Space Horse Gravel Racer
Photo: Ben Hovland
Cresting the infamous Oriole RD hill in 2013, the steepest and nastiest on the 100 mile Almanzo route. This photo is on the upper sections of the climb after the brutally steep opening ramps.
Out of all my bikes, even with having All-City’s full line at my fingertips, the Space Horse is the one I prefer for gravel races. The lower bottom bracket, slightly longer wheelbase, and generous fork rake make it an absolute demon at taming gravel descents and the smaller diameter tubing helps dampen bumps over a long day in the saddle. That longer wheelbase also helps with traction when climbing and the touring-ish gearing of 50-34 in front and 11-32 outback is my preferred setup for hilly gravel racing.
I've done gravel 100 milers on the Nature Boy, Mr. Pink, Macho Disc, and Macho King, but I keep coming back to the Space Horse as the weapon of choice for moving fast over long distances on varied road surfaces.
After taking it apart last year to use some parts for other bikes, this one’s back and lighter than ever with a SRAM Red/Force 10 speed group in place of the Apex I used to run. I also installed a King headset and Paul Mini-Moto’s that were custom anno’d in team All-City x Fulton colors. Right now it sits at about 22.5lbs as you see it, but I’ll get it under 22 for Alamanzo 100 race day with some lighter tires and pedals.
Not that weight is a huge concern since I’ll also be wearing a hydration pack with 80oz, be carrying a saddle bag with two tubes, two 24oz bottles filled with drink mix, and a frame bag with a peanut butter and jelly, turkey jerky, two packs of Clif Blok’s, two Honey Stinger’s, a banana, and two Clif Bars.
If you're not familiar, the Almanzo 100, is the great grandadddy of this whole gravel racing explosion. (I wrote a blog post about Minnesota's free gravel racing scene a few weeks back, that you can find here if you'd like to know more) It' a gorgeous event put on in Southern Minnesota since 2007 and set the tone for all of the events that were formed in it's sizable wake.
In 2010 it was my first gravel race and I think only 2nd ever century, I rode it on my Nature Boy single speed and walked a good chunk of the hills, finishing around 7:30 or so. Ever since then I've been gaining experience and capacity and have been working hard to try to break the 6 hour barrier. I've come closest in 2013 with a time of 6:08, after having making a routing error that cost me a bunch of time. The next year I had a flat and finished in 6:13, and last year I finished around 6:20. The time piece is a bit arbitrary as so much depends on the weather and the condition of the gravel that particular year, but it's been a longstanding goal that I've been itching to attain. If you're wondering, those times have landed me anywhere from 50-65 out of the 1200 or so racers who show up to throw down.
I think I've got a pretty good shot this year, what with my bike being better than ever and having already put down a couple of very difficult gravel races this Spring. We'll see how it goes.
Jeff's 55cm Space Horse Prototype
This was one of a handful of original prototypes, although I don't recall that anything changed for production other than the radius of the bend in the fork. I personally prefer this style of bend as it's more unique than the one that made it to production. We also might have tweaked the length of the "socks" on the seatstays to make them look more even.
Shifters: Sram Red 10 Speed
Derailleurs: Sram Force 10 speed
Cranks: Sram Force 11 Speed
Headset: Chris King
Stem: Salsa Guide
Bars: Salsa Cowbell 3
Seatpost: Specialized Zertz
Saddle: Bontrager Race Lux
Brakes: Paul Component Mini Motos