I'll be riding the La Cruz Ti at this year's Dirty Kanza 200. I chose this bike due primarily to its low weight and high speed. Also, the titanium offers a comfortable "long haul" feel, much like a steel bike. It is super responsive and handles well on gravel. I rode this bike nonstop for 336 miles in this year's Trans Iowa and, yes, I was sore and tired, but there were no aches and pains that I could directly relate to the bike as the cause.
My setup was put together with gravel racing in mind. My goal was weight savings without sacrificing durability. Weight savings alone don't cut it when facing the misnamed gravel of the Flint Hills region of Kansas.
Drivetrain is Shimano Ultegra with a 50/36T crankset. I am running a 10-speed rear derailleur.
Wheels are DT Swiss 465 rims with heavy gauge spokes, and Chris King hubs.
Tires are Schwalbe Marathon Extreme
Cockpit is a Salsa Short and Shallow bar, Salsa Pro Moto Ti stem, Shimano 105 integrated shifter/brake levers, Chris King headset, Garmin 205 GPS, and homemade map/cue sheet holder.
Saddle is WTB
Seat bag is Banjo Brothers
Frame Bag is Revelate Tangle (small)
Seatpost is Salsa Shaft
Pedals are Crank Bros Egg Beaters
Pump mounted to cage is a Lezyne
Bottle cages are Titec - Carbon, two of them.
Headlight (just in case) Princeton Tech EOS helmet light.
Fluids will be carried in a 100 oz. bladder on my back along with two "tall" Salsa bottles on the bike.
I went with a 50/36T up front because I feel that I can get most of what I need in rolling terrain out of the 36 tooth ring. If things flatten out or a tailwind presents itself the 50T will really get things moving. The 10-speed cassette with 11-28T range is capable of getting me through or over whatever I come across.
Tires are the most important consideration of all when racing the Dirty Kanza 200. The flint rock and "chunky" roads of Kansas are harsh to say the least. In fact, I've never raced on more brutal gravel. Five or six flats in 200 miles is not uncommon. I chose the Schwalbe Marathon Extremes for the puncture protection and overall durability. They may not be the lightest tire out there, but sitting on the side of the road changing out flats while your group leaves you behind is never fun.
I don't have a lot of secrets in my setup. What you see is what you get, but some things that work well for me are:
The Revelate Tangle frame bag makes things so accessible even at high speed. One side holds tools, the other food.
My homemade cue sheet/map holder works perfectly. A piece of clip board zip tied to my handlebars with a ziplock bag office clipped to the board. So low tech, yet so effective.
A "travel size" chainlube bottle provides the perfect application for when things get dry.
When racing long distances I try to keep my kit simple without missing necessities. I go without luxury items in the hopes that I can meet whatever needs they might be in a convenience store somewhere. I feel it's important to take a look at what the course and environment will throw at you, then manage it the best you can with gear and nutrition choices. For example, the Trans Iowa always has the potential to send cold/wet weather at you, so one must be prepared for it. On the other hand, Kansas most likely will send soaring temperatures that a skinny guy from Duluth, Minnesota can't imagine. Therefore I focus on my ability to carry as much fluid as possible. I also try to stay as light as I can, but at times the decision to carry a couple more ounces of one item can be a game changer in the long run.
Last year the Dirty Kanza dished out heaping helping of heat and hurt but I still managed a successful, albeit difficult, ride. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Flint Hills hold in store for me and my fellow riders this coming weekend. Bike is ready, body is ready, fingers are crossed.
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Tim (Eki) Ek
Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com