Gravel Fondo Training Tips
The King’s Cup Gravel Fondo is a perfect introductory challenge to competition if you’re a gravel newbie. We’ve put together some of our top tips to help you create an effective training plan: here is all you need to know!
Gravel Race vs Gravel Fondo
Are you struggling to choose between the Gravel Race and Gravel Fondo? Well, let us help you out. If you’re a gravel beginner, or you’re simply new to racing, the Gravel Fondo is for you. You’ll get to choose between a long course (78km) and a short course (52km), so you’re able to set yourself a personal challenge. The Gravel Fondo is mainly an endurance event, so it’s also great if you’re looking for a more chilled out event experience.
On the other hand, the Gravel Race is a British Gravel Championship event, so you’ll be riding alongside some real competitive people. If that sounds like the type of challenge you’re looking for, check out the Gravel Race page as well as our training tips for the event. Now that you’ve taken your pick, let’s move onto what we’re all here for: the training tips!
Can you compete the distance?
The first thing you should be thinking about is the steps you’re missing between your current point and being able to compete the Gravel Fondo distance. You’ll pick the actual distance you’ll be riding on the day of the event, but it will help to pick one ahead of time so that you can set yourself goals. If you end up outperforming or underperforming your goals, you’ll always be able to pick the other course in September.
The Gravel Fondo is mainly an endurance event, so focus on perfecting your pace so that you’re able to withstand long-distance riding. Start small and build up towards your goals: a little longer each day, will go a long way, plus it’ll ensure that you avoid burnout from pushing yourself too hard. Our personal favourite way of training endurance is going on big weekend adventure: pack your bikes, snacks, lots of drinks, trick some friends into joining you, and find a fun track near you to cycle for the whole day.
Something else to keep in mind is elevation. Endurance and long-distance riding will obviously feel easier on flat ground, but the King’s Cup Gravel Fondo has some elevation. We’ll share the event routes soon with breakdowns of the climbs, so keep an eye out to adjust your training and ensure you’re ready to tackle some elevation!
The beauty of all King’s Cup routes is that they are 100% off road, so you should prepare to encounter many different surfaces. There will be a bit of everything: hard-packed gravel, loose chipping gravel, grass, dirt, sand, and likely some muddy areas if it rains.
If you live near gravel tracks, it’s definitely worth getting yourself out there as often as possible. However, we know that roads are usually more accessible to most people, so here is what you can do to prepare for not-so-smooth surfaces. If you can only cycle on road, just go on longer rides! The surfaces during the Gravel Fondo will slow you down and make you work harder, compared to if you were racing on road, so training for longer will mimic the amount of effort you’ll need to put in on the day. Also, use bigger gears to mimic what cycling through soft surfaces, like mud, will feel like.
If you’re completely new to gravel or racing, you may need to find the snacks and drinks that work best with your body. It’s usually recommended that you consume around 200kcal per hour of cycling in both snacks and drinks in order to keep fuelled. Find the combos that work best for you and your body: we recommend starting this process off by checking out all the HIGH5 products, our official nutrition partner.
Take care of your body
Cycling isn’t the only thing you should be doing to prepare for the Gravel Fondo. Pair your rides with strength training, focusing on your core in particular. Plus, closer to race day and as you taper your training, put time into stretching and foam rolling to keep your muscles relaxed and help avoid injury before and on the big day.
Looking for more tips?
Check out our ‘Racing on Gravel‘ blog where seasoned gravel racer, Kitty, tells us all about her training for King’s Cup and her gravel racing experiences.