Gravel race etiquette question

I’m curious what the etiquette is when riding in a line during a gravel race. I’m not competing for top-anything, just trying to put in my best effort and generally somewhere in the middle of the race.

So when I jump in to a random group (assuming they’re all random too, not a team), and the person at the front isn’t pulling off, are people expected to try and move up to the front to take turns or is the person at the front expected to pull off?

What’s the “etiquette” in that situation? If I feel good I don’t mind moving up to take a pull, but if I’m sucking wind, there’s no way I can move up to take a turn.

If you want to pull, go to the front. But I generally sit in until the front gives me the elbow to come through or they pull off.
If he doesn’t want you at the front, I’m sure he will tell you as you come past…


If a person is at the front… Pulling strong and steady and not pulling off let em go for it.

I find in gravel races a number of people don’t know what the heck a pace line is though. If they’re at the front pulling and the pace is dropping just come around them. They may not know to pull off.

No need to put in extra watts to come around someone though.


In a well functioning pace line, the person in front controls how long their pull is.

Often you’ll end up riding with someone who just wants to be in front and is happy to pay the drafting penalty. This can just be a personality trait, or, more likely they just feel better being able to see the road (and on a training ride they may actually want to be doing those extra watts). This can happen on any ride but is even more likely In a gravel race/ride where being able to see can be important. If you’re comfortable with the pace and you don’t have some burning desire to be on the front (i.e. you want clear vision or the pace is too slow), let them pull. If they don’t want to be on the front, its their job to get off. You may actually be upsetting the flow by randomly moving ahead. Do it if you need/want to but it is not “nice” or required if that is what you are worried about.


At the beginning of most gravel races, most folks are trying not to get dropped until things settle into smaller groups.

Once things are split up a bit, it really depends on the goals for the day. If I’m seriously racing a gravel event, I’m not taking a pull unless it serves a purpose (just like road racing). That might mean contributing to the chase, just doing my share to keep the group motivated, or sitting in and skipping my pulls if I’m in danger of getting dropped or not concerned about the pace of the group.

If I’m mid pack and enjoying the day, it’s just Saturday group ride dynamics. If you feel strong and want to pull, then pull. If you are hurting, sit in and enjoy the ride.

I did a gravel race on Saturday and the first 50 minutes averaged over 23mph with lots of surging and attacks. It was just brutal and I was holding on for dear life waiting for the right group to drop off with as people were constantly getting shelled. I finally dropped with ~10 other guys. Most of the guys I was with were working hard in a pace line to get back to the lead group and we got really close a couple times. I was not contributing to that chase because I knew I couldn’t handle the surges in the lead group any longer and a group of 10 is much smoother and better for me. I contributed once we smoothed things out, but my motivation at that point was just to keep everyone in the group motivated and to maximize our pace. Nobody ever caught us from behind and I ended up with a podium finish for the MTB category, so it ended up a really good day.


agree. just go around. I feel like, depending on the gravel road conditions, groups can be a bit sketchy in gravel races if you’re right up on somebody’s wheel and there are some bad holes that appear quickly. not fun being close to somebody’s wheel in that case.

wait until they move off. no point is riding up and past someone to take over.