The first ever UCI gravel race in the UK will take place on 20 May in the lovely small town of Gatehouse of Fleet in the south of Scotland, where a course through the wilderness awaits.
Organisers, Malcolm Smith and Maximilian Wussler bring extensive experience in delivering mass participation events both on and off-road across multiple countries. Malcolm is also the man behind the very successful Tour of Cambridgeshire which has been a UCI Gran Fondo World Series event since 2015.
What can riders expect as the course has just been launched to the public?
Maximilian: “The Gralloch will be a beautiful but tough race covering 113.4kilometers and 1854m of elevation, so quite challenging with barely any flat trails all day long. The surface is mainly hard gravel as the tracks are well maintained for forestry management and even heavy rainfall drains away quickly, it’s never too muddy.”
1854m of elevation seems indeed to be challenging but how are the climbs?
Malcolm: “The hardest climb of the day comes right after the start. You turn onto the gravel within the first kilometre and what follows is a steady 6.5km climb with an average gradient of 4% with peaks up to 11%. There are fantastic view of the sea and the mountains as the course winds through the landscape and the race develops. Around halfway there is another punchy 4km climb with the same gradient, but most of the roads are fairly undulating without ever being very steep. You roll from one descent into the next climb throughout the route.”
What’s the percentage of gravel compared to paved roads?
Malcolm: “It was really important to us to have as much gravel as possible and 90% is off road, only the start and finish sections and some short stretches in the middle are on asphalt. Riders leave gravel behind with 6km to go and descend towards the finish on good quality tarmac with some stunning views and sweeping bends from 4 to 1 kilometres before the finish. The last kilometre is once again flat to the finish in the town centre.”
Where do you get the name Gralloch from?
Maximilian: “The name is actually from the verb ‘to gralloch’ which is used amongst the local hunting community and means ‘to disembowel a killed deer’. We thought this was the perfect name as racing The Gralloch takes guts”.
How are registrations going?
Maximilian: “We have been blown away by the excitement of the gravel racing community and have already surpassed 1,000 entries. A limited number of entries remain, so we encourage interested riders to get their entry in as soon as possible. We’re looking forward to growing this event even further in future years.”