Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight……

Andres, High Country Lodge, fast/smart guy-future TDR winner????? (take a close look at his bike as I will be discussing FS in a later post)

Are you going to retire after this asks Andres?  (Andres Bonelli, Uruguay, 8th overall, 17 days, 5 hours)

Humm thinks I, what do you mean “retire” I reply…….

Andres and I are riding side by side thru the dirt rollers on Bannack Bench Rd, near Bannank St Park.  I am hurting and my ‘race’ is basically over for all intents and purposes, his is just getting warmed up.  Andres was keeping me company, soft pedaling at my meager pace and peppering me with questions.  He has read this blog, knows who I am and is vacuuming up all the tid bits of route information I can share. Knowing I can’t hold Andres pace I am just enjoying the short-term company and want the conversation to last as long as possible. 

I mean after this will you ever come back and race the TDR again?  And if not will you continue to write your blog and share with rookie racers?

Wow, big big questions that slam me right in the gut.  Will I continue this blog? yes for sure.  Will I race the TDR again?  My head, my wife, my job, my rational side all say no but my heart and soul say something so much different……….. 

Many times over the coming days, long after Andres and I were miles and hours apart, he on his way to a respectable 8 place overall, me on the way to a barely tolerable ‘finish’, I thought about what I might write in this blog about my TDR experience.  And other than my earlier ‘statistics’ post, somewhere along the rough gravel road into Wamsutter WY I decided I would start my 2015 TDR report/posts with the most important lesson learned. 

What’s the absolute most valuable tip I can share with a future TDR rookie?  What’s the one mistake, the one thing to avoid at all costs?  The one thing that basically destroyed 1.5 years of training and prep.  The one thing that demotivated me to the point I was a crying wimp, feeling so sorry for myself that I lost sight of the big picture and numerous times wanted to give up and go home?

Don’t bring a 1X11 to the TDR!
Argue, disagree, dispute all you want but a 1X11 or 10 is absolutely the wrong drivetrain for the TDR route.  Yes, yes, YES--I KNOW-- who has used a 1X10 with great success on the TDR.  Doesn’t change the fact a 1X anything (not talking 14 speed rohloff here) is simply to limited for the TDR. 

 And don’t get me wrong, I will be rocking my 1X11 on my next race (Ring the Peak) and love the simplicity and light weight.   
For my 2015 TDR run I built up my bike to be a climbing demon (ha, powered by a ½ power engine) and it handled all the climbs and technical terrain with ease and grace, even with the ½ power engine pushing it along….   

But the TDR includes hundreds of miles of varied, non-climbing, terrain and any combination of 1X will soon find a limit.  Either you don’t have enough high gear (my case at 32X11) or you will work needlessly hard on the low end.  And just because you can push a big low gear doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient/fastest way to move from point a to point b……  Again argue or disagree but you would be flat out wrong, physics doesn’t care.  The TDR route doesn’t care what we ‘think’, hey it is what it is and that’s a route with hundreds of miles of ALL TYPE Terrain (except extended hardcore single-track). 

So only a drive train that can provide you with the ‘Ideal Gear’, for literally hundreds of miles, across virtually every terrain type is the correct choice for your best result!  So rookie TDR racer--Just go with a 2X (or a possibly a Rohloff  '14' speed if so inclined) and be done with it—you won’t regret it.

In short-- Anyone who does the TDR on a 1X could have had a faster time with a 2X—period, end of argument, end of discussion.


High Country Lodge, eat, shower, wash kit, ice knee all nice at the time, but cant fix the impending doom of my self imposed 1X11 fiasco....
Next up –the 2nd most important thing to a fast TDR



  1. Congratulations on your awesome race, Marshall! Can't wait to read more about it.

    On gearing, I was super glad to have my trusty old 3x9 at my feet the whole way.

  2. yeah, gotta agree on the 1X11 choice I felt like I was seriously low on gear choices more than a few times.

  3. Shit. I was all ready to buy a rigid, fat-tired 1X and then I looked at my driver's licence. Turns out I'm not Mike Hall.