Here’s the conversation as it happened in my head… It starts like a conversation Pinky has with The Brain in Animaniacs…
What bike are you going to ride for the Dirty Kanza 200, Joe?
The same bike I ride for all of these gravel racing events, my prototype Salsa La Cruz Titanium.
It’s like a well broken-in pair of hiking boots, or dare I say chamois. We’ve been on thousands of miles of rides together and it has always performed well. The only thing I’m changing is the tires. I’ll be running a more durable set of touring tires to ward of the flats that I’ve heard about on the flint covered roads. I’ve made a few little tweaks to make the bike more comfortable for several hundred miles in the saddle on gravel roads. Primarily, I run my handlebars a little higher and wrap Cinelli gel pads into the drops for more comfort. I consider myself lucky in that I haven’t had any types of major hand/foot/knee/saddle problems riding ultra endurance events. I intend to keep it that way.
What is in your kit and how are you going to carry it?
My kit has continued to shrink on these long rides. I find that I can get by with the resources along the route. Sometimes, it just takes being resourceful to get out of a tough situation, and of course, necessity is the mother of all invention. I basically carry what I would carry on any ride.
Multi tool with pliers and small blade
1 needle and some nylon thread
A few meters of duct tape
A few meters of sports tape
Glue-type patch kit
CO2 pump and one cartridge
Several zip ties in different sizes
Small bottle of chain lube
All of this fits in a small stuff sack, I call it my ‘bailout’ bag…it seems the phrase works in many situations these days. If I need to use it the stuff sack works as a nice surface to lay my kit out on the side of a muddy road.
Along with my bailout bag I carry all of the food and hydration I need for 150+ miles of riding.
Two water bottles – filled with Cytomax (extra zip-loc of Cytomax for a checkpoint refill)
4L MSR Dromlite bladder – filled with 3L of water and Elete electrolyte replacement drops
Bag of cashews – salty, high calorie, good fats and proteins, slow burning
Clif Bloks – sweet, high calorie, all kinds of ‘stuff’, fast burning
Clif Shots – taste like $#&! (promotes drinking of fluids), high calorie, all kinds of stuff, rocket fuel like fast burn
Cookies – Me like cookies…high calorie goodness
Beef Jerky or Beef Sticks - savory and fatty, high calorie, tasty, slow burning
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – need I even say why?
That’s just what I eat on the bike. I have no problem partaking in gas station burrito’s, Casey’s Pizza, Hot n’ Ready sandwiches, Coca Cola, Chocolate Milk, etc… when it comes time to hit the checkpoint. I’ll typically stop once for refuel on this type of ride.
My bailout bag and nutrition/hydration are stored in an Epic Designs Touring Bag and Gas Tank. This is my second season using this type of setup and it works beautifully. I tweak it a little bit each time. I learned to store the water in the bag after my first day on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route last summer. It keeps the weight off the body and it is accessible via a hose that comes out of the bag and hooks onto my handlebars. Tri-athletes have been doing this for several years. I’m sure motorcyclists have been doing it for years as well.
My map and/or cue sheets will be held in a DIY holder that I’ve built after several iterations and years of frustration with the commercially-built products out there. What is out there likely works for the tourist who will stop when they need to change their cues or maps. I typically don’t stop to change cues in these types of events. I use a slide-lock Hefty freezer bag glued to a thin sheet of plastic that is zip-tied to my handlebars and bolted underneath my stem top cap. It is waterproof and very durable. I can reach in and pull out a cue sheet to move to the next and stuff the old one into my frame bag or jersey pocket trash receptacle. I’ll be using a Garmin GPS unit for mileage. It uses AA’s that can be found along the route. I’ve found this to be more accurate than a traditional bicycle computer and it is less susceptible to being destroyed by the weather.
If I need light I’ll have a Princeton Tec EOS bolted to my handlebars and a Princeton Tec Fuel strapped to my helmet. The EOS is great for lighting up the road and the Fuel is great for lighting up maps and the road ahead in more technical situations or when riding through a particularly dark section of a route. Both run on AAA batteries that can be found along the route if needed. For a one-day event I don’t carry extras.
All of this ‘stuff’ is just that if I don’t know how to use it. I’ve learned from others, made numerous mistakes, and spent countless hours using each and every piece of kit here. Fortunately, I’ve never ended up hiking into the next town. I’ve been lucky enough to find a way to cobble my bike back together in a couple of tough situations. I wouldn’t suggest to anyone that this kit would mean success for them. I’d suggest they use this as reference and tweak their own setup until they find what works for them. It is a never ending process, and frankly, that’s half the fun.
I’m looking forward to the DK200. It will be a great tune-up for the TransWisconsin, which starts two weeks after. It will also be my longest 1-day event to date this year due to the shortened TransIowa V6 in April. I’ve heard that the promoters of DK200 put on a top-notch event and it is one that I want to experience.
Thanks to Kevin Wison for the use of his Trans Iowa photos -Joe
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I've had a lot of good luck and made a series of choices to be working for the brand and in the bike industry. In 2007 I signed up for the TransIowa just to see if I could complete it. I completed it and discovered a few things about myself in the process. Adventure cycling has been in my blood ever since.