I’ve been getting pretty excited for Fakawi. Almost too excited if that’s possible. Last year was my first time there and I had no idea what I was getting into. I just loaded up my mountain bike and jumped in a car with friends at 5am to drive down to Markham Park and the zoo that ensued. The ride organizers put on a really great event, with short and long distance options as well as fully supported sag stops from the great host of sponsors.
It’s hard to explain Fakawi, but it’s basically a gravel ride with some jeep trails and asphalt mixed in. The full course is usually around 50 miles and that’s what I’m in for again this year. The route varies from year to year to keep everybody guessing, and the course can change drastically depending on the weather so you need to be prepared for a little bit of everything. In the jeep trails and mud the guys on Cyclocross bikes were hating life, but once it got to the levee they were flying past me on my fat tires (and toasted legs). Simone (interview here, check it out!) has a great video from last year which captures some of the happenings.
This year I decided to put gears on my rigid 29er single speed bike to run at Fakawi. I figured I didn’t really need suspension, but I’m not tough/brave/stupid enough to run a Cyclocross bike with 700x33c’s so this Trek Superfly SS (now with gears) should be a happy middle ground. I’m sticking with my tried and true Specialized Renegade 2.3’s as they roll fast and have big volume in case of loose surfaces.
Up front the biggest ring I could fit was a 38t Race Face ring, which when combined with a SRAM PG1170 11-36 cassette should give me the range of speed I’ll need to power through Fakawi. I took it on some trails this week and it was great, as well as a road ride to see how it handled and I’d have to say the bike is ready to roll. I love these Squeezable Glass bottles. They have a coating inside that doesn’t take on the flavor of whatever mixture you’re using, and the valve works really well to keep dirt out. Plus they projectile squirt which is useful for passing riders wearing headphones. JKJKJK
Last year was my first year and I squeaked in just under 3 hours, probably in the top 150 or so. The fast guys were over half an hour ahead in the 2:20 range. I’m hoping this slick new Fakawi jersey & bibs gives me the edge I need to close that gap a little. I really loved the design details like a map of the Fakawi course area. The fit and finish of these are really nice if you get a chance to snag a set, I’d highly recommend it.
We’ll be there again this year, so stop by and say hi at our tent afterwards. I’ll be covered in mud drinking a cold beverage, and Jemma will be roving around taking pictures all day. Here are more photos of the kit and the bike.