Friday, July 03, 2015

Odin's Revenge Report: Gear Review And Comments

The "Fat Fargo" was the perfect tool for the job for me.
Following are a few thoughts on some gear I used for Odin's Revenge. I won't do a total breakdown here, but I will touch on some highlights and hopefully these things will help you out in some way when you choose your gear.

Fat Fargo: My bike, dubbed the "Fat Fargo" due to my use of 27.5" wheels on Velocity Blunt 35's, was so good on the Odin's course. The Fargo is a very versatile bike, but I feel that it is even better with the fatter, more voluminous rubber which gives this bike better stability and comfort levels. During Odin's this showed up as an ability to surf the silty dirt without the bike getting upset, or slowed down. There also was a bit better ride over the ruts and bumps, which were plentiful, especially regarding the fact that well over a third of the 90 miles I rode were minimum maintenance road. The tires, set up tubeless, of course, have done nearly 250 miles of Dirty Kanza and Odin's without a single tire issue. I ran high 19psi pressures (19.8 and 19.6) in each tire for Odin's which worked quite nicely. The Velocity Blunt 35's which give the Trailblazer 2.8's a nicely crowned profile, were perfect, and did not make the tires have a totally flat profile, like a wider rim would. Plus, Blunt 35's are lighter than the 45-50mm rims many are using for B+ tires.

Could I have used regular 29"er tires? Yes. I could have, and perhaps these were overkill, but the volume and tire profile are impossible with 29"er wheels and tires in the Fargo. I feel those two things were key to how well they rode and performed for me.

Cowchipper Bars and the ever present Bike Bag Dude Chaff Bags.
The new Cowchipper Bar from Salsa Cycles gets a huge thumbs up from me. I have decided that the best way to describe it is that it is a lot like the Cowbell, but with "more Cowbell". (There ya go Salsa. A new marketing slogan for the Cowchipper! You can thank me later.)

The Bike Bag Dude Chaff Bags are indispensable items on any longer gravel travel adventure for me. I cannot imagine what I would do without these handy carrying bags. Good for water bottles and food, I have used these now for a few years with great success. Just wait till you see the updated version of this bag coming here soon. Stay tuned for that.

The pedals as they looked post DK200

The Pedal iSSi Triple model pedals have been through the wringer and still are working fantastically well. Smooth engagement, free spinning with no slop, and these are light too. I have been duly impressed with these pedals and they are Shimano cleat compatible. At about $80.00 bucks, give or take, they are a complete bargain, being as good as XT pedals with a lighter weight and a lot lighter impact on your wallet.

You can check out my initial review of these pedals HERE.

My hybrid 9 speed rear/10 speed Gevenalle GX shifter set up has been totally flawless through both the DK200 attempt and through Odin's. No missed shifts and no hiccups. I know it isn't supposed to work, but it does. Maybe now that I don't have any events coming up where I want to use the Fat Fargo I'll have some time to switch out that left side bar end shifter to the other Gevenalle shifter! If anything was a negative, it was having that left side bar end shifter on there, which is far less convenient than the Gevenalle shifters are. Finally, on the drive train front, I was super pleased with the DuMonde Tech lube again. I'll post more about that in my next "Lube-Off" update coming up here next week, most likely.

Wally Kilburg captured me on the Odin's course in this image
One thing I was super stoked on were these Sol Skin arm protectors I used in the Pirate Cycling league colors. Yes, they are black, but amazingly they worked very well. Any air movement over them caused a noticeable cooling effect, and they wicked sweat famously, as the black fabric turned a frosty white due to my sweat over the course of the day. Obviously, with a rating of 50+ on the UPF scale, I didn't need to use any sunscreen, and usually that is something I would have had to have done on a bright, sunny day, such as we had at Odin's this year. It is my belief that sunscreen plugs up my pores and doesn't allow the efficient sweating to help me stay cool, like the Sol Skin arm protectors do.  I'm convinced these are the real deal and will be wearing them more often. And yes- they do work to help keep you warmer in cooler weather. I tried that this past March with great success.

I also used a base layer tank top from Bontrager, which I also credit for keeping me much cooler and definitely more comfortable during the ride. Again, this is something I will continue to use going forward in hot weather, or any weather, most likely. I had really great results with this base/jersey combo and wouldn't ride otherwise if I have a choice. There will be more base layer purchases in the future for me.

As far as things that didn't work, there isn't much to say. Nutrition on hot days maybe? That's probably one thing. Otherwise everything functioned as it should and I had no gear issues whatsoever on the Odin's course. Should I have used a lighter bike? Well, lighter would have been better, but at the expense of the wide tires, umm.........I don't think so. Ideally, the new Salsa Cycles Cutthroat would be the bike I would say was perfect for the Odin's course. Carbon, light, wide tire compatible, and designed for frame bags. It would be the best weapon for the job, plus the Class 5 VRS would play well with Odin's ruts, bumps, and occasional rocks. I'm keenly interested in this bike anyway, so don't be surprised if you read here that I am going to Odin's next year on that bike! 

That's about it from the gear perspective. I think Odin's is a very unique course that demands a bit of a different approach in set up. I think a 40mm tire would be minimum width I'd ever consider there, and tubeless is the only way to go at that event. With the amount of MMR and its silty, loose soils, I think a fatter, floating type tire is advisable. Going skinny/light might work if you have tremendous bike handling skills and are fast, so you get the course over with in a hurry. Otherwise I don't see any advantages going skinny/light on bike/bike set up.

The beauty of West Central Nebraska as captured by Wally Kilburg
Odin's Revenge, as I stated in my opening of my race report, is a throwback event. Or maybe it just never cared what others thought. Either way, it is run by the DSG as a grassroots event and as far as I can tell, they don't plan on making it a "bigger/better/whatever". The "flavor" of this event is very intimate, "down home", and welcoming. The touches that Merrie Quigley puts on the event, the way that her husband, Chad runs the show, and the laid back, soft spoken nature of Matt Bergen all make the Odin's experience one I look forward to eagerly every year. Nate brings the craft beer, which is top notch, and helps with the show as well. Then you have Bob, Garrett, and the others that pitch in and it just makes for a great experience for all who show up. It's like you are going to visit family, and they take care of you well.

Now none of that would be of import unless there was a good reason to ride your bicycle there, and it goes without saying that there are several good reasons to do that. The terrain out there is spectacular, challenging, and so very different than anywhere else that I ride, that I would suggest to you that it should be a bucket list ride, even if Odin's didn't exist as an event. In fact, Matt Bergen mentioned that he was thinking of splitting the Odin's course into two days worth of bike packing, which I think is a really awesome idea. Add in the fact that Potter's Pasture is perhaps the most unique mtb trail system anywhere and right on the Odin's course, and you could bicycle there for a week and never get sick of it.

So, yeah.......I like Odin's Revenge a lot, and I like the people behind it a lot as well. I'll go back again, and maybe I should just go back out just to ride during a different time of the year, just for fun. It's that good, really, and I cannot say enough about the area.

Okay, that's a wrap. Have a safe, fun, bicycling time on this 4th of July weekend!


Doug M. said...

Odin's does sound a lot like 'my kind' of ride. I'll have to plan a vacation around it, but I've heard lots of good things about NE. Thanks as always for the excellent write up!

Unknown said...

I'm not a racer or tourer. I want a bike I can ride wherever I want. Is it too much bike for that in the sense it will handle slow? I kne the rider makes the difference. If it handles like a mountain bike I'm ok with that.

Guitar Ted said...

@Mike Spadafora - The Fat Fargo is what you are referring to, I take it? No- It isn't slow handling at all with those tires and wheels. If anything, the handling is slightly "perked up" from stock.

Unknown said...

Yes, I was referring to the bike...thanks for the feed back!