SBT GRVL - Steamboat Springs Gravel Race

Anyone signed up for this event? This is becoming the next big gravel race. It sold out pretty quickly in the first year and again within 1h for 2020. Many pro and retired pros race it, as well as various amateur and Masters amateur level cyclists.

Course Facts: 141 miles approx 9,000 feet of climbing 100+ miles of gravel
Course Route:


Didn’t make it for this in 2019… but signed up for 2020! There is a group of 10+ women from the Chicago area going. Anyone else signed up? The event sold out in less than 1h!!

Lucky you!!! Not that I’d race it :scream: Hoping to plan a trip to Steamboat Springs earlier in the summer for some gravel riding on their amazing roads. Need to develop some skills first though. Have you seen Selene Yeager’s new book on gravel riding? Wondering whether you recommend it-always liked her columns back in the day when I read Bicycling Magazine. Have a blast at SBTGRV!!!

@hollybw I was not familiar with the book, so I went to take a look when I read your post, but can’t find a table of contents, so can’t give a recommendation…

For gravel riding, events, and races, these are the main areas to consider:

  1. Training - the types of intervals (high intensity workouts) to prepare for gravel aren’t really different than those for road. Nevertheless, it’s important to add long endurance rides on gravel to your training if you have access to those roads. If you don’t have access to gravel roads, you can train on the trainer, as the rolling resistance of Zwift for example is very similar in that you have to be constantly producing power with little to no breaks/coasting.

  2. Fuelling - here again it’s no different than road, except for the fact that you are better off with a hydration pack (e.g., Camelback) as it is not always easy to drink from a bottle on gravel. But if it is a ride (and not a race), then you can go either way.

  3. Bike handling - this is the most important part/difference, and to learn to ride on gravel you have to… ride on gravel! It’s a big change for roadies, because roadies expect the bike to behave a certain way, and on gravel/dirt/sand/mud the bike behaves differently, and so should your handling of the bike.

  4. Equipment - tire selection is a big deal, and you can refer to these posts for recommendations on tire selections depending on the type of event:

Lastly, @dfriestedt is very experienced on gravel and can answer more specific questions you may have. @Petals is also an off-road guru.

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Super helpful…as ALWAYS!!

Hi @hollybw .

I haven’t read the book, but I’m sure it is good. I am planning on buying it. Selene has ridden a bunch of the gravel events and usually has great, helpful information.

I have ridden quite a few gravel events and come from a mountain bike background.

To expand on what Theia said.

  1. Gravel riding adds up to 30% more resistance to your riding. One difference is, you don’t get to recover on the downhills on gravel, as you need to control your bike on descents. What I found helpful from an endurance standpoint was doing all the different workouts that Theia assigns. Practice different cadences, shifting, climbing and those great VO2 workouts.
  2. Bike handling- look where you want to go, not down at your front wheel. It helps to get off your saddle when descending and use your arms and legs as shock absorbers. I scan 5 to 10 feet down the trail. A trick I learned at Rasputitsa (which means mud season) is to ride in the car tire tracks of puddles and running water. This is the flattest part and most packed part of the road. Riding the sides of puddles is the most slippery section of the road.
  3. Fueling- some gravel events require you to have your hands on your bars through much of the event. A camelback is very helpful to hydrate. I keep track of the time on the bike and try to drink every 15 to 20 min and get some carbs, solid food every hour. This is especially important in the beginning of a race because you won’t be hungry or thirsty then but what you don’t fuel in the beginning, will catch up in the end. It helps to have a top tube bag with already opened snacks/ bloks/ etc. Bring extra food in case you drop some while trying to eat on bumpy roads. Also- I usually have a couple water bottles with scratch in them. You burn more calories riding gravel. Make sure you have good bottle cages that won’t eject the bottles on bumpy descents.
  4. Work on your core bicep and tricep strength. It is common to tense up neck, shoulders, arms and hands when riding gravel. I counteract this by tensing up shoulders to ears then relaxing them down every 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t deathgrip the handlebar.
  5. Know basic bike maintenance, changing tires. Carry a derailleur hanger, tubes, multitool, pump, patch kit, levers, small toothbrush to get mud and crud out of drivetrain. I also carry an extra cleat for my bike shoes (check those cleat bolts and tighten regularly.). The single packs of chamois cream are a must too. I also carry extra socks and gloves in my camelback. I do events that have water crossing, mud, snow, etc.
  6. Equipment and gearing. Have some easy gears for climbing. The easier the gearing the better. I find many gravel events have steeper hills, grinding through soft surfaces. Newer gravel bikes have much better gearing for the events.

What a fabulous post, @Petals! Thanks sooo much for this great info! :+1:t2:

GREAT post! I really recommend #3 above. When you are riding in a pack, on gravel, it can be nerve racking and sometimes dangerous to take your hands off the bars to eat. I add fuel to my camel pak hydration so I need to eat less. Also, if it’s cold out, eating with gloves can be really hard.

One more note, riding with a camel pak takes some training. It puts extra pressure on your lower back, so you need to train with it to build the muscles back there. I use it on my trainer.


I will be there for social support! :rofl::wink::crazy_face:

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