|My D2R2 machine: Steelwool Truffle Pig (58cm) built with Columbus Spirit-for-lugs tubing.|
The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee begins at 6 am on Saturday, just as dawn breaks. The first climb of the day's 15, 000 feet of vertical gain will commence almost immediately, some two kilometers into the route. Comrades on wheels will look around, glance down to each other's cassettes, and ask the inevitable question: "So, what gear are you running?" Naturally, the question will pertain to the ascending, rather than the descending capacity of each bike. Each rider's gearing choice says something about their perceived fitness and desired pace. Sometimes the answer communicates an utter lack of research. 39x23, for example. That gear could also indicate ill placed bravado. Its always fun to watch and find out!
The second inevitable D2R2 question is in fact more about the descending capacity of the bikes in use: 'So, what tires are you running?' Whereas bikes geared too high either can't be climbed up some of the steeper pitches, or force riders to burn too many matches too early in the 180k route (and I'm sure this applies to the 115k route that gains 10,000ft!), bikes shod with ill suited tires deliver a double whammy punch: 1) they beat the heck out of their riders, wearing them down and compromising their ability to produce the power they need lat in the ride; and 2) they puncture. Its not so much that skinny tires are deadly, as the descents do not tend to feature hairy turns (well...depending on perspective). Rather, the roads are rough, and fast. Even on good tires, like the Grand Bois in 30c, I flatted four times in 2010. In dry years, there are many opportunities to pinch flat. I decided then to come back with bigger tires, tubeless.
This past Sunday, Pascal, Rodd, Todd and I set out for a final shakedown ride. While Rodd and Todd won't make D2R2 this year, regrettably, they were happy to join Pascal and me for a good dose of dirt. We rolled together to Wakefield via Cascades, enjoyed a new loop of dirt road just before the ski hill, then paused at Pipolinka for a snack before splitting up so Pascal and I could put in another 110k of trail, dirt road, and pave. About 165k total by the end, Pascal and I worked in lots of rough testing for our wheel and gearing setups, and put our legs to work. All systems performed brilliantly. Here's what I'm running, perhaps Pascal will post on his gorgeous Steelwool Rover.
My prototype Steelwool Truffle Pig cyclocross bike has been a trusty steed since I built it last fall. Shod for cyclocross, then general road use, I've raced CX on it, spring classics, 15 and 40k time trials, A-loops, and about 4000 kilometers on the road, paved and otherwise. It has been stellar. For D2R2, I didn't need to change much. The main modification I've made over the course of the season is 'shaving' my Stan's Raven tubeless cyclocross tires.
|Here's how the Raven started out. 35c, with low knobs, and a fairly square profile. Great on trails, but a bit slow on pavement, and sluggish out of the saddle.|
|Here's the revised Raven, with side knobs cut off. This rounds the tire out significantly, which makes them feel much more predictable on harder surfaces, and feels much better out of the saddle on pavement. 42lbs front, 45lbs rear pressure.|
|I must have lost what, 15 grams, per tire!|
|My SRAM cranks are shod with Shimano SPDs. Road shoes and pedals would be a liability at D2R2,.|