RIP Sule Kangangi

Yeah, I’m coming back to racing after a very long hiatus (~20 years), but I raced MTBs for many years before that and honestly, VO may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike. There were just no breaks. I’ve never seen so many people stopped by the side of the road at a race before. And we’re not even talking at the top of the hills, people were just plopping off their bikes and sitting down like halfway up.

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I’m very much in the “roadie that now rides gravel and can’t handle a bike for shit” camp but I’m not sure how it’s possible to ride those roads on anything outside a MTB. I was complaining this weekend on a ride because one of the climbs washed out and they fixed it by grading it off (so loose dirt) and throwing “large” (1-2") gravel on it. That pic above is like riding up a stream…

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Honestly, this stuff can actually be super fun when you’re used to it and have the right gear. It’s the reason why my next bike will take at least 700x50c tires, and the Lauf Siegla is one of my front runners because it’ll take up to 29"x2.2. There’s a whole segment of gravel bikes that are basically becoming early 90’s mountain bikes, back when we didn’t need suspension because we had Ritchey Z-Max 2.35" WCSs. Man, I’m old.

I think the real problem comes in with racing and event type fragmentation. If you show up to a road race with a drop bar mountain bike, you’re going to be slow. If you show up to a mountain bike race with a road bike, things are potentially a lot more dangerous.

Something like VO is wildly different, with vastly different equipment requirements, than something that’s basically a road race on dirt roads. But they’re all called “gravel races” so everyone takes the same bike to the different events, because who the hell needs a dirt road gravel bike and a chunky offroad gravel bike? Maybe all of us, eventually. Oy.

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I guess if they let you know up front to expect that I guess it’s okay. But if there’s 10-20 miles of that, that’s not something I really envision when thinking about riding gravel. Sure. Some small sections here and there maybe but not 10-20 miles.

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This was my 6th Vermont Overland. The course was not schetchy or something that shouldnt or couldnt have been done on a gravel bike.

There were also plenty of places that obstacles were marcked with spray paint. I believe that my Wahoo even may have screamed at me at times obsticals came up.

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That seems like fairly typical gravel for where I ride often. I guess it is where you come from. When I went to Barry-Roubaix, I was shocked that what they called gravel was more of just a dirty road ride.

This, some gravel is dirty road riding especially up here in the Michigan series. Its dirty and sandy - show up to Vermont and you do not expect the image mentioned above. I did BWR NC this year and although because of research and MTB’ing when I was younger in Pisgah I was well prepared for it. Many of the locals that went with me had a horrible time and didnt expect any of the stuff that race threw at them, I was lucky in thinking its basically a MTB race with road sections. WIth that said, I bet I could have done BWRNC faster on a Super Caliber with some gravel wheels laced to MTB hubs.

We need better defined names for these races because of where people live and travel…

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Barry Roubaix - Classic Road Gravel Race
BWR - Adventure race
Vermont - Adventure race
Melting Mann - Classic Road Gravel Race

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