I have registered for my first gravel ride/race and looking for training advice. According to the race/ride promoters: 

"The World Famous Rock Cobbler is a stupidly hard ride bordering on a race. As always we are passionate and driven to showcase roads, dirt trails, gravel and a VERY challenging route.

The Cobbler will be roughly 80-85ish miles and 5700-6700ft+ - of elevation consisting of county asphalt roads, trails, private land, a river, a creek and a museum (with a makeshift brewery). The rides are designed for a cross/gravel bike with an IRC BOKEN or other IRC tire. Choose your width carefully! A mountain bike will work. Don’t be stupid and bring a road bike. NO AERO BARS. You might do pushups, throw water balloons, laugh, cry, suck your thumb, meet Tacoman, ride thru a church and or swim…but you WILL hike with your bike and enjoy cussing us. More than once. WE HAVE FUN!"

I have been riding 20+ miles and 3000' of climbing 2 days during the week with longer rides on Saturdays (35-40 miles and 4000' climbing). I am interested in what other people have done to train for these longer events? This one is 80-85 miles and can have up to 6700' elevation. I'm also interested in nutrition. I have read that you will need anywhere from 150-300 calories every hour and one bottle of water every hour with electrolyte replenishment. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you for the consideration!

Race Flyer
RC 6.0 Video


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You have until Feb. to work out a nutrition and drink plan. For rides over 50 mile roadie and probably 30 miles roadie you need to find a drink that has protein it. Hammer makes one right now I am using Carbo rocket. I use fig bars, Cliff Bars, Little Debbie Brownies, and Pay Day Candy bars. Some people use gels. You need to find out what works for you. I didn't see anything on the website if they had a food stop on the ride or not but said they would post later. Good luck on your ride. Your first ride should be fun and take your time to take some pics.

If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman
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Regarding nutrition, the key to the long rides is to get your body/metabolism to be able to burn fat efficiently and to seamlessly switch from primarily glycogen to fat for fuel.  Why fat?  You want to burn as much fat as you can because you'll never run out of it and you're carrying it with you anyway... To do this, extend your weekly long ride and try starting it in an overnight fasted state.  Drink water/electrolytes on these rides but try to avoid taking in sugars/carbs so that you sort of bonk and can get your body to push through that stressor.  If you're not very fat-adapted right now, then it might take a few stressors like this to get there - stressors being longer limited-carb rides like this and regular 18+ hour "carb vacations" a couple or few times per week.  Before long, you won't be bonking at all, you'll feel good, and you won't be needing to take in all those calories during a ride and that will give you a huge safety and comfort margin for your Rock Cobbler.  During the event, though, you will want to use a sugared drink and take in occasional carbs to get a little more snap in your legs.  
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You'll need quite a bit more than 150-300 calories per hour. Gravel racing is best viewed as an eating contest, in terms on physiological preparation. Anybody can ride 7hrs slow. Anybody can ride 45 minutes fast. Riding 7hrs kinda fast means eating lots. A 165lb guy with a max HR of say 190, hloding an avg HR of around 150bpm for the 7hrs, will burn 500-800 calories per hr. Body stores about 2000 calories. So at your slowest pace, you'll need 225 cal /hr and that would leave you empty (bonking) at the finish. To actually have good levels of glycogen after hour 5, it's more like 500cal /hr. I shoot for 650 cal /hr and I'm 160lbs.

You can not eat, hold food down not maintain an appetite when you are dehydrated. You'll also cramp and have a wacky high HR when dehydrated. So stating hydrated is job 1. Once that's managed, you'll be able to east steadily.

Fitness wise, you need to be doing at least one 4hr + ride in Zone 2 per week leading up to any long gravel race. Mix in one 1-2hr ride with mid-low cadenc zone 3 strength ( big gear) intervals of 5-10 minutes. You can't expect to be good for a 7hr race if you only ever train for 2hrs at maximum.

I've done Rock Cobbler, 5xI think. 6th last year. I'm 57 now.
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Unfortunately, the human alimentary tract can only absorb about 300 kcal max per hour.  Take in more than that, and over time, you’re on your way to bloating and having to slow down or having roadside diarrhea. The difference between what you’re burning and that 300 kcal comes from your fat stores - 1 lb of your fat supplies about 3600 kcal. 
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I must be special then. My squeeze tubes are roughly 650 calories of liquid Hammer Nutrition perpetuem. I go through one of those about every 90 minutes but sometimes less than that. Never experienced the symptoms you describe. 
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