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Why doesn't the Racer's Forum have a gravel racing sub-forum?

Old 02-29-24, 02:27 PM
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Why doesn't the Racer's Forum have a gravel racing sub-forum?

Just saying. Given the rise of gravel racing, it feels weird to not have a racing sub-forum dedicated to it.

(p.s. felt like this was the right forum to post this as it is one of the closer disciplines to gravel).
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Old 02-29-24, 02:35 PM
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IMO, an easy solution would be just to re-name this sub-forum to include gravel.
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Old 03-04-24, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
IMO, an easy solution would be just to re-name this sub-forum to include gravel.
Sure, if that's okay. I just want a sensible place to post pics, topics, and results from when I proudly finish DFL in my local charity gravel races. So I suppose for now I'll put my gravel stuff in this sub-forum until suggested otherwise!


My gravel race rig coming together. Specialized Crux with custom paint job. You can't see it here that well, but the fork has some custom text: Right side: "GO FAST" Left side: "HAVE FUN"
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Old 03-04-24, 03:31 PM
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Is this the gravel racing thread for us mere mortals? I'm only a couple of races into my gravel racing career, most of my experience has been in XC mtb racing. My intro into gravel racing has been humbling compared to my moderate success in the local XC scene.

My Canyon Grizl, an unlikely race bike. Most of my acquaintances answer back with a "I didn't know you were into bikepacking?" when they find out I own a Grizl. Not the lightest carbon gravel bike out there, but it's actually not a half-bad race bike IMO.

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Old 03-04-24, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
Sure, if that's okay. I just want a sensible place to post pics, topics, and results from when I proudly finish DFL in my local charity gravel races. So I suppose for now I'll put my gravel stuff in this sub-forum until suggested otherwise!


My gravel race rig coming together. Specialized Crux with custom paint job. You can't see it here that well, but the fork has some custom text: Right side: "GO FAST" Left side: "HAVE FUN"
Nice, I really like the frame design on the Crux. They look clean w/o some of the more "trendier" features that come on some of the other new gravel bikes.
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Old 03-04-24, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
Is this the gravel racing thread for us mere mortals? I'm only a couple of races into my gravel racing career, most of my experience has been in XC mtb racing. My intro into gravel racing has been humbling compared to my moderate success in the local XC scene.

My Canyon Grizl, an unlikely race bike. Most of my acquaintances answer back with a "I didn't know you were into bikepacking?" when they find out I own a Grizl. Not the lightest carbon gravel bike out there, but it's actually not a half-bad race bike IMO.
Nice bike! Between the colorway and the distinct seatpost, our bikes could be siblings.

I do think that the distinction between gravel race and gravel adventure can be overemphasized, especially when we take into account that gravel races tend to be really long and that, generally speaking, comfortable = faster (especially for mere mortals like us). I'd happily race a Diverge or a Grizl myself.

(btw: how do you like those Hunt wheels? I got Ibis wheels myself, but I've always envied Hunt's offering)
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Old 03-04-24, 06:08 PM
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people been posting gravel races in the gravel forum since forever. I guess there are some serious gravel racers here, but in Central PA they mostly seem like organized rides that somehow get called races for some reason.
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Old 03-04-24, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
people been posting gravel races in the gravel forum since forever. I guess there are some serious gravel racers here, but in Central PA they mostly seem like organized rides that somehow get called races for some reason.
That doesn't appear to be what is observable in the Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) forum, but I'm relatively new here. Also, it does feel counter to the point of that sub-forum to post race-related stuff in a forum explicitly labeled "Recreational".

As a relative neophyte to the gravel scene, I'm gonna guess that people approach gravel rides as a "race", which happens alongside in the same mass start as the people riding without the intent of racing. Sort of like racing a sportive. I guess anything can be a race if you're going speed against something, whether it's others with the same mindset or a clock!
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Old 03-04-24, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
people been posting gravel races in the gravel forum since forever. I guess there are some serious gravel racers here, but in Central PA they mostly seem like organized rides that somehow get called races for some reason.
P.s. I used to live in central PA, did my doctorate at PSU. Never got a chance to ride out there unfortunately. Time and money are in short supply for a graduate student.
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Old 03-05-24, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
Nice bike! Between the colorway and the distinct seatpost, our bikes could be siblings.

I do think that the distinction between gravel race and gravel adventure can be overemphasized, especially when we take into account that gravel races tend to be really long and that, generally speaking, comfortable = faster (especially for mere mortals like us). I'd happily race a Diverge or a Grizl myself.

(btw: how do you like those Hunt wheels? I got Ibis wheels myself, but I've always envied Hunt's offering)
I think the biggest knock against the Grizl as being a race bike is the total weight of the bike...at 21ish lbs with cages and pedals, it's pretty heavy for a carbon bike. However, the weight is trivial once you start plugging it into a climb calculator. I think the geometry is almost the same as the new Grail(their race bike,) so the weight and tire clearances are the biggest differences. This bike can accept 50mm tires, although I'm only running 42s.

I like the Hunts, although you're mostly paying for a good warranty on a Chinese open mold rim IMO. That being said, the Hunt 35s on my bike are very affordable carbon options. I'm actually surprised how quick this bike is with this wheel/tire combo...recent gravel race I did, I was easily rolling along at 25mph on pavement in the lead group. I almost did that particular race on my endurance road bike, as I was concerned that the gravel bike wouldn't be able to hang on the opening 40 miles of road/light gravel riding. Looking back, I would've lost big time in the chunkier sections of the course, if I took a road bike.

Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
That doesn't appear to be what is observable in the Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) forum, but I'm relatively new here. Also, it does feel counter to the point of that sub-forum to post race-related stuff in a forum explicitly labeled "Recreational".

As a relative neophyte to the gravel scene, I'm gonna guess that people approach gravel rides as a "race", which happens alongside in the same mass start as the people riding without the intent of racing. Sort of like racing a sportive. I guess anything can be a race if you're going speed against something, whether it's others with the same mindset or a clock!
From my perspective, the gravel races look very serious to me. My #1 discipline for a while has been XC racing...I still love racing XC and am fairly competitive in it, but it's waning in popularity IMO. I've got friends that road race/crit race, and they say the same thing about those disciplines. However, the gravel events seem to be booming now. The recent one I did, we rolled out with a huge peloton, that only got broken up by mud sections, cross winds, and hills. I was dismayed by my less-than-I-expected finishing place, I just didn't think the field would be that deep with that many fast guys in it. Looking back, my "meh" finishing time this year would've been a really good placing in previous editions of that race...it's just becoming that competitive now.
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Old 03-05-24, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
My Canyon Grizl, an unlikely race bike. Most of my acquaintances answer back with a "I didn't know you were into bikepacking?" when they find out I own a Grizl. Not the lightest carbon gravel bike out there, but it's actually not a half-bad race bike IMO.
Until the release of the latest Grail last year, the Grizl was Pete Stetina's bike choice. He seemed to do pretty okay on it.
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Old 03-05-24, 10:52 AM
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My Niner RLT 9 RDO after the Rock Cobbler event ("it's not a race!") in October. I really like this bike. I usually run Ultegra C50 wheels with 40mm Tufos, but opted for lower-cost aluminum wheels with 35mm Pirellis due to the expectation of significant mud on the course.

I went into the event knowing a few other folks, but didn't have plans to ride with anyone, so I rode at my own pace all day. The course was very demanding (harder than previous years, apparently), and I left everything I had out there. I was pleased to find out that I finished 43/255 on the 60mi "Pebble" course. The first finisher on that course had a total time of 1-1/2 hours faster than I did. He was 14 years old! He beat the 2nd place finisher - his dad - by 23 minutes.
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Old 03-06-24, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
Until the release of the latest Grail last year, the Grizl was Pete Stetina's bike choice. He seemed to do pretty okay on it.
As far as geometry goes, it's very "racy." Even though they call it a bikepacking bike, it's very much on the race end of the spectrum IMO...just with fender and bag mounts.

The funky bi-plane bar on the old Grail is the primary reason I chose the Grizl over the Grail. Of course, they came out with the new Grail a few months after I got my Grizl...no regrets though. I like the copious amounts of tire clearance on my bike compared to the new Grail. My go-to race tires right now are 42mm S-Works Pathfinder Pros, it's nice knowing that I have plenty of room for mud build up, even with the 42s.
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Old 03-06-24, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
From my perspective, the gravel races look very serious to me. My #1 discipline for a while has been XC racing...I still love racing XC and am fairly competitive in it, but it's waning in popularity IMO. I've got friends that road race/crit race, and they say the same thing about those disciplines. However, the gravel events seem to be booming now. The recent one I did, we rolled out with a huge peloton, that only got broken up by mud sections, cross winds, and hills. I was dismayed by my less-than-I-expected finishing place, I just didn't think the field would be that deep with that many fast guys in it. Looking back, my "meh" finishing time this year would've been a really good placing in previous editions of that race...it's just becoming that competitive now.
I hope they don't get *too* serious tbh. I hope it can keep its pretty open (and hopefully inclusive) vibes that has space for a wide range of people, abilities, and backgrounds to not just ride, but also be competitive if they want.

I first started getting more into gravel racing from road, largely because I likewise was struggling to realistically build out a racing calendar given the waning number of events, particularly in the northern midwest of the USA. Can gravel save competitive cycling? I don't know, but I think the booming scene will necessitate some changes for safety in the racing elements that may be in tension with the more open aspects that make gravel an attractive racing scene to mere mortals like us. I hope to help them strike a balance, especially if I end up raising my kids in the scene...
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Old 03-06-24, 10:10 AM
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BTW, my 2024 gravel race calendar is as follows (tentatively:
  1. Hungry Bear Gravel (WI, 65 mile "Snacking" variety)
  2. Epic Gravel (WI, 50-ish miles)
  3. Iron Range Roll (16 mile "go hard" pace, MI)
  4. Lone Wolf Gravel (MI)
Anyone else thinking of hitting those?
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Old 03-06-24, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
My Niner RLT 9 RDO after the Rock Cobbler event ("it's not a race!") in October. I really like this bike. I usually run Ultegra C50 wheels with 40mm Tufos, but opted for lower-cost aluminum wheels with 35mm Pirellis due to the expectation of significant mud on the course.

I went into the event knowing a few other folks, but didn't have plans to ride with anyone, so I rode at my own pace all day. The course was very demanding (harder than previous years, apparently), and I left everything I had out there. I was pleased to find out that I finished 43/255 on the 60mi "Pebble" course. The first finisher on that course had a total time of 1-1/2 hours faster than I did. He was 14 years old! He beat the 2nd place finisher - his dad - by 23 minutes.
You did the Rock Cobbler?! Dude, like, I know I would absolutely get destroyed doing that race, but just the opportunity to race an event where a portion goes through someone's house would be worth the price of admission alone, haha.

You had a hell of a finish too, given how competitive the scene is getting.

Haven't heard of Niner bikes before, but looks nice. How did the clearance deal with the mud?
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Old 03-06-24, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
You did the Rock Cobbler?! Dude, like, I know I would absolutely get destroyed doing that race, but just the opportunity to race an event where a portion goes through someone's house would be worth the price of admission alone, haha.

You had a hell of a finish too, given how competitive the scene is getting.

Haven't heard of Niner bikes before, but looks nice. How did the clearance deal with the mud?
This year's Rock Cobbler didn't go though a house (the route changes some every year). This year it went though a bar, complete with a cup of beer, cheering bar patrons, and a pretty darn good live band playing classic rock hits. It was the spirit-lifter I needed in the last 10 miles.

With 15 miles to go, this hike was soul-crushing...


IMO, 60 miles of the Cobbler was harder than last year's BWR CA (80mi Wafer route) and Bovine Classic (70mi route). It's the first event I've done where I'm not sure I want to do it again next year.

Niner bikes made their name as one of the pioneers of 29" wheels for MTBs (that's where the name comes from). They've been around for a while. My frame has clearance for 2.1" MTB tires, so running 35s gave me tons of room for mud. Thankfully, the mud this year wasn't as sticky as expected, and didn't become an issue.
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Old 03-06-24, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
As far as geometry goes, it's very "racy." Even though they call it a bikepacking bike, it's very much on the race end of the spectrum IMO...just with fender and bag mounts.

The funky bi-plane bar on the old Grail is the primary reason I chose the Grizl over the Grail. Of course, they came out with the new Grail a few months after I got my Grizl...no regrets though. I like the copious amounts of tire clearance on my bike compared to the new Grail. My go-to race tires right now are 42mm S-Works Pathfinder Pros, it's nice knowing that I have plenty of room for mud build up, even with the 42s.
My Niner is in the same boat, with "racy" geometry, lots of mounting points, and lots of tire clearance.
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Old 03-06-24, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
I hope they don't get *too* serious tbh. I hope it can keep its pretty open (and hopefully inclusive) vibes that has space for a wide range of people, abilities, and backgrounds to not just ride, but also be competitive if they want.

I first started getting more into gravel racing from road, largely because I likewise was struggling to realistically build out a racing calendar given the waning number of events, particularly in the northern midwest of the USA. Can gravel save competitive cycling? I don't know, but I think the booming scene will necessitate some changes for safety in the racing elements that may be in tension with the more open aspects that make gravel an attractive racing scene to mere mortals like us. I hope to help them strike a balance, especially if I end up raising my kids in the scene...
I like competitive racing, but do like nice people and a fun atmosphere...I hope it strikes the right balance. That's part of the reason that I've really enjoyed XC racing, the actual racing is very serious, but the people involved are generally nice people. I generally try to be helpful and courteous to newer riders in that discipline, partly because I don't want to be a crappy person, but also because I realize that it's shrinking as a sport. My limited experience with gravel is that it definitely has a "party" vibe that XC lacks. Although most of us XC racers are nice folks, it is a rather "business like" atmosphere in comparison.
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Old 03-06-24, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I like competitive racing, but do like nice people and a fun atmosphere...I hope it strikes the right balance. That's part of the reason that I've really enjoyed XC racing, the actual racing is very serious, but the people involved are generally nice people. I generally try to be helpful and courteous to newer riders in that discipline, partly because I don't want to be a crappy person, but also because I realize that it's shrinking as a sport. My limited experience with gravel is that it definitely has a "party" vibe that XC lacks. Although most of us XC racers are nice folks, it is a rather "business like" atmosphere in comparison.
My experiences with gravel events have been that there are a few folks who are there to race competitively, but a large majority are there for the experience of the event, and to just do as well as they are able to on that day. After the finish line has been crossed, who crossed before who doesn't matter. Everyone has their tale of how the day went for them - the good parts and the struggles. To me, that's where the "spirit of gravel" lives. The difference with XC racing is that everyone is there to race. It doesn't mean they all have a shot at winning, but they're trying to beat as many people as they can. The multitude of categories gives more riders a chance at being competitive. Same is true of road/crit/CX racing.

There was a recent article in Cycling Weekly where the author advocated for making gravel racing more competitive by similarly chopping it up into multiple smaller groups. I strongly disagree with going that route. IMO, making it more competitive would make events less attractive to a lot of people. I put road and XC racing behind me, intentionally. These days, I'm much more interested in sharing the experience with friends - old or new - than I am in feeling the compulsion to beat the guy next to me into the last corner so I can cross the line first. As far as I can tell from my experiences, there are a lot of folks who feel similarly. If you want to race, go for it, but don't **** up a good, fun event by making everyone be a racer.
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Old 03-07-24, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
My experiences with gravel events have been that there are a few folks who are there to race competitively, but a large majority are there for the experience of the event, and to just do as well as they are able to on that day. After the finish line has been crossed, who crossed before who doesn't matter. Everyone has their tale of how the day went for them - the good parts and the struggles. To me, that's where the "spirit of gravel" lives. The difference with XC racing is that everyone is there to race. It doesn't mean they all have a shot at winning, but they're trying to beat as many people as they can. The multitude of categories gives more riders a chance at being competitive. Same is true of road/crit/CX racing.

There was a recent article in Cycling Weekly where the author advocated for making gravel racing more competitive by similarly chopping it up into multiple smaller groups. I strongly disagree with going that route. IMO, making it more competitive would make events less attractive to a lot of people. I put road and XC racing behind me, intentionally. These days, I'm much more interested in sharing the experience with friends - old or new - than I am in feeling the compulsion to beat the guy next to me into the last corner so I can cross the line first. As far as I can tell from my experiences, there are a lot of folks who feel similarly. If you want to race, go for it, but don't **** up a good, fun event by making everyone be a racer.
I like the events with a Pro class and then just age based non-pro classes(w/no distinction between CATs/experience levels.) Gives the competitive guys something to race for, but then also keeps it fun for the people that don't care about getting on the box.

As far as competition in XC, I'm guilty of wanting to cross the line first. The bad thing about that mentality, is it can sometimes zap the fun out of it. One of my most fun recent XC races was when I did a race the day after my 90 mile gravel race. I had no expectations on myself to do well, so I really just enjoyed the ride. I'm still on the steep part of the learning curve with gravel racing, so my biggest expectation for myself in gravel, is just having fun.
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Old 03-07-24, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I like the events with a Pro class and then just age based non-pro classes(w/no distinction between CATs/experience levels.) Gives the competitive guys something to race for, but then also keeps it fun for the people that don't care about getting on the box.

As far as competition in XC, I'm guilty of wanting to cross the line first. The bad thing about that mentality, is it can sometimes zap the fun out of it. One of my most fun recent XC races was when I did a race the day after my 90 mile gravel race. I had no expectations on myself to do well, so I really just enjoyed the ride. I'm still on the steep part of the learning curve with gravel racing, so my biggest expectation for myself in gravel, is just having fun.
I don't have an issue with age-groups in gravel events. Those are also easy to manage for the organizers. When you add another layer of categories, I think it really changes the vibe. (IMO, YMMV)

Nothing to feel guilty about in an XC race. Those events are about the racing.
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Old 03-07-24, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
This year's Rock Cobbler didn't go though a house (the route changes some every year). This year it went though a bar, complete with a cup of beer, cheering bar patrons, and a pretty darn good live band playing classic rock hits. It was the spirit-lifter I needed in the last 10 miles.

With 15 miles to go, this hike was soul-crushing...

Okay, so this picture is a chance for me to ask people their opinion on these brutally steep climbs: At what point is it faster/more efficient/"better" to hop off the bike and carry or push, versus try to ride it? What are your thought processes in a race scenario about making the choices of when to try to ride a section vs. when to go into a section expecting to hop off and hike?
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Old 03-07-24, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by sir_crash_alot
Okay, so this picture is a chance for me to ask people their opinion on these brutally steep climbs: At what point is it faster/more efficient/"better" to hop off the bike and carry or push, versus try to ride it? What are your thought processes in a race scenario about making the choices of when to try to ride a section vs. when to go into a section expecting to hop off and hike?
If I can't ride it in my 38x42 low gear, I get off. Pretty simple. I prefer to ride as much as I'm able to. However, if keeping riding would require digging deep and burning a lot of matches, especially early in the day, I will probably opt for walking.

At the Rock Cobbler, this was the first hill I walked, starting shortly before the turn to the right. Most others were walking, too, starting at varying points. One young woman I rode near at various times during the day rode the whole thing. It was pretty impressive.


EDIT: FWIW, on the picture I posted before, zero people rode that hill. It was loose, rocky, and somewhere near a 40% grade.
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Old 03-11-24, 08:18 AM
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My gravel race rig! Done, and dusted.
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