I purchased a 11-42T cassette and a Wolftooth Road link before I went to Chicago and my plan was when I got back I would install at use that set up for the Farmer's Daughter and D2R2 Gravel Grinders. However, I didn't really look too closely at the Wolftooth instructions and when I got everything installed it didn't work correctly. It would shift into the lowest gear and then get stuck there!
That's when I discovered that the Wolftooth link only works for 11-40T cassettes, DOH! For the Farmer's Daughter, I ended up going back to my old 11-32T cassette and putting my 32T front chain ring on and had no trouble climbing, albeit I was slow as molasses on the hills. When I got back to CT after the ride, I ordered the right cassette and the day before I was headed up to Massachusetts I installed the new cassette and it worked.
Not to mention that it worked with a SRAM rear derailleur even though it says it's not compatible. What was still bothering me was the recommendations that Franklin Land Trust put out ten days prior:
- Most riders on a road bike (tires narrower than 30mm) will walk some sections and need to descend extremely gingerly at points.
- Wider tires make for a far more comfortable long day in the saddle, and aren’t necessarily slower over the whole course. Mountain bikes with slicks or small knobs are quite competitive. However, drop bars provide more hand positions, which can help prevent sore hands.
- Choose gearing that you can spin up a 16% grade seated (not standing) when you’re extremely tired. For most people this means at least a 1:1 ratio or lower, such as a 34-tooth chainring with a 36-tooth cog.
- A word of caution - If you make any custom alterations to your bike for this event, make them a week in advance and go for a test cruise. There is nothing worse than equipment failure 3 miles into the ride!
The last bullet was bothering me most. Two days prior to leaving I am switching up my gearing and crossing my fingers hoping that it will get me through.
The only other thing that had me concerned was whether I had the right front chain ring. I went back to my 38T because I didn't want to be spinning out in the flats.
I went for a 12 mile test ride and it worked great on everything I could throw at it from around me house. I rode a plethora of dirt roads around my house and a forest road in the nearby state forest to test out the bike and it worked nicely.