Ride Report: Gravel Epic Switzerland

Posted By Gravel Union On 08 November 2021

When Shimano Gravel Alliance rider Flo Nowak was offered the chance to race at the inaugural Gravel Epic Switzerland, he jumped at the chance.

The Gravel Epic Switzerland had it all - beautiful scenery, long and steep climbs, flowy descents, amazing gravel roads, a campsite in the heart of the Swiss Alps, sunshine and rain. But one after another…

The first edition of the Gravel Epic Switzerland was based at a mountain hut near the Lac de Champex in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The organisers constructed a base camp, with camping, tech support, catering, massage and entertainment in a beautiful valley in the middle of the mountains.

On the program was a short Prologue ride on Friday evening, followed by two race stages on Saturday and Sunday. The post-ride element was just as important as the racing, so they included BBQ time, beers and a party after the races. All the activities for the weekend happened around the base camp at a mountain hut, which also offered enough space for tents and camping.

Friday’s prologue ride gave us a great introduction to the area and left us excited to start the real event on Saturday morning. And I can tell you that the day was truly magical. Waking up with the sun just rising in the Swiss Alps is an amazing feeling. After getting ready in the tent and an early breakfast, I found myself on the start line, ready to ride. With about 4000 meters of elevation gain, the day offered some true challenges, but the views made every second worth it. Especially on a beautiful day with sun and blue skies like this one.

What I really liked about the event format is that you have several segments where the race timer is running. On the other hand, in between those segments, you can really have fun on your bike, stop for food and drinks or just enjoy the views.

After nearly 7 hours on the course, I was happy to be back at the base camp and going for a BBQ and beers. That was another thing that was so special about the event - the participants didn’t disappear back to their hotel rooms after the racing. Everyone stayed outside the whole day, spending time with all the people of the event and getting to know the amazing personalities who all shared the same passions. For me the day ended with some beers, great company and a bonfire.

Unfortunately, after the sunshine and blue skies of Saturday, on Sunday we woke up to rain. Just motivating ourselves to get dressed and start out of our tents was the first challenge. Luckily the organisers shortened the stage a little bit, so we just had two descents to contend with. Despite the weather, the feeling was still good and the atmosphere was also great, so we had nothing to complain about.

After riding a few kilometers from the start, I really started to enjoy the mud and dirt and gave it a go. In total my ride was just over three hours. I reached the base camp again covered in mud, so a good warm shower was the best thing you could wish for. After that we enjoyed some more beers and great food in the mountain hut in front of a traditional oven to get completely warm again.

For me. My time spent at Gravel Epic Switzerland were definitely days that I will not forget and an event I am already planning on attending next year. The combination of race feeling, camping atmosphere and great people in the middle of the Alps is something very special and something you will not find anywhere else.

Thanks to the Gravel Epic team for helping make such unforgettable memories.

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