Last weekend North Central Cyclery in DeKalb held the Gravel Metric, a 62+ mile ride on mostly gravel and dirt roads. Over 200 riders showed up to compete in the non-competitive ride. It was more of a competition against the 110 degree heat and headwinds.
There were probably around 10-15 singlespeed riders and I only saw 2 other fixed gear riders besides myself. I was hoping to finish in around 4 to 5 hours but it ended up being over 6 hours. Even without the heat I don’t think I could have done it in 4 hours on a fixed gear. I chose to run about a 73 GI gearing and something in the mid 60s probably would have been a much better choice.
I was riding with another fixed gear rider I met on the course and he went down pretty hard in the loose gravel. Quite a few people ate it on the creek crossing and several people crashed in the first few miles of the course due to difficulty with the gravel. This was not your typical crushed-limestone type gravel that you see on most bike paths. It was more like the loose chunky stuff people used to put down in their gardens in the 80s. The dirt roads were dry and hardpacked but had deep narrow ruts.
I once read an article in Dirt Rag that described 2 types of rides. There are rides that are fun when you are riding, and there are rides that are horrible when you’re riding them but fun the days preceding the ride. This was the latter type of ride. I was hurting bad from heat exhaustion the day of the ride however, after resting, eating, cooling down, and returning to sanity I’m able to look back on this ride and appreciate it with a smile. Looking forward to next years ride and knowing that with cooler temps, knobbier tires, and a lower gear choice I should be able to beat my 6+ hour time no problem.