This evening I did a 31-mile ride on my flatbar road bike—a.k.a., my “trail bike”—in preparation for Sunday’s gravel grinder in DeKalb. You could be forgiven for thinking my Giant FCR3 is a rigid 29er, but in truth it’s a “fitness” road bike with cyclocross tires. Its main function is to tear up rail trails. I don’t need anything as heavily built as a mountain bike; a suspension fork and wide knobby tires would just be extra weight for the kind of trail riding I do. Today’s route was a 50/50 mix of roads and gravel/dirt trails. I really pushed the pace, riding between 20 and 24 mph on asphalt and 17-20 mph off-road. There were only two hills on the route and I charged up them. Tomorrow is a planned rest day, then I’ll do Brat in Hell on Saturday. I’ll be sure to eat and hydrate well on Saturday evening, and I’m promising myself an early bedtime. To get to DeKalb in time for the 9 a.m. start on Sunday, I’ll leave home by 6 a.m.
Earlier today I used Google Street View to do some online reconnaissance of the route. A few of the roads were not on Street View but I got a good feel for the setting. For someone used to the northern Kettle Moraine, the countryside around DeKalb is flat. I think I climb pretty well for a person my size, but there’s no denying that I am a person my size … if you know what I mean. Kitted up and shod with a pair of size 12 (US) mountain bike shoes, I’m every last bit of 200 pounds. Power-to-weight is a humbling thing, and the little guys almost invariably out-climb me. But on flat terrain I can settle into a rhythm and eat up a bunch of miles in pretty short order. I’ve taken the organizer’s cuesheet and customized it with my own notes, including the location of a minimart near the halfway point. The minimart is a few blocks off-route, but I’ll know where it is if my need to refuel and/or rehydrate extends beyond what I have with me when I start.
Physically prepared and now armed with information about the route, I can’t wait for Sunday.