One week from today, I’ll be riding my bike around in the woods on gravel roads and goat track in the freezing cold like a complete idiot. Awesome!
As a result, I’ve been
finally getting around to updating making some critical last-minute updates to the Mighty Moto.
Like this one, for instance:
Yup, that’s a 12-36 29er cluster, kids. With this baby in place, I should be able to ride the Moto up a wall.
You may be wondering why I need such a ridiculously enormous cluster, given that I Climb Well For My Weight (which, much to my dismay, is still 165 pounds, because I have totally hosed up my training plan for the past few weeks and also totally hosed up my eating plan for the past few weeks). There’s a perfectly good reason, y’all — gravel.
See, gravel makes it pretty hard to get out of the saddle and muscle up those steep spots, so if you’re going to hit up a gravel race with serious climbs, you’ll do well to snag yourself a big ol’ pie tin for a cassette. I learned this during the Death March: pushing your heavy-tastic gravel bike up a long climb because you couldn’t spin on that 20-degree section and now can’t get started again (because the gravel rolls out from under your rear wheel, preventing you from gaining traction on hills) sucks, though my Adidas mountain bike shoes might make it suck less than it did in my Lake winter commuters.
That’s where enormous cogs come in. Lower gears let you crawl up loose-gravel slopes where you might otherwise find yourself walking. Good deal.
Of course, to cope with the enormous cogs, I also had to replace my rear derailleur. A long-cage Deore model does the job nicely. Then, since I’d replaced chainrings, cogs, and derailleur, I figured I might as well go ahead and replace the chain. As usual, I went with a basic KMC 9-speed chain: all my chains thus far have been KMC chains, and I’ve had no problems with them.
I’ve also installed a 90mm stem with a 25-degree rise, which affords me a shorter reach (which is good, because the Moto really is a hair on the long side) and a more upright position. That makes it easier to get back over the rear wheel and let the bike to its thing on the descents. My bars were also a bit narrow, so I swapped them for a pair of Salsa’s Bell Lap bars. Tim was selling them and the price was right, and it turns out that I really like them. Their drops are shallower than the ones that came with my bike, which means I can get down in the bends and still (sometimes) be able to operate the stupid little shifter button on the Moto’s Sora brifters with my thumbs. I probably won’t be doing much of that, anyway, but it’s nice to know the option is (sorta, kinda) there.
I’ve now replaced the Moto’s wheels, the saddle, the bars, the stem, the rear cluster, the rear derailleur, and the pedals. I’m planning to replace the fork eventually, since I’m not in love with the one it came with. Before long, the frame and seatpost will be the only remaining stock parts on the Moto, period.
Once the race is over, I’m hoping to get my trainer set up for indoor training so I can keep my fitness level up throughout the winter. I do ride quite a bit in the winter, but I don’t tend to ride anywhere near as hard due to less-than-great road conditions. Louisville is in a part of the country where we tend to get sleet and freezing rain instead of snow, and road-clearing services don’t get enough practice to be optimal.
This week I hope to snag some goggles, a replacement set of gloves, and some toe covers. That should about kit me up for the race.