I brought a gravel bike to an MTB race // BOGO EPIC 2022

"Why am I doing this?"

This thought came to my mind when I was an hour into pushing my bike up a hill through slippery mud. At some point, I looked at my bike computer and realized that we did the first thirty kilometers of the race in three hours. I was frustrated and questioned why I even join these races.

Fortunately, the answer to why I join came to me in the end of the race.

The Bogo Epic lived up to its name. It definitely was epic, despite my moment of self doubt.

First of all, huge shout-out to Karl for being my last minute partner. Without him, the race would not have been possible or enjoyable. It was good to have someone to chat with when things got hard.

And the Bogo Epic was HARD.

We managed to stick with the front group in the fast road sections, but by the time we hit the first off-road section, we couldn't hold on. So we stayed back. Little did we know that this would also turn out to be the start of all the bike pushing.

This was the main reason the first 30km took 3 hours. This was when I was questioning my life choices. This was when I wanted to give up.

Fortunately, we got to a flowy off-road section and I remembered why I love cycling. Afterwards I managed to keep a positive attitude throughout the whole race.

Karl pointed out during the race that cycling is mostly mental. He is right. There's so much about it that is mental. A simple change of attitude managed to fuel the rest of the 70km.

Then after the race, all I could remember was the fun parts.

Thats why I join these races.

I brought a gravel bike to a mountain bike race.

The Bogo Epic had a little bit of everything - steep offroad and road climbs, long cemented sections, ridable & not ridable single track, slippery mud, and bumpy fire roads.

Fitted with Donnelly Strada USH 700x40 tires and the Fox Gravel Fork, my trusty Surly Midnight Special was the weapon of choice (my ONLY weapon of choice, my other bike is a fixed gear 😂).

Bikes are an exercise in compromise.

On the offroad sections, MTBs were definitely a better choice. There were lots of tricky sections that I couldn't navigate with a gravel bike, but I found myself walking with a lot of mountain bikers. So I didn't feel bad. Although admittedly, I was very frustrated on the muddy sections of the course, the Strada tires didn't play nice with mud.

The Fox Gravel Fork allowed me to take riskier and faster lines on some of the rocky fire road sections. Although I think I would have been fine with a rigid fork, the added suspension made for a more comfortable ride and allowed a little more speed when it got bumpy. So I was happy with it.

On the road sections, the bike came alive. Going up to speed was easy, climbing the steep gradients wasn't a problem, and the comfort of the drop bars made for a smooth ride. Compared to an MTB, the gravel bikes fly through tarmac and didn't feel burly at all.

I suspect that for most of the mountain bikers, they probably experienced the opposite of me - easier offroad and slow on cement.

Was I happy with my bike setup? Yup! I was!

Whenever I've used mountain bikes, I've never really felt comfortable (personal preference). Also for the most part, I don't think my skill level matches the capability of a mountain bike (I still probably would have walked the same sections).

So the MS with the Fox Gravel Fork was a good compromise.

But I probably would have used a knobbier tire.

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