We are two days into the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies and the riders have already had their fair share of gravel riding. With 30% gravel on stage 1 and 13% on stage 2, riders will undoubtedly have begun to appreciate the different demands it places upon their riding.
Colorado local and Haute Route ambassador Colby Pearce shared his advice with us in the lead up to the event, and it seems to have paid off. Many riders have opted for 28mm tyres with lower pressures, compact gearing and have adapted their climbing style to maximise the traction on their rear wheel. A few riders even opted to ride cross bikes to improve their handling in the descents and their feel for the road. Across the board riders seem to be enjoying the new challenge.
Riding gravel for the first time on stage 1 yesterday, and member of the Black Widows CC team, Adrian Harris shared his first impressions with us “Well, I was happy with gravel, and I was happy with steep, but the combination of the two was tough. Once we got over the climb though and onto the flat bits we were loving it, blasting along in a group with the BWCC crew. I can’t wait to ride more, bring it on!”
“I adapted my bike especially for this event actually, with 28mm tyres and lower pressures, as well as a bigger cassette to feel more comfortable whilst climbing in the saddle. So far it’s paying off, I’m loving it” added Adrian.
Also riding gravel for the first time, Alexandre Menneteau from France gave his thoughts on the gravel descents: “The gravel descents are actually really fun, you have to be quite prudent, let it flow and just trust your bike handling skills. Riding them in a group just makes it event better as well.”
Brazilian rider Stefan Neuding was all smiles and loving the difference from his experience on the Haute Route Dolomites last summer: “It’s really interesting and so different, I even had to stop halfway up Sunshine Canyon to decrease the pressure in my tyres and increase traction.”
Not everyone on the Mavic Haute Route Rockies is riding gravel for the first time though; local rider Scott Leonard remarked on the differences between the experts and newbies: “You can tell immediately who is comfortable and who isn’t. The locals are all smiles, and are light and relaxed on their bike as they float over the gravel.”
“The others are also smiling, but look tense as they fight to control their bikes on the descents. I’m sure they’re loving it and will get used to it after a couple days” added Scott before leading a small group of riders onto the next rolling section of gravel roads.
Over 20% of this week’s route is on gravel roads, the riders have a lot more to look forward to, including the famous climb of Kebler Pass and renowned section of gravel along Trough Road tomorrow. Stayed tuned throughout the week for more updates and the best pictures and videos from the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies!