Whether you chose the GRiT, the GRiT L or the GRiT XL you’re going to face steep climbing and rough descents. The climbs are long, with grades touching twenty percent, and several descents are either studded with baby heads or contain soft sand. When it comes to choosing a rig for this event error on the side of low gearing and wide tires.
Can I Ride My Cyclocross Bike on This Course?
The quick answer is yes. The L course has been ridden on a cross bike with 35mm tires and 34-34 gearing (double ring up front). It should be noted that the rider is an extremely strong climber and an expert mountain biker. 35mm is narrow for this course, and many cross bikes don’t accommodate wider tires. One way to get around this is to fit your bike with 650B wheels. On my cross bike any 700c tire wider than 33mm will rub on the chainstay, but if I switch to 650B I can roll 40mm wide rubber.
Should I Ride My Mountain Bike on This Course?
Active suspension is not needed on this course, but the weight of a suspension fork may pay for itself on faster downhill times. If you are a strong climber and a fast descender of technical terrain a hardtail mountain bike is a good choice. There is no need for a full suspension rig, but if that’s what you have ride what you got.
How About a Gravel Bike?
This is a gravel course and it’s been ridden by numerous riders on various gravel rigs. As a generalization I’m going to say that the riders with the lowest gears and the widest tires fared best. As with the cyclocross bike, a switch to 650Bs and wider tires is a solid choice. I recently rode the L course on my gravel rig with 42mm tires and 42-46 gearing. I had a tough day, and felt that I could have used more tire and lower gearing.
Is There Another Option?
Yes. I’ve ridden all or significant parts of this course on a mountain bike, a fat bike, a gravel bike and what I call my “adventure” bike. The adventure bike is a 2011 Yeti ARC retrofitted with a rigid fork, drop bars and 650B wheels. The bike has old school triple up front ultra-low gearing and 2.1” wide tires. This is my preferred bike for this course. During our recent pre-ride a friend rolled up on a Specialized Epic with a rigid fork, drop bars and 29”X2.1” tires – an ideal rig for this course. This type of ride, known as “monster gravel,” “gravel plus” or “adventure gravel,” is becoming popular as gravel riders begin to push the technical boundaries.
Whatever bike you chose, and whatever course you pick, GriT is going to be a challenge. A rewarding challenge, a beautiful challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. I wish you the best of luck and I’ll see you Sunday July 10th.