SE athlete Blaize Baehrens shares his insider knowledge on the upcoming SPNDX Stampede Big Bear Edition:
If you haven’t seen it yet, Hornbeck has been dropping some knowledge to get you prepped for the upcoming SPNDX Stampede Big Bear Edition on the SPNDX Stampede website. He’s got some Tips for Riding at Altitude and a nifty 45 second teaser on the course Check out the teaser:
He also suggests bringing at least some 32mm rubber and a bike with disc brakes and even a mountain bike would be ok for the event, while a road bike decidedly would not. Being a very regular visitor to the dirt of Big Bear myself I recognized the trails from the Teaser and decided to do a pre-ride of what is most likely our course. My suggestion to you, don’t show up under-gunned.
Big Bear trails and forest roads don’t hit you with super technical terrain with big chunky rock or long gravel fields to ding your rims and eat away at your tires. The dirt roads are fast, loose, rolling, and never go in a straight line. The partial tree cover throws shadows across the forest road disguising the roots from the tree along the edges. The roads are also open to cars (primarily 4×4 access though I’ve seen sedans) which bring with them braking bumps and pockets of super loose dirt in those high speed corners. Sure you can tackle this course with 32mm tires. You could even do it with some tubeless 28s. But if you want to go fast and enjoy yourself go big. Put as much rubber as you can get on your bike. I’ll be running 40mm with some moderate side knob and I guarantee that won’t be too much. I might even be faster on my hardtail mountain bike, but hey, it’s a “gravel ride” not a “mountain bike ride”, so gravel bike it is. You will hit loose patches and you will hit bumps that want to jar your hands off the bars and you’ll hit them over and over and over. More tire volume will be a blessing in those cases, and it won’t slow you down a lick anywhere else on the course.
And remember this is 4,000 feet of climbing in 44 miles, topping out at an elevation a bit over 8,000 feet. If you’ve thought even for a moment about putting lower gearing on your bike, just do it. Your legs and lungs will thank you.