Dirty Five DK200 Weapons Of Choice #1

Gnat’s DK200 Weapon Of Choice - Vaya Ti

I chose the Vaya Ti because I think it is the perfect platform for long miles of pavement or gravel. It’s got the right combo of performance and comfort. Titanium is light and smooth. I like the geometry and the resulting solid, stable feel of the bike. I’ll need that comfort and stability in the second half of this race. My approach to this race is to finish. Last year I attempted to race it and it conquered me at mile 165. This year, my approach is to conquer it. I’ve learned from last year, listened to my body, and am making some changes.

One of the bigger changes is my drivetrain. I am running a different gearing set up. Last year I rode with a 46/34t wth a 12-27 9-speed cassette. This year I am running a 2x10 set up with 28-42 front chainrings and a 11-28 rear cassette. That’s quite a range and some might say you don’t need it. Truthfully, near mile 165 last year I walked one of the big hills. I was tired and my legs were cramped. This year I am equipping my bike with lower gearing to prepare for those final miles. I need to spin more to keep my legs loose and I’d rather pedal slowly than walk. My legs don’t like walking.

Last year I rode a Fargo Ti prototype with 1.9″ 29er tires. It was a really smooth and comfortable set up. This year my bike set up is lighter and I’m switching to faster and more durable tires. I’ll be riding either Schwalbe Marathon Supremes or Extremes for the event depending on the weather. I’ll run the Extremes if the forecast looks like rain, otherwise I’m going to keep the faster Supremes on there. Some might say this is a risk, but I have made my choice and I’m not looking back.

I will also be double wrapping my handlebars this year. The Flint Hills gravel is a bit more rough and unforgiving than the hero gravel we have around where I live and train. I also don’t like gloves in general and last year I pulled out at 165 miles with blisters on both hands. This year the double wrap of Salsa Gel tape should help.

One last thing I learned last year is that I don’t want to depend on water bottles down in Kansas. I still remember looking at them with all the dust, dirt and cow poop on them. I didn’t want to drink out of them and this forced me to drink less than needed. This year I switched to a bladder system inside my Revelate Designs Tangle bag. This keeps things nice and clean and out of the way. I love it. I also added a Mountain Feedbag. This will hold my pocket camera and some small food items.

All in all, I’ve gotten some good miles on this bike. It’s fast, comfy and pretty light for what it is. I’m really excited about it and my set up. I think this will be the year to check this beast off my list.

One other thing that I’ve done this year is plan my nutrition a bit better. Last year I carried A LOT. Too much in fact. This year I am going to have an hour by hour plan for nutrition. My staples will be water, electrolyte replacement, salted cashews, and dried meat. I also will have some small baggies of mixed Clif Bar Shot Bloks and dried fruit. I love those things and will be mixing up 3–4 flavors for a little Shot Blok fruity surprise. Regarding the dried meats, I’ll be planning ahead this year and not depending on whatever jerky I find in Emporia. I’ll be bringing down some premium dried meat from a rural Minnesota butcher shop. Sometimes it’s the little things that get you through events like this.

Next week I hope to come back here to share my success story and what I learned. At this point, I’m going with what I know and what I’ve got. Wish me luck!

This post filed under topics: Dirty Kanza 200 Gravel Ultra Racing Vaya

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Jason Boucher

Jason Boucher

Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.


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Tom | May 30th, 2011

Looks like a great set up.  What does it weigh built up?

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Tom Moore | May 30th, 2011

Are the Vaya TI frames now available?

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George Jeter | May 30th, 2011

Yeah, next frame is going to have to be one of TI frames. Nice.


Gnat | May 30th, 2011

@Tom - What weight are you looking for? Complete as set up at the start of Kanza or the dry weight of the bike?

@Tom Moore - yes, we’ve shipped Vaya Ti’s. I’ve seen several beautiful rigs out on the roads. 

@George - Thanks.

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Spoonie | May 30th, 2011

Are they Edge Tubs?

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Adventure Monkey | May 30th, 2011

Good Luck Jason!

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Tom | May 30th, 2011

Dry weight.

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Benny | May 31st, 2011

What width Supreme’s did you choose?


Gnat | May 31st, 2011

@Tom - I will bring it into the office and weigh it tomorrow. I need to clean it after this past weekends Gravel Metric. 

@Spoonie - Edge clinchers but they are off my bike for this event because they are tough to get the tire seated properly and I don’t want to fuss with that in Kanza. I’m running Stan’s 355’s.

@Adventure Monkey - Good luck to you too and I’m looking forward to seeing you in Kanza.

@Benny - I chose the 35’s for both the Supremes and Extremes.

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Ed | May 31st, 2011

Very interesting blog post.  I rode a Vaya (steel) in this year’s Almanzo 100 and really liked the frame.  Best of luck in Kansas!

What is the gizmo that your hydration tube is held (clipped?) to the handlebars with?

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Leaf S. | May 31st, 2011

I like the gearing you’re going with. Also like the tire choices. I think if it’s dry you’ll be fine with the Supremes. I’ve ridden mine off-road a ton. I kinda think the Schwalbe Duremes would be the sweet spot between Supremes and Extremes.

Maybe Salsa needs to look into making some gravel specific tires? I don’t know how you’d make it specific to gravel but it seems like there would be quite a market for a tire like that even if it was just a relabled touring tire.

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Mtbboy | June 1st, 2011

Gnat,  what tire pressure are you looking to run on your 355 and Marathon combo? I am running Marathon Extreme with Arch rims and I am at about 45psi right now and considering dropping….Tx


Gnat | June 2nd, 2011

@Tom - I was not able to get this bike into the office to weigh it before leaving. I will follow up when I return. 

@Ed - Not sure what you are referencing. The bladder inside the Revelate Tangle bag has the hose sticking out. My hose has a clip on it and I attach that clip either directly to the housing or to the Mountain Feedbag.

@Mtbbooy - I am still uncertain. I’m running higher than you - about 60 right now. On our gravel here, I can run higher.  I think I’m going to start the race with about 60-65 in them.  We’ll see.

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