4 months to epic Patagonia ride - adjust volume? and gear advice needed

Hey everyone, could use some advice.

I was just invited to a 7 day / 1,000km gravel charity ride thru Patagonia, with a bonus day 9,000 foot road climb in about 35miles. From looking at last years route, most elevation takes place under 5,000 feet. The last day begins at 3,000ft and goes up to 10,500. Takes place early March. I’ve been anticipating getting in for about 12 weeks so have already begun base training and (new to me) strength training and weight loss/diet improvements.

I’m a 40 year old father of 3 from Chicago, 6’3’', 206lbs, 310w FTP, 20.5% body fat as reported by Nokia/Withings scale. I dabble in CX and mtb and road. Been riding about 4-7k miles a year for the past 3 years. Been using TrainerRoad on and off the past 2 years, trying mid volume base/build with medium compliance, and did well through a high volume base last season but crashed hard with illness mid-way through build. The last two years I’ve gotten very sick in March/April, one year was viral meningitis, one year was unexplained general travel bug after a work trip to South America. Each required an Emergency Room visit and 2 weeks in bed then 2-3 months off the bike. I have tried Mid Volume and High Volume plans, but have a bit of a difficulty with compliance as my work and home schedule is unpredictable. I have completed a 6 day/600mile self supported tour 2 years ago with great success, as well as a 12 day, 1,300 mile tour from Chicago to New York last year with great success.

I’ve just finished SSBLV1 and SSBLV2, with some extra low intensity rides thrown in, and 1-2 days a week strength training. My goal was to do low volume, add strength, and add 1-2 low intensity rides per week and just stick to consistency, and working on my diet. In the past 5 months, I’ve dropped about 10 pounds, with a cleaner diet, intermittent fasting, and focusing on rest. Thanks to Whoop for hammering home sleep and recovery! I really haven’t had a grasp of riding/training by feel yet, so the Whoop helps me understand my work/family stress on my training. My body fat percentage has also dropped, swapping around 4-5 pounds of fat for muscle based on Nokia scale.

I have about 16 weeks left. My current plan is to move on to Low Volume General Build, with a Low Volume Century or Rolling Road Race Specialty, and continue the strength and extra rides when I can, focusing on rest and diet and recovery. The climbs on my trip seem like long 1-2 hour grinders, but, I’m guessing with the offroad terrain it’d be a bit more spikey, so thinking General vs Sustained and Rolling Road Race vs Century could be beneficial.

Am I crazy to think my current trajectory will support a grueling 7-8 days of riding gravel/rocky terrain? Should I restart my base and up volume to sweet spot base mid or high volume 1 and 2, then 3-4 weeks builld? Or stick to my lower volume, but much more healthy overall lifestyle? If I keep the volume low, I have time to be a human, cook all my meals and get an extra 45-60mins a sleep per night. I’ve nailed compliance on the low volume base 1 and 2, only missing 1-2 rides at end of base 2 due to an emergency work trip, which I will have made up and added a rest week to cope with life stress.

Does my training plan make sense?

Equipment wise, I have a 2017 Pivot Vault with Red AXS 2x 12spd, with 46/33 and a 10/33 in the back, running Zipp 303s. I also have Reynolds ATRs, which will be my backup wheelset. For gear upgrades, I’m thinking Lauf Fork. Last year’s riders complained of numb hands due to washboarded roads. Currently I can fit 700x36 Donnelly XPlor MSO, which I’ve loved for Barry-Roubaix and DK100 ish rides. I do have a hard tail with Sram Eagle, was thinking maybe upgrading to a mullet build on the Vault, but need a 1x crankset with power and wireless Eagle AXS derailleur which is a steep investment given my flights/accomodations/support fees that I need to cover. Should I focus on 30mm travel upgrade with the Lauf fork, or Eagle gearing? I’m leaning toward the fork option, and perhaps running a 700x45 up front with a 700x36 in the back to give me a shot at being comfortable. I get the feeling that comfort is king.

I’m also planning on taking a backup wheelset, backup tires, backup brake pads and rotors, derailleur hanger, backup chain, and chain powerlinks. For the last day, Im thinking about swapping my gravel tires for 28mm GP5000s, and swapping to my road/rigid fork as well.

Does my gear plan make sense?

Thank you!

Based on you past your training plan seems spot on. Focus on compliance and fit in more rides/workouts where you can. As you get closer to your event, 6-8 weeks out you can swap some of those weight lifting workouts with zone 2/endurance rides. Keep working on your diet and ensure you’re healthy both physically and mentally while enjoying your training and family life.