Lost and Found Gravel Grinder Recon

The following is a bit by bit breakdown of my 05052018 Lost and Found Gravel Grinder  course recon.  The purpose of the recon was to:

  1. Test my fitness, pacing and pedal stroke (see strava activity below)
  2. Practice backcountry navigation (see relive flyover below)
  3. Test Nutirtion (see gear info below for details on products)
  4. Test the 38 x 20 Single Speed gearing (see profile map and explanation below)

The image below is a basic slope profile I created from a GPS visualizer.  Essentially all you need to do is grab the KML file (provided on the Lost and Found Website) then upload to the visualizer and modify to your needs.  I was looking to isolate grades above 8(ish) percent as my pedal stroke becomes a little sloppy at or above these grades – not to say I cant pedal at this extreme, its just that the pedaling is inefficient in my opinion.  So after a few basic calculations I determined that the cost benefit of a 38 x 20 setup would be advantageous to not only meeting an 8 hour goal but also, utilizing my strengths (continuous climbs greater then 10 minutes and rolling hills).

The end result is that the cumulative effects of climbing grades above 8ish percent (areas above the green line) on a 38 x 20 single speed throughout the 100 mile course proved very difficult.  I found myself struggling to turn the cranks on the sections above the green line, especially in the last twenty miles or so – this part of the course is aderous to say the least.  The conundrum I am faced with is that the course has 40 or so miles of pavement which, for a single speeder can be a blessing (tall gearing like 38×20) or a curse (short gearing 34×20).  So, I am going to keep testing new gear ratios till I find a happy medium.  My next set up will be a 36 x 19 (a gearing that worked very well for me in 2010 when I completed 250 plus miles at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo).

Navigation these days is pretty simple – find the gpx file, convert tcx and then upload to a Gramin device.  As you can see from the flyover I had to double back a few times as I got a little confused (the course has a crzy amount of intersections) with directions.  Either way, the beautiy of Garmin is that it gives you an alert when you are off crouse so within 150 feet or so I would know if I took a wrong turn.  One thing is for sure and that I will be investing in a SPOT satellite device as this course is some of the most remote country I have ever explored (solo that is).


Relive ‘Lost and Found Recon’

Pacing is and always will be a huge part of my racing strategy.  It’s very easy for me to lose focus and start chasing wheels in the first 4 hours and to lose sight of the end goal which is to race my own race.  I rarely consider actually racing an event like this as the number of variables is enormous so, having a pacing element like Garmin’s ghost rider is a huge benefit.  I projected my time of arrival (arrive back to camp at 8pm) via machineheads power calc software and enter this into Garmin Connect along with tcx course file and it will pace me all day long.

Of course (pun intended) this is my favorite part of the adventure -the bike.  I love steel.  Its strong, reliable, and made just for me.  The frame was constructed in 2008 by a builder and good friend in Tucson and the fork was constructed in 2017 just north of Sacramento also by a builder and friend.

Custom Rosene 29er (True Temper OX Platinum Front and DEDACCIAI Rear). Meriwether Cycles Custom Fork (True Temper)
  1. Rosene Custom 29er Frame
  2. Meriwether Custom Fork
  3. Stages Power Meter (Generation 3 Shimano XT M8000 – 175MM)
  4. Thomson Elite Stem and Seatpost 
  5. Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3 Pedals
  6. Stans No Tubes ZTR 355 Rims
  7. DT Swiss 240s Hubs
  8. Continental Race King 2.2 Tire (rear)
  9. Bontrager Xr3 2.3 Team Issue Tire (front)
  10. Deckas Narrow Wide Chain Ring 38 Tooth
  11. Chris King Stainless Steel 20 Tooth Cog
  12. KMC X11.93 Stretch Proof chain
  13. Specialize Phenom Saddle 155
  14. ESI Fit CR grips (soooo comfy – rode the whole course without gloves)

    Lost and Found Recon Gear

Gear Continued

  1. Joule Cycling Custom Louis Garneau Cycling Kit
  2. Shimano S-Phyre XC9 shoes
  3. Osprey Viper 9 Hydration Pack (3-liter reservoir)
  4. Two pairs of socks (Giro and Sock guy)
  5. Catlike Helmet
  6. Smith Pivlock Sunglasses
  7. No gloves


  1. Huma Plus Mix Gel
    1. Two Chocolate Raspberry  (100 Calories each)
  2. Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews
    1. Two Orange (80 Calories each)
    2. Two Raspberry (80 Calories each)
  3. Tahoe Trailbar
    1. One Peanut Butter (260 Calories)
  4. Honey Stinger Organic Waffle
    1. One waffle (150 Calories)
  5. Honey, Peanut Butter, Butter and Salt Sandwich on White Bread
    1. Two sandwiches (about 500 calories each)


Get Fit in 2018

Only 7 percent of cyclists see a professional bike fitter – that’s CARZY! I’m stunned that a person will spend 5k+ on a bike and then hem and ha over the price of a bike fit and or log endless milage each and every season without knowing if they are positioned correctly. A professional bike fit is money well spent – my fitting services apply to every discipline so don’t worry if you ride/race enduro, CX, gravel, road, TT and or tri as I can fit you. The 2018 season is ramping up quickly so don’t wait – GET FIT TODAY!

Custom Fitting For All

Knowing the athlete’s background (training regime, injuries, time off the bike…), abilities (FTP-LTHR, racing category, racing results…) and goals (fitness, racing, adventures…) are vital to setting the distance between the saddle sweet spot and the handlebar (effective body extension) along with the height of the handlebars (above horizontal).  These two parameters are flexible to a small degree and can be decreased depending on the intake assessment.  I say decreased as the solution created via the fit measurement process results in the ultimate best position of the athlete so, if the athletes current effective body extension is 30 or more millimeters less than the solution I will compensate for the discrepancy and explain the need to ease into the new position i.e. a more aggressive position.  The example to the left illustrates a relaxed above horizontal and somewhat compact effective body extension.   The reason being is based on the athlete’s background which at the time entailed low weekly volume, complete mostly on the flats and a goal of competing in recreational century rides.  So, I decided (along with his feedback) to focus on comfort over aerodynamic position so his above horizontal (20 millimeters) is vastly different from an athlete who races criteriums, for example. The long and short of the post is that there is no one size “fits” all when it comes to professional level bike fits.  #specializedroubaix

Little and the Sea Otter

Bryan Little is an uber talented and dedicated cyclist who has been working his tail off, both on and off the bike,for the past two plus years. He is mentally and physically strong and when he sets a goal he sticks to the plan and executes with precision.  I first met Bryan Little, two years ago at the base of Mount Lemmon prior to conducting a Threshold test.  Bryan had contacted me a week or so before inquiring about coaching services and after several phone and email exchanges Bryan decided that he wanted to sign up for an annual training program.  I was excited to coach Bryan as our phone conversations revealed to me his maturity and overall mental strength which, for me as a coach is 50% percent of the ingredients necessary to achieve a challenging goal.

Bryan is a mountain biker at heart but a roadie lives within him and I knew it, I just had to bring it out.  This was a difficult process at first as is with almost everyone I coach but, its merely a matter of practicing with a lot of guidance.  So, Bryan practiced and with practice he realized the joys of road riding (in particular climbing) and he was hooked.  Progressively his times going up Mount Lemmon dropped and his ability to stay (and lead) the main group at the Saturday Morning World Famous “Shootout” race ride become more consistent so did his motivation to log more and more miles on the road bike.  The lesson here is that you cant progress into an elite cyclist (road, mountain, cyclocross, downhill, enduro, ultra…) without understanding and practicing (by practicing I mean accurate repetition) the fundamentals and for an aspiring PRO mountain biker this means saddle time on the road.

As Bryan, progressed on road so did he progress on the mountain bike and the end result was meeting set goals.  As goals where met so where new ones set.  One of those goals was a top performance at the Sea Otter Classic.  I say top performance as, racing in California whether it be on the road, mountain bike, cyclocross, track…, is always tough.  The sheer number of riders in the State is staggering and within the mass of riders there is a incredible depth of talent.  So, when you attend an event like the Sea Otter Classic you know (or will know) that not only will California represent but so will the rest of the Country and world for that matter so, you better bring your A game.  Further, even if you bring your A game it doesnt mean you will podium as the fields are so big that luck can play a big role so, at the end of the day if your numbers (wattage and heart rate) reflect the hardest effort possible then, its a good day.

The annual Subaru Sea Otter Classic is regarded as the world’s largest cycling festival.  The event is geared towards both recreational and competitive cycling along with including  festival atmosphere with exhibits showcasing new technology.  This 4-day event features the hard core of the hard core whether it be the amateur who logs 15 hours a week on the bike while working full time (and sometimes also going to school) or the full time pro cyclist which, can range from the neo-pro who is coach surfing from race to race or the upper echelon of elite cyclists who travels by plane with an entourage.  Either way, the Otter has it all, attracting an estimated 65,000 fans from around the world.

Bryan showed up to Sea Otter a few days before the Cat 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike race and with good form.  Bryan’s form was a combination of science (analysis of power meter files), consistent feedback (communication that entails more information than, “legs feel good.”) and careful long range planning (prioritizing races).  Bryan, pre-rode the course and made several PR’s (based upon the previous years race effort) with only moderate effort which, clearly was fit and a good indicator that he properly rested and was ready for race day.

Race day arrives and Bryan completed his warm up and headed to the start of the race at Laguna Seca raceway.  The field was stacked with very fit, fast and experienced Cat 1 mountain bikers.  The race start was fast, as the lead riders hit the gas hard – speeds hit 27 MPH in the first 15 seconds after the start.  As the race progress, Bryan’s power file meters revealed massive efforts in the first 10 or so minutes ranging from 415 to 490 watts for multiple sustained 45+ second efforts and one 46 second effort that started at 627 watts and end at 590 watts.  This sets the stage for a very difficult day in the saddle as the course has yet to really test the riders.

The race progressed and Bryan settled into a very strong and steady pace that allowed him to gain spots on the climbs and most importantly in the technical portions of the race.  Bryan continued to leverage his technical skills and pacing strategy throughout the next hour and 40 minutes or so the race which propelled him into a podium position.  Bryan, pushed as hard as he could and burned his matches in a manner that allowed him one massive effort in the final 20 minutes of the race which help solidify his podium standing and ultimately secure his 2nd place.  The following is an excerpt of his performance on the last of the big climbs before the finish – this is the perfect example of how to meter your efforts and then light every match you have before the finish and an example what an elite (soon to be PRO) cyclist produces in the final stage of a very difficult race.

  • Duration 13:28
  • Distance 2.880 miles
  • Average Power 331 watts (with multiple 5 second spikes into the 410 to 420+ range)
  • Average Heart Rate 165 bpm (incredibly steady)
  • Average Cadence 72 rpm
  • Average Speed 12.8 mph
  • Pace 02:54 min/km




Save your fit files

The value of fit files are immense when I am writing an athletes long or short range plan.  The fit file (fit is the file extension that is compatible with the power meter software I use) offers a greater amount of detail about an athletes workout as compared to online applications like strava.  So when possible save your fit files in a separate storage area like a thumb drive.