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  1. #1
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    gravel grinder packing checklist

    I am riding the 50 portion of the Texas Chainring Massacre (best race name ever!) and I want to be prepared. I am riding a Pake C'mute with 32mm Conti X-Kings, and a 2x9 gear with compact road crank and 11-32 cassette. it has friction barend shifters on Salsa Bell Lap bars. This is my "do-it-all" bike that I ride to work and take on long road rides in the Texas Hill Country. I am thinking I need the following:

    *tubes, pump, CO2s, patches, tire boot
    *multi-tool, spare chain bits, rag
    *layers of clothes. this is Texas. it could be 78 degrees or 20 degrees in January.
    *frame bag
    *lots of snacks and gels
    *two full water bottles
    *phone/camera/GPS (iPhone)

    missing anything?

    also, regarding the bike. I am thinking about replacing it with a Novara Verita since 99% of the riding I do is on pavement. I would have to fund the new purchase by selling my old bike, i don't have space or the budget for both bikes. it has a tall, 70-degree head tube, room for 32mm tires (I tried it, they fit), and SRAM Apex drivetrain. As an REI employee, I can get this bike much, much cheaper than anything in the steel road bike category and it looks like it would work for the occasional gravel ride. It looks like a lot of people use road bikes for these races.

    If I keep the C'mute, I would like to put a Surly Crosscheck fork on it (it has a generic carbon-legged hybrid fork now) and probably some new wheels.
    suggestions?

    I also have a rigid Karate Monkey with 29x2.2 tires and a 32x11-34 drivetrain that I could fit with a bigger chainring, would that work better?

    (there needs to be a monstercross/ gravel forum!)
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 12-27-2013 at 08:17 PM.

  2. #2
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    The last time I road it it was drizzling and cold. I was running my cross rig with a x9 rear derailuer and 11x36 gearing. 700x35 tires. Some of the road where brutal. Large chunky gravel. Knowing the Spinistry he will pick the most challenging routes he can find. Ran a 2x10 SRAM Rival group on the bike except the rear. Canti brakes worked fine. Make sure you like your saddle.

    Saw a lot of people getting flats. Saw a lot of 29ers out on the course. If I do it this year I am going to use my Surly Cross Check with 700x40 tires. I do not recall seeing any road bikes out on that course unless they where the hammer heads up front. I think you will be ok with 700x32 tires. Maybe slam some slime tubes in there for extra protection. Most,of the flats I recall where when we hit the really chunky gravel.

    I am not sure how he has the course set up this year. After riding it I decided I would use the largest tire my bike would fit and still allow for some clearance. I double wrapped my handlebars as well. That did surprisingly help. I carried 2 tubes that day and luckily needed neither one. Carried a patch kit. I skipped the co2 and just stuck to the hand pump. I used a Offsprey pack. If I recall it was pretty cold that day so I layered up pretty good. And only removed one layer about half way through and tossed it in my pack. A multi-tool and the other usual things. I also carry several zip ties in my pack...if I get a flat I usually roll up the tube and zip tie it to compact it some to put back in my pack. Some ear warmers or a hood...at least for me...hate cold ears.

    For sure load up on gels and snacks. We did pass a few stores that some people stopped at to pick up stuff. Your going to have a blast. Enjoy the ride and good luck.

  3. #3
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    I wonder if I am going to regret not getting bigger tires. My C'Mute can at least fit 42's. I weigh about 150 pounds so I might be safe. I have a (narrow) road rim in the front and a (wider) hybrid wheel in the back. I was thinking about upgrading wheels- would I benefit from some wider-rimmed wheels? I would like to roll something that will take 28mm slicks as well as 35+ CX/ commuter tires.

    I could also just put some bar ends and a larger chainring on my Karate Monkey.

  4. #4
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    I think you will like riding it and enjoying it on a bigger tire than a 32. But as light as you are you would probably do ok with what you have. For comfort the KM would be great. Like I said not sure how the course is this year. We road down some roads that had some pretty chunky stuff and the dudes on 29ers just railed through it. I think the wider rimmed wheels would give you some better options for bigger tires on your commuter. Maybe a set that are designed for cx use.

    I am running Fulcrum CX 7s on my Surly. Fairly inexpensive and decent wheels so far. Have used them in gravel and some light cx stuff like Gateway with zero issues. Have run skinny tires all the way up to the 40s that are on it now.

  5. #5
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    I am looking at some Velocity A23's laced to 32h Shimano 105 hubs, or Mavic a319's laced to Shimano 32h XT hubs.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I am looking at some Velocity A23's laced to 32h Shimano 105 hubs, or Mavic a319's laced to Shimano 32h XT hubs.
    Just got A23s to 105s up front. Digging it. Should stop waiting for the second half now, since I already got the front.

    I'm a big fan of bigger tires, but hey man, ride what ya got. I've got Marathon Mondials at 40mm on my X-Check, they almost never puncture, but idiot me likes to run low pressure and I do get some pinch flats on occasion.

    For 50miles of rolling gravel I'd bring this:

    Tools: PUMP (because C02 can run out, pumps cannot)
    Patch kit (I have gotten multiple flats in one ride more than once)
    Spare Tube (IMO you only need one, just patch the first one when you are changing it)
    Levers
    Multi-tool and a bonus, that I just started carrying after breaking a chain, is the quicklinks for your chain.

    Food:
    I hound Clif Bars all day. I'd probably bring 5 or 6. If there is water on the route, two bottles should be fine. If there is no water on route, I'd consider nabbing one more.

    Oh and bring grit, lots and lots of grit, because no matter the bike or how prepared, you're going to suffer in the best sort of way.

  7. #7
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    These rides aren't really anything to be worried about. Bring what you would on any other ride of the same length and there will be tons of other guys out there to help keep you rolling if things go pear shaped. The biggest thing to worry about with the CRM is the weather. The first one I did was warm and sunny, the last one I did it was COLD and rainy. The worst part being it was almost 80 the day before so I neglected bringing cold weather gear. Keep an eye on the weather and you will have fun.

  8. #8
    jrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I am looking at some Velocity A23's laced to 32h Shimano 105 hubs, or Mavic a319's laced to Shimano 32h XT hubs.
    I have A23s laced to DT 350s and really like the width. Tire wise i use the clements explor 35 and 40c variants.

  9. #9
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    Just put some Salsa Cowbell or other drop bars with Retro Shift and 42t ring on your Karate Monkey and you should be happy. Agreed that we need a Gravel/Monstercross forum at MTBR!

  10. #10
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    the ride was a ton of fun, but I did two things very wrong:

    32mm tires were not wide enough. the racers, masochists, and CX purists were probably doing great on their narrow CX tires but I was out there to have fun. Narrower tires really slowed me down whenever the road got a little squishy, which was a lot of the course.

    too many layers. I was boiling alive within the first five miles in my jacket and cap. stopping to remove layers really slows you down.

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