Bruce Stauffer 11/07/20
So, 12,000 feet of climbing is no joke. There are plenty of steep climbs. Some have annoyingly loose or large gravel. I was able (with some effort) to pedal all of them without spinning out. I will say that the hardest climbs were the ones near the end...
So, 12,000 feet of climbing is no joke. There are plenty of steep climbs. Some have annoyingly loose or large gravel. I was able (with some effort) to pedal all of them without spinning out. I will say that the hardest climbs were the ones near the end, after the final big climb. I was never sure which steep little climb was the last one before the final long descent back to Mulberry Gap.
I chose to carry all my hydration mostly because I don't like to have to stop and filter water. I used the Revival - S240 RideWithGPS course as a guide (https://ridewithgps.com/routes/30881297). There are plenty of locations with flowing water easily accessible. I can verify that the game check point at 38K is easily accessible and is reported to have an outside spigot available. I missed the piped spring at 47K, but I did see the piped spring at 118K flowing.
I did my ITT on a beautiful Sunday and there was a fair amount of traffic. Enough to warrant caution on descents. I took all blind corners on the inside. Be advised that vehicles may be doing the same thing coming up.
Navigation went mostly smooth even though I didn't see any road name signs. There are some signs with directional arrows and mileage to points of interest. There are also quite a few trailheads and campgrounds identified along the way that could be used to verify your location. My GPS did get a bit skewed. At one point it was enough to make me double back to make sure I hadn't missed a turn.
I feel my equipment choice was pretty good for the course. I could have gone faster on the descents with a bit more tire. I had to ride the brakes a little more than I would have liked too for fearing of banging off rocks harder than my tubeless set-up would handle. Certainly a MTB with a squishy fork and straight bars would have been helpful over the rocks and washboard sections.
I had Eagle AXS gearing and I used every cog. In addition to the 2 bottle cages in the triangle, I also had 2 cages mounted on the fork. I used the side accessible ones, but jettisoned bottles a couple of times. I will have to reevaluate that set-up if I continue with the fork mount. I carried a front and rear light. I didn't get started quite early enough to need the front light and finished before dark. I failed to turn the rear light on when I started, so both ended up not seeing any service. I carried a pretty substantial power bank, which I also never used. I will add that I normally ride with Wahoo Live Track which can use quite a bit of extra battery power. I chose not to as it relies on cellular service which was spotty at best. I did use my Gen 3 SPOT for tracking.
My fueling strategy was to eat ½ of a bar every 10K and to drink the flask the first 20K and then continue through the 4 bottles every 30K. I like to fuel by distance rather than time or feel because it helps to break down the race into manageable sections while keeping me from going too far off track.
Bike: Norco Search XR. Eagle AXS gearing. Everything pretty much OEM as it came new from Cycle Works Performance Bike Shop in Mt. Airy, NC http://cycleworksnc.com/
Tires: WTB Resolute 42c
Tools: One Up pump with internal toolkit
What I carried:
Jersey pockets: 6 Clif Bars, Platypus flask
TT bag: Powerbank, tire boot, $, Extra bar and gel, phone, mask
Saddle bag: 2 tubes, tubeless plug kit, tire lever, SPOT Gen 3, A few chain links and 2 master links
7 Clif Bars (2 returned intact)
4 24oz Water bottles with Hammer Heed
1 Platypus flask with electrolytes