Adam Roberge's Gravel Locos Race Win and Recap

25 May
10 MIN

Last weekend, Adam Roberge took the win at Gravel Locos in Hico, TX, a race that’s arguably become the de facto ’shakeout race’ for riders who will be contending for the win at Unbound two weeks later. (Read about Dylan Johnson’s take on Gravel Locos and Unbound prep here!)

Adam soloed to the win at Gravel Locos on Saturday, and here, he talked to us about how the race played out.

What makes Gravel Locos unique?

Gravel Locos is very special. It feels like a race but also like a party. There is a pre-ride that all the riders do together, there are two dinners before the race—it really feels like a really big reunion. The ambiance is a very cool about the race.

What’s the course like?

The course itself is a super long, but super fast, It’s 250 kilometers, but it races really fast, the gravel is really smooth. I used the Kenda 4titude 42s, and those those tires are super fast. They're slick tires. Honestly, I had to watch myself just a little bit more in corners, but I think they were the perfect tires. Normally I run 30 PSI, but in this race with how smooth it is, I was able to push it up to 35 PSI.

How did the race play out?

So the course is basically divided into three parts. There’s a feed zone after 90 kilometers, and there's a feed zone after 165 kilometers. And the special thing about Gravel Locos is that the race organizer, Fabian, is at the feed zone and we have a mandatory stop. When everyone is done filling up with food and water, we roll again.

The first part before that first feed zone was very fast, people were attacking. It naturally created the first lead group of around 40 people. Just ahead of that feed zone, there’s the first real test of the day with three back to back climbs. Payson McElveen definitely knew those climbs! Right before those climbs, there's a pretty sketchy descent that is really loose. And he took that descent pretty fast. On those climbs, I was very close to the front, and on top of the first and second one, I helped push the pace with Payson to create a selection. But it all came back together after the third climb, because the feed zone is very soon after those climbs, and it takes too much energy to push it because you're you're going to stop very soon. Having a 20-second gap coming into the feed zone is maybe not super helpful.

The second part of the race is between the two feed zones, and this part where was where kind of the controversy happens. I would say half of the guys were happy to pretty much sit on in the lead group. I was giving a relay from time to time just to not be too bored. I was just conserving energy just appreciating that we weren't not going super hard, knowing that it was just a matter of time before we would attack each other. That second part that created the controversy from the race, where one guy in particular was not happy about that riding.

We arrived at the second feed zone and all stopped. By that point, there were about 20 guys. Everybody got what they needed, sprayed some water on themselves, and then Fabian let us go. And we knew that now, it was game time. And honestly, from that point on until the end, honestly I feel like I took a lot of the workload, I was feeling amazingly good. It was clear to me that that I was one of the strongest, and I wanted to make sure that nobody would get away from me. So I was making sure to bring back all the moves that I would judge as dangerous.

I was not hoping for a sprint finish. I was okay with it. But my goal was really to do a late move. So at around 12k to go, there's a water crossing that is pretty deep. We had the big storm that day before. So I was looking at that to make my move. And Payson was in the water first, I was maybe six or seventh in the water. And coming out of the water, Payson was in front, Dylan was well placed, and Jasper and I were just behind. We had six guys trying to create that selection. Then, there was a big road crossing and we had to stop. So the other guys came back to us. I don’t know that it would have stuck anyway, we didn’t have a big gap, and Alex Howes and Ian Boswell were working hard to bring it back. So I'm not sure it would have stuck.

Once it came back together, Laurens Ten Daam put on this strong attack, but we all worked together to keep them at bay. And then Jasper just put a super strong sneaky attack. Payson and I were the only ones able to follow, because it was a sprint attack. Then we were three and had a really small gap.

We were so close to the finish, under three kilometers. Unfortunately, Payson crashed really bad and took out Jasper with him. I looked back because I heard their crash and we still had a small gap of a few seconds. I decided to try to make it to the finish myself. You’re hoping that the other guys are going to be looking at each other to do the work for the last bit coming into the finish. But luckily, I just had the good legs and I was able to hold it to the finish.

It was a real bummer for Payson and another serious injury for him and I hope he recovers quickly. He raced so well that day, and him and Jasper were so strong.

What does it mean to you to win Gravel Locos?

It was very cool to win Gravel Locos, it was my first gravel race ever two years ago. It’s been on my list of races I hoped to win, and it’s getting harder and harder. To win now, it demands more and more performance and commitment. It was just a great feeling to confirm that I'm still improving as a cyclist.