Today's post comes from guest blogger and Salsa amigo Jason Gaikowski. - Kid
I am not superstitious per se, but when it comes to an event like Dirty Kanza 200, I am risk averse. A hundred miles is one thing, but two hundred miles on gravel...over sharp rocky hills, through heat and wind and rain and cows and God-knows-what-else in the middle of the very definition of “nowhere”...is no time to invite bad juju with unnecessary chance.
If there is one word to describe my ideal DK setup - that word is "trusty." I want a bike I've spend a ton of time on and that feels like "mine" – familiar with no doubts or surprises.
Titanium. Tough, resilient, light, and comfortable - all qualities I rely on to face long days in the saddle. I gave serious thought to riding a Fargo - similar to my DK set-up from a few years ago - which would offer the comfort of 29er tires, disk brakes, and outstanding control on loose gravel downhills. Indeed, the Fargo would make an outstanding Kanza bike - but ultimately I decided I
wanted something a touch more “roadish”.
Enter La Cruz Ti.
I have been riding this bike since last fall and it’s become the bike I reach for when heading out for both my biggest days or shortest commutes. I literally have thousands of miles on this bike outfitted largely with bits carried over from a previous bike:
Shimano Dura Ace 10-speed drivetrain: the stuff fits my hands and shifts every time
Dura Ace wheels: I've had these for a few years, hit a ton of potholes and never trued them
Chris King headset and Ritchey WCS carbon fork
Paul Neo-Retro brakes
Moots seatpost: 'cause I believe in Ti
WTB Silverado saddle: I ride these on pretty much all my bikes
FSA SLK Carbon crankset 48/38T rings
Basically everything on this bike has proven itself over a few seasons of riding. All in all, this is the setup I use most of the time. It works and I’m comfortable with it, plus I’m reluctant to invite bad karma by making too many changes. That said, I have made a few tweaks:
Gearing: I run the same chainrings I always run, but switch the cassette from a 12-25 to a 12-28. Kanza is a long day with big hills. Hopefully I won’t need the 28 too often, but it’s reassuring to know it’s there if I need it.
Handlebars: the fattest gel pads I can find, topped with a wrap of Salsa Gel tape. I like my hands to be as comfy as possible.
Tires: Vittoria Randonneur Hyper offers 35mm of grip, comfort, handling, and reliability. They are fairly light, reasonably chubby, and have “Triple Shielding” which everyone knows is better than double shielding. In my opinion, flats are the worst thing that can happen at Dirty Kanza, mostly because they create an excuse to quit. These worked really well for me at the Almanzo 100 a few weeks back, and I’m hoping these babies again live up to their billing.
So there you have it. Kind of boring really, but it is my bike with a bit larger gear range, and some chubby tires.
Hope to see you out in the Flint Hills!
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