This Saturday is the annual running of the Almanzo 100 here in Minnesota. The Almanzo is a 100 mile unsupported gravel race in Southern Minnesota. (go here for last year's race recap)
While last year I rode the Nature Boy single speed, this year I plan on riding the Mr. Pink. To that end last night I hunkered down in the workshop to get it ready.
I have to warn you that this is going to be an exceedingly nerdy post as I totally geek out on bike shit.
The first thing I swapped out were the wheels and tires, or tried to swap out tires. I've been cruising around on some 32c Panaracer T-Serv's and have been logging a decent amount of gravel on them. They work fine, but Saturday's course might be a little muddy so I figured I'd go with something with a little more tread. The tires I selected were the Clement LAS's, a file tread 33c tire.
I had been told that the Clement was a fat 33c, but when mounted on the Velocity 23mm wide A23 rim they were somewhere around 35c and didn't fit in my fork. Well they fit in the fork fine, but they don't clear the brake. The Mr. Pink axle to crown is designed to be interchangeable with aftermarket carbon road racing forks, and the brake hole just isn't tall enough to fit this size rubber, though they did fit in the back. We were hoping the Pink would clear 35c tires, but it looks like due to the ATC restraint a 32c is going to be the recommended max.
This setback meant I was sticking with My T-Serv's but as I was taking the tire off the rim I noticed some sketchiness in the sidewall.
The photos make it look way worse than it does in person, and I've definitely ridden tires that were more shot but in this case there was no way I was going to chance a sidewall blowout in the middle of bumble fk Minnesota. It was a bummer because I've only been riding them since March, but luckily for me I had a spare in the shop.
On the wheel side I swapped out my tied and soldered set of Hed hubs to A23's in favor of a recently built non tied and soldered set. Besides the spoke treatement the differences in the wheelsets are as follows: the new set uses DT Swiss Super Comp spokes instead of Comps and has a three cross rear instead of a two cross. My thinking is that I want maximum cush on the gravel and I'm very keen on comparing tied and soldered to non tied and soldered wheels in terms of ride quality. While there are some meaningful differences in the builds this is the most apples to apples comparison that I've ever been able to do. I would also like to mention that even though the new rear is three cross instead of two, the change in spokes creates a weight difference that you can definitely feel in your hand.
Now onto the bar tape. I wanted to install some Bontrager Buzzkills, add extra cush to the tops, and wrap the bar up to the bulge. The bars were originally setup for the Frostbike tradeshow and in proper form were only wrapped up to the taper, I however want as much real estate for my hands as I can get and like them much higher.
Bontrager Buzzkills - help deaden vibration. Everybody thinks I'm a dipshit for buying into the "hype" but I think they totally help and love these things. If you've got a set lying around and don't want them, send em my way.
Boom, done, ready to race. If you see me out there make sure you say hello.