Stannard and Madi Hartley-Brown we were up against the roads, the mettle and the wind and it was certainly an eye opening experience.
For those who have never ridden gravel it is truly a whole different beast. The demand it places on the body, the concentration you have to put into simply staying upright, the element of luck (that didn’t always go our way on the day), all combine to a very memorable day out. The usual things that you would take into account on the day: food, hydration, equipment choice etc, become all the more important as you consider that although not an exceptionally long challenge, the gravel makes it feel more like 160+km.
You can’t just eat and drink where you feel like on the course. You can’t just attack the gravel freely. You must pick your line well and go hard. You must descend with more caution than you would on just about any other day. And you will get to the end of your ride spent but stoked at what you’ll have achieved.
To sign up for the Gravel and Tar Classic, the Slicks and Stones Gran Fondo, and to find out more go to gravelandtar.com.