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Jeroboam Gravel: How the series debuted in Czechia

Jeroboam Gravel is a series of gravel camps, mainly across Europe, organized by the Italian brand 3T with the home and original edition taking place in Franciacorta, Italy. This year, the series expands to the Czech Republic, in particular to the Jeseníky Mountains, which we featured in one of our Places to Ride articles. This location attracts a wide range of cyclists, from road to trail riders, and could not be more ideal for the first edition in the country which took place in June.

The 4-day camp opened on Thursday for the first arriving participants of the Jeroboam 300 km route. The longest route started on Friday morning and expected the first finishers to return the next morning. Most of the participants (including us) arrived at the camp on Friday afternoon, to get ready for the Magnum 150 km and the Standard 75 km routes.

Cozy and familiar atmosphere

The camp was located in a secluded village in the west part of the Jeseníky Mountains range. Kolovna, the local event organizer, has their hotel there, so their premises served as the campsite. There was an option to stay either in the comfort of a hotel room or in a tent. We stuck with most of the riders and set up a tent.

As this was the first Czech edition, the attendance was relatively modest, around 60, mostly Czech riders. That local participation created a cozy atmosphere in the camp, as the attendees got to meet familiar faces as well as made new friends. Not all the participants were locals, though. A handful of foreigners attended too; Jeroboam even attracted a couple all the way from Estonia.

The Friday evening before the main day out in the saddle, we had a gentle party by a campfire with some BBQ options. Soon, most of the riders moved over to their tents to be ready for the day ahead.

Routes that challenge your level

With an alarm set to 6 am on Saturday, we heard an applause outside around the same time. The first two finishers of the 300 km route had just arrived at the camp. Looking genuinely tired, they told us that they split from the rest of their group, which had held together the whole previous day until the evening and went on throughout the night to finish the ride in 19 hours. They only stopped for a one-hour break. Not even for a nap, but for a coffee break. The riders of the 300 km route were given the option to have their sleeping bags and needs brought to their sleepover location, and probably most of the rest used this perk.

It was our turn to get ready, the 150 km route was about to start. The profile of the course looked relentless: over 4000 m of elevation gain in mostly gravel terrain. The first checkpoint with refreshments would be set up at 75th km where the route finished its first loop and passed close by the campsite again. Another refreshment point would be waiting at the 100th and 120th kms, where the route starts and finishes another loop.

Around 20 of us set off on a rainy ride. Even though the event is not a race, the pace was relatively high from the early start, and so we decided to take it rather easy and ride with a couple of other riders in a grupetto. The route soon took us to the forests, where the first couple of climbs were located. Their peaks offered scenic views of the region, with fog covering the valleys below us.

Soon, we learned that finishing the whole route would be more difficult than expected, given the terrain and the cold and rainy conditions. It felt like an eternity before the first 30 km went by. The weather would not improve all the way to the 75th km checkpoint, so we decided to pull out of the ride at that point after 5 hours of riding and return to the camp. There, we met the gradually arriving finishers of 300 km and 75 km routes. Happy and satisfied faces from those finishing early in the morning were slowly coming out of their tents after a well-deserved nap and joined us at the leisure area.

Jeroboam may have the reputation of a rather challenging gravel camp. Surely it tests the riders’ endurance and technical skills. In the end, we learned the same two years ago at their Franciacorta edition. This proves that gravel cycling really has a wide range of terrain types to offer.

We could say that this event is an ideal opportunity for those who want to enjoy rather technical terrain and perhaps challenge themselves in a longer route. Alternatively, the shorter routes complement the options menu for the less experienced riders as well.

Sunday: 3T test ride

Sunday morning was all sunny again. Some riders were packing and leaving back home, others decided to stay and take the option to go for an easy 50 km morning ride on provided 3T gravel models. On the way to our destination of the day, the Paprsek hill, we enjoyed both easy and fast sections of fine gravel and some more technical ones too. The nice weather made up for the previous day and everyone seemed to enjoy the group ride.

In fact, we rode both days on the 3T Exploro Racemax model. The bike felt very light and had a good roll on the flats, nicely carrying the speed with the 40 mm wide tires. The Sram Rival AXS groupset allowed to change gears under a reasonable power load with ease while going uphill in the terrain. Given the larger wheelbase and the frame size 58, the bike felt slightly challenging to handle at times, but that would be the case only in the steepest and most technically difficult sections. In downhill sections, however, we could ride it very confidently.

Once back in camp, it was time to pack up and return home. A lot of the participants seemed in no rush, perhaps they did not want to admit the entertaining camp was coming to its end. Time to look forward to the next event of the series.

Photos: Kolovna archives