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  • Ribble Collective rider, Mikey Mottram gives his take on the 2023 gravel campaign. Reflecting on the highs, lows, and representing Team GB at his second succcessive Gravel World Championships in Veneto, Italy.

  • Left Image: Mikey poses with his Gravel SL Stone Edition race bike alongside teammates Metheven Bond and George Hodgkinson. Right Image: Navigating the transtion from tarmac to gravel during October's Gravel World Champs.

  • Since transferring his athletic talents from the water to the road, ex-rower Mikey Mottram has pretty much seen and done it all when it comes to UK road racing. However the last couple of seasons have seen the Oxfordshire resident turn his attentions to gravel racing in order to satisfy his competitive urge. And two successive appearances at the Gravel World Championships certainly tells the tale of a man who has fully embraced the relatively new sport of gravel racing - in all its rutted, rocky, and mud-splattered splendour.

    So, with this in mind, we thought we'd catch up with the man himself, and see what he made of his gravel campaign.

  • Was your pre-season aim always centred around riding the Gravel World Championships in Italy?

    Yes, following on from riding the elite gravel worlds in 2022, the 2023 worlds were always the main target. We didn’t have a load of information about the race until quite late, other than it was going to be in Veneto, Italy. So, it was hard to know exactly what to prepare for. However, it was certainly one I wanted to race.

    Donning that fresh, crisp Team GB kit must be a proud moment, right?

    Of course, getting any new kit is exciting. I came to cycling from rowing ten years ago and rowed a fair bit internationally. Until last year I didn’t expect to be riding for my nation again, but the introduction of an Elite gravel worlds gave me that opportunity. But coming back to it, yes, it’s cool to put the kit on, but you do forget it pretty soon once you are in the heat of battle.

    What did qualifying for Team GB entail?

    I did a few of the UCI world series: 3 Rides (GER), The Gralloch (GBR), Wish One (FRA) and Grit, Grind & Gravel (SWE). The race results didn't quite work out the way I would have hoped but I thankfully did enough to qualify for the age group. However, before I could even race in the elites, I had to apply to British Cycling towards the season's end. I didn't actually find out that I had been selected for the world's until a few weeks before the race was due to commence.

    Describe the worlds in three words.

    Intense, hot, loud.

    When did you decide gravel was the discipline for you?

    Last year, Maddy (Nutt) and I did one of the first-ever UCI gravel races, Wish One. We both posted great results thoroughly enjoyed it. After that, I knew it was the discipline I wanted to focus on.

    How do you feel your season went overall?

    There were ups and downs, but certainly more ups. The season started well with good rides at races like Battle on the Beach and the Traka. From May through July, I seemed unable to put a good race together. And the most frustrating thing was it wasn’t due to lack of fitness. Instead, it was down to niggly punctures or frustrating minor mechanicals bringing my race to a premature end each time.

    It all came to a head at the Rift in Iceland at the end of July. There I was, stuck halfway up a volcano, waiting for a lift back after suffering another race-ending mechanical, questioning whether I even wanted to be doing this anymore. Thankfully, a long trip to Sweden in August for two races made me realise what I enjoyed most about riding and racing. This complete mindset change set me up for an excellent finish to the season.

    Which was your favourite event and why?

    Gravel Earth Final – It was such a demanding and exciting course. There was always something challenging to keep you focused. The fact that hardly any riders finished with anyone else highlighted just how challenging the course was. The Gravel Earth Series also attracted a good group of people, so the atmosphere in and around the race itself was fantastic.

    As a competitive cyclist, how do you shape your personal life to support your racing and training?

    I feel my ADHD controls my life around training and racing. And, it’s not always the healthiest of relationships. But I find cycling and sport in general has always been incredibly important to me, and my mental health is something I need to set me straight for the day. Of course, I can be negative sometimes, but my days are typically built around getting my training in and my dopamine levels right.

    Riding for the Ribble Collective allows you to choose what events to ride. How do you pick your races?

    I like to try and find challenging races that look likely to be a good experience to ride. When I was road racing there was nothing, I hated more than traveling to a race, missing out on the break and just being left to ride in the bunch the whole day. If I’m going to a race, I want it to be hard. I also like to race the UK events to help develop and support a gravel discipline that will only get bigger and better as it continues to grow in popularity here in the UK. But being at home with my wife and beagle is also essential to me, so I tend to remain within Europe, with one or two targeted longer trips.

    What’s your biggest takeaway from your 2023 campaign?

    I need to remember that I cycle because I enjoy it. Things don’t always go your way, but when they don't, you must enjoy the experience and being around the people you are with.

    What’s next for you, winter training?

    Yes, I enjoy winter training in the UK. Getting through the dark, wet, cold, or long turbo sessions makes you come out of the other side feeling really hardened for the year ahead. It also makes you really appreciate the good weather (which can be rare in the UK).

  • Mikey's Race Rig

  • Mikey's race rig for the gravel worlds was the Gravel SL - Stone Edition. The Gravel SL carbon frame is almost identical in terms of construction to the our flagship carbon endurance bike, the Endurance SL R. It shares the same bespoke blend of of Toray T1000 and T800 carbon fibres and drag-defying frame shapes that make this one of the most slippery gravel framesets around. Precision gear shifting comes in the form of Shimano's gravel-centric GRX Di2 electronic drivetrain, with the levers being mounted to an aero optimised LEVEL 5 carbon integrated handlebar system. Based on the best-selling LEVEL 5 system found on our enduracne road range, this gravel version features flared drops for pinpoint handling on the most challenging terrain. The frame has also been given a stone-inspired paint design unique to each frameset. Available in three stunning options of slate, marble and granite, the intricacy of the design ensures that no two finishes are ever identical.

  • Maddy Nutt has taken the Gravel world by storm in 2023, claiming multiple podiums along the way. We spoke to the talented gravel star to find uncover her thoughts on a highly successful campaign. Delve into the blog to find out more.

  • Having raced road, tt and gravel in 2023, Joe Laverick surely deserves the title of Multi-Discipline Master. Discover what Joe made of his race campaign in the instalment of our Ribble Collective rider series blog.