Gravel stage races in teams of two are unique – and that’s the way we like it! However, it could mean that even the most experienced of gravel cyclists don’t know the ins-and-outs of how an event like Raiders Gravel works. Here are some of the key rules and guidelines to follow in October.
With October just around the corner, we wanted to establish some of the key rules of Raiders Gravel so that your event experience is as smooth as possible. Our key rules cover riding etiquette, safety and practical event guidance so you can be prepared and avoid any on-the-day unpleasant surprises.
Raiders Gravel is a team event, so co-operation and teamwork is key! When you’re prepping for the day’s ride, check with your partner that they have packed everything they’ll need: share the load so neither of you is carrying way more than the other, share extras when your partner is missing some bits, and make sure you have the GPS tracker and that it works. And it goes without saying, but if your partner is injured or their tyre punctures while out on the ride, stop and do your best to help them out.
This rule is tightly linked to the first: never leave your partner behind. Sometimes your riding partner may be a little slower than you, or struggle more in the big climbs, but that’s no reason to leave them miles behind. One of the reasons for this is that you and your partner are responsible for the other’s safety. If your partner suffers an injury (even a minor one), you should be close by to help them out. The other reason is more practical: this is a team event. The finishing time will be taken when the second member of the team crosses the line, so make sure to stay together throughout the stage!
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, little accidents can happen to everyone. We’ll equip you with a GPS tracker and have a medical team on standby of course, but for most of the ride, you and your partner will be alone in Galloway Forest Park. For this reason, it’s really important that you come prepared with a first aid kit and a small bike repair kit.
In the unlikely chance that your partner suffers a big injury, remember to stay calm and assess the situation. Check the route map to find out how close you are to the main pit-stop. If you’re close enough and your partner feels like they can reach that point, go to the pit-stop, where volunteers and security will be equipped with radios to contact the emergency team. If not, stay put and wait with your partner. Our event security will be following behind the riders on motorbikes, carrying radios: wait for one of them to reach you and help will be with you soon. While you wait, make sure that the injured partner stays warm: bringing a waterproof jacket and a hat is not only a good idea considering Scottish weather, but also in the case of injury.
As we already mentioned, a small bike repair kit is necessary in a gravel event like Raiders Gravel. Punctures happen to everyone, and you should know how to fix your bike up! We recommend that each team carries:
- Puncture plug repair kit
- Small hand pump or CO2 gas cylinder
- Spare inner tube (depending on the bike you ride)
If you’ve never fixed a bike puncture, don’t worry! Check out this handy video by our partners Muc-Off to familiarise yourself with the steps.
Before setting off for the day’s ride, make sure you have packed enough food and water to be self-sufficient. There will be food available at the stage’s pit-stop, but you don’t want to be riding hungry! We recommend bringing two water bottles, gels and bars. Please make sure that your bottles fit tightly in their bottle cages so that you do not lose them as you ride. There will be various water-points along each route to refill your bottles. Lastly, a tip: bring a little cash or your card if you’d like to buy a hot drink or some more substantial food at Clatteringshaws Café, which you will come by as you ride!
Certain sections of the routes will be on road; when these sections occur at the very beginning of the route, we will neutralise them. In these sections, all riders will be cycling behind a lead vehicle. Please leave enough space between yourself and other riders, and don’t get too close to the lead vehicle – and definitely do not surpass it! At the end of the neutralised section, the vehicle will stop and we will wait for all riders to arrive. Be patient, and soon you’ll be off to ride the most beautiful gravel routes in the world!
You may encounter some sections of road within the route itself as well, which will not be neutralised. These areas can be narrow and trafficked by large and fast vehicles. Please be aware of the danger of these surroundings and be smart with your cycling. Junctions will be clearly signposted and marshalled to help you stay safe. Also note that, after each stage, you will have to cycle through Gatehouse of Fleet to return to the Event HQ at Garries Park. As this section is after the finish line, it will obviously be neutralised, but please remember to be mindful of any vehicles and people around you.
All the routes will be clearly marked to make your riding experience as smooth and easy as possible. Between direction signs, you will also encounter caution signs, which you should pay particular attention to. Caution signs will be placed before you encounter things like bridges, so that you’re aware of a change in surroundings ahead of time. Descents will also be signposted for this reason. We ask that every rider carries the .gpx file of the routes as backup navigation.
We feel lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty Galloway Forest Park during our event, and we are passionate about respecting the natural surroundings and the communities that live within them. We will provide litter drop zones along the route to help you keep Galloway Forest Park clean and free of rubbish. Any rider caught littering will be penalised.
At the end of each stage, please return to Garries Park, where there will be a check-in area. This will help us keep track of all riders for safety reasons, and it will also give you the opportunity to grab the post-stage recovery meal and drink included in your entry.