Gravel Worlds is this week and of course it's going to be a hectic one for me with lots of other life things going on before Saturday but one decision that is out of the way is the choice of bikes for the race. Last year I tried GW on the Farley and I pulled out at mile 92, no fault of the Farley mind you but I decided maybe a change was in order. So, in came Pugs and I'll probably run it just as you see it here, about the only change that I might make would be a front fender if it's going to be sloppy wet and it looks like there is a real chance that might be the reality for the beginning of the race with the forecast as it is now. WHAAAAAA, a fender on your bike for a race? I know, that's crazy talk but eating 150 miles of gravel sounds less fun than the minimal drag I'd have with a fender. Those big Knards kick up a crap ton of slop when the gravel turns to soup and the front one throws it straight into your face, I'm hoping it won't come to that but if necessary I think the fender will make an appearance to save both the mug and the bike from the worst of the gravel soup.
Why the Pugsley you are probably asking, well it certainly isn't the lightest or most nimble of bikes but it's comfortable as hell and really it was always going to be a fat bike any way you sliced it for me.
A couple of reasons I chose the Pugs, the steel frame is very forgiving and the geometry puts me in a more upright position than the Farley. The 3.8" Knards roll fast and handle really well on gravel, I have been nothing but impressed with them and I think they are a much better tire than they get credit for.
Ergon cockpit, the GS2 grips with bar ends give me ample hand positions which help with hand fatigue. The SRX3 saddle has been a god send, after the Omaha Jackrabbit last year I knew I needed to swap out the crappy Bontrager saddle that was on the Farley so I decided to spend a few dollars and get a quality saddle. I got a SRX3 for the Farley and loved it so much I got another for the Pugsley and boy howdy have they made a world of difference and my sit parts have been happy ever since.
I see a lot of folks ditching racks and frame bags, I rode GW last year with my Osprey pack and for the most part it as OK but all that water and supplies weigh on you after awhile and add fatigue to your shoulders and back. Running extra bottle cages and the rack/trunk bag will keep everything off of me and on the bike, either way I'd be carrying the same stuff but this way should make it a bit more comfortable in the later miles.
I think you see a pattern here, this year I'm trying to get as comfortable as is possible on a bicycle I'm going to be spending 10-15 hours on, in a row... non stop, well OK, there will be occasional stops but for the most part you gotta keep on pedaling, just keep pedaling. I have a cross bike and I've ridden it on gravel but I always feel like I got the crap kicked out of me on it. Is it a faster bike, maybe but to be honest I tend to settle into a pace and just grind away at that pace. My riding style seems to be that, smooth and steady and it reflects in the fact that almost any bike I ride I end up somewhere around the 10-14 mph range depending on how much effort I'm willing to put into it. I've had Pugs on rides in excess of 95 miles and I've managed to still ride in that range, besides speed isn't my main concern. Only one person from every category is going to win, everyone else loses... that's right, if you're not first you don't win, only a small fraction of those entering Gravel Worlds are going to win and everyone else is going to lose (the race anyway, personal goals aside) so unless you've got the ability to be in that top 1/2 percent or less of people entering it would seem that riding something that's not going to beat the shit out of you would be paramount on your bike choice list. That was my philosophy when choosing Pugs and I think it's one that gives me a really good chance of finishing and maybe even finishing with a decent time. Plus, anyone who is familiar with the Addams Family cartoons might remember that Pugsley Addams was often shown at the park with his creepy version of a sailboat with all the other "normal" kids... that's just fate right there folks, boats, pirates and a Pugsley.