Dallas W. Writes in…
“Readiness and testing are the best allies of anyone who plans to seek adventure in wild places. Not leaving your equipment to chance and knowing how to maintain it improves your confidence and enjoyment on unsupported or solo rides. I also enjoy the time spent preparing as a prolog to the actual event.
After a great summer of riding and some massive plans for the fall, it was time to give my ride some due attention. For me this begins with a complete teardown to the bare frame with cleaning and inspection of every part. From past experience I always pay special attention to wheels and drivetrain as these are items that you can’t do much about on the trail. Good parts go back together clean and freshly lubed as if it was a fresh build. Worn items are replaced with new improved parts. Once back together with a fresh set of 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums, new chain, and Thud buster seat post, it was time to consider was cargo and loading. I use a Revelate Tangle frame bag to carry a wind breaker, water bladder, tools, and extra food. I made a handlebar mounted feed bag that carries a large bottle of Coca-Cola, most of my food, and a camera. Two spare tubes are wrapped in separate zip lock bags in a small seat bag.
I planned a morning metric to test the re-build and insure that I was carrying adequate food and clothing. I also wanted time to ensure that the seat positioned correctly with the new post.
The Gandy Dancer State trail is a true diamond in the rough. A crushed limestone rails trail stretching almost 50 miles from Saint Croix Falls to Danbury Wisconsin. Being a former rail bed ensures the grades a low and gradual for riders of any age and ability, the crushed limestone surface works well for any bike. What makes the Gandy truly one of a kind is having a trail of this length that is completely free of motorized vehicles during the bicycle season.
I rolled my bike through the side door of the garage at 4:30 am, an hour and 30 minutes before sunrise. The experience of riding in the dark on trails and rural roads away from city lights is quite unique. As you roll along it’s almost as if nothing exists beyond the beam of your light, which left me feeling slightly claustrophobic. As day broke the world grew beyond the beam of my light to the fields, farms, and small towns I was riding past.
I stopped a few times to tweek the seat position and experiment with tire pressure, but by 20 miles it was dialed. The morning sun was flickering to through the trees that line the trail as I continued north to the 33 mile marker on the trail. As I began the return trip I soaked in the beautiful day and how lucky I was to be enjoying it.
Think of a combination croissant-cinnamon roll coated with sugar. After refueling at Café Wren the trail grade is slightly downhill all the way home, with the wind at my back and the sun on my shoulder. Not bad for an equipment shake down ride. Only 6 days to the 2015 Gravel Conspiracy.”