Water stop etiquette for gravel racing

There’s a big difference between getting away and staying away. Tactics and energy systems are different. If you are a known risk to stay away, they tend to not let you get away. If you are no risk to stay away, they will let you get away all day (and just let you dangle). The skipped water stop is a strategic get-away opportunity.

backwards hat Dylan, would he stop and slash tires? I wonder…

He wouldn’t pack anything and steal your supplies at a support stop. :laughing:


Of course, why bring all that crap if everyone else already has it to share??? :wink:


I think if im in a group and 5/7 ask to stop, im going to stop even if I wore a pack.

I also wont sprint someone who I sat on there wheel for 2 hours and I couldnt pull through.


"The core question seems to be whether we are obligated to stop with the group you are with or can a water stop strategy be used as a strategic advantage to push through when others stop?

Like many of the unwritten rules in bike racing, I think the answer is probably “it depends”."

There’s no rule and there is no controversy. If your plan is to push through without stopping then that’s what you do. There is no unwritten or explicit rule dictating otherwise.

If anybody complains, here’s what you tell them, ‘I didn’t ask you to carry my extra water while we rode here. Don’t ask me to carry your extra time while you re-up.’

Now, I will caution everybody that if there are 8 other riders in the group and they’re all pissed off about it, use your judgement. Those guys will be motivated to ride you down and drop you. So it might be in your best interest just to stop with everybody else and kick around. A few miles out I usually like to bring it up in a real loud voice ‘Hey, I don’t plan on stopping at the water stop. Anybody else want to ride with me?’ If there is a strong consensus to stop…well, use your judgement.

Most gravel races are 100 miles or less these days. You don’t need to stop for a little ole 100 mile ride.


Well said. That’s pretty much my exact take and experience as well.

One lesson I’ve learned with gravel racing though (unrelate to feed zones) - riding in 4th or 5th position can turn into a podium in a hurry at the end of a gravel race when folks up the road blow up or have a mechanical (or take a wrong turn). I was sitting 4th (riding solo) in a 100m race earlier this year and I half-assed it in after I got dropped and let the guy in 5th come by me (I didn’t care between 4th and 5th enough to keep suffering). It turned out that the solo leader took a wrong turn and I ended up 4th, probably would have been 3rd if I had stayed on the gas. This is the second time I’ve done something stupid like that racing gravel. In a road race, you usually never see the lead group again once it’s gone. In gravel, the final group is often completely ripped apart at the end and positions can be gained if you aren’t stupid and stop pedaling hard like me.

Anyone who can only get away by skipping or rushing a rest stop is not going to stay away from a cohesive group of pros chasing you 150 miles into a race no matter how fast you are. If you’re good enough to be a contender, you might as well enjoy the rest stops. Skipping them on your own is not going to help you.


ironically, Collin Strickland attacked at the half way point in 2019 and made it stick. Pretty sure the gap gained from rolling a pit stop would have worked aswell.


I agree with all that. Wearing a pack is really about not being left behind by a group that isn’t stopping as much as it’s about trying to get away from the group solo. If everyone else is stopping, I still like to have the option to go on or I may stop. If it was a group of a few and I’m doing more than my share of the work, I’d probably push on. If I’m barely hanging on to the pace of the group before the stop, it would serve no purpose to push on without them. What I typically see in races is that there usually isn’t agreement in the group if it’s larger than ~5 people. If there are any others looking to skip the stop and push on, I almost always want to be with them.

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This discussion isn’t focused on the big-time races like unbound (at least not for me). If you aren’t in contention, I don’t think anyone should be care about your rest stop approach. I’ll never have a cohesive pack of pros chasing me thank goodness. At smaller regional races, it just depends on who shows up. For what it’s worth, I live in central TX and Colin Strickland shows up at quite a few of our local events. Sometimes racing, sometimes just out for a ride on a flat bar cruiser bike.

I think the issue with the pro level gravel scene is that there’s only enough meaty sponsorship money floating around for 5 people. So if you aren’t one of that elite clique- you’re on a hiding to nothing no matter what you do :wink:

Fair play to Adam for not dishing more dirt in this vid.

Ive done races where the so,meome asked if the group was stopping for water, and i was all ive got a full bottle and can make it to the finish and im not stopping. Not sure if it made people mad or not, but i carried more water up the mountain, and planned not to stop from the gun. I think the issue is if people agree to stop, but then someone doesnt or stops for a sec then takes off. Whatever, its a race. Dont lie about your intensions and all should be ok.


I was also at gravel locos where all this started, and i needed to stop, but my group kept going cause they apparently had enough water….i didnt get mad, i just assumed i didnt plan well.


I couldn’t get people to talk to me at unbound. If you were in a group no one talked. You just did your own thing and ended up where you ended up


can you elaborate further? I didn’t follow the specifics but it sounded like it wasn’t just about the water stop, adam also didn’t take pulls after he was caught at gravel locos

I don’t know any more than Adam’s videos. Seems like he had to chase hard to get back on after his puncture at Unbound and the front group called him out again for not taking pulls despite him only being with them for 1/5th of the race to that point.

Can’t help feel Colin is highlighting it with that Strava title too :rofl::rofl:

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Makes me wonder just what, exactly, was said in French. :laughing: :shushing_face:

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Yea his IG post from gravel locos also left out Adam, I’d say that is more a sore point than the attack, I think lauren’s had given him a bottle earlier in the race too. I don’t really have a dog in this fight but Adam clearly wasn’t making friends.

So weird how Gravel was lionized for being so chill and “friendly” for everyone, and it seems like the scene has gotten more pretentious than road cycling in very short order. Don’t get me wrong, gravel is fun, and there are a lot of fantastic riders that are welcoming and laid back, but what on earth with the snobbery? I think your intuitions are pretty much spot on

Right? Isn’t this obvious to everyone? It’s kind of a key tenet of all off-road racing, you’re kind of on your own in a lot of respects, no sag, no wheels, limited or no feed, prepare and ride your bike. If I am willing to take a weight penalty to carry more on my bike - and drink warm-ass drinks lol - why should I be compelled to stop with the group?

I doni’t know, it is what it is, people aren’t going to change, but it’s pretty asinine.