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180 Miles to Freedom

Posted June 9, 2014 @ 3:33pm | by Hurl

180 Miles to Freedom

I'd never ridden more than 135 miles in one day prior to this event, but the feeling at the finish of Saturday's Smither's Gran Fondo ride from Minneapolis to Duluth was preternaturally euphoric. The ride started in a steady, driving rain, featured headwinds, crosswinds, and every other kind of wind, before finishing in a rush of sunshine into Canal Park in Duluth. Here's a breakdown of the kit I used. 

Soulcraft Royale - only steel bike on the ride. All day comfort, clearance for fat rubber, boss.

Panaracer Tourer Plus Brevet 700 x 26c. I've been riding this same pair since last summer. Thousands of miles with zero issues. The excellent new Gravel King tire is modeled after this tire. 

Twin Six Cars-R-Coffins jersey + bibs. Flawless design, and comfortable all day on the bike. Couldn't ask for more. 

Ibex Short Sleeve Base Layer. We knew it would be wet and cold at the start, and merino kept my core warm and dry all day. 


Search and State S1-J Jacket. This jacket is highly water repellent, and even though we started the ride in a heavy, driving rain, its breathability and warmth are the key reasons I chose it. It also has the #1 feature I look for in any cycling jacket: the two-way zipper, allowing you to "cape out" and vent as needed. 

Giro Prolight SLX Shoes. Comfortable in the way I imagine an Italian loafer would feel. Not that I can afford Italian loafers...

Rapha Overshoes. 100 % neoprene. Mine are a few seasons old and getting a bit haggard on the bottom/cleat opening, but managed to keep the feet warm, and (mostly) dry, until late in the day when the sun came out and I could remove them.

Donkey Label Wool Socks. While a few people changed socks at some point in the day, I remained dry and comfortable in these merino wool hush puppies. Keep it on the DL!

Donkey Label Chamois Balm. Look, you could probably use Astro-glide if that's all you had, but for a 10+ hour day in the saddle I'm not going to mess around. Locally made, all organic ingredients. No complaints here.

Rapha Winter Embrocation. Cold + rain? I'm generally reaching for this every time. Simply put, it's the warmest stuff I have, and I've used it before with great success. 

Lazer Sport Helium Helmet. I wore this lid for two reasons: Ride host Christopher T. Smith is the "PR Helmeteer" for Lazer Sport, and the Hi-Viz finish gave me a false sense of security as the entirety of the ride was on open roads, including Highway 61 (revisited).


Giro LX Leather Gloves. Pittards leather and well-padded palms kept me comfortable and in control. The only caveat is that when saturated with rain, the black gloves turned my white bar tape an ugly ink-stained mess. 

Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration. Skratch actually recommends NOT using this unless you are intensely sweating and/or unable to replenish key fluids, since it has more sodium than "a bag of potato chips." I drank one bottle before the start and had no cramping issues all day. Read the Skratch blog for more info.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank Christopher T. Smith, Tom Lais, Larry Foss and the Fix Studio for the support on this great day. The van, the rice cakes, the encouragement were all invaluable.  Also my fellow riders: Scott E. Rob, Zak, Caleb, Charlie, Chris, & Ryan. Can't wait for next year!

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