Team or Privateering? How to make a living as a gravel racer

Now that one can make a career as a gravel racer, is it best to join a team or go it alone? The pros weigh in

The Orange Seall Off-Road Team
(Image credit: Orange Seal)

Gravel racing is still very much the wild frontier of professional bike racing with limited sanctioning, rules or standards. As such, professionals have been earning a living, managing their schedules and bringing their personality and talent into the sport in vastly different ways.  Most riders have built what is called a privateer program where they create their own support system by acting as the direct contact for sponsors and working as their own manager. But we’re also seeing the emergence of more teams, loosely similar to how a road or elite mountain bike team might work. 

Within the model of a gravel team, athletes are primarily responsible for their training and racing. A team manager will coordinate most of the logistics, travel and race schedule for their athletes. The team manager communicates with sponsors, manages the money that comes into the team and pays riders based on their contracts. 

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Emily Schaldach
Freelance writer

Emily Schaldach has taken to writing and riding, both to near obsession. Her favorite moments are riding above tree-line, racing CX, or coaching high school mountain bikers. Schaldach writes a weekly Substack newsletter called Too Many Socks and has written for VeloNews, Gear Patrol and Experience Life. Schaldach was born in Durango, Colorado and currently lives in Reno, Nevada with her two best friends and big old black lab named Hoola. She races for the BitchnGrit Cycling Team with Firefly Bikes and TenSpeed Hero - creating a dream dynamic of artwork and hardwork on every ride.