Gravelaide 3: Long Course

This is the biggie. Seriously, this is a big, epic day out on the bike, an imperial century with over 2,500m of climbing and plenty of dirt.

Images: Kane Naaraat 

Straight away you’ll note that we’ve not included an average time for anything less than 20km/h, because you won’t make it all the way through if you’re much slower than that. We’ll be strict on the time cuts on the back-half of the course (at the third refreshment stop: 1pm), so watch the dilly-dallying along the way! To help you get back in time those riding the long course will start an hour earlier than the rest (8:00am). 18km/h average is probably the slowest you could manage if you use your time wisely at all stops, but we’d like to avoid people arriving late as dinner stops being served at 7pm and the light fades.

I’m not going to say you will need to train for this one, because training is boring, but you will want to have a good few hours in the legs prior to this one. Ride lots. This isn’t one you can pull out of nowhere. You need to have experience with 150km+ rides of some description, remembering that each km on gravel is probably worth 1.5km of road in terms of energy expended. Ride smart, meaning that you need to maintain a reasonable pace but keep yourself below your limit wherever possible to make sure you have something in the tank to get to the finish.

The long course builds on the medium course, so those of you who rode the full course for Gravelaide 1 will have a pretty good idea of what to expect, with a few exceptions. As with the medium course, there are a couple of points on-route where you’ll be able to short-cut it if need be, but of course, you’ll miss out on completing the 100 miler.

At nearly 40kms the long route will take its first diversion from the other two – at the first refreshment stop – for an additional 20km loop before heading back onto the common route. If you are in doubt about your pace by the first refreshment stop (which won’t be a good sign if you are still planning on finishing the long route!), you can always skip this 20km loop and see how you are going by the next food stop.

Those with fresh and strong legs on the medium or short ride may catch you before the next refreshment stop or two, but don’t worry – you have a much bigger day ahead of you and you’ll need to save yourself you can to finish in a reasonable time.

At the third food stop the medium and long course will diverge, with the long course heading further out towards the Murray for the lunch stop 109-or-so kms in. The good news is that it’s ever so slightly a downhill run to lunch, however you’ll need to find the smoothest part of the roads to make the most of it as some of the roads are somewhat corrugated. There’s also one particularly sandy section of road of around 50m in length. It’s relatively flat for the 30km into lunch, but you’ll need to be particularly vigilant with spotting any tricky bits of road along the way if you are choosing to get into team time-trial mode.

Lunch! Enjoy it, but use the time wisely. It will be easy to lose track of time and put yourself in a bit of trouble getting back!

We looked at every possible option as a way out of Mannum, but, try as we might, the only way that works (and doesn’t just send you back the same way) is by taking the main road out of Mannum for a few kilometres. Traffic should be light as it will be a Sunday, but we expect that a) everyone doing this route will be an experienced cyclist, and b) everyone will take the utmost care on this section. With that said, everyone on this course will be required to have lights fitted to their bikes (as per the rules), and should be using them on this section at least. Take your time and the utmost of care in making the right-hand turn back onto gravel.

Once past this, the next refreshment stop is actually pretty close at nearly 130km into the ride before hitting the most challenging part of the course. At this point you re-join the same course as the medium group and eventually the short group, but we don’t expect too many of you to be catching anyone from those rides!

For the last 30-40km there’s not much to worry about aside from more climbing and nursing those legs back to the Oval!

Remember that the food truck is serving until 7pm, and the venue shuts down at 8pm.

In summary, this is a big, big day on the bike. Did we mention that? This is a ride that suits someone with a reasonable amount of experience with a pretty decent level of fitness. Of all of the courses, this is the one that you will benefit most from having the biggest tyres and easiest gearing you can fit into your frame. We’re guessing that the average person will be out on the bike for 7-9 hours plus stops (hopefully not more than 2 hours-worth). This one comes with the lot: big climbs, good surfaces, rough surfaces, lose surfaces, soft surfaces, six refreshment stops, all the kms, all the views, all the fun, and all the experience!


Date: 18 March 2018

Location: Mount Torrens

Start time: 8:00am

Distance: 168km

Elevation: ~2,600m elevation

Time cuts: Strict, event closes at 8pm

Estimated riding time at:

24kph avg: 7 hours

20kph avg: 8 hours 30 minutes

+ approximately 2 hours for refuel stops at 38km, 58km, 78km, 109km (lunch), 126km, and 149km.

If you’ve heard enough ENTER HERE, or bitten off more than you can chew? Check out the short and medium route options.

Cyclist Australia/NZ