The weekend of March 24 / 25, 2018, was earmarked as the absolute last weekend I could delay my preparation for one or two upcoming events, one being a relatively small shindig known as Dirty Kanza 200. If you’re a regular follower of the Gravel Cyclist website, you’ll know my 2018 preparations haven’t been exactly smooth – thanks, double hernia surgery! – but, I’m coming back to form nicely. The rediscovery of some semblance of fitness has involved various arse kickings at just about every training ride, and events such as the Big Scrub Gravel Buzz and the Dirty Pecan.
March 24, 2018 – Tour de Gainesville
Described by some as “60+ miles of trails and other goodness through Gainesville, Florida. An underground type of event with mostly single speed riders – but all are welcome – with a party afterward.” The event has been running for over 15 years, and organizer Matt works hard with his crew of volunteers to keep the trails alive and add a new element or two for each edition. You don’t need a single speed rig, but you do need a good, fun attitude, as some of these trails aren’t easy to find, even with GPS map assistance. Bring your sense of adventure!
The TdG is divided into two portions, morning and afternoon, with about two-thirds of the action coming in the morning session. A massive lunch stop provided by Bikes and More of Gainesville, Florida (one of my favorite shops!), with burgers (veggie too), beer, sugary snack items and other stuff greet riders after the morning jaunt.
This is where many riders call it a day, as full bellies make it difficult to get rolling again. There is a group of front-runners who ride the event for time and the honor of “winning” the illustrious trophy – to be handed back every year but with a personal item added to it – but most, myself included, are out for the ride and the fun.
For the 2018 edition, I was joined by good mate, Big Head Todd, whose steed of choice was a steel GT frame, 26’er, albeit with a rigid 29’er fork. His setup works quite nicely.
Unlike a lot of attendees, Todd made the point of studying the map. Because I trust Todd implicitly, there was nothing to worry about other than to ride and not crash too often. I ride these trails once or twice a year, and always on a cross or gravel bike. Heavy rain had fallen early in the week preceding the event, so that meant Todd and I would be bagging out of two known sludge / trail sectors, one of which doubles as a logjam, Alligator Alley. Unless you’re competing for the trophy, nobody cares about the route you took, only that you appear for lunch. My kind of rules!
Because we *may* have cut the course just a wee bit here and there, we had plenty of buffer to tip toe through any tricky sections, and hike-a-bike where needed. My skills have improved a lot since the first time I rode the TdG, so the hiking was down considerably over previous years.
Having time on our side allowed us to stay ahead of some of the crowd, handy for when Todd experienced an untimely rear wheel puncture. It’s always the rear wheel. And, he wasn’t running tubeless, in case you were wondering*.
* 27th March, 2018 – but now he is.
Further time on our side and Todd’s study of the map provided a buffer to visit Tipple’s Beer and Wine, a known hangout for cyclists, and just a mile off the course.
After a relaxing beer or two (liquid brunch) just before lunch, we set sail for the lunch stop at Bikes and More.
Above, we encountered these fellows and others along the way. If you aren’t getting lost on the TdG, you aren’t doing it right!
Above, lunch is served outside of Bikes and More – thanks to Paul and his crew for the HUGE spread! The two lads closest to the camera in the photo above are University of Florida Alumni, and good mates. My how they have both grown! Onya to Michael and Daniel (they’re both avid gravel / adventure rider types).
I spent way too long at lunch and rode a paltry 15 additional miles before I headed home for the day…. but only to shower, change clothes, and hang out at the TdG after party at Cypress and Grove Brewery! Way to top off the day! Thanks again to Matt and his crew for organizing the TdG once again, Paul and the crew at Bikes and More for the lunch-fest, and Pat and his fellow owners / staff at Cypress and Grove brewery for having all of us along.
P.S. My skills aside, the Lynskey PRO GR was a superb performer, and I only crashed once. Win!
March 25, 2018 – Mega Solo Roadie Ride (plus Gravel)
I may have consumed one or two post-ride libations at the TdG after party, but that provided the motivation I needed to knock out a mega solo gravel ride. Libations = carbo-loading, in case you missed that. Intentionally or not, I woke up a little too late to ride my intended gravel path from Gainesville to Live Oak.
Because Daylight Savings Time is finally here!, the idea of lugging around lights didn’t sit well. Ambling along on gravel sans time crunch is fine, but I really wanted to beat the sun home. Thus, I loaded my Plan B ride into my trusty navigation device, and took off on the 3T Strada, a roadie machine I happen to be reviewing on behalf of my friends at BikeRumor.com
I’m sparing everyone the intricate details from this ride, but I will say this:
- It was windy.
- It was long – 166 miles / 266 kilometres.
- It was solo.
- There was some dirt and gravel involved.
- I got a lot of thinking done / watched some movies inside my head.
- For once, I had super legs (why can’t this happen in a race!)
For the inquisitive types out there, the 3T Strada is a single chainring / 1x road bike. I’m NOT going to spoil the review by letting the cat out of the bag on my thoughts on the bike just yet.
However, I can tell you I rode a 50T chainring and an 11-28 cassette. The gearing was absolutely perfect for the course I rode. With 1x, you do need to think about gearing more than a double chainring bike, unless you relish annoyingly huge gaps in your cassette (something that really ticks me off).
Finally, I don’t upload to Strava very often for various reasons, but you can see my roadie ride data here.
Thanks for reading, I hope you managed a ride or two during your respective weekend!