I’m heading to Jay Petervary’s Gravel Pursuit in a couple weeks. I’m excited to race it for the first time, to see some new roads, revisit some old roads, and hang with some amazing people. Idaho is one of my favorite places, having visited it on many occasions. It has some of the last, great wild spaces that the United States has to offer. It’s not a large state by some standards, but it packs in huge experiences.
To prep for the event, I’ve gotten in several big days on the bike, including the 110-mile Buffalo Bicycle Classic in Boulder. Sure it’s a paved event, but it climbs plenty and stays high for a big part of it. I made a point of not drafting though to up the training load. I’ve also done a couple weeks of intervals to sharpen up.
The bike for this event is a test bike that I’ll review for Adventure Cyclist, Litespeed’s fantastic T5 Gravel bike. It debuted at Sea Otter earlier this year and while it clears 700x40mm or 650bx47mm tires with ease, the geometry is more road oriented than many gravel bikes. I already have a couple really long days on the Litespeed, including riding a “Grand Loop” with several friends from Boulder to Estes Park, then on to Grand Lake, Winter Park, Idaho Springs, Blackhawk, and back to Boulder.
Right after I signed up I contacted Jay for advice on tires and based on his recommendation, I’m running a big ‘ole 45mm WTB Riddle up front and Kenda’s excellent Flintridge 40mm on the rear. The Enve wheels I'm running are light, tough and offer an aerodynamic advantage.
Petervary recommends three water bottles for riders taking on the 120-mile event. While the Litespeed has three mounts, I decided to use Wolftooth’s B-RAD system to cram three large bottles inside the main triangle. I can access them all much more easily than it is to reach under the down tube for the third.
I’ll carry some of my nutrition in a Profile Design top tube bag. I like its slim shape and that it bolts to the top tube of the Litespeed. The straps help stabilize it even more. A bar and five gels fit inside without much fuss. The rest of my food will go in my jersey pockets.
I’m not running aerobars though I frequently do for gravel races. In the case of the Gravel Pursuit I opted to save a bit of weight. Normally I’d mount my lights and GPS to the aerobars, pushing them forward. Instead my Wahoo Elemnt is mounted to the stem to track progress and record the ride. A Morsa Designs accessory mount pushes the Niterider light forward so that when riding out of the saddle, I’m not leaning forward into the glare. A Cateye rear blinking light is strapped on the left seatstay.
My spares, including two inner tubes, patches, tire lever, multitool, section of chain, a quicklink, and a few other items are held in an aging Pedro’s seat bag. A Lezyne pump sits alongside one of my bottle cages
The 3T bar is stock on the Litespeed and it’s agreeing with me. I installed my usual Selle SMP Drakon saddle and a pair of long spindle iSSi Flash II pedals to ensure posterior and knee comfort.
I’ll make my clothing decision on the morning but I plan on carrying a Gore ShakeDry jacket as an absolute minimum. Arm warmers and knee warmers seem likely as well. If I had a crystal ball, it would probably predict a cycling cap, wool gloves, a baselayer, short sleeve jersey, and bib shorts in my future. I’ll wear my favorite Shimano XC90 cycling shoes, Adidas photochromic glasses and a Scott helmet
The other item that the local forest service recommends is bear spray. I’ll bring some up with me and attend the riders’ meeting to get a sense of activity in the area. That’ll determine whether I carry it.
I’m really curious how I’ll feel during a race this long so late in the season. But this time last year I was prepping for the 12-Hour World Time Trial Championships and pouring on the miles. I have good fitness and feel good about riding solidly all day. But if it turns into a ride rather than a race, at least it’ll be among friends and in one of the most beautiful places on earth.