John's Racing Bike & Kit

June 15, 2015

Some friends have asked about John's bike and also what kind of stuff he is carrying with him during the race. I'll do my best to explain both. Basically, the racer is required to be self-supported, so they are carrying what they need with them for eating, sleeping and remote bike repair.... at least until the next town where they can visit a bike shop and get food and water (all require some planning and good timing). Racers cannot share (or beg for) food, tools or water (unless face down in a gutter), nor depend on another for navigation or repairs (as I loosely understand the rules to be). They can camp or stay in hotels (again, if the timing works out). Or not sleep much at all, or sleep while riding (it's happened).

Bicycle -(see earlier posts for photos)
A Waltworks 29er* steel mountain bike custom-built in Utah, with rigid fork (no front or rear suspension) and Rohloff hub (internal gearing so it looks like a single speed). (See earlier posts for John's reflections; and A lean, mean (strong) cross country racing machine! In the words of Walt himself:

"John wanted a bike to do 2 things: be capable of surviving the GDR and fit his gear, and be a fun all-around mountain bike when he's not in the pain cave. Luckily those 2 goals aren't mutually exclusive, since the GDR is most non-technical "XC" (cross country) riding.... his geometry is a pretty straightforward XC setup with a few tweaks for cable routing for his internally geared Rohloff hub and frame bags/gear. 

The only real GDR-specific stuff here is that the chainstays are *relatively* long for someone his size and that it's got a pretty low BB (ie, not great in a techy rock garden, maybe - but good for overall stability/safety when your brain isn't working well and you're going 30 mph in the dark). Of course the design is fitted to John as well and the tubes are spec'd a little on the beefy side since it'll be ridden with a load (and at 30mph in the dark...a framebuilder's worst nightmare). But really, an XC machine for a very long XC event - and then hopefully lots of fun in the San Juans for many years to come."

*A 29er is a mountain bike with the 29" wheels, the popular larger size wheels similar to a 700c wheel on a road bike (traditionally, mt bikes have 26" wheels).

One oddity for a mountain bike is that most everyone adds aero bars, like you see triathletes use, for comfort, windy conditions, and more positioning options.

The flight deck: lights, navigation, computer, sleep kit, aero bars

Bike Bags-(see photo below and earlier posts for photos)
Most designed and built by John. (All bags are available for special order).

Dairy Queen in Big Fork
I never got an official list and maybe it is actually top secret, but here are the basics:
1) Food & water - But no cooking supplies (no stove, etc.). Towns are accessible aprox. every 100 miles, so racers eat a big meal while passing through and load their bikes with as much food as possible. Same for water. This takes planning and knowing the details of the route.
2) Clothing - Same outfit everyday plus carrying foul weather gear. No apres ski outfits or slippers.
3) Navigation - Maps, GPS, cell phone, summary sheet, cycle computer
4) Light system, basic repair kit
5) Sunblock, simple hygiene kit, basic first aid, chamois cream, etc.
6) Sleeping - ridiculously light bag and pad, and tarp... mere ounces!

This is where John will be a pro. Each item was careful considered and weighed. No fluff. Again, his mountaineering experience is a huge advantage. And he is lucky he works for an outdoor company so he could pull the lightest stuff from the warehouse.

It all fits in those five bags on his bike.

The contents of the kit, all on the bike

All told, he thinks his loaded bike weighs 45 lbs.... so nothing like the loads that some folks drag along the road when toodling across the country, but still no featherweight. It's been feeling a bit hefty on the climbs, he says.

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