Guest Blog: Gearing Up For the Iditarod Trail Invitational

Today we have a guest blog from Dave Kelley. Dave works at Paramount Cycles in Anchorage, Alaska. He is currently racing the Iditarod Invitational, riding and pushing 350 miles to McGrath. -Kid

I'm riding a Mukluk Ti in the Iditarod Invitational this year. I always wanted a Salsa and now I have an extremely beautiful looking, and riding, one.

My bike is set up using SRAM XO front and rear derailleurs controlled by TT900 shifters on Paul's Thumbies shifter mounts. I have always used thumb shifters and wasn't about to change that when setting up this rig. I've got a White Brothers Snow Pack fork up front. It lightens the bike up a bit. My wheels are built with red Salsa Mukluk 2 hubs laced to custom-polished Rolling Darryl rims. Yes, I did the polishing. They turned out so sweet! In the brake department I wanted light and easy-to-service units and went with SRAM XX brakes, 185mm front and 160mm rear. I feel the larger front rotor really helps while riding, even more so when loaded.

My cockpit begins with a Salsa carbon bar and Pro Moto Ti stem. A carbon seatpost and recovered Sella Italia Flite saddle from the 90's that I had used on all my other race bikes and have done many, many great trips on should keep the hindquarters happy...or at least as happy as I can keep them.

Tire choice was easy for me...Surly Big Fat Larry's front and rear! The increased float you get over the 3.8" Larry is amazing! Cranks are RaceFace Atlas DH as I wanted stiff, strong cranks with widely available BB bearing choices, plus they are RED! My gearing is 20-32-42T with 15-36T out back. Yes, I removed the two high gears from the cassette. I never used them anyway and I have a big ring if needed. Pedals are Crank Bros Eggbeaters. You can't beat the weight (no pun intended) and ease of getting in and out of them. My total bike weight with pedals is 29 lbs.

Of course this is an adventure racing bike so bags and a lot of gear are in order. I made my own frame, toptube, and handlebar bags. The seat bag is from Revelate Designs. Pogies finish off the bike.

I've also modified both my bike light and headlamp. The bike light is a Cateye HL500. My headlamp is a Petzel Zoom.

Everything has its place. The handlebar bag is also part of the harness system for holding my bivy and sleeping bag. It holds items I will need to access frequently during the journey to McGrath like bag balm, spare gloves, money, etc. My toptube bag is 100% dedicated to fuel! Fuel for me! It holds everything I will eat while in motion on the trail. I built it very large and it is very easy to access, and to refill at checkpoints. The seat bag carries my down coat and a couple other pieces of clothing, and the frame bag carries everything else!

Gear wise, I carry my water in bottles wrapped with Outdoor Research parkas. My MSR Whisperlite Intl stove also fits down in frame bag, along with a MSR Ti pot and lid. I've used this same cook set on so many trips so I don't go anywhere without it! The frame bag also holds dinners, along with extra on-the-bike food. My spare tube rides at the bottom of the frame bag, along with my pump for easy access. In my pogies there is another set of spare gloves and emergency chemical heaters. I hate to use them but they sure are nice when needed.

My sleep system is pretty simple: Outdoor research two person bivy, Ridgerest pad and a -30 Mountain Hardwear Lamina bag. Synthetic bags are a bit heavier than down but I trust that it will always keep me warm.

Clothing choices are different for everyone. Lower body I'm wearing Pearl Izumi bib knickers and custom-made wind-front pants. On my upper body I wear a light Capilene base layer, then a wool layer, then a Kuchurak wind-front coat. I always wear a helmet and use a wool hat underneath it.

For my feet I wear a thin polyester liner socks underneath a vapor barrier sock, then a heavy wool sock, and Lake winter boots with an overboot glued to them.

What is on my hands changes frequently. It can be anything from nothing (remember I'm using pogies) to thin wool liners, to full-on big insulated mitts. My extra clothing, wind vest and pants, extra gloves, facemask, sleep hat and long sleeve base layer, are all carried within my bags as well.

A Jandd tool bag holds a small adjustable wrench, Leatherman Wave tool, Crank Bros multi-tool with chain tool, and of course some select bolts and quick links.

That's the equipment. Wish me well. -Dave Kelley


Got questions for Dave? Ask away, and he'll answer them upon finishing the race. Follow all the action on the Iditarod Invitational website or watch their Leaderboard. And also, check out Jay Petervary's new blog where he's sharing insights and memories from his many experiences on the Iditarod Trail.

This post filed under topics: Fatbike Guest Blogger Mukluk Ultra Racing

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Matt | February 29th, 2012

From what Jill is reporting, Dave’s likely to be pushing his bike, not riding it… good luck to everyone trudging it out up there!

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gypsy by trade | March 1st, 2012

Dave,  That’s a bike!  I love the polished Darryls.  Good luck on the push/ride over the pass.  A good year for snowshoes, so I hope the BFL’s are treating you well.  I’m up at the Northern Lights store, so I’ll bump into you sometime.  I’d like to talk about making some bags.  -nicholas

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Errin | March 1st, 2012

Ti envy. Sweet rig.

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Charly Tri | March 1st, 2012

Thanks for posting this.  With a pipe dream of doing this race it is nice to see people’s set ups.

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Chuck Fairbanks Evil Joker | March 1st, 2012

Awespme bike, want to build my own know that i’m retired.  hope you and your cool ride make it all the way with no trouble. May the Luck of the Irish be with you at the end of the rainbow.

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jayne | March 2nd, 2012

WOW - we as relatives have something other than your mom in common - i have a salsa frame on my new custom bike!-screeming green. it’s hanging up waiting for spring!!! (don’t know any other salsa riders)

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Chuck Fairbanks ( Evil joker ) | March 2nd, 2012

my fast bike is a custom built Titanflex with HED tri-spokes.  its paint neon Orange and yellow and so are the HED wheels!

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Ryan | March 5th, 2012

Great piece! Would be curious to know the process for stripping and polishing the Darryl rims.

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Colin Scott | April 23rd, 2012

Epic post, Dave! Hope the race went well!

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Friend | May 19th, 2012

If we all lived like that the world would be better.

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Dave kelley | November 17th, 2013

love my muk so much I still had been riding everyday year round…. but seams my luck ran out….shes cracked :(
im sad. best bike ever owned. what to do?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | November 18th, 2013

You should contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thanks.

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