View Full Version : Bike choice for double century?

01-11-2011, 07:53 AM
My main ride is a 2010 Surly Big Dummy (Complete). I do all of my (non-hill) training/exercise/zen/fun/errand/around-town rides on it, loaded up to about 50-65 lbs. bike + accessories + loads. Until the end of November, I was putting about 150 or so miles a week on it with a weekend 76-mile loop (arlington, whites ferry, leesburg, arlington), 2-3 32 miles weeknight loop rides, plus meetups with folks in DC from Clarendon.

I also rode my 2009 Fisher Kaitai (hybrid, now running 28mm Bontrager hardcase slicks) for my hill training rides, the two most recent Seagull Centuries (dropped two hours from my total time from 2009 to 2010) and the 2010 Philly Livestrong 70 mile course (damn thunderstorm). I also did 30-35 miles of drafting during the Seagull 2010, which was fun but slightly scary (and guilt inducing) as I tried to break my habit of grabbing the brakes at the slightest change of pace or possible conflict (newbie problem, no contact, just yells and grumbles).

A friend has suggested we do the Total200 ( http://www.total200.com/ ) double century ride this June, which will require substantial up-training from the level I was at at the end of November (and I am lower now, though still riding 60 miles a week or so, due to the cold/holiday schedule). I am planning to work the training for this into my plan for the first half of 2011 (as well as dropping the last 25 or so lbs. to make my doctor jubilant I am safely in the normal BMI zone). Last summer I rode the Big Dummy two 76-mile days back to back, followed by a 32 miler the third day (and it was very clear I was fatigued on that third ride as I had no power left). Anyway, I'm sure I can train up to the minimal training point suggested on the Total200 website (which is 150 miles in two days).

My general questions are:

1. Assuming I train correctly, is it reasonable to assume I can jump on the Kaitai and do the ride vs. laying out substantial cash for a road bike?

2. Would the difference between a good road bike and the Kaitai be substantial or minor for this ride?

The difference between riding the Big Dummy and Kaitai is always clear (3-5+ mph on the flats ... and considerably nicer up long hills). A good road bike, however, appears likely to be in the $1K-$2K range (if purchased new/retail).

Alternate plans:

Assuming I recall the conversion correctly, a friend (John Harpold, some of you know him), suggested that bike speed on the Kaitai wouldn't be a major issue as the difference between kaitai and a road bike would be somewhat minor (at least compared to the difference between the big dummy and the kaitai). The real problems would most likely be hand/back positions for such a long ride. So perhaps a cheaper, but less optimal solution than a road bike would be to add additional MTB style bar-ends plus aero-bars to the Kaitai. He also suggested a mid-range budget position (<$300) would be to put road-type handlebars and shift/brake components up front on the kaitai, with the appropriate length/angle stem to make up for the geometry differences.

Thoughts/advice/off-color comments?


01-11-2011, 08:25 AM
The biggest thing that I find that I need when doing rides over 120 miles in distance is a variety of hand positions. For me that means drop bars for sure. I use the tops, hoods, drops, etc. and move around to change how my back and legs move to get some variety. When I get into the double-century range, I really want to have clip-on aero bars so that I have the chance to get a bit aerodynamic as well as have the 2 or 3 extra positions that it gives me.

My dummy is built with drop bars which has made it comfortable for me for rides as long as 100 miles. The down-side to the dummy is that if I've got any load at all, standing out of the saddle... even to just stretch a little, induces a fair amount of wag.

I like the idea of putting drop bars on the Kaitai. again, that's just me. I know folks who can ride all day every day on flat bars. My shoulders and arms would fall off if I did that.

Best wishes on your rides this year!


Tim Kelley
01-11-2011, 08:36 AM
It sounds like we have similar interests! I did the Philly Livestrong Event and was on the other side of the cutoff waiting for a friend to make it up the hill when they split us up because of the storm--the last 30 were pretty miserable, you didn't miss much! I'm also thinking of doing the Total200 this year, but haven't quite thought about what kind of training I'll do for it. The most I did last year, was a double metric century (124 miles) at Hains Point, which was as mentally difficult as it was physically.

I agree with your friend that a road bike geometry would be more comfortable for long distances and aerobars, if you can get them to work with your setup, are extremely comfortable once you get used to them and build up the support muscles for holding that position for hours at a time. That being said, with the drafting that goes on in the Total200, you won't be allowed to ride in them since you don't have quick access to the brakes. Regular road bike handle bars could work though...

My recommendation would be to convince Dirt to do it and we can all draft behind him!

01-11-2011, 09:58 AM
My recommendation would be to convince Dirt to do it and we can all draft behind him!
Let me look at the web site. I haven't picked my events for the year. If the timing is right, I could be convinced to give it a go.

Tim, you and I would be extremely popular guys in any pace line. I'll need to start training for this last fall for sure. ;)

Tim Kelley
01-11-2011, 12:01 PM
Tim, you and I would be extremely popular guys in any pace line.

That's what all the "little people" say when they fall in behind me. I've been told I'm the only person they know who they can draft behind while I'm still in aero.

01-11-2011, 02:09 PM
That's what all the "little people" say when they fall in behind me. I've been told I'm the only person they know who they can draft behind while I'm still in aero.

I'm relatively aero, but I'm sure not as good at it as you. Plus I'm quite a bit wider. Looks like this kind of ride will get a core group of people who will share the work. I must say that I don't tend to spend a lot of time in drafting groups where people don't take their turn at the front. Teamwork is good. Wheel sucking? Not so much.

This ride is at the end of June. If this year goes better than last, I believe I can be ready for it.

I'm on winter break from cycling at this point... Still riding every day, but mostly just fun stuff. I'll kick back into more serious training in mid February. Having a June double will add purpose to my Sunday rides.

Mark Blacknell
01-13-2011, 08:19 AM
I have a picture I feel almost compelled to post . . .


Brendan, I've never done the Total 200 (but have contemplated it) and I'm certain that drafting/working in a group is key to finishing it. I think anyone can willpower their way through a century, but a double? That's gonna require some help (esp. if you don't want end up rolling in well after dark all by your exhausted lonesome). To that end, I think Tim's point about your brake access is important (to both you and the group you'd be riding in). Maybe check out Phoenix Bike's inventory of road bikes? Finally, if you do end up going with the conversion, check out touring handlebars (http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/components/handlebars/dajia-trekking-handlebar-22-2-dia-sil.html).

01-18-2011, 04:46 PM
For $300 you can find a decent used road bike.