I tried not to pay attention to what others thoughts were about LG (Lauf Grit) so I could form my own opinion and give my honest review. So, without further adieu... here goes.... I will admit to not being physically attracted to LG, so it was definitely not "love at first sight". Once he was installed on my Warbird it only took a few rides to get used to him. For the last 5 months having a Lauf Grit Fork has just made riding better. Hell, LG has made me a better/faster/more confident rider overall. This gravel fork does exactly what it needs to do.... sucks up bumps and makes it feel like you are riding pavement. Also, I have picked several bad lines and LG has given me the confidence that I need to ride them out.
With 2400 miles underneath us LG and I headed to Kansas. We were both nervously excited to tackle 207 miles of gravel. This will be the seventh time I stand on the start line and it still feels like the first time... similar to angry butterflies with ball bats flying around in my tummy. I know what it will take to finish this ride and having five under my belt does not really make it any easier. A LOT can and usually does happen in 200 miles. This year I was hoping to 'beat the sun', if that was not doable I will settle for a PR. If the PR is not going to happen I would like a finish. I work the best when I have a plan. I have three plans so I am hopeful ONE of them will happen.
From the moment my Warbird hit gravel I knew it would be a fun yet challenging experience. Adding to that, I was riding with over 200 women and my 11 yr old daughter was at the Finish line! The first leg was just a warm-up for the next three so I had to pace myself accordingly. Riding within my comfort zone I was able to hang with several groups of strong riders and the soft tailwind didn't hurt. Beating the sun required an average just over 14mph. Leg one was completed with a 14.6 mph avg! I was stunned, so was my husband. I knew it wouldn't last. Nutrition had been a huge fail. At some point I would fade in the heat of the day. I don't think it hit 90 degrees but it still felt like being baked in an oven.
Leg Two was a bit more challenging. It was a longer section with a few noticeable hills and some sketchy, thick gravel. Around mile 75 I was ripping downhill and then all of a sudden I wasn't. Flat! I couldn't be upset about this sudden turn of events since I have only experienced three flats in 1230 miles of The Flint Hills. I changed the tire quickly and somehow managed to break the CO2 head and explode the cartridge, and rendering it useless. Seriously!? I look up the hill in sheer desperation to see Big Dave Mizzelle ripping down and he stops, like a knight in shiny spandex. He saw what happened and Immediately came to my rescue. Thanks Dave!!
Leg Three is the longest leg, nearly 58 miles. The skies turned an ugly black and were pretty scary for a while. Rain in the middle of nowhere is NEVER good, especially when the roads begin to deteriorate. So far LG has proven he can handle himself in the Flint Hills. He has had no problem dealing with loose gravel, fast sketchy downhills, cattle guards and Low /high creek crossings, Plus, I blew chunks on him, twice in Leg 2. The third spew was just liquid in Leg 3. This fork crushed everything that was thrown at him. Several curious riders asked questions as I pedaled throughout the day. It was easy to sing the Lauf Grit praises.
On Leg Four I met a fella named Steve from Washington DC. We immediately clicked. He was rocking a Lauf Grit too and loved his as much as I loved mine. Yes! We exchanged many riding stories during the 45 mile end to our gravel journey. We also agreed that riding was better with a Lauf Grit Fork! As we got closer to town I glanced at the time. In my jello-fied brain I figured I could still PR if I kept the pace. My son posted on FB that he would like me to get a 16:40 or we should rethink our relationship, LOL. He knows me pretty well and knows I would give it hell. I finally crossed the finish line at 16:41:37. I missed the requested 16:40 but gained a new PR by 16 minutes and completed my 6th Dirty Kanza 200 in a row. Absolutely no complaints, DK was an absolute success with a small helping of misery.
I give credit for this achievement first and foremost to God who always has my back, next to my husband and daughter who support me always, my Fab Warbird who has 3 finishes, AND the fork that nailed that course... THE LAUF GRIT!! Just so we are clear...The Lauf Grit is the sh!t and I am NOT giving it back.
Nearly six months ago Mr. Lauf Grit , a.k.a. LG, came into my life. I do not usually fix things that are not broken BUT it is not everyday that one is asked to join the DK200 Dirty Dozen. I accepted the challenge and welcomed LG with an open mind/arms. In January, LG was installed on my Salsa Warbird. Honestly, I was not immediately attracted to him and unsure of how he was going to fare so I did not make any far-fetched assumptions about keeping him. I placed the original fork from my Salsa carefully downstairs and in plain view if I needed to replace it.
During our 'getting to know you' period I tried to give LG a little taste of everything. We pedaled through mud and sand, on pavement, dirt trails and gravel (loose, deep and otherwise), on steep uphills and sketchy downhills, all while experiencing a wide array of Misery (MO) weather. Winter was more wet than cold and we had to spend a fair amount of time indoors riding the Computrainer on courses in Canada and Switzerland. April came and brought with it an incredible amount of wind, rain, and some 90 degree heat. LG and I navigated that mess the best we could. The month of May has been hit and miss with windy, cold, and wet making it very important to plan training and have a backup plan. Through all phases of training LG has performed exactly the way he should have, absolutely meticulous, ZERO maintenance, and surprising me nicely as we tore through some water crossings.
Now the flip side... Poor LG. I sweated on him relentlessly, talked incessantly, pushed his limits on the downhills, and accidentally crashed him into a $7,000 bike. The Spesh Crux did suffer minor damage while the LG barely had a scratch. (I still feel terrible about this) I was able to spit on my finger and remove the small red paint splotch and LG is as good as new. The Spesh... not so much. The rider forgave me and said that he hopes to put a few dings of his own on it in during the DK100.
Feeling fairly confident, I asked LG if he would like to accompany me to the DK200. I assured him that I had been to Emporia SIX times before and that I had completed the event FIVE times so I was familiar with the territory and the effort that was needed to finish. I then told him there were no guarantees that I could complete another DK but felt more confident I would if he was on board. Training has gone as well as it could and I gotta admit... LG makes me better! Without hesitation he said, "YES"!
The very next day I placed my '16 Warbird under Big Shark care and had a complete overhaul done. Replaced: the saddle, pedals, brake lines, brake pads, cassette (#3), tires and chain (#3). The Warbird has been prepped and is performing flawlessly. The Hairy Hundred was the perfect shakedown ride to fine tune everything. Overall we have spent over 2400 miles together since January. He has endured my stories, some for hours on end and appears not to mind, maybe he can tune me out. As far as I know he has kept my secrets too. Let me know if you hear otherwise.
AND, LG has a secret! While riding in the wind I noticed a beautiful sound around me, a quiet hum. It was coming from him! A light, musical tone emanated from my fork. Not quite a serenade but a noticeable, distinct sound. During no less than seven hours of the Hairy Hundred LG played for me. Magnificent!
I am often asked my opinion about this fork. Is it worth it? Is it hype? I tell everyone the same thing... "He makes gravel less gravely". Does that make sense? LG sucks up the bumps, which offers a smoother ride and helps me stay efficient and enables me to go faster. What I have noticed is that I can really rip the downhills and I am more efficient and steady on the uphills, no more jack hammering. Truth be told, I did not think I would like LG as much as I do, apparently he has grown on me. I am impressed and cannot imagine gravel rides without him. If gravel is your thing make the investment, you will not be sorry.
AND, LG has a secret! While riding in the wind I noticed a beautiful sound coming from him. A light, musical tone emanated from LG. Not quite a serenade but a noticeable, distinct sound. During no less than seven hours of the Hairy Hundred he played for me. Magnificent!
The Dirty Kanza 200 is next week! We are excited and already packing! See you soon.
Wendy and LG
It was mid-December and thoughts of the Dirty Kanza 200 were occupying my thoughts. Sign up was in just a month and I knew that Chamois Butt'r would be hitting me up soon to see if I was going back... for a 7th time. After completing the ride last year I was handed a beautiful 1000 mile Goblet, it was cool getting to stand on stage and be the first woman to get it but... depression lurked in the background. I had no idea that finally getting something I had worked my ass off for would make me so unhappy in the days and months ahead.
Just days after informing my husband that we probably would not be going back to Kansas I get an email from Jim Cummins, Dirty Kanza founder and promoter extraordinaire, inviting me to be a part of the Dirty Dozen Lauf Team for DK'17. Seriously? I read the email twice and then looked up what a Lauf Grit fork was.
I waited a day and shared the email with my husband. He read it and said, "Do you even know what a Lauf Grit fork is"? I said yes and that I looked it up and wasn't sure if it was for me. He said Lael Wilcox uses one, so then I was intrigued. She is an incredible badass and rides very challenging terrain, if she is down maybe I should at least check it out. "You can always use it and sell it later", He added.
After sleeping on it another night I wrote Jim and told him I would be a part of the Dirty Dozen. We were a hand picked team and I was stoked to be on it.
Within a couple of weeks there was a package on my porch. I carefully took the fork from it's bag and checked it out. Judging by how light it is, carbon baby, my first thought was, "Can I break this"?
The mechanics at Big Shark had never seen anything like the Lauf Grit before. Everyone I showed it to laughed, a little nervous laugh. We had no idea what to think of this funky looking fork. I dropped my Warbird with Nathan and asked him to send me a photo when it was done. It was very hard for me to see 'my boy' in pieces. Several hours later I received the photo that assured me everything was going to be okay, my two wheeled fella was back together and ready to roll.
My '16 Warbird has been very good to me. We have completed DK #4 and #5 together and shared many smiles and over 1000's of gravel miles. I do not have a single complaint about this bike, it has performed flawlessly for two years now. I absolutely LOVE it ... why would I go and change something??? I don't normally fix things that are not broke. However, I have this crazy idea that this may be the piece I need in order to Beat the Sun.
Since Lauf came in to my life I have been asked, "What do you think of that fancy fork"? My gut reaction is to laugh and I do, every single time. It's kind of hard for me to put in to words. It's like I have a new bike... it's a different ride. I have ridden down hills, up hills, and through some chunky frozen gravel... all I can say is "teee hee".
Lauf and I have been giggling for the last few weeks. It's like we are in the dating phase and just getting to know each other. So far everything is good. He is laughing at all my jokes and I am stroking his ego. We have been on several 20 to 50 milers enjoying a mixed bag of gravel and varied weather conditions and we are still speaking and showing up for rides. Honestly, I really can't wrap my head around this one. It's going to take some time, probably many, many hours of intense investigation to really see if Lauf and I are meant to stay together.
I am up for the challenge if Lauf is. Longer rides ahead. Stay tuned....