Hopefully you have read about or heard us talking about the epic all day original Gravel Chaser gravelcross ride we did earlier this month. It was my idea in homage to events like Grinduro, Dirty Kanza, Leadville 100, Belgian Waffle Ride and many others- who we feel are capturing cyclists’ imaginations and attention. We wanted to create something that wasn’t all about the finish line, going flat out and ‘making the front group’- turning into a road race that happens to be on a different surface- we wanted something better. It was originally 154 miles and 11,000ft because I wanted something super mad. It ended up being 105 miles and 7000ft- pretty much all offroad. Due to a few mechanical errors, it ended up being a long day in the saddle but was nonetheless an absolutely superb ride.
Gravel Chaser 2
With that in mind however, we wanted to improve on that format and create something that appeals to as many people as possible. We think Gravelcross is what people will enjoy the most- Cross and gravel bikes (and MTBs if you want) riding together as friends on an amazing route, with segments to time yourself on. The classic Enduro format on unsuitable bikes up and down brilliant terrain- perfection. A challenge for everyone involved but always with fun and comadarie at the forefront of the day.
Gravel Chaser 2 is FREE. Yes. You heard correctly. It is essentially a group of mates going out for a ride, and you are all welcome to join us. We do this because we love it and want to share it with people.
It starts at 8am on Saturday 19th October at Whiteways Cafe near Arundel- there is a large car park, cafe and is right on top of the route.
Here is the Facebook event if you like the sound of it: GRAVEL CHASER 2
If you would like to be part, please do the following:
-Join the TCC Gravelcross Strava group here:
https://www.strava.com/clubs/TCCGC it’s important if you’re riding!
-Put yourself as ‘going’ on the event, so we know what numbers to expect
-Save the segments to your head unit/live segments if you have that feature
-Look into going tubeless if you haven’t already
One of the important apects of this rides ethos is riding together. However, this becomes very difficult as people get punctures and other issues that means the group must stop and wait. So to keep the group moving and able to ride together, the plan is as follows:
We have designated three places the ride will stop and wait/refuel/check bikes/do whatever else for 10 minutes each time. This means that anyone getting a puncture will have a chance to get back onto the group- who wont be riding super fast anyway- you may just have to put more of an effort in. In the spirit of the ride, someone (or more) will always stop with you and ride to the meeting point to regroup. This means that the group will stop and wait for 30 minutes total rather than every time someone needs to stop- much better for larger groups (Gravel Chaser 1 is where we learnt this!). After 30 miles- the route is easy to cut and that will allow riders to join back without the group stopping.
10 miles- Selhurst Park road car park.
20 miles- Cocking road car park
30 miles- Bignor Hill car park
After 30 miles- we are in Houghton Forest and right by Whiteways car park so there will be opportunities to catch up.
Tubeless isn’t perfect, but is certainly more resistant to issues if set up properly than tubes, so we really would recommend that. We also recommend that everyone has tubes and Co2 cannisters with them as well as a pump- and the know-how to change a puncture. There will be others to help too, a 2 or 3 person puncture change can be done in 5 mins easy.
Because this is not a supported ride though, should you need to return to the car park due to mechanical or other issues, you need to have the route or the knowledge of where to go.
There are no aid stations or mechanical support- you need to have with you everything you need for the day. You are responsible for knowing and following the route incase you are separated from your group. We want to welcome all riders however we do ask that anyone coming to have experience riding offroad and the ability to complete a hilly 50mile route. There are some technical sections and you are responsible for you rown safety.
These may change slightly but this gives you a rough idea of what you’ll be tackling. Notice will be given before each one (plus your Garmin/Wahoo/Nokia 3310 will beep if you have live segments) and then you try and do your best time on it. We then meet at the end and ride together until the next one. We don’t take these too seriously but its good fun- sometimes we roll together and go and others (downhill, technical) we stagger the starts ever so slightly so everyone gets a clear run. Easy.
The ride starts by heading into Rewell wood where there is fast, technical singletrack to start and then it breaks into two lines- A and B. A is an enduro line with bombholes, off camber sections and other technical features whilst the B line is a firetrack. We haven’t made this a segment but have included it in the route because it is brilliant on a cross bike- the option to move to the other line is always there as they run parallel.
We then hit out first segment: HUPHUPHUP
A fast start into a steep but short gravel climb, that flattens out into some flowing singletrack. A good test of the legs early on in the ride.
Soon after, we hit Educating Slindon
A slightly downhill singletrack section that is narrow and has a tricky right turn in the middle- it’s then a long sprint to the end on a false flat with multiple lines.
Once through Slindon, we start our climb towards the SDW with Why Hello Jill!
A 1.5 mile climb, with a variety of gradients, it’s relentless but due to the changing terrain and surface, interesting.
After the climb, the route travels West and hits the next segment- Blat blat blat
A superb singletrack section where riding will be close and tight.
The ride then hits SDW and there is a small amount of time to ride together without segments- the descent from Cocking is very fast and full of flints so it’s time to take it easy and fuel up for the what is to come…
After a technical downhill where again, safety and line choice trumps speed and time, we hit Apollo 100- a fantastic climb with tight switchbacks, mad gradients, flowing dowhills and finally a dash up a grass climb.
We now enter Whiteways and enjoy some of the superb singletrack it has to offer. First up, Tops to Drops
This has a bit of everything and will test all your skills regardless of ability thanks to multiple line choices. If you fancy log drops, jumps and berms- go for it. If you would like to roll through, that’s also fine. It’ll be interesting to see which method is quicker.
To ensure everyone stays on the right track, we have separated these two sections to allow for people to catch up- Pump it is next with more of the same, different lines, diferent challenges. Stay high and use the terrain to push your speed, save something for the tough finishing climb. https://www.strava.com/segments/21864093
Straight after that, once we are regrouped, we hit Lift off- again with A and B lines. Starting with a brilliant downhill with optional log jump, into a fast singletrack with optional bombhole. Walking down the side is your best bet, or trust the bike and roll over with your weight back- you’ll be fine. Watch for the roots at the end of the singletrack.
Our final segment is If in Doubt. Named so because if in doubt, flat out. It features three distinct singletrack sections through the trees and roots and finishes with an uphill fireroad dash for the finish. https://www.strava.com/segments/21467285
The ride now heads out of Whiteways, down some
superb descents, across the river and up the formidable Amberley Mount.
Due to the amount of gates along this section and the sheer difficulty
of the climb so late on in the ride, we decided to tackle this as a
group rather than time it- it’ll be fun!
Following a fast, smooth downhill off the SDW, we reach the penultimate segment- ADRIAAAAN
Named so due to it’s wicked surface- rocky. Ups and downs to push your legs and arms to the limits.
The final stretch- and final segment- sees us climb up Houghton Hill
offroad- a friendly gradient but an ever-changing climb make it a great
finish. Let it Go
We will then be in the car park, with cafe and refreshments ready whilst everyone has a chance to swap their stories of the adventure they’ve just had. Party on.