Five Goes Into 200 Forty Times - Dirty Six

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.

Allen wrenches
Chain tool
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
Tire lever
2 innertubes
Glue-type patch kit
Small pump
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

This post filed under topics: Dirty Kanza 200 Gravel

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Joe Meiser

Joe Meiser

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.


marko | June 2nd, 2010

super rad bike. i don’t think there’s much i’d change if it were my personal bike. good on ya!

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Kevin | June 3rd, 2010

Among your fellow Salsa racers you are in the minority with rim brakes for Dirty Kanza. Why those over discs?

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Applin | June 14th, 2010

Whoa! Biking sounds like a lot of work! How about a bright, yellow mustang instead? Or was it a Camaro…?

Benny | December 23rd, 2010

Hey Joe,

Love your set-up mate! Couple of questions though.. What size frame is that? Is that a ‘Tangle bag’ or a custom frame bag from Eric??

Cheers in advance,


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Joe | December 23rd, 2010


The Frame bag is a Tangle made by Revelate/Eric.  Solid.

Benny | January 10th, 2011

Cheers for the reply Joe,

Just bought a 55cm Ti La Cruz to take out and thrash on Tasmanian Southern Forest gravel. Can’t wait to build it up. Picked up a one of the steel Salsa canti forks to go with the frame. Should be a sweet rig.

Mate couple more questions, is it Eric’s “touring” or “mountain” Tangle Bag? and what size frame do you have? Just trying to get an idea of bag fit.




Joe | January 11th, 2011

@ Benny,  I am using the touring bag on a 58cm La Cruz.  For the 55 I think the ‘mountain’ may fit better as a result of the headtube length.

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DC | February 14th, 2011

Hey Joe,

Rookie question..Do you just fill up your water bladder and stick it directly into the Tangle bag?  Is there any problem with it swaying as you’re riding? 

I have a 56 frame with 58cm length top tube.  I’m guess the touring version would be the best fit….



Joe | February 15th, 2011


We are all rookies. 

I use a 4L MSR Dromlite bladder and put it in my Tangle Touring bag.  The movement of the weight on the frame is noticeable when it is full, but doesn’t affect the handling to a great degree.  It is definitely better than carrying on my back. 

As for fit of the tangle you’ll have to work with Revelate.  I like the volume of the Tangle Touring and it fits my frame.  I can’t answer if it will fit yours.  Wish I could.

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Darren | February 16th, 2011

Hey Joe,

Thanks for the information.  It looks like the production version of La Cruz Ti has a rear rack mounts is that right? 

Also, just general speaking with all things being equal with rider strenght and componets is it fair to say that the La Cruz Ti would be a slight faster bike than the Vaya for races like the DK200 and Trans Iowa…Thanks!  Last questions :-)

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frank | March 21st, 2011

looking into getting a La Cruz Ti and doing a bit more gravel perhaps. i ride a 555TT on my stevens cross bike with a 100 stem, a 565TT on my ridley excalibur with a 110 stem. any thoughts as to size i would ride on the La Cruz? i am 5-11 and saddle height of 78.25 (BB to top saddle) and my reach from saddle center to center of bar top is 720. can’t wait to build one of these up. any insight is helpful.


Joe | March 22nd, 2011

@Frank, The La Cruz Ti is an ideal bike for rural roads and gravel.  We happen to make a 555TT La Cruz that would likely be an ideal fit based on your existing bikes.  Would love to see pictures when you get it built and dirty!

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