How to ace your first gravel race (of the season, or even ever!)

Do you have your first gravel race coming up? Or perhaps you’ve already done a few in years past, but you’ve got your first gravel race of the season in your sights. Here are five things you need to execute on to be ready:

1 get your body ready

2 get your bike ready

3 plan out your nutrition

4 dial in your equipment


5 practice, practice, practice everything on the all-important simulation ride

Read on below or listen to the podcast to dig into the details and get ready to crush your first gravel race.


1. Get your body ready

Start at the end: what is the target distance and what are your race goals? We will work backwards to plan your training from there. In addition to building up to the duration, we will also train for the intensity level required for your goals: training to win a 100-mile event vs training to complete a 200-mile event will look different.

As we plan out the training, we’ll also plan out and start practicing the other critical component: recovery. Be aggressive about your sleep and nutrition and you’ll see much greater results than if you focus on the training alone.

2. Get your bike ready 

Four weeks out, take your bike in for a tune-up or do it yourself. Consider new tires and absolutely top off with fresh sealant.

Consider a new chain and absolutely top off with fresh sealant or wax.

Consider new bar tape for that new-bike feel at a minimal cost.

3. Get your nutrition plan ready

In your training, learn what works well for you for the target duration and intensity. Plan out what, how much and where you will carry everything. Study up on the race logistics, from grocery stores to your breakfast plan to where the aid stations are to who if anyone will be helping you and how.

4. Get your equipment ready

A checklist is a good place to start — and then incorporate all those things into your training. Tires, tool kit, frame bag, hydration bag, specific bottles in the specific cages, the clothing you’ll race in… line it all out well in advance of race day.

5. Put it all together and practice, practice, practice on simulation rides

Now that you have all the pieces, put them all into play. Use your long weekend rides as simulation races. Start your training early - just like a race start - and bring all the gear and nutrition you plan to use on race day. Now is the time to learn things like the fact that your tall bottles won’t work with your frame bag, or that your hydration pack’s front pouches spill open when loaded up with gels. Practice, practice, practice, so that you don’t have any surprises or ‘own goals’ on race day.


Justin Bowes brings over two decades of coaching and elite-level racing experience, coupled with a fervent passion for teaching, to every client. To talk with Justin about a custom training plan and advice for your season, fill out our new athlete questionnaire to have a free coaching consultation with him. 

Or download the FasCat APP where the First Month is FREE, data analysis is instant, training plans are custom and our AI Powered coach will revise your plan when work, weather, time aka life gets in the way.  We will also auto detect your FTP 💪