Eki’s Trans Iowa Kit

Here’s a quick look at my gear, clothing, and food choices that I used just over a week ago for the gravel behemoth known as Trans Iowa. It was a fairly minimal kit but I’m sure you know already that minimal kit means maximum forethought.

Eki’s Trans Iowa Kit


Bike - Salsa La Cruz Ti

Seat Bag - Axiom Journey (it broke doue to being too heavily loaded)

Frame Bag - Revelate Tangle Bag. THIS WAS KEY

Pump - Lezyne (mounted to water bottle cage on seat tube)

GPS - Garmin Edge 205

GPS - Energizer Cell Phone Charger. Strapped to stem in order to do a ‘hot swap’ which allows the GPS to keep working while accepting a charge. Attached with a Velcro strap. THIS WAS KEY

Cue Card Holder - Homemade piece of a clip board ziptied to handlebar with cue cards in a ziplock bag. All held in place with two office clips.

Waterbottles - Two tall Salsa waterbottles

Handlebar Light - Princeton Tec Push

Helmet Light - Princeton Tec EOS

Helmet - Bell Sweep

Rear Blinker Light - Knog Beetle

Glasses - Tifosi. Clear lenses for entire event.

Front Tire - Continental Cyclocross Speed 35mm

Rear Tire - Schwalbe Marathon Extreme 35mm

Hydration Pack - Camelback Mule with 100 oz bladder

Multi Tool - Crank Brothers

CO2 - Two cartridges. One with the head pre-attached.

Tubes - Two

Spare Parts - One extra rear derailleur hanger

Lube - White Lightning. Contained in a little lotion bottle my wife gave me. It has a great little twist tip that allowed the perfect application of lube. THIS WAS KEY

Butt Support - Four small packs of chamois lube that I received as free samples at previous races

Mountain Money - Some toilet paper contained in a ziplock bag

Cash - $60, of which I spent $20

Despite functioning perfectly…I’m a bit tired of this view…


Plastic Rain Coat

Pearl Izumi Wind Vest

Sock Guy Short Sleeved Base Layer

Salsa Short Sleeve Team Jersey

Sock Guy Wool Arm Warmers

Salsa Team Bibs

Pearl Izumi Leg Warmers

Salsa Team Socks

sixsixone Cycling Shoes

Sock Guy Toe Warmers

sixsixone Cool Weather Long Finger Cycling Gloves

Short Fingered Cycling Gloves

Sock Guy Wicking Cycling Cap

Helly Hansen Wicking Cool Weather Cap


1/4 lb of Cross Country Trail Mix

8 Nature Valley Granola Bars

16 Hammer Gels - Orange and Espresso flavors. THIS WAS KEY

7 Motor Tabs Fluid Replacement System

2 Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches. THIS WAS KEY

20 Bite-Sized Fig Newtons. Strawberry flavor.

Food/Drink Purchased In Convenience Stores During The Race:

Coke & Mountain Dew

Blueberry Pie

Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Frito Lay Chips


Muscle Milk THIS WAS KEY

Rest easy boy…your work is done here…

Thoughts on what worked and what didn’t:

Overall, I’m very happy with the setup I chose. I felt it might have been a little heavy, but at the same time I was definitely able to meet the distances required between stores without entering the “danger zone” of running out of fluids or nutrition. If I could go back in time I wouldn’t have carried the two water bottles, but one never knows, and the notion of running dry is scary. Needless to say, I carried two full water bottles for about 320 miles without using them once. Bummer! The temperature was cool enough at all times that I wasn’t in need of guzzling water continually. I felt properly hydrated at all times and cramping never became a concern for me.

In terms of nutrition, I felt I had it dialed pretty well. The trail mix was really good and gave me the dose of protein in the form of nuts that I needed. The figs were good too, but I grew tired of them and by the time the night came around I didn’t want to see another one, let alone eat it. I absolutely loved going to the PB & J sandwich when I craved real food. They were so good! I felt in control of my body throughout the entire event. I never experienced a hard bonk, but of course went through some periods of being super tired.

I may have mismanaged my clothing choices a bit as I was so focused on trying to reduce weight. It may have been better to sacrifice some of my calorie weight instead of clothing. In the night I began to obsess over being cold, when I had enough other things to be worrying about. I regret leaving my warm gloves and long sleeve jersey in the hotel. An extra pair of socks would have been wonderful!

Some items/choices that proved priceless for me out there were these:

My GPS charging system: Being able to run the GPS nonstop for 30 hours was extremely important for tracking distances and managing the cue sheets.

The Revelate Tangle Bag was so nice to deal with. I felt like everything was right at my fingertips. I could get to my items on the fly and at high speeds.

Keeping my chain lubed was paramount as we were in horrendous conditions for a bicycle drivetrain. The tiny bottle with the twisting top proved to be the perfect application device for the lube.

2:00–9:45 A.M. Finish - This was a difficult time for me to ingest calories. My stomach didn’t crave anything and I felt myself starting to forget about food. I knew I needed to keep the calories coming in and I was also getting extremely sleepy. The caffeinated Espresso Hammer Gels worked very well for me. I took in about 8 of them during this time period.

I may have been the envy of the group when I pulled out my first PB & J sandwich. We were traveling long distances between stores so having “real” food with was a major plus.

Muscle Milk purchased in the stores gave me the major shot of protein that my body needed to combat the muscle fatigue/breakdown that was taking place.


As stated above, I’m essentially happy with the choices I made for this years event. Of course, everything is always worth analyzing and I’m sure there is still tweaking and refining that I can do to improve my odds further. I hope you enjoyed the tour my setup.

340 miles later…hurting…but still smiling…

This post filed under topics: Gravel Sponsored Riders Tim Ek Trans Iowa

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Tim (Eki) Ek

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


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Kevin | May 2nd, 2011

I feel like I should be paying for the kinds of advice/tips you give in these gear posts! Great stuff man. I’m still pretty new to the endurance stuff & seeing what a veteran uses is great.

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Tim Ek | May 2nd, 2011

Kevin, no worries. Trust me the first time I did the T.I. I had enough stuff to supply the entire field. Happy to share the little things I’ve learned along the way.

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Deek | May 2nd, 2011

This is an excellent list, Tim. Thanks for sharing. For those of us morbidly curious about TI who are contemplating saddling up next year, this is an invaluable resource.

Congratulations on your finish this year.

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Tom Benson | May 2nd, 2011

My question is around the GPS/Charging. So the system doesn’t do a soft reset when you change the batteries on the Energizer unit? This is incredible news. That has been the one ‘drawback’ to going to a Garmin 500 from a Mavic Wireless Wintech. The shortened battery life. (Although I have yet to run up against the 15+ hour limit. But a lot of folks on the Garmin site blogs and the UMCA lists have.) Tim, I am sure the Garmin blog folks would LOVE to hear information on your setup.

I agree with Kevin. I feel at times you and Charlie Farrow should write a book, ‘How to not die on a Gravel Endurance Ride.’

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Tim Ek | May 2nd, 2011

Tom, great question on the charging system. No reset whatsoever. Here’s how it works. When I see that my GPS is indicating a low charge, say “one bar” I just whip out my little charging unit with a fresh set of AA lithiums in it, plug it into the GPS and strap it to my stem or handlebar (this is the tricky part as the cord is pretty short). The GPS will indicate a little lightning bolt which means it’s accepting a charge. Meanwhile, the charging unit has a little light that blinks to let you know it’s operating. When the GPS is fully charged the lightning bolt goes away and a little “plug” indicater displays up by where the charge indicators are - this shows that the GPS is hooked to an auxillary device. If the batteries are fresh you can score extra time where the GPS actually just runs off the auxillary unit (don’t hold me to that, but I think that’s the case). It usually takes about 2 hours to fully discharge the batteries’ power into the GPS, then beyond that you’re on bonus charge (again, I think that’s the case). In short I threw my unit on my GPS at about 7:00 p.m. and left it hooked up until about 11:00 p.m. When I pulled it off and put it back in my pack my GPS had a FULL CHARGE on it. This system works! If you’re interested in more details feel free to shoot me an email.


Oh, and thanks on the book idea. Hmmm…

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Nathan Auck | May 2nd, 2011

Nice work Time!

This ride sounds super sweet! My question is in connection with your bike choice. What made you choose the La Cruz over the Casserole? Was your ride competitive or just a group of friends? What characteristics of the La Cruz make it more useful in this scenario?

Thanks again for sharing! I look forward to doing some rides like this and others I read about on the Salsa blog in the future. It’s nice to have a consistent source of motivation.

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Kevin | May 2nd, 2011

Tom, from personal experience an Edge 500 won’t throw a low battery warning for 17h30m, and will keep running just long enough after 17h51m to allow you to stop recording, reset the log, & shut it down. BARELY long enough for my DK finish last year!
Garmin has a new extended charger kit that’s supposed to play nice with the 500 & 800. $90, but it includes a 2200mAh battery, solar panel(!!), & enough power tips to keep going anywhere in the world. I’m probably going to order one tomorrow…

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Tom Benson | May 2nd, 2011

Kevin, I was not aware of the extended battery from Garmin. Good call. But if Tim has found a working solution in the Energizer, well it can be found for a lot less. I am sure there are advantages to the Garmin kit ( i dig the ability to recharge via solar) but i am going to try the Energizer first.

Tim, heynif not a book, maybe a series of how to blog posts. Or a new site…

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Tim Ek | May 2nd, 2011

Nathan, thank you. I chose the La Cruz Ti for two main reasons…Speed and Weight. The La Cruz is a very responsive, light weight rig. The titanium not only brings less weight, but a comfortable “all day” (and then some) feel, much like steel.

The Trans Iowa suits all styles of riders who are willing to go for the long haul. In my case, I was competing to try to win the race. The majority of those 336 miles were spent at a very competitive pace. In fact, there were many times when I was going almost “full out”.

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Steven Myers | May 4th, 2011

Congrats on the amazing finish and thanks for this post. 
I am curious about your tire choice and PSI.
Why did you choose the schwalbe on the back instead of the conti?  and what Psi did you run your tires at?

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Tim Ek | May 4th, 2011

Steven, Thanks!

I chose the Schwalbe Marathon on the back for it’s sheer durability. This tire is bomb proof! I chose the Conti for the front based on it’s weight and excellent fast rolling ability. The reason I didn’t put the Conti on the back is due to it’s “supple” nature. Most flats happen on the back so that’s where I wanted my durability. I ran 80 psi in both tires. Thanks for your questions.

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