This weekend's Gravel World Championship Race will be held out of Lincoln NE and is put on by the Pirate Cycling League. This is an unofficial event that gave itself the title of "Gravel World Championship" in 2006, just before the gravel racing scene really took off. Although the name was coined as a joke, the race is expected to attract a talented field of serious racers. Up to 500 racers are expected to toe the line for a 6am start, before racing over 150 miles of Nebraska's gravel goodness.
Contesting the race for the Panaracer/Stan's NoTubes p/b Bicycle X-Change team will be team Captain Bob Cummings who landed third place on the podium last year behind Brian Jensen and Winner Neil Shirley. Joining Bob will be returning members Austin Morris (4th in 2015) and Rob Bell. Nathan Wadsworth and Evan Fast will round out the Elite Men's team. Guest riding for the team and returning 2015 Men's 50+ Champion is NE native Mike Marchand.
The Women's Open field will be challenged by Karen Pritchard. This will be Karen's first attempt at Gravel Worlds but with an age group winning and Open Women's podium performance at this year's Dirty Kanza 200, Karen is no stranger to crushing gravel at a high rate of speed.
The course is 150 miles of non stop giant rolling hills that will end up accumulating over 10k feet of climbing. While the roads are not near as tire shredding as the flint hills of Kansas, there is always a variety of challenging conditions from fresh deep gravel sections to gravel barren minimum maintenance dirt roads that can turn into mud pits at the slightest hint of rain. It is typically super hot and humid with 20+ mph winds. The current forecast calls cooler temps with a chance of rain Friday the day before the race and on race day Saturday. It could throw some unexpected challenges at the racers.
The Panaracer Gravelking 35c will be the team's choice of tire and size for this event. Bob Cummings spoke highly of the tire, "We could not be happier with the performance of this tire. It feels as fast as a road tire on pavement yet absorbs large marble sized gravel like it is not even there. The climbing, cornering, and braking traction is outstanding and its durability is second to none."
This tire has carried the team to many wins and podiums all season. This tire has the perfect tread pattern, width, and volume for the gravel roads of NE.