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  1. #1
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Gravel road race tire question

    I'm entered in the sold out Barry-Roubaix gravel road race next month in Michigan. I'm in the 55+ division and believe that we will start in a wave which includes everyone in the 45+ and up races. I have not done the race but do know a few riders who raced there before. One can't predict the race conditions and the final race course will be determined up to the day of the race. The reports I have gotten suggest that a cross bike is in order and a road bike would be good except for the single track section and the skinny tires on loose gravel.

    I have a Trek XO1 that I race cross with and a Specialized HardRock Comp 29'er that I could use if the conditions are really poor. I also have a Specialized CF Roubaix with a compact crank. I was able to mount Kenda Kwick 30mm tires on the wheels and there is clearance under the Sram brakes. I also have several sets of cross tires including Conti Speeds in 35mm and Mud 2's in 33mm to use on the Trek XO1.

    I don't know how tight the gravel is on the roads and would like to ride the Roubaix with the 30mm tires. Looking at images of the race last year I see guys lined up with mtb and cross bikes. I am thinking that the Roubaix could give me some advantage at the start while the race sorts itself out.

    Anyone done the race? How about racing on a gravel road? I seek the collective wisdom and experience of the Cylclocross Forum.

    I do plan on riding on gravel and dirt roads in W PA next weekend but don't want to assume those roads will be made of the same materials.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

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    I rode the course a week ago... If it is warm, it will be sandy... if frozen, hard and fast, the 2 track has taken more than a few riders down lately due to frozen icy ruts. There is a section of deep sand like 8 miles before the finish that is deep sand. I'd run a CX bike with file treads. Those kwicks are super heavy, maybe invest in some Mich Jett's

    I did the 35m loop. PM if you have specific questions

  3. #3
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    oh, and don't be tempted into running too high pressure to be 'fast'. Read up on tire pressure and rolling resistance. We ride a lot of gravel, and i find that the lowest pressure possible without pinch flatting is best. Depending on if you are racing or riding (and don't want the hassle of a flat).

  4. #4
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Thanks for the road info. I did not know about sand, that is something else to consider making a wider tire choice viable. I will be doing the event as a race, so speed is important, and I will experiment with different tire pressures to determine speed vs handling. I have a cabin in W PA that has a 1.4 mile rolling gravel access road and I just might take my PT wheel and try various options and compare HR and watts at a certain speed. There are lots of rolling gravel and dirt roads in the area that average about 75-100/mile of climbing that should be a good prep for the race.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

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    oh yea, i would certainly go with a wider tire and a CX bike. There is only a couple of spots, but if you are racing you may be off your bike in some of that sand (if you run too narrow/high pressure)..

  6. #6
    Senior Member XLR99's Avatar
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    I'm glad I checked in here! I'm also going to B-R, but looks like I'll be doing it as more of a ride than a competitive event, due to a nagging back injury that's kept me from doing much real riding for awhile now (not that I'm 'competitive' in the normal sense when fully healthy ). I was planning on using my cx bike with crossmax tires and slightly higher pressures than I'd use on a dry cx race, and bringing Mud2s in case it's really soft or snow covered.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tire advice adam_mac84. I raced on the Conti Speed 34 file treads and put a compact on my cross bike to give more gearing on both ends. I put 55 lbs in the front and 60 lbs in the rear. I was able to ride on the shoulder of some of my local country roads to get the feel of gravel since we don't have any gravel roads in my locale. I raced the 55+ race leaving in the 4th wave. I was able to ride through most all of the first section of double track but had to walk up the hill with everyone else on the sandy section with 8 miles to go. I ended up with a 18.46 ave and 3rd place in my race.

    It was a great and hard race which is well organized and I hope to be able to do it again next year.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

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