The Chainlink

I'm really curious about these rides/races.   Have you done one?  What was your expectation? What was your impression?  

I'd like to know what kinds of bicycles people are using for these, whether cross or hardtail or other kinds.  

Also, I'd love to read ride reports from local riders. Which events did you participate in and what were your experiences.

Thanks!

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I've done a few of these - the Lowell 50 in Michigan several times. It was well-organized - everything ran on schedule, the route was well-makred, there were volunteers at crucial intersections and police support in necessary places, etc. I basically suck at going fast and do not have a competitive bone in my body - I am out there to have fun in sort of an organized manner. Basically I just like riding unpaved roads in the country and this is a way to do it with an externally-imposed challenge. My expectation was to have fun and challenge myself some (by keeping the pace up) and both expectations were met. I rode my everyday bike, an (all-rigid) all-rounder sort of thing with 650b x 42 Grand Bois Hetres, which did very well. Most of the bikes I saw seemed to be either cross bikes or FS MTBs. I've also seen things like fixies, a Rivendell AHH, and an 80s Japanese sport tourer.

I participated in the Almanzo 100 this past May. http://almanzo.com/ The event was fantastic, well organized, great SWAG, amazing culture/vibe and it was free! I rode a Cannondale CaadX cyclocross bike with Schwalbe Sammy Slick 700x35 tires. Bike setup worked flawlessly. This was my first grinder...I had anticipated that it would be challenging, and a blast...and it exceded my expectations on both counts. 8000 feet of climbing over the 100 miles, first 50 miles or so were nice hard pack gravel/dirt, then it switched out to larger loose gravel that was quite a challenge to ride. I plan on doing the ride again next year - so that is about the best endorsement that I can give.

Here was my race day setup.

Peter, I'd be up for some of that.

Thanks for all your replies.  I've been doing a fair amount of long distance solo riding this summer and after a comment from a friend I started looking into these gravel events. I'd like to try doing some. I've ridden on some gravel roads in Kankakee county and some other areas where I've been riding. I'm going to look for more rides.

Peter and David: I'd definitely be up for meeting up for Sunday gravel. 

You can ride gravel on most anything you're comfortable on that has 28c or wider tires.   I've used both CX and older road frames (long stays and plenty of tire clearance).  Road frames are probably a bit better as you don't really need the higher BB of the CX frame for gravel, and road frames often have longer head tubes which at least for me give a more comfortable position.  Here's a Trek 400 with 35c knobbies and SRAM 10 that I've been riding lately.

 

There's a small group of Chicago and suburban riders that are going to ride the Dekalb Gravel Metric on Sunday.   The organizers don't put a map on the site, but I found this on on Mapmyride.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/fullscreen/215923441/

 

I assume it's more or less correct.  I may save some driving and meet up with them around Shabbona State Park. 

 

Mark, got a start time for that ride?

+1

I'd be interesting in participating with that group.

Thanks for mapping it Peter.  MMR's search function leaves something to be desired, but it worked in this case.  It seems kind of silly for the organizers to keep the route "secret".  High temp is only supposed to be 80 on Sunday, so should be a nice day to ride - barring rain.

 

The other guys are planning to start riding at 9AM at the parking lot behind North Central Cyclery - 534 E. Lincoln Hwy, Dekalb.  Plan is to meet there about 1/2 hour before start time. 

 

I'm planning to start at Shabbona State Park around 11 AM.  Hopefully will be in phone contact with the group, so will ride east to meet them if they're not very close to the park.  I wouldn't mind some company for the ride back from Dekalb, so if you prefer to start later that would work great.

 

I haven't ridden with the other guys, so I don't know what their pace will be.  Based on what one guy has said, I'd guess around 15 mph.  If you (or I) don't want to keep pace we can ride slower. 

I'll make this if I can!

You can check here to see a fairly comprehensive listing of Gravel events from around the country.

http://gravelgrindernews.com/

I've done a few of these. Gravel Grovel in Indiana, Barry Roubaix, Gravel Metric, Dirty Kanza 200. All were very well organized and run. Regular CX bike was suitable and I've ridden them mostly on SS, but have a geared ride as well. No expectations really. Just wanted to have fun and earn a few beers. DK 200 is by far the most scenic of any Gravel event I've participated in.

Unfortunately, the Chicago land area isn't a great place to be if one wants to get into this type of riding. Generally, I stick to riding out at Waterfall Glen and various Palos multi tracktrails. You get a bit of elevation and a feel for the gravel (at least on the Palos multi). The IPP, in my opinion, is nearly worthless for preparing for events like this, but your experience and mileage may vary. As long as you're on the bike all is good.

I'd love to join for a ride this Sunday, but my day has been booked for me so I can't. If you do it again, say, next weekend, I'm in.

peter moormann said:

Did any one do Dekalb route on Sunday?

I'm planning on doing a 50-75  gravelator this Sunday.

Perhaps:

Start at Illinois Prarie Path ride W.to Wheaton to Great Western Trail  N.W. to Elgin then Fox River Trail S. To Geneva( Grub stop) back East on Main Spur to Forest park Blue Line.

Good 5-6 hour ride 75% gravel. 

But would do Dekalb Grinder if anybody wants to meet up early.

My rides generally start by Forest Park by Blue Line stop.

Let me know if you wanna go.

Three of us ended up doing the route on Sunday.   It was warmer and more humid than expected, although nice for July.  The other guys stopped at a farm for water on the last eastbound section, as we underestimated how much we'd drink.  Pretty nice riding, that Locust Road section is tough going though.

The plan is to ride it again in September.



peter moormann said:

Did any one do Dekalb route on Sunday?

I'm planning on doing a 50-75  gravelator this Sunday.

Perhaps:

Start at Illinois Prarie Path ride W.to Wheaton to Great Western Trail  N.W. to Elgin then Fox River Trail S. To Geneva( Grub stop) back East on Main Spur to Forest park Blue Line.

Good 5-6 hour ride 75% gravel. 

But would do Dekalb Grinder if anybody wants to meet up early.

My rides generally start by Forest Park by Blue Line stop.

Let me know if you wanna go.

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