Find out about Gravel Rides and Races.

In this third installment of our graving riding feature, exp pro Petra Wiltshire examines the types of gravel rides and races on offer.  If you are ready for a challenge on your gravel bike then read on to find out how to start riding in gravel events.

Reflex, gravel race bike.

Man in Reilly cycling kit rides Reflex on forest path

Where to start with Gravel Events.
The best place to start with riding an event is a gravel sportive. These events are friendly and relaxed. They are not a race,  instead offering well marked routes, often with refreshments and rider support. You also get to ride in a safe environment with like minded riders.

Distances can vary, and it is important to remember that 100km on the road is very different to riding the same distance on gravel. Average speeds are a lot slower and riding off road is more tiring due to high levels of concentration and constant adjustments on the bike due to changes in terrain and gradient. You use far more muscles riding off-road than you would use riding on road!

Great events are offered by Glorious Gravel who do events all over the UK, and overseas. Also check out this site  as many sportives get listed on this site.

What is bikepacking?
If you are keen to push yourself a little further, there are now lots of multi day stage events with varying levels of difficulty.  As these run over a longer period of time you will need to pack kit on your bike. This is bikepacking and it involves carrying all the essentials you will need to get you through the ride. Routes vary in length from 20 to 40 miles up to overnighters and beyond.

Gravel rallys such as those offered by Komoot, Sisters in the Wild and Rapha are non-competitive rides on planned off road routes. These are a great place to learn about bike packing and a good stepping stone to ultra gravel racing events such as GB Duro and Southern Divide which are substantially longer.

In May, Petra will be riding the Rapha Pennine Rally, 500 km from Edinburgh to Manchester in 5 days, with some novice racers who are dipping their toes into their first multi day event. I will be riding my Gradient as it is the ideal bike, ultra comfy and ample mounting points for bags, mud guards and racks.  

Gravel Racing
Gravel racing is also becoming very popular and there are events to suit all abilities and age groups. Many events are open to fun or first time racers and have separate starts for elite riders so no need to feel intimidated. Some races are on hard fast gravel and suit an aero style bike with narrower gravel tyres for the faster speeds. The Reflex is the perfect bike for this style of event with its beautiful aero lines and race geometry.

The Reflex offers huge tyre clearance so it is possible to run large volume tyres up to 55mm. This is ideal for racing on rougher fast courses such as Battle on the Beach which as name suggests, take place on the beach and on sandy forests tracks. 

For more gravel races click here 

For UK gravel races click here  

Gravel Festivals -
Dirty Reiver Gritfest and Kings Cup are 2 or 3 day events with a festival atmosphere.  Not just a ride or race but also food, drinks and a chance to meet up with likeminded riders and bike companies.

Reilly will be present with our fleet of gravel bikes at the following events in 2024.
Battle On The Beach 5-7 April 2024
Dirty Reiver 19-21 April 2024
Gralloch 17-19 May 2024
Gritfest 20-23 June 2024
Kings Cup Gravel 13-15 Sept 2024 

Reilly Ambassadors at Gralloch 2023woman in Reilly kit rides on gravel path