Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trans Iowa V9 Gear and Nutrition

View inside seat bag

Last week I went over my bike setup for Trans Iowa.  You can see that post here.  Now, I'll go over the specifics of my gear and nutrition.

As of today, the forecast is for temps ranging from the upper 40's to the lower 70's with light winds the first day and moderate winds the second day.  It looks like the race and roads will be dry, with the exception of the B roads which will probably be a crap shoot due to last week's heavy rains.  Based on this forecast, I would wear the following:
  • Bibbed shorts
  • Summer jersey
  • Summer bike socks
  • MTB shoes with flexible sole (for walking comfort)
  • Light full fingered gloves
  • Sunglasses with daytime lenses
  • Helmet
  • Cycling cap
I would also pack away the following clothing in my seat poack for when it cooled off at night (mid to upper 40's).
  • Knee warmers
  • Light wool socks
  • Wind vest
  • Long sleeve base layer
  • Skull cap
I'll bring along some alternate clothing in case the forecast changes or it starts looking like there will be some rain.  These will likely get left behind though, since I want to keep my pack weight light.
  • Bibbed knickers (a little on the warm side for sunny and 70's)
  • Leg warmers
  • Neoprene shoe covers lined with cut up wool socks
  • Rain jacket
  • Full wind jacket
  • Mid-weight winter gloves

Repai kit

Most of my tools and field repair items will be kept in a stuff sack located in my seat bag unless otherwise noted.  My list for this weekend:
  • Multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Two tire levers (one kept in a more accessible bag for cleaning B road mud off of my shoes)
  • Spoke wrenches (my wheels use non-standard spokes)
  • Razor blade (wrapped with duct tape and kept in an old patch kit box to prevent premature slicage)
  • Two spare tubes
  • Patch kit
  • Two quick links
  • Spare handlebar bottle mount clamp (light, so might as well bring it)
  • Zip ties 
  • Derailleur cable
  • Safety pins
  • Velcro strap (wrapped around chainstay)
I was hoping to have some replacement spokes by now, but unfortunately they haven't come through yet.  Bummer.

Gas tank, partially loaded.  Zip locks will be ditched for accessibility.

My plan this year is to start out with enough food to make it through at least half the race before needing to resupply (current list has me good for around 24 hours at 250 cal/hr).  At some point I'm going to start craving other things, which is one of the reasons I'm not carrying enough for the entire race (the other two are weight and storage).  I will have five water bottles with me, two of which get plain water, two get my sports drink mix, and one carries my trail mix.  One of the water-only bottles will be kept in my seat pack and all the others will be in my frame or handlebar mounted bottle cages.  This should be enough water/fluids to get me 100 miles under the current forecast conditions, but I can always throw in another water bottle if I find myself drinking more than what I had originally planned on.  As for my nutrition break down, it will look something like this:
  • 1/2 water bottle of home made trail mix consisting of peanuts, sunflower seeds, M&Ms, chocolate covered raisins and a handful of gummy bears to perk it up a bit.  Approximately 1200 calories.
  • Home made granola bars.  Approximately 1000 calories.
  • Mini Snickers bars.  About 500 calories.
  • Gummy orange slices.  About 500 calories.
  • Clif Shot Bloks.  Four packs, two of which will be saved for night since those have caffiene.  800 calories.
  • 3oz Firehouse mild beef jerky (my favorite).  300 calories.
  • Ham and cheese subway sub.  Two 6" subs at 400 calories each.
  • 8 bottles worth Skratch Labs Secret Drink Mix.  About 1000 calories.
I may end up only going with one sub, but for the small amount of extra weight it's probably worth it to carry the second.  When I need real food then I'll want to have it available.  If the craving hits when I'm three hours from the nearest convenience store...  Well, that'll kinda suck.  As far as resupplies, I'll just leave it up to what I'm craving when I need to restock and skip food restocks altogether early on.  I'll still need to get water at regular intervals though.

Night pack

Apart from what I've listed above, here's the odds and ends of what I'll be taking.  Some will be kept in a dry bag located in my seat bag (my "night pack") and others that need to be more accessible will be kept in my Spocket.  
  • Night pack
    • 2AA batteries (for GPS)
    • 2 spare light batteries
    • Spare cell phone battery
    • Headphones (night use only)
    • Toilet paper
  • Spocket
    • 3 packets of Chamois Cream
    • Tire lever (for cleaning off shoes after B road hike-a-bikes)
    • Ibuprofen
    • Antacids
    • Pepto Bismol
    • Teflon chain lube
  • Other
    • Phone
    • ID
    • Money

So that's the rundown of what I'll be bringing to Trans Iowa this year.  Everything is pretty much waiting to go at this point so that I'm doing a minimal of last minute stressing and gear swapping. At this point I'll leave you with a few final notes.

  • A frozen burrito tossed into a pack to thaw out helped make a miserable ride less miserable down the road last year.
  • My head light will be resting on a handlebar mount when not in use.  It's light, but you still feel the weight.  This allows me to store it or install it on the fly.
  • In order to keep my gear minimized, my phone will double as my MP3 player at night.  Hence, the spare battery.  
  • A ziplock bag, a strip of duct tape and a couple zip ties make for a great cue sheet holder.
  • Pack your gear with accessibility at the forefront of your mind.  Time stopped is time wasted.

Good luck to everyone else who will be rolling out at 4am Saturday morning.  It's going to be a long ride, and you're going to suffer, but you can hate life all you want as long as you keep moving while you're doing it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trans Iowa V9 Bike Setup

The bulk of this weekend was spent getting my bike prepared for Trans Iowa.  This will be my third attempt at this race and each time I've built on past experiences to fine tune it.  Since I tend to geek out about other folk's setups leading up to a big race, I'd like to take some time to share mine and explain why I do what I do.  In this post I'll be covering bike, storage and contingencies.  Later this week I'll cover food, clothing and other details.

Big Picture:
This year, as I have in my other two attempts, I'll be rolling on my Surly Cross Check.  I recently switched my wheels to a set of Ultegra road tubeless wheels to save a chunk of weight and allow for an easier conversion to tubeless.  I have the rear set up tubeless with a Kenda Happy Medium that I had sitting around the garage.  I used the tire briefly last year and switched to Clement MSO's after Almanzo, so it hasn't seen much use and is fairly fresh.  The front is a Clement LAS that I tried to get set up tubeless, but it didn't take.  I finally gave in and threw a tube in it today.  I've probably lost a little bit of wheel strength moving to these wheels, but then my previous wheelset was overbuilt and pretty heavy.  Plus, the Ultegra wheelset uses straight pull spokes so if I break one on the drive side I can replace it in the field.  I can't do that with my other wheelset.  The down side is I had to special order replacement spokes and nipples.  They should still be here before Trans Iowa though.

For storage I'll be using a Revelate Viscacha seat bag and a Revelate Gas Tank.  I tried the Revelate Jerry Can as well, but my legs rubbed on it too much so I removed it.  The seat bag will house my spare clothing, tools, extra food and water bottles, and other miscellaneous goods.  This eliminates the need for a Camelback, which for me is a big deal.  It's lighter, can carry more (though I'll keep it minimal) and most importantly gets the weight off my back and on the bike.  The Gas Tank will be used for food storage and probably nothing else. For water I've got two frame mounted bottle cages and I've added two more bottle cages to the handlebars.  One of these will be dedicated to a trail mix that I'll be keeping in a water bottle.

One thing I won't be using this year is a frame bag.  The last two years I've used a Revelate Tangle bag, but I'm skipping it so that I can shoulder my bike for the B road hike-a-bikes.  Previously I'd sling it across my back, which worked well, but it's awkward getting it up there when I'm fresh and mighty tough when fatigued.

The cockpit:
For navigational duties I'll be using a Garmin eTrex GPS in data logging mode only.  GPS mapping will get you DQ'ed in this event, but supposedly can be used in bike computer mode (gonna verify this).  In the past I used a Garmin Edge 500 in conjunction with a regular bike computer due to the limited battery life of the Edge and inability to charge while running.  The eTrex takes care of this though since it runs off of AA batteries and has a longer battery life.  Additionally, it doesn't reset your current data when you swap out the batteries.  Usually it's mounted to my stem, but I moved it to an aerobar computer mount located on the handlebars so that I can place my cues over the stem.

Shifters are Retroshifts set up 1x9 with a 9 speed barcon shifter.  I love this setup since it's damn near bulletproof and easy to service.  Regular brifters are just too much of a liability for me to ever use on a dedicated gravel rig again.  Bonus, they're lighter, cheaper and can be set to friction shift on the fly if your shifting goes to hell because you tried to ride that muddy B road.  Handlebars have been double wrapped for comfort and bottles are held in place with velcro.  Still need to tweak the bottle retention to make them easier to access on the fly though.  Finally, after experimenting with my stem an inch lower I moved it back up 3/4" to take some strain off my lower back.

Lighting and Visibility:
Lighting will be handled by two Cygolite Milion headlights.  One goes on the helmet and the other gets mounted to the fork leg.  The fork mounting is key for me since the angle of the light is such that it highlights the features of the road in a way that helmet and handlebar mounts don't.  The run time for each light is 7-8 hours on low (100 lumens) and the batteries can be swapped on the fly if you have them accessible.  The batteries are about the size of a roll of pennies, so they're easy to pack away and not very heavy.  On the rear, I have a typical red blinkie mounted to the left seat stay and LEDs in each handle bar end.  Finally, for added visibility I have white reflective tape wrapped around two places on each seat stay and in one place on each fork leg.  This is something I picked up from my friend Robb and later reinforced by Charles.

I've had my share of road and trail mishaps, and assisted others with plenty more.  As a result, I always try to think ahead to what could possibly go wrong on a ride and plan for it.  Part of that plan is to build spare parts and repair materials into my bike if I can.  Here's a couple examples:
  • My Cross Check has a number of unused rack and fender mounts that I like to stick extra bolts of various lengths into.  Even though I Loctite nearly everything that threads onto my bike, things can still come loose.  Added tip:  Make sure a couple of those spare bolts are cleat bolts.
  • This is new for this race, but I used double sided Velcro strapping for my chainstay protector.  This could just end up getting crudded up with dirt and mud, but worst case it's still a chainstay protector.  I secured the ends with electrical tape and folded the ends over on themselves so it's easier to peel if I need to remove it.
  • I like to attach a few safety pins to various straps on my bags.  Once upon a time I was mountain biking and came across a guy a few miles out from the trail head walking his bike.  He'd hit a rock and suffered a 3" gash on his sidewall.  The gash was too big to boot and I ruined a tube trying to air it up, so after a few trial and error attempts to get him rolling we ended up stuffing his tire with field grass to get him out.  If I'd had safety pins, we may have been able to close up the gash enough to boot it.  In any case, the hula-skirt-wheel approach does work in a pinch, as we found out, so put that in your back pocket for later use.
  • The handlebar bottle mounts are extruded aluminum and I had to screw them down pretty tight to keep them from moving.  This makes me a little nervous, so I'll be placing a loose zip tie through them to tie them together.  If one breaks, that should keep it out of my wheel.  They'll probably be fine, but I could use the peace of mind.
  • Since I won't be using a frame bag, I'll likely attach my spare spokes to the frame using Velcro ties.  If that doesn't hold them well enough, I'll switch to electrical tape.

Other notes:
  • I keep my bike pump attached to the fork leg, using one of the rack mounts and a zip tie to hold it in place.  If you do this, put some electrical tape underneath it to prevent it from rubbing on your fork leg.  You may also want to consider placing your pump in a gallon size ziplock before strapping it in to protect it (credit to Davie Gie for that idea).
  • The handlebar mounted bottles and double wrapped bar tape make for a decent set of makeshift aero bars.
  • Rear cassette has been switched from an 11-34 to an 11-32.  I didn't like the spacing on the 11-34 so it was worth it to ditch a couple teeth in order to jump from 11 to 12 instead of 11 to 13.  It'll make some of the hills tougher, but still worth it overall.  Front ring is a 38.
  • Carbon seatpost was swapped for an aluminum for added peace of mind.  Only paid a 50 gram weight penalty to do so and since I noticed a crack in the carbon post after I removed it I'm glad I took the time to do it.

That about covers it for the bike.  Later this week: Gear and nutrition.