BIKE CHECK and RACING TIPS: Cache Singlespeed + Bikepacking

Posted by Noel Buckley on

Written by: Maggie Livelsberger

Bike of choice: Knolly Cache Steel

Resides: Erie, PA

How long have you been riding and what type of riding do you do?

I have been bike commuting for many years but started riding more seriously after moving to Erie, PA. I wanted to explore and bought a mountain bike, but I soon discovered gravel riding and racing, and fell in love with it! I have been riding more seriously for the past two years and racing for the last year. I love testing the water on how far I can push my body and my mind. 

How did you set up your Cache?

Since I will be riding a lot of single speed miles and a lot of geared miles, I actually have two Caches. 

One is set up as a 1x with an 11-40t. It’s what I raced and bikepacked on last season.  I will be doing a lot of training on this bike and continue to race on it.

The other Cache is set up as a single speed. Since it is a thru axle frame, I have been running a chain tensioner but I just found a threaded eccentric bottom bracket that I will be testing out.  This has been a huge learning curve but  an absolute blast dialing in the set up.

What were some 2021 race/ride highlights?

I had a really wonderful 2021-  it was the year of climbing and testing out distance, with my four main races totaling over 400 miles and 50,000 ft of elevation. I really took a liking to long distance racing and riding and am excited to keep pushing those boundaries. 

As far as events on the bucket list, I think my first introduction into endurance riding is an event not to be missed.  It’s now called Mammoth Endurance Gravel, formerly Mammoth Gravel Grind and is in Wellsboro PA.  It features absolutely brutal climbs, followed by some of the most beautiful views that Pennsylvania has to offer. 

For the bikepacking side of things, the VTXL in Vermont is well worth the adventure time.  It’s a challenging 301 mile gravel route that starts on the Canadian Northeast VT border and runs the length of the state to the Southwestern corner.  It is nothing but beautiful scenery, stellar gravel roads, and a few Class IV roads thrown in and plenty of places to camp.  I highly recommend giving it some consideration.

2021 race/ride takeaways

My biggest takeaway this past year was learning how to work on my bike, from a tubeless set up, to changing out cranks and tuning my derailleur. I changed from a 2x to a 1x set up, and opted for wider bars to carry gear more efficiently. I learned how to efficiently fuel on long rides and races, and packing a very small bike frame for trips. This year I’m looking forward to making some changes in the type of race I am doing and getting rid of a few gears as well.  I’ve been playing with eccentric bottom brackets and gear selection for a single speed set up 

How do you fuel for such long races and events?

I feel like I’m still learning as I go but in general I try to eat a few bites of food every 5-10 minutes instead of a larger amount all at once. I have a few staple items, like gummies, Skittles and Pringles that I tend to carry but have found that during gas station stops, whatever sounds good is what works. I spent some time calculating the amount of calories and carbohydrates I need hourly to maintain energy and try to keep that in mind with what I eat and drink during rides and stops.  I’m a fan of honey buns, Coke, Red Bull and Fritos as well, and Uncrustables are pretty hard to beat. 

What is your training plan?

 This is the first season I started following a dedicated training plan and I used Trainerroad for indoor riding until the ice around here melted.  Now that we are finally getting warmer days and clearer roads I am out for longer days on the bike.  I work in intervals and lots of climbing, because really, nothing makes you better at climbing than just climbing.  I’ll be doing more overnighters, working on dialing in my set-up, practicing how to pack up quickly, and  getting used to long back to back days on the bike.

So what’s on deck for the upcoming season?

This year I decided to change it up a bit and  focus on long races, ultra miles and riding single speed.  I have some other events peppered in but my main focus will be the Michigan Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder, a 210 mile event across the state and I will be lining up as the first female to attempt it on a single speed. I will also be doing the Long Haul at Gravel Worlds in Nebraska which is a 300 mile event, also on single speed. Lastly, a birthday present to myself, I hope to do a race that I have been dreaming of over the last two years (and assuming I get in), the Arkansas High Country (a 1,031 mile bikepacking race which I will also be doing single speed). I’m really excited to ride my Cache in ways it wasn’t even intended and I have no doubt it can handle it all…hopefully I can too.

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