By Jon Hornbeck
We recently caught up with SDG-Muscle Monster’s Amanda Nauman at the recent Dirty Reiver 200km Gravel Grinder over in the UK which Orange Seal brought her over to compete in. Amanda “Panda” is making a name for herself as a top tier woman in Gravel events with victories in the past two editions of Dirty Kanza and most recent victory at Dirty Reiver, which is becoming the premier Gravel Grinder in Europe. We grabbed a chat with Amanda post gravel to find out her top 5 Gravel tips.
Tip 1: Make sure you have a plan. This goes into having a plan for your morning routine prior to the race and also a plan for through out your race. It’s very common for a lot of people to not have a plan for their morning before the event and they end up getting very frazzled. Also if you don’t have a plan during your ride this may lead you to not eating enough which can result in bonking and that will destroy any hopes you had in doing well in your gravel event. This is particularly important as gravel events tend to be a bit more difficult then your standard road event.
Tip 2: Have a good nutrition and hydration strategy that works for you. A lot of people like to fall into the pattern of trying the latest and greatest new trend the day of an event and most of the time their bodies aren’t used to that which may result in a bad feeling half way up a dirt climb. You want to use what your used to during these tough events. For myself I like to go off of using 200-250 calories per hours which is usually my rule of thumb and about 20 oz of liquid per hour. With my size and weight that’s what works best for me.
Tip 3: Make friends along your gravel adventure. A lot of the time people tend to forget to be friendly and kind to people during the ride and its more likely if you make friends you will have more people that you can share the work load with along the way. With gravel events you tend to endure a bit of suffering along the way so it always makes it more enjoyable if you have new friends to suffer with!
Tip 4: Don’t go out too hard in the beginning. Thats a mistake people make all of the time because people tend to always want to stay up at the front as long as they can and that usually burns them out. While doing this you tend to stress yourself out and will forget to eat and drink. This first hour mistake will set yourself up for failure once you get into that five to six hour mark. Also during the gravel events you don’t have too much time to “sit in the pack” and suck wheels so if you go out too hard you might as well plan on doing a TT effort for your entire ride. The tough part about gravel is that you never get much time to rest because your always focusing on whats in front of you whether thats rocks, trying not to crash and everything else that comes with gravel riding.
Tip 5: To be ready for a gravel event I believe you need to have a good training plan in place. I always go with quality over quantity. Like I mentioned earlier with gravel events they’re quite a bit different then your standard road event. There will be many times when you are on your own putting out an effort and not sitting with a big pack of riders to help you get over the climbs. With this is mind though many people think you need to just do long training miles at a slow pace which is basically worthless. Make sure your doing important, structured intervals that will benefit you more for the event. For myself I really try to get my good training miles in on the weekend where I will do some good endurance miles for 3-4 hours and my last hour will have some structured harder intervals. With most gravel events I’ve done I’m usually by myself at the end as everyone tends to break apart so you want to be ready to put out a good effort at the end of the ride.
Bonus Tip: Go out and ride some gravel! I usually like to add in as much dirt/gravel roads on my ride so I can really hone in on my skills. I like to do a lot of my efforts on the dirt as well because people don’t realize that going hard offload is a much different feeling then doing an effort on the pavement. Always be prepared!
Photos: Marc Gasch