|Black Hills mud and pine needles filled my fork in a hurry. No turning that wheel.|
|My tool kit: 2 tubes, 2 tire irons, tweezers, spare links, tire boot, patch kit, multi-tool, pump, bag.|
My first line of defense is installing a higher end mountain bike rear derailer and a new 9 speed chain. Simple, strong, durable. Choose all three. Keep the chain clear of debris and well lubed at all times, stopping to do so, if necessary. Watch for mud build-up on the chain and on the derailer pulleys. Be attentive to complaints from the drive train. Cranking harder on the pedals to overcome resistance from mud and rocks in the drive train is not recommended. Stop to clean it. If a chain were to break, I would use the chain breaker on my mini-tool to remove the damaged links and replace them with spares. If a derailer were to break, I would shorten the chain to convert the drivetrain to a single speed. That's not as complicated as it sounds, but it's too much for this post. Know that it is not an uncommon occurrence at many gravel grinders.
|Broken chain, broken derailer, and broken dreams early on at Odin's Revenge 2014.|
My 2x9 Shimano LX/XT drivetrain carried me to the finish. (photo by Scott Redd)
|No flimsy twig. Now, that's a mud shank.|
It's a long ride. It's a lot longer walk. And you're out there alone. Keep your ride rolling.