My A-Race next year is Gravel Worlds. For those that don’t know, Gravel Worlds is 150 mile gravel race around Lincoln, NE. The course changes every year, but it’s always involves non-stop rolling hills. The course always has roughly 10,000 ft of total climbing every year, but it’s broken up in endless 50-100 vertical feet chunks. The difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points on the course will be about 300 feet.
The gravel is pea sized and, if you can find the tire tracks, its not really that far off from asphalt:
My primary goal is sub-8 hours…which equates to about 18-19 mph average, but real speed on the course is probably slightly faster due to time off the bike. A lot of this will depend, of course, on the conditions of the day. However, at a moving speed close to 20mph, I think aerodynamics will still matter A LOT–according to the Flo guys, the difference between a Open Pro and their Flo 60 is almost 9 minutes at 20 MPH over an Ironman bike course.
There is no outside support permitted (other than neutral support at the checkpoints). Two mandatory checkpoints and other optional checkpoints along the way. I’d like to be able to carry enough water to only need to stop at the mandatory checkpoints.
Pretty much everyone will be using aero bars and I will use them too. I expect at some point I’ll get spit out the back of the lead group and getting stuck out in the wind for 50 miles by yourself on the plains is no fun for anyone and much less so without aero bars.
So here are my thoughts:
- It’s pretty well established that, in the time trial position, having hydration between your arms is faster than pretty much any alternative. I have no idea if this holds true in a normal road bike position.
- I’d like to have enough fluid on board for 3 hours total per checkpoint. 24oz/hr puts the total at 72oz. That’s kind of cutting it close, but there should be enough gas stations/optional checkpoints to refill if I get in a jam and need more water.
- Based on this, my hydration setup could then look like one of the following:
a. DREAM AERO SETUP: 24 oz BTA + 2 24oz bottles behind the seat (lots of testing would be need to ensure I’m not ejecting bottles left and right)
b. 24 oz BTA + 50 oz USWE hydration pack.
c. 24 oz BTA + 2 24 oz bottles in frame
I would really love to get some data on (a) how much of my time needs to actually be spent in the aero bars to make the BTA “worth it” and (b) what is faster between the hydration pack and bottles in frame options. I’m also wondering what kind of impact on handling a BTA set up would have.
I’m planning on picking off a lot of the other low-hanging fruit as well: aero road helmet, skin suit, deep-ish section wheels, fast tubeless tires, trainerroad subscription. I might even rock shoe covers if its not too hot
I realize that doing this will make me look like a HUGE dork, but I don’t really care as long as its fast.
Is there anything I’m seriously overlooking here?