200 kilometres of gravel racing poses a unique challenge for kit choice. Staff rider Tim Wiggins provides his kit insights, after placing 4th in the second edition of the Dirty Reiver.
Months, weeks, hours and minutes before the start of the Dirty Reiver, the discussions on kit selection ran strong. What bike? What clothing? What tyres?
After much debate, tinkering and testing, the choices below are what I finally set on for the 200 kilometre gravel race.
The bike - Kona Rove Ti
Having ridden 13,000 fun and fast kilometres on my Kona Private Jake last year, I decided my bike for the Reiver had to also come from the American brand.
The criteria for selection centred largely on long distance comfort and tyre clearance, which led me to Kona's range of Rove road/gravel bikes.
The majority of the Rove range uses a steel frameset and fork, which delivers superb comfort and durability. I made the decision to go a bit more custom though; using a Kona Rove Ti (titanium) frame, and building the bike up from scratch.
With clearance for 42c tyres, a Lauf suspension fork, USE carbon handlebars, and some super-cushioned Lizard Skins bar tape; this is a bike build that delivers comfort and flair in equal measure. It was the perfect choice for the Dirty Reiver.
Your tyre choice for off-road riding makes an incredible difference to handling, comfort and performance. The tyre debate ahead of the Dirty Reiver was an enthusiastic discussion: What volume and tread pattern is best; what tyre sealant should you run?
My initial choice was a set of Schwalbe G-One tyres, which by their name sounded perfect for a 'Gravel Race'. However, having ridden some of the trails the day before the event, I decided that the 'Gravel' in the Scottish Borders was probably more sizable than the 35c G-One tyres were designed for…
I made the switch to the new Panaracer Gravel King 40c tyres. The difference was phenomenal. Dialled in perfectly to 37psi with a Lezyne Digital Hand Drive Pump, they had enough volume and bounce to roll over rocks, grip on the gravel ascents, and corner well on the dusty dry trails.
The weather in Northumberland, in April, is a lottery. Luckily this year's Dirty Reiver weather came up trumps, and was perfect for a long day in the saddle.
A cool breeze, warm sunshine, and an air temperature around 10 degrees Celsius, meant waterproofs were tucked safely away, and knee warmers even made an appearance.
This was my kit list:
- Kask Mojito Helmet
- GripGrab Cycling Cap
- Gore Bike Wear Power Windstopper Zip-Off Long Sleeve Jersey
- Gore Bike Wear Short Sleeve Base Layer
- Gore Bike Wear Oxygen Classic ¾ Length Shorts
- GripGrab High-Cut Summer Socks (Black)
- GripGrab Raptor Gloves
- Sidi Dragon 4 SRS Cycling Shoes (Staff Review here)
- Gore Bike Wear ONE 1985 SHAKEDRY Jacket (Staff Review here)
The kit list for Dirty Reiver includes a few safety essentials, like a space blanket and a whistle. In addition to these, I took the following spares and accessories:
- Lezyne Super Enhanced Cycle GPS Computer - this is a great unit to help guide you along the course, with breadcrumb trail navigation and accurate data tracking
- Lezyne Strip Drive Rear Light - a great light for daytime and night-time safety on the few road sections of the course
- Lezyne Power Drive 1100XL Front Light - compact and powerful; luckily un-needed, but still essential to carry
- Lezyne Road Drive Mini ABS Pump - my favourite pump - fast and reliable inflation
- Lezyne Lever Patch Kit - a smart little kit that houses both patches and tyre levers
- Lezyne Rap20 Multitool - all the tools to get you back on the trail
- Lezyne Caddy Saddle Bag Large - to carry all the spares
- LifeLine Inner Tube x2 - punctures can happen
- Spare gear cable inner - gear cables can snap, and it's a long way to go single speed
- Spare pedal cleats - just in case
- Chain lube - avoid a squeaky chain
- Lezyne Tyre Boot - good for patching up slashed tyres
- Water bottles - stay hydrated
- Restrap Framebag - to house spare clothing and food
The Dirty Reiver was an incredible ride. 200 kilometres of gravel tracks, rocky descents and dusty trails.
After all the deliberation and discussion ahead of the event, I was very satisfied with the kit selection that I ended up riding with; the 8 hours of gravel grinding were comfortable, fast and fun.
This is a great event. Ride it! (dirtyreiver.co.uk)