Dum dum DUM…as the kids would say. Only a couple of days to go until the Dirty Reiver. All 200km of it. Here’s what Hannah is packing.
There’s some mandatory kit and some advisory kit. I’ve decided to pack for comfort (hopefully) rather than speed (because frankly, that’s pointless in my case).
I’m running tubeless, so I’m really hoping to get round without needing most of this. But just in case…I’m bringing the ‘serious’ pump, the Bontrager Mini Charger, which is a good weapon of choice when it comes to ‘just get it done’ pumping. Just in case (but I will be close to weeping if I get to this stage) I’ve got a tube and levers. My rear wheel needs two different sized Allen keys to get it off, and needs them both at the same time, so I’ve got this teeny weeny Lezyne tool here, plus a more substantial one in the Topeak Ninja bottle cage. Spare SRAM Level brake pads (I really don’t want to need these). The quick links are not in fact the right ones for my gears but I figure something is better than nothing in the bailing and getting to warmth stakes. The Butt Shield is a sort of wet wipe that has a similar effect to chamois cream – I figure it might some in handy if I start feeling some chafing somewhere en route. I told you I was packing for comfort! The blanket and whistle are required – I’ll definitely be weeping if I use them – as is the front light.
That all packs up quite neatly to this. Let’s hope it can all just stay packed up until Sunday.
Also into the dry bag goes a few extra clothes:
The current forecast is for it to be fairly cool, so I might end up wearing these gloves by Gore, which are on the warm side – but not waterproof. A long sleeve merino top from Mons Royale doubles up as a just-in-case extra layer, but I can also swap it for my planned outer layer if I end up feeling too warm. A buff (or hat) is required – I might end up wearing it and shoving it in a pocket later if it’s an ear-chilling morning. The mandatory waterproof comes in the form of my very old (possibly 15 years now?) Gore Paclite jacket. It’s light, it’s waterproof, I hope I don’t need it.
As well as the kit I’ll be carrying, based on the current forecast (less than 10degC, dry) I’m planning on wearing:
- Vittoria Frost winter boots – not actually that great in true UK winter weather, but good for a not too hot and not too cold day.
- FINDRA Route Merino T – This is quite thick and warm, and I know from experience it layers well as a non windproof but warm combo with the Mons Royale long sleeve I’ve got packed as an extra.
- Gore Power Trail Windstopper – It’s a lightweight Windstopper that I think will suit the cool but dry conditions forecast.
- Endura FS260-Pro Bibshorts – These seem to pair up well with the saddle on the bike I’m riding, plus I have a feeling the drop seat/wee zip might prove handy on a long day out on the bike where I’m likely to have other riders in close proximity for most of the day.
- dhb Rain Defence knee warmers – I want my knees to be covered, and these are the most comfortable option I have available. Plus, a bit of spray proofing is probably a welcome thing. Although I have no intention of try to ride through the ford!
- Sombrio Lily Gloves – I find these comfy, and neither to warm nor too cool. There’s no padding though, which I may come to regret.
The dry bag is a tad small. But I have a cunning plan.
I’ve taken the front light out and put it in one of my front Alpkit Feedbags. Then I’ve rolled the waterproof up and put the dry bag on top, so the waterproof is now covering the slightly open dry bag. It all straps down nice and tight onto the PDW Bindle Rack, which also gives me something of a rear mudguard. The Bindle Rack has a waterproof bottom piece to it, so the dry bag gets a bit of extra protection there too. The rack itself is pretty light, and I’ve been testing it on rough ground with no wobble problems so I think it’s a good option that allows me to ride rucksack-less. I’m hoping that the absence of a back pack and straps will feel light on my body and help with neck and shoulder fatigue.
I’m also carrying FOOD. I’m hoping to eat my way round, in the absence of brilliant fitness. I’ve gone for a mixture of things that I think I’ll like eating, with a few emergency gels for if I enter a bad spot. I’ll have a bottle for plain water, plus another for electrolyte drink. I’ve got the fairly mild flavoured Nuun drinks, with and without caffeine, plus their flavourless carbohydrate additive. Then there’s a selection of cereal bars of various flavours and textures. It’s probably all a bit sugar heavy and essential-something-or-others light, but I’m hardly an athlete. I may yet add a mini pork pie to the mix – it’s probable I’ll be passing Tebay services on the way to the race! I’ll also be adding a peanut butter and jam sandwich on the morning of the race. I’m also hoping for tuna sandwiches on the feed stations – for some reason I always crave these on a long ride.
All that food fits easily into these two feedbags. The black one is filled with all the stuff I want to be eating, the emergency gels (and front light) are in the the red one, and there’s room for more if something takes my fancy at a feed station.
The feed bags are actually supposed to be the other side of the bars, but I can’t stand having anything in my pedalling space – even if my knees don’t actually brush whatever is there, I find myself altering my pedal action and soon end up with sore knees and ankles. So, there’s a bit of a bodge to keep these bags where I want them, but I think it’ll be fine.
All of that gives me a nice clear ride space, but easy access to the things I need.
This is how my cockpit will look. I have a horrible feeling I could be looking at it for a good 12 hours.
I’m going to use the Garmin to try and mentally break the route down into manageable chunks, and also to remind me to eat regularly. The orange bracket will hold a GoPro so that I can record the trials and tribulations/ joy and happiness/ wimpering and weeping/ descent into madness on the way round. Hopefully having to tell the world how and why I gave up will help stop me from doing so. If it gets dark, the GoPro will be replaced by my front light. It’s also orange, and under my nose, and has a reminder on the side of why I should stop moaning and keep pedalling.
I’ve not made a lot of changes to the NS RAG+ compared to how it arrived for the test. First up, it needed bottle cages. I’ve gone for the Topeak Ninja bottle cage with multitool storage built in. That left things a bit tight on this frame for a second bottle, but the Fabric cage-less bottle sits just that bit closer to the frame, giving me the room I needed.
I’ve also flipped the stem. The bars are still a little lower than I’d ideally like for something of this distance, and I’m a little worried about how my neck will feel. But I’m not planning on spending a lot of time on the drops – basically only when I’m having to brake on steep stuff, of which I’m not sure there is much (any?) – so hopefully I’ll be able to sit fairly upright on the tops for most of the ride.
I’ve kept the same Panaracer Gravelking SK tyres, but set it all up tubeless (first time taping rims – success!) with Orange Seal tubeless sealant.
As long as there isn’t a huge amount of slippery mud, my training ride experience suggests these should work fine.
I had thought I might need to change the front chain ring for something more forgiving, but in training I’ve not felt the need for the 42T at the back on anything but the very steepest of climbs. I’m led to believe the Dirty Reiver has more long drags than sharp peaks so hopefully I’ll be OK.
Unusually for me, I’ve kept the saddle that came with the bike. It’s firm, and it has a slight depression down the middle, and has been comfy on rides up to 50km as long as I don’t spend too long on the drops. Without any really big rides in the bank, it’s a bit of a gamble, and I suspect a question of when will I start hurting, rather than if. But hey, this whole event is probably going to hurt…
I think that’s me sorted then. Apart from the lungs (been coughing for a week), legs (the less said about these the better), and bottom (at least the cough has meant time off the bike for a saddlesore to heal). But it’s all in your head, right? You can do anything you put your mind to, right? I’m off to do some positive visualisation and powerful thinking…gah, I’ve just realised I need a rear light. Best hunt that out. Positive visualisation can wait.