Preparation: What to carry for a 150 mile race like Gravel Worlds?

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Saturday, August 20 marks the 2016 Gravel Worlds race in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you are a regular follower of the Gravel Cyclist website, you’ll know the three-person crew of K-Dogg, Mrs K-Dogg and JOM have been steadily knocking out miles for the race.

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Part of preparation involves bike setup – you can see JOM’s race bike in detail HERE – in fact, all three of the Gravel Cyclist crew attending the race are aboard Ritchey’s Breakaway bicycle – steel frames for Mrs and Mrs K-Dogg and titanium for JOM.

Unlike many other gravel races with check points, drop bags and aid stations, Gravel Worlds is more about self-sufficiency. Water, limited snacks or a nearby convenience store are available at the Gravel Worlds checkpoints, but if a rider desires his / her own race fuel, they need to carry it themselves. If you’re racing in the Cargo Bike category (seriously, that is a category), you won’t have any problems lugging around your own food and tool stash for 150 miles.

Carrying around spare tubes, tools, food and hydration – and a bunch of electronics – and making room for it all can be a challenge. JOM is a bloke who eschews the venerable Camelbak; “I possess an ancient model known as the Razor, meant for road or time trial use with a small bladder inside. However, I’m not a fan of wearing my hydration…” says JOM.

There isn’t a lot of helpful information on the internet about how and what you should bring to a long and potentially arduous race such as Gravel Worlds. A lot of riders keep their preparation under wraps – some riders prefer to keep their cards to their chest. JOM reveals what he did for the final equipment shakedown ride – a simulation of race day – and what he learned.

Dodgy quality image taken morning of the ride.
JOM’s bike pre-ride – apologies for the dodgy quality.

In the photograph above, the following items are loaded aboard JOM’s bike:

  • Specialized Vital Pack loaded with 4 x Larabars – on average, these bars contain 200 calories in a 45 gram package with good stuff inside.
  • 2 x GoPro cameras with Brunton extended batteries (the orange box) – GoPro 3+ on the front and GoPro 3 on the rear. On race day, GoPro remotes actuate these cameras.
  • 2 x 20oz water bottles loaded with Gu drink mix. On race day, Gu Roctane will replace the Gu drink mix.
  • Because there is no room for a saddle bag, JOM had to get creative with spare tubes. Two of them are lashed with electrical tape back to back either side of the seatpost. 2 x Co2 cartridges are taped securely to the left side chainstay with electrical tape. Orange Sealant Endurance formula sealant is installed inside each of JOM’s Panaracer Gravelking SK 700c x 35mm tyres.
  • 1 x Specialized Mini Airtool Road pump (mounted discreetly alongside the front bottle cage).
  • 1 x Rear-facing taillight.

Because of the current Ritchey Breakaway frame design, the rear brake cable runs above the top tube. This limits the usage of top tube bags such as the Revelate Design Jerry Can (backs up against the seatpost on top of the top tube), a bag JOM used to store his tools and spares at the 2016 Dirty Kanza race. Fortunately, the Specialized Vital Pack doesn’t hinder rear brake operation in any way.

Possibly not the best solution.
Possibly not the best solution for carrying Co2 cartridges.

In JOM’s three rear jersey pockets, the following items were loaded:

  • Tools – chain breaker, spare chain master link, 1 x Pedros tyre lever, 1 x M4 Allen key, 1 x M5 Allen key, 1 x M6 Allen key, 1 x Co2 inflator and 1 x 1oz (28 ml) container of Dumonde Tech Original formula lube.
  • Mobile phone with extended battery.
  • 1 x Gu Energy Flask filled with water (simulating a full load of Gu Roctane gel).
  • 1 x 500ml Platypus foldable water bottle, full.
  • 2 x Larabars.

And finally, 4 x individual Gu gels, two each stored in the left and right leg gripper of JOM’s bib shorts.

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Saturday’s relatively short 58 mile / 92 kilometre ride featured a bit more pavement than usual, but there were plenty of zero traffic roads on the menu with a few tricky sections to help shake out the bikes.

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The sector above featured some major potholes, tree roots and a wee bit of loose sand.

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Unfortunately, a problem cropped up with the stem on Mrs K-Dogg’s Breakaway. Due to a missing sleeve spacer inside the stem where it interfaces with the fork steerer tube (presumably sizes the stem from 1 1/4 to 1 1/8), the stem had inadequate clamping force on the lower half allowing the stem to move left or right under reasonable to heavy load. Typically such spacers are one piece, but for some reason, this one was two. The good news is the stem held sufficiently in place to complete the ride safely, allowing the crew to swap out the stem post-ride. Warranty required on the dud stem…

Mrs K-Dogg, K-Dogg and JOM (badly in need of a shave).
Mrs K-Dogg, K-Dogg and JOM stop for a photo op.
K-Dogg on a sweet dirt and gravel road outside of Gainesville, FL.
K-Dogg on a sweet dirt and gravel road outside of Gainesville, FL.
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Another Ritchey Breakaway CX photo op.

Not counting a squealing cantilever brake on K-Dogg’s bike – fixed by adjusting the pad toe-in – the remainder of the ride was very trouble free. However, JOM’s bike setup with tubes and other gear lashed to the frame was less than optimal. Then there was the issue of pocket space, which would be better served with some more food items. JOM would much rather carry additional food and never use it, versus wanting it.

JOM's bike as it will appear at 2016 Gravel Worlds.
JOM’s bike as it will appear at 2016 Gravel Worlds.

JOM’s final bike setup for the 2016 Gravel Worlds:

  • Specialized Vital Pack loaded with 4 x Larabars.
  • 1 x forward facing GoPro 3+ camera with Brunton extended battery and 1 x associated remote. Sorry folks, JOM really needs a saddle bag at this race so there will be no rear-facing footage 🙁 Imagine all those pain faces you will be missing on camera…
  • 1 x Specialized Mini Wedgie saddle bag loaded with 1 x tube, 2 x Co2 cartridges, 1 x Pedros tyre lever, 1 x chain breaker, 1 x spare chain master link, 1 x M4 Allen key, 1 x M5 Allen key, 1 x M6 Allen key and 1 x Co2 inflator.
  • 2 x 33oz Zefal Magnum water bottles loaded with Gu Roctane drink mix.
  • 1 x tube lashed to the seatpost with electrical tape.
  • 1 x Specialized Mini Airtool Road pump (mounted discreetly alongside the front bottle cage).
  • 1 x rear-facing taillight.
  • A small forward-facing light may be used on race day for the 6am start.

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In JOM’s three rear jersey pockets, the following items will be loaded:

  • Mobile phone with extended battery, mostly for live GPS tracking (link will be posted to the Gravel Cyclist Facebook page on race eve).
  • 1 x Gu Energy Flask filled with Gu Roctane gel.
  • 1 x 500ml Platypus foldable water bottle, filled with water
  • 4 x Larabars.
  • Plastic resealable bag containing Gu Roctane powder for refilling the on-bike water bottles.
  • 1 x 1oz (28 ml) container of Dumonde Tech Original formula lube.

And finally, 4 x individual Gu gels, two each stored in the left and right leg gripper of JOM’s bib shorts.

For those inclined, JOM’s Strava ride data from the final weekend before Gravel Worlds!

Saturday’s shakedown cruise rideSunday’s spirited road ride

Next weekend, Gravel Worlds – thanks for reading!

6 comments on “Preparation: What to carry for a 150 mile race like Gravel Worlds?

  1. Good weather, good gravel and good luck to Team Gravel Cyclist!

    “Remember, I’m pulling for ya. We’re all in this together!”

  2. RE: rear Go Pro mount.

    Easy! Just use a seat post mount for the Go Pro, move the light to the seat stay. Good luck!

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