But compared to cycling on the road, a challenging gravel ride will require more work. “Gravel rides tend to be smaller than most road trips,” explains Kyle McFarland, a cycling coach with White Pine Athletics. On steeper terrain, you can spend more time than experts call your threshold, which is any pace you can’t hold for more than 60 minutes.
“Increased heart rate, ventilation and oxygen consumption, which occur with such an effort, would unlawfully increase cardiovascular and muscular endurance,” says Dr. Even when you’re flying over flat terrain, the vibrations of rough roads dramatically increase your oxygen consumption and heart rate, according to one study. Research in 2021.
You will also get some power at work.
Most people think of cycling as a lower body exercise, but after a gravel ride, you’ll often find yourself with pain in your triceps, biceps, core, and back. Road vibration is a factor, but it’s also how you position your body on a gravel bike.
“On certain types of games, we can see the upper body being more active,” explains Dr. Carmichael. When climbing inclines, your upper body works to maneuver and balance while cycling. On long bumpy dips, you’ll try to pull your arms for balance, using the muscles without shortening or lengthening them. (Imagine a plank position instead of sitting up.)
“When I started riding gravel, it was an awakening,” Ms. Bailey said. “My whole body is engaged, and I’m using my core and back more than you think.” During her ski runs, she would often stand up, hovering over a chair trying to find technical or skateboard marks (a ripple-like surface formed from dried dirt from car tires). In this position, you will feel a burning sensation as your glutes and leg muscles kick into gears.