We're off to the Gravel Epic race in Marrakech at the end of March. Well, specifically, Dave is off there. And he's absolutely delighted to hear that the front of the race will be packed with pros and ex-pros from the top of the sport, ripping his legs off. Here's a run-down of the riders that Dave is very unlikely to spend much time hanging on to on the day, unless he ups his game considerably in the next eight weeks...
First off, there's Daniele Bennati. A veteran of 25 Grand Tours with 18 years at the top level of the sport, Bennati is a legend. Eleven Grand Tour stage wins doesn't happen by accident.
Lining up beside him will be Gerard Ciolek. He's probably most famous for edging out Peter Sagan in the sprint finish at the Milan - San Remo but again, has over a decade of experience in the top levels of the sport. He's still involved with pro cycling as team manager of the UCI Continental Team Dauner Akkon, and he's bringing a couple of his current team to the event too.
Linus Gerdemann is also racing. A Tour de France stage winner and a yellow jersey wearer, Gerdemann retired in 2016 but spends most of his time these days riding round Mallorca, so he's plenty fit enough to dish out some hurt.
If you're thinking that 180km in the desert might be a hard day out then you're not Johnny Hoogerland, who finished the 2011 Tour de France despite being shoved into a barbed wire fence by a support car and requiring 33 stitches. Like a Boss. Johnny now runs a hotel in Austria and you can stay with him for the Gravel Epic race just over the border in Slovenia later in the year.
Of course, you don't have to be a pro to show up at the Gravel Epic. Dave isn't, and he'll probably come last. But anyone can enter, and the more ordinary riders there are, the happier he'll be. Event entry costs €199 and accommodation is available at the race HQ from €46 a night, with transfers available to and from the airport.
If you like the look of the series and fancy bagging yourself a free ride at the Mount Etna round at the start of May, then get yourself over to this competition and put your name in the hat. The prize is for the race entry and accommodation, so you'll just have to find yourself a flight and you'll be sorted.
This article includes paid promotion on behalf of Gravel Epic