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What would you do 200km of gravel on? Here's mine. Show us yours!

It’s the Dirty Reiver soon! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a 200km Gravel ride though Kielder Forest, and should be fun, assuming we don’t neet the survival blanket and emergency whistle they insist we take.

Team road.cc Reiver (that’s Dave Arthur, Stu Kerton, Mike Stead and myself) are all meeting up atop Westbury White Horse tomorrow to get some gravelly miles and bonding, so that’s been the catalyst to put the final touches to my bike for the ride. That’s it, up there.

Base bike: Vitus Energie

The Vitus Energie was our cyclocross bike of the year this year. It’s a brilliant sub-£1k ‘cross bike with a really solid build. I raced it over the winter and I’ve managed to hang on to it for this. It should be just the ticket for the Reiver. With a few additions and amendments, of course.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -2.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -2.jpg

Gearing: SRAM Apex 1x, 42 / 11-42

The Energie comes with an 11-36 cassette and a 40T chainring, and that’s a good setup for racing or blasting about. I’ve fitted the wider Apex cassette to give me a bit more of a spread of gears. 42/11 isn’t a huge top gear but I don’t expect I’ll ever be going fast enough to spin it out.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -3.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -3.jpg

Tyres: Schwalbe G-One 40mm

To be honest I didn’t really consider any other tyre. The G-Ones are brilliant, grippy on the gravel and quick on the tarmac. I’m running them tubeless (of course) with Orange Endurance sealant which can plug some fairly big holes. The bigger 40mm ones should give me enough cushioning. But if they don’t…

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -4.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -4.jpg

Bar tape: double-wrapped

I’ve given the bars an extra wrap of nice squidgy tape to keep my hands from going to sleep from the constant rumble of the gravel. and that’s not the only nod to extra comfort.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -8.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -8.jpg

Seatpost: Cane Creek Thudbuster

This I’ve dug out of the shed; I think it was originally fitted to a Kona Blast around the turn of the century. It’s the short travel one; the pivots wore out a while back and they’ve been replaced with some bolts from the ironmongers. It’ll be fine, trust me

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -5.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -5.jpg

Top bag: Topeak Toploader

If you’re wearing about 20 layers then your pockets aren’t the place to try and store snacks and other stuff you want to access quickly. This Topeak bag will swallow a bunch of food, as well as my phone and a few other bits and bobs.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -6.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -6.jpg

The Vitus is top-tube-routed, so I’ve had to fashion a little tunnel for the gear cable out of a bit of old tent pole. Otherwise the bag would cinch the cable to the frame and I’d have to do it singlespeed.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -7.jpg

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -7.jpg

Saddle bag: Ortlieb Reflective

This bag is 2.7L, so big enough for the whistle, a decent toolkit and maybe a spare top. It’s roll-top so it’s completely waterproof and also packs down nicely if it isn’t full.

Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -10.jpg
Dave Atko's Dirty Reiver bike -9.jpg

Lights: Cateye

I’m hoping I won’t need the lights too much, but if I do there’s the unbeatable Volt 800 up front and a a Rapid X to the rear. The front should give me plenty of light for enough time to make it back, and the rear has a group-friendly mode so everyone’s not moaning at me.

That’s your lot! First real go on the bike is tomorrow, so wish me luck. And if you're riding, post a pic of your bike in the comments below and we can discuss the minutiae of Reiver builds...

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

17 comments

Avatar
TypeVertigo [348 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Interesting that you've mounted the Volt 800 upside down. Good light, though.

How does the rebuilt Thudbuster fare on gravel? Have you tried it on a test ride yet?

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dave atkinson [6299 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

TypeVertigo wrote:

Interesting that you've mounted the Volt 800 upside down. Good light, though.

How does the rebuilt Thudbuster fare on gravel? Have you tried it on a test ride yet?

I tend to mount lights like that cause i find they get in the way. it's a round beam so dosn't make much odds.

no, haven't tried the thudbuster out yet. tomorrow is its first outing, i shall report back!

Avatar
jterrier [100 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I am still deciding which bike. I have a carbon framed GT Grade 2x or an alloy boardman with sram 1x. The GT is way more comfy over distance. The boardman is more expendable.

In both cases i will be running tubeless stans wheels with schwalbe x-one tires. I wanted some g-ones but cant afford more stuff. Kit bags wise, my setup is basically what dave has above which makes me feel good. Nutrition is the thing i am pondering the most.

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3mkru73 [47 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I'm riding a Ridley X Trail (that did the Dirty Reiver last year under a different, lighter, rider) with no frame bags, I've been training with an old Tatonka hydration pack from my mountainbiking days. The gaffer is riding a Reilly Gradient with Apidura bags. It may have Laufs on by the time of the Dirty Reiver! Both bikes are using Hope Pro4 disc hubs, with the Ridley having full Ultegra 2x and Stan Grails rims running Clement MSO Xplor tubeless, whilst the Reilly is Sram 1x with Pacenti rims on Schwalbe G1's . This pic was taken during last weekends training ride up the Waskerley Way, 120km in total, mostly gravel and dirt tracks. Great fun! 

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jterrier [100 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

...gearing i suppose is also on my mind going on from above. The 1x bike has a 38 front with an 11-36 rear. The 2x is a semi compact with 11-32. So gear range for climbs is much the same but i might spin the 1x out... Probably be freewheeling a lot downhill mind.

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wheelz [75 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

My trusty Kinesis pro 6 with 40mm WTB nanos, 105 hydraulic brakes and tranny with a 32/12 cassette. Will be using a simular setup with a frame bag and a small saddle bag. This setup was fine on my 22 hour C2C on the Trans Pennines ride.

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dave atkinson [6299 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

jterrier wrote:

Nutrition is the thing i am pondering the most.

I'm probably going for homemade high-fat seed and nut flapjacks, they normally see me round  1

Avatar
jterrier [100 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
dave atkinson wrote:
jterrier wrote:

Nutrition is the thing i am pondering the most.

I'm probably going for homemade high-fat seed and nut flapjacks, they normally see me round  1

Yeah good call, i was sort of thinking that too. I see it as three hrs riding between each checkpoint, with a drop bag at the second, so i need enough food to get me through 2x 3hr rides before refilling from the drop (plus obvs whatever i can eat from the feed stations). I was thinking eat every half hr / 45 mins to avoid flagging. Therefore 8 chunks of flapjack per half race, with 8 waiting in the dropbag at half distance. Hmmm.... Sounds a lot....

Stream of consciousness flapjack internal monologue there.

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dave atkinson [6299 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

saddle bag fell off twice today over the rough stuff so might need to rethink that. oh, and change the saddle  3

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mattydubster [63 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Here's mine.  Enigma Ecroix, running tubeless. Pulled out 7 thorns last weekend whilst inspecting the tyres.  After having run tubeless all winter I'd never even consider anything else for an event like this.  And I've adopted a better rear mudguard now though  1

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wheelz [75 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Dont eat anything you havent eaten whilst riding before, your body will be under stress, and will not need any excuses to give you jip.

I used white finger rolls (cut in half, and wrapped in siver foil for ease), with either peanut butter or honey fillings, bananas and soreen loaf on my C2C on th TPT, topped up with natural energy bars, i also found that after 15 hours of pedalling my body craved something savoury. Continuous  grazing is required just to keep the energy levels ok. I also used High5 drink, it was easy on the stomach..... The thing is, you need the enegy to last till the the next scoff, so, you dont nee too many carbs, because you will be continually topping them up. But dont forget to put some protien in there too.

Avatar
jterrier [100 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
wheelz wrote:

Dont eat anything you havent eaten whilst riding before, your body will be under stress, and will not need any excuses to give you jip.

I used white finger rolls (cut in half, and wrapped in siver foil for ease), with either peanut butter or honey fillings, bananas and soreen loaf on my C2C on th TPT, topped up with natural energy bars, i also found that after 15 hours of pedalling my body craved something savoury. Continuous  grazing is required just to keep the energy levels ok. I also used High5 drink, it was easy on the stomach..... The thing is, you need the enegy to last till the the next scoff, so, you dont nee too many carbs, because you will be continually topping them up. But dont forget to put some protien in there too.

Yep i did a long ride tuesday, and found i felt sick from all the sweet bars and gels. Definitely needed more savoury protein stuff. Lessonlearned.

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dave atkinson [6299 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

the thudbuster does a good job, by the way. it's not a huge amount of extra comfort but it certainly helps a bit, like having some bigger tyres.

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700c [1110 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Nice. But a bit of a step down from the Parlee last year?!   3 

Am looking at basic adaptations to my kinesis for a bit of gravel riding - at the moment the Reiver is a bit extreme for me, even the 130k version, but sounds like an extreme adventure (I like that you have to pack a whistle and emergency blanket lol!).  The big question mark is tyre width - I think I can get up to 38mm on the rear and 32mm on the front, but without much clearance for mud etc. No way I can justify n+1 (well if I could I'd look at a GT Grade...

But  I wonder if 32f/38r is enough to get away with several hours on forest roads? I've even seen gravel tyres for sale at 28mm but that seems a bit unerealistic? 

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gonedownhill [146 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Making some sort of flavoured rice (i have used spicy rice that you'd put in a burrito and stir fried in the past) and sticking it in a wrap has worked for me before on century rides. Also took some home made sushi once (no raw fish but canned tuna). Seemed to give good slow release. Can't hack 6 hours plus of sweet stuff.

Good luck to all doing this ride, sounds brutal.

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jterrier [100 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Tried a thudbuster myself today. Couldnt really see a massive benefit. Didnt deal with sudden sharp shocks and didnt take away vibration. Only really felt different over a long-wave type bump, and even then it just changed it into a different type of problem.

Avatar
jterrier [100 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
700c wrote:

Nice. But a bit of a step down from the Parlee last year?!   3 

Am looking at basic adaptations to my kinesis for a bit of gravel riding - at the moment the Reiver is a bit extreme for me, even the 130k version, but sounds like an extreme adventure (I like that you have to pack a whistle and emergency blanket lol!).  The big question mark is tyre width - I think I can get up to 38mm on the rear and 32mm on the front, but without much clearance for mud etc. No way I can justify n+1 (well if I could I'd look at a GT Grade...

But  I wonder if 32f/38r is enough to get away with several hours on forest roads? I've even seen gravel tyres for sale at 28mm but that seems a bit unerealistic? 

I have a gt grade and the tire clearances are no big deal nowadays. Its quite an old design. I am sticking with my cx bike for this event.