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Gravel Diary: Andrew Wiesniwski

For 2019, Challenge Tires welcomed applications from riders around the world to be part of our gravel program. Since the beginning of the gravel season we’ve been enjoying events that are as varied as the gravel discipline itself. Next to check in with us is Andrew Wisniewski who took on Barry Roubaix.

Barry is the first real race of the Michigan season. There are other smaller events, but the gravel roads of Barry County are where you get to see if your off season planning is truly coming together.

For me, it was the first race after an off-season in the gym and a lot of time on the indoor trainer. Leading into the two weeks prior to the event, the forecast was all over the map. Some had us getting 3” of snow, while others showed rain and wind. While I knew my bike was dialed, I took the two weeks before to test out the different tires setups.

The Strada Bianca was the first tire to get mounted and still finds itself on my training, group ride and everyday gravel wheels. For dry hard pack, the tire has been great. Low rolling resistance, high volume and just enough grip. While this has become my everyday tire, with the forecasted conditions, I was concerned with traction.

I next mounted up the two different widths of the Gravel Grinder TLR. Both ride incredibly well. Fast and smooth in the straights, but simply weight the outside pedal, lean the bike over and these things grip in the corners. A few days before the event, I was testing the 38’s and loved the confidence they instilled on pretty much anything but the worst mud.

As race day approached, it was time to make a final decision. The course reports were fast, firm with just enough tack in the corners. This made the choice pretty simple. I’d be running the Gravel Grinder TLR 33’s. They mounted up quick, held air with the normal amount of Orange Seal and were ready for Openers.

For the race, this is a checkpoint for me. Has Base training been going well? Do I have any areas that I need to address during Build? I had signed up for the Men’s 62 Mile Open class knowing this would be a good test. It is a large group, with some of the best cyclists in the state of Michigan.

The bike was ready, I was ready and now it was just a matter of executing. Race morning was cool, with some clouds and the indication it could be windy. That proved to be true and them some!

After fighting my way through the opening hills, II found myself bouncing through different groups all day. Trading pulls, fighting the wind, hiding from the wind, doing anything to have legs for the last five miles of the event.

As we settled into this point, the group I was with had slowed. Next thing I know, I’m on my own. In no man’s land fighting a killer headwind. In the distance, I spotted the familiar look of my fellow Racing Greyhound teammate’s kit. With a little work, I managed to bridge to a group of 8. We rode to the finish, fighting for positions all the way.

I finished the 2019 edition of Barry Roubaix in 3:19:56. Average speed of 18.7mph, 212 out of 890 overall and 122 out of 354 in the Men’s Open 62. As was goal going in was to test the legs for the upcoming season, I walked away feeling fully satisfied. The offseason work was on point and the new Challenge Gravel Grinder TLR’s help me set PR’s throughout the day