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When it comes to ultra-cycling and long-distance cycling events, it can be challenging to know what to do when it comes to your first. For many, the Gravalist events are often stepping stones up to bigger events, while for some, they are a one-hit challenge.

In this article, we want to share some top tips for helping you on that first 500 km Gravalist event. These will give you the best possible experience on our amazing courses which take meticulous planning.


Our Top Tips

Before we get into giving you these tips, it’s important to discuss that everyone is very different when it comes to these long-distance events. We all work in different ways and have our own unique styles of riding. 

So please take what you can away from these tips and adapt them to what you are doing already. Remember, it’s your journey, story, and adventure, and you take what you feel will benefit you the most. 

Practice Riding Loaded

One of the biggest mistakes we see many of our riders make is not being used to riding loaded. Although you might not think it, for 500 km, you need to carry much more than you might realize, and this not only adds extra weight but also changes the way the bike feels to ride. 

We highly recommend practising riding before these events, especially if you plan to take camping gear and sleep rough, as this can be 2 kilos extra that you will be carrying. It does make a difference, and taking the right amount of kit is a skill. 

Night Ride Confidently 

When it comes to our Gravalist events, we often get people turn up who have never ridden at night before, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Once you get used to riding at night, it is a wonderful experience and very peaceful.

Before an event, getting used to riding at night is really good. Not only is it going to make you feel more confident when the event comes around, but you will also learn about feeling tired, letting your eyes adjust, and being in remote locations when there’s just darkness. 


Train For Distance

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of continuing to train as you might for a fast two- or three-hour ride when this is the opposite of what you want at a Gravalist event. You are going to be riding at a very different pace and going much slower than you might think.

When it comes to training for Gravalist events, practice longer, slower-paced riding, get used to being on the bike for longer periods of time, and also get used to how it’s going to feel being off-road and shaken around for a lot of the ride. 

Embrace Your Nutrition And Hydration

When it comes to eating and drinking, it’s really easy to go wrong and end up getting dehydrated and malnutrition. Not only is this going to put you in a terrible mood, but it’s also going to make your performance suffer and your body really ache.

It’s good to go in with a strategy and when you know the right foods to get, how often to get them, and also ensure you're getting enough water and electrolytes to ensure that the muscles have everything they need. You can even set timers on modern Garmins. 


Understand There’s Highs And Lows

Long-distance cycling is not always easy, and during the adventure you're going on, you will experience many different emotions. Sometimes, there will be highs, and you will feel like you are on top of the world, and other times, you will want to give up.

It’s important to just appreciate there are going to be easy and tough times. The easy times, you have to embrace and remember the moments, the tough times you need to get through. Try not to quit the event early just because you’re having a tough time. This is all part of the adventure. 

Low Gearing Is Your Best Friend

We love riding gravel and are not shy of long rides off-road with loads of ups and downs. It’s not rare for us to see the largest gear on the cassette multiple times. This is fine if you are out on a short day's ride or race, but in a long-distance event, try and get your gearing lower.

The reason we say this is because after a day's riding, you are going to get fatigued, and those lower gears are going to be so important. We have never had a participant get to the end of an event and say, “I needed more higher gears.” They always say the opposite. For more information check out What To Expect On A Gravalist Event.


Race Or Tour

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of the legendary Gravalist riders make is not going in with a plan for the event. You should go in with the thoughts of being as quick as possible or enjoying the ride. Make your choice before you start. 

Riders who go in with the thoughts of racing and then switch to touring struggle because they have given so much at the start. People who start by touring and then go into racing always find themselves playing catch-up. Find out more here at Race Or Tour!

Embrace Every Moment

Many participants reach the end of an event and realize that it’s over and feel gutted. This is normal, and although reaching the end of an event is amazing, it does leave you feeling like you wish you had embraced each moment more.

Try not to wish the end of an event would come too quickly. Enjoy each moment, good or bad, and embrace the journey as you go through it. It’s not meant to be easy, and a positive attitude goes a long way. 


A Final Note

The Gravalist events are a great way to get on your bike and embrace the beauty of ultra cycling over a long weekend. Not only will they teach you a lot about riding, but they will also take you on an unforgettable journey into amazing places.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Feel free to check out some current events, such as Cere’s 500, Cape Hope 500, and the Burra 500. Make sure to share the article with your friends and subscribe to the blog!

Post by Robbie
Apr 14, 2024 2:42:57 PM