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  1. #1
    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    Gravel Road Racing - Questions

    Just found about this gravel road racing. Considering doing this one event in Two Harbours MN in October. Called
    Heck of the North about 110 miles or so.

    Looking at videos seems most are riding Cyclocross with odd mt or fatbike
    Are Mt bikes allowed? would more less any type of bike be allowed for this type of racing?

    Other question is this. Is is true these gravel races are not really marked? you have to guess the course? eg. follow others?
    site mentioned about Cue cards?
    What should one have for navigation or what is needed?
    I have a Garmin 500 edge? would that be enough? or what do people use for this
    This is quite new

    Also says race is unsupported? is that normal? so more less all food and water have on person whole time, then.
    I know i might be answering my own questions but i like to figure out what i might be getting into, perhaps try this newer concept almost.

    Would i be handicap using my full suspension mt bike? thanks

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Why not contact the ride organisers?

  3. #3
    Randomhead
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    I suspect following others is a bad idea. A Garmin 500 should work fine. I doubt they care what you ride. It's not uncommon for these types of events to be self-supported, are there any aid stations?
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  4. #4
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    Unsupported is pretty normal but you do get the occasional one that is supported. For carrying gear a lot of people will use bags like these. Becker Bike bags and custom gear!

    For navigation usually you are given a cue sheet like in a brevet and you simply follow that although there are not always controls where you have to get a card punched or take down a very specific piece of info. A gps should be fine but even your basic bike computer will work as long as it is accurate. I would NOT count on following others, you may not find anyone that is going the speed you want to and even if you do find a large group don't get lazy and just follow, make sure to follow your cues like you would solo because there have been a lot of people that have done bonus miles because they were all in a group but no one in said group was actually navigating...

    I have never heard of any bike limitations for gravel events but some bikes obviously will be better than others. Usually anything with higher volume fast rolling tires will work well though.

  5. #5
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    Contact the organizer for event-specific info.

    No support generally means just that--no support.

    Ride a bike that you're comfortable with on dirt/gravel. It may be a road, cross, or mtb, but only you will know which one works best for you.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  6. #6
    Randomhead
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    the website is pretty clear. Water will be available at the halfway point, and they transport a drop bag there.
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  7. #7
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    Im driving up from Iowa to partake in the race. should be a really fun experience. Im running a monsterish cx bike.. all city space horse w/ 42mm cross tires. I signed up in the single speed category.. why i havent figured out yet..?? theres only 27 spots left when I checked today to fill the 400 entrant limit. Any bike that your comfy on will be great I'd assume. Its a long race and a fair bit of climbing so unless your going for the Win.. i'd get comfy its gonna be at a min 6 hrs in the saddle based on last years winning time of 6.03. or close to that. ive never done one of these but have friends that have and you get cue cards with the route clearly identified. use your garmin for counting miles or km's to the next turn etc. Im going with the exact computer you have garmin 500. It'll be fun.
    Luke

  8. #8
    Senior Member GravelMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianBiker32 View Post
    Just found about this gravel road racing. Considering doing this one event in Two Harbours MN in October. Called
    Heck of the North about 110 miles or so.

    Looking at videos seems most are riding Cyclocross with odd mt or fatbike
    Are Mt bikes allowed? would more less any type of bike be allowed for this type of racing?

    Other question is this. Is is true these gravel races are not really marked? you have to guess the course? eg. follow others?
    site mentioned about Cue cards?

    I'm fairly new to gravel events, but have done a couple in MN including one last weekend. The ones I'm aware of are quite different than any road events I have participated in. You get cue cards and sometimes maps. One posted the course online in a downloadable format, but don't expect much in the way of road markings. The last one I did only had signs where the 50 and 100 mile courses diverged.

    What should one have for navigation or what is needed?
    I have a Garmin 500 edge? would that be enough? or what do people use for this
    This is quite new

    You will need some way to accurately track mileage as the cue cards are usually written as "Left Turn - 2.5 miles on County Road 32" or something similar. GPS with mapping is handy if you get off course as the routes often take you along minimum maintenance or fire roads, trails etc. that have little or no signage. Getting lost is not unusual at these events.

    Also says race is unsupported? is that normal? so more less all food and water have on person whole time, then.

    This varies but there usually aren't any rest stops by the event organizer. In the couple I have been in, the longer routes pass through a small town every 30 miles or so where you can restock at a gas station or grocery store. On the one last weekend, I didn't bring enough water and food and ended up stopping at a farm to refill my bottles out of their garden spigot. Carry more than you would for a similar distance unsupported on paved roads.

    I know i might be answering my own questions but i like to figure out what i might be getting into, perhaps try this newer concept almost.

    Would i be handicap using my full suspension mt bike?

    Again it depends on the route. On the one I took this past weekend, I rode a rigid flatbar with 40 x 700c tires and found my self wishing for more tire in some of the sandy hills and maybe front suspension on some of the washboard, washouts, and rocky sections. On other sections, I could have ridden my road bike.

    thanks
    ..

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