Sunday, I drove up to Wisconsin (Blue Mound) for some suffering with Tobie from NCC, and Aaron, the Bionic Teutonic ™.  In anticipation of the upcoming Almanzo, we wanted to log miles.

Vertical Miles.

On the day, I logged 50-something miles (52?) and just over a mile of climbing.  It was pretty harsh.  Almanzo is something like 7,500 feet of climbing, albeit over 100 miles.  I’m probably wrong, but that sounds like it should be less difficult.  Why?

I’ve ridden more than 5,300 feet of climbing in a day.  In Solvang, I was a couple thousand feet over that, in a day…and it didn’t hurt as much as Blue Mound did.  The Blue Mound ride had very few gentle grades…it would be flat, and then steep….and then flat again.  I can grind away on 5-10% grades for prolonged periods and feel like a hero.  It’s the 15-20% grades that kill my legs.  When I’m all geared out (34/32 in this case), and pedalling for all I can to get up a grade…that’s what gets me.  On more modest slopes, my power/weight ratio helps me immensely.  On the steepest stuff, my modest power output is  the limiting factor.  So the repeated, relentless, steep climbs were hard.  In looking at Almanzo, the climbs look to be a little less aggro.  I hope.

The weather sucked.  Temps started at 34, and held in the upper thirties for much of the morning.  By the end of the ride, it was nearly 50.  Wind was 18-24mph, and never in a good way.  We also were greeted with some passing snow flurries, but nothing stuck.

The Vaya was properly kitted, and I was thankful for my 34/32 gearing at the low end.  I’m a bit scared of going to an 11-28 cassette with Sram Red 22, so I’m hopeful that the WiFli option comes out soon.  Around home, 28 is more than enough.  On the steeps, 32 is a godsend.  Disc brakes were great on the descents, and hydro discs should be even better.  My top speed on a descent was 44.6mph…and on that particular descent, at the bottom, it became loose chipseal.  Sketchy as all get-out, but the Vaya carried through.

I’ll have an ENVE update in a day or two.  On to the pics.

This is the first time that riding a Ti Vaya felt like slumming.  The two Moots Psychlo X’s surrounded by poor Salsa and picked on it.

This was the baptismal ride for Tobie’s new Moots, and a great spot to do it.

Aaron, seen here in his typical “out in front” position.

“Do we turn left for more suffering, or turn right for more, mooooore suffering?”

I’m pretty sure he’s just smiling for the camera.


It was a great ride.  I was very happy with my effort, and my ability to finish.  I felt like my pacing was good, and on the climbs, I picked a speed that I could ride and held it, without feeling too much pressure to be the first up the Mound.  (I’m not sure I could’ve been the first up, but I’ll claim that it was intentional pacing).

The Moots were very, very pretty, and very, very tempting.

A hard ride, a good ride, a good night’s sleep.


8 thoughts on “Hillapalooza.

  1. You could run bigger cogs as soon as an appropiate cassette comes out. The cable pull stayed the same with the 11spd jump, so you could run the Red22 with an XX deraileur to clear the cogs, which remain the only thing missing. Just have to wait and see what 11-32 gets made first, and from whom.

    • They’ll have a Wi-Fli option for 11 speed, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

      The problem with running an XX rear derailleur is that the chain width has changed…so the derailleur won’t be happy with an 11 speed chain, nor will a 10 speed 11-32 cassette work with a Red Yaw 22 chainring.

  2. Welcome to the club….modest power output is a bitch on the really steep stuff.
    I run a triple wth a 26X26 low end on a road bike, and anything over 15% is just hanging on.

      • Never avoid hills!
        Hills are one good way to gain power.
        Use gearing appropriate to your fitness level, and as you get more power, you will be able to use higher gears. Off the bike workouts geared to develop power also help, but not as much fun as riding.

      • Thanks. I have a PX and I’m always interested in what folks run on gravel in terms of size and type. I’m not sure I’d get much wider than the 35mm Schwalbe Mondials that I have now. I’m interested in something a little lighter with less rolling resistance on pavement, but still with solid sidewall protection for gravel.

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