Gear for unsupported gravel century
I'm contemplating an unsupported gravel century next month and was wondering what would be considered reasonable to carry with. Obviously I want to carry what is likely to be needed but don't want any extra weight.
My long-distance tool kit (for unsupported rides in the boonies) includes:
- Park multitool
- Innertube and patch kit (the larger patches make decent boots for punctures or small cuts)
- CO2 inflator and two cartridges
- QuikStick and two Park blue tire levers
- Compact chain breaker (unfortunately not included on my multitool) and two quick links
- Small roll of 1" Gorilla Tape (also boots tires and makes other repairs)
- a couple of 6" zip ties
This all goes in a medium sized underseat bag
The bike I will be using has room for two 24oz water bottles.
I usually carry a few granola bars, my smart phone, and a small wallet and keys in my jersey pockets.
As it is early October in MN, I am considering putting on the rear rack and adding a stuff sack with a small cut and road rash kit and room for extra layer(s) of clothing that may need to be shed.
There are three towns on the route but only one of them has a gas station and convenience store and I don't know how far into the ride we reach that town.
I do have a pair of small panniers and could use one or both for additional supplies if needed.
What do you folks think? Should I carry more food and water? An extra tire? Frame pump or more CO2? Anything I'm missing?
Thanks for any input.
I would take some sort of pump (I carry a Road Morph). I've never had 3 flats on a ride, but I've sure heard of it happening with other people.
Wait, you said "we"? Is this a group ride? If so, SOMEBODY should have a good pump, doesn't have to be you.
Spare tires are problematic. I've never actually needed one, although I carry one on the tandem. They're bulky and heavy, especially if you use larger tires. So use your own judgment there.
I doubt I could get through a ride on 2 bottles like that. The solution is to have ridden enough under similar conditions to know what you'll drink and plan accordingly.
Does it not get cold in Minnesota in October? If so, you'll either be adding layers or shucking layers as you ride, and panniers would come in there.
Ideally, you have ridden enough on similar roads to know how fast you'll average. If you maintain decent speeds, no problem. If it turns out to be the ride from heck and days are short, add "lights" to that list.
I have had 3 flats 5 times on a single ride.
Had a small twig puncture the sidewall of a New Panracer TS at the rim bead. It could not be booted.
Yes, carry a spare tire, pump, three tubes, and more water.
Consider you're food and water. Snacks are good motivators. I use a Camelbak to bring more water. Maybe a camera too? What ride are you doing?
yes, ample tire repair stuff and spares.
The other week I had a 3 day riding vacation, two days of bliss, one day so frustrating it almost made me give up on biking alltogether :)
puncture one: 1 km in the ride, I had to pass some sports field, F+R flat because some ******* hooligans left broken beer bottles after the match.
right, on patch, one spare gone. Stupid jersey pocket pump was inadequate, couldn't get the tire up to the required pressure for the rocky section ahead. Two snakebite flats, FR. Call of shame, had to call in the family minivan.
one of those days. Please test your pump before striking out. the extra weight of a better pump is totally irrelevant compared to the frustration of hard pumping with no effect and a tire that's unusable in the condition you're riding in.
Test NEW Tubes before carrying them as spares......On one tour I had 6 defective new tubes.
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert on gravel gear. So, let's turn to the experts. :D
The following list is from the Dirty Kanza 200's Rider's Bible. Keep in mind that DK is a race, but riders are not supported during the event, and can only meet up with their support crews at the 50-mile checkpoints.
Minimum of two liters of water or sports drink
Two spare inner tubes
Air pump or inflation system
A cell phone to contact the “outside world” should you need help.
A GPS system to communicate your exact location to support or rescue personnel in the event of an emergency.
Small rucksack / hydration pack
Waterproof / windproof jacket
Extra thermal top or warm layer to wear if stopped
An emergency / survival blanket
Food – energy bars, gels, chocolate, etc.
Puncture repair kit
Allen wrench set
First aid kit
Cash, debit card or credit card.
Handlebar map case
I don't see any need for Gorilla Tape. You can boot your tire with a dollar bill, or a piece of Tyvek (e.g. a FedEx package).
I'm also curious, how much gravel riding have you done so far? 25, 50, 75 miles on gravel? Or are you going into it cold?
I did 65km on 700x34 tires during a hot windy day last week and went through a lot of water. 2 bottles, 2L bladder I use to refill bottles and a drink I bought at the half way point. Half the trip was on roads where cars had pushed gravel aside revealing a fast hard packed base. The other half was on much slower loose gravel. A few weeks back I was on a road with deep gravel which even on 26x2.35 Big Apples was a real challenge.
Cell phone. Carry your normal stuff & ride on some big"new" durable tires. Vermont has a lot of unpaved roads. It's rare that I get a flat. Two, almost unheard of. Do a mechanical check before & have fun!
This is how I carry plenty of water and a good sized pump;
I like to have an extra KMC or SRAM removable chain link. Also an extra bolt for the cleats, though I've never needed that. Find out if you will have water along the route, and if you aren't certain of it, take LOTS more.
I would carry more calories and water if that gas station will be your only stop. +1 on the pump over CO2.
The ride is the Woodchipper 100 in Rollag, MN. This is only the second year for the event. It is still rather small and riders can get widely separated over the course, and it is entirely possible to take a wrong turn and really end up in the boonies. I was looking for information on the Almanzo 100 in the Rochester, MN, area (much larger and has been around several years) when I found out about this local event.
As far as the question about my experience, I'm fairly new to gravel grinding (mostly this summer) but have frequently ridden up to 35 miles on gravel, dirt, and prairie trails. I have also ridden the sandhill trails in a couple of nearby areas (10-15 miles of single track through marsh, prairie and wooded areas, in the sandhills that follow rivers around here) so loose, hilly terrain is not foreign to me. I do a lot of day touring and 60-100 mile training rides as well as several organized centuries each summer. A few of these are in the hilly lakes region around Itasca State Park, which is hillier (is that a word?) than the area around Rollag, but not as hilly as I suspect the Almanzo will be. I have no illusions, this is going to be a challenge, but I've been doing quite a bit of hill and endurance work this summer and hope I'm ready for it. I average around 13 mph on gravel roads in rolling hills.
I will be carrying a smart phone with an extra battery pack good for 2-3 chargings. I didn't mention it, but the bike I will be riding has a 5 LED light on the rear and I have a 150 lumen flashlight with handlebar mount that I use as a headlight. I have a basic cycling computer as well as Strava and Map My Ride on my phone. I ride all winter so I have a good assortment of clothing for pretty much any weather above -20F. The tires are fairly new Schwalbe Smart Sams 700x40mm.
The good news is that most of this ride is through an agricultural area so, while there aren't many towns or businesses, there are farmsteads every few miles if I were to have an emergency or become dangerously low on water. The event organizers will keep track of entrants and make sure everyone is accounted for after the event.
After reading the suggestions here, I'm thinking I'll put on at least one pannier and carry an extra liter of water, a pump and a few more supplies. Thanks for the input.
Thought you might be doing Heck of the North, which is over my way towards the end of the month. Much of the route is pretty wild.
Glad to hear you're joining the Woodchipper! I'm excited for it and will be using my Almanzo experience from May. Unlike Almanzo, there are 3 pass through towns for resupply/support. I brought way too much with me on Almanzo. I finished with a bunch of unneeded weight, which certainly didn't help me up hills. Thankfully the Woodchipper has only 5100ft of climbing vs the 8000ft of Almanzo. However it shouldn't have the evil hills that Almanzo did.
My planned setup:
Surly Troll running tubeless Conti XKings 26x2.4
2 water bottles, one with water, one with gatorade
fig newtons and a clif bloks
multi tool, spare tube, chain link, emergency poncho, phone
I'll stop for meals/snacks in the towns. Support the local economy!
if you're worried about the weight/bulk, might i suggest a handlebar bag vs. a rack + one pannier? will also help keep important items close at hand while riding. food, clothing, etc...anything that you might want to access without a full stop/dismounting of your bike.
also, another vote for pump over CO2...get or borrow a frame pump, so it won't take up any jersey pocket space. but with a handlebar bag, you should be able to clear out enough room in the jersey pockets for a hand pump if a frame pump doesn't pan out.
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