Dirty Kanza Prep: My Bike Setup

So, this lil’ ol’ bike race is pretty much the only thing I’ve been talking about for the past 6 months… but I also haven’t really gone into any real detail on it. Probably being I’m partially in denial about how much suffer is going to happen during this race 😛


Dirty Kanza covers 200 miles of gravel roads in one giant loop. The course changes every year, but it always starts and ends in Emporia, KS. The course is not marked, so you need to depend on the maps they provide or your GPS to guide you.

Example of the maps they provide

Example of the maps they provide, but this one is just for 50 miles

The race is mainly self-supported, but with 2 check-points in the middle where you can meet up with a support crew (that your either hire, or hope you have nice friends) to refuel, refill, or fix any mechanical issues (this is actually the first year with only 2 check-points, in the past there has been 3).

This year the check-points are in Madison, KS (at approximately mile 75) and Cottonwood Falls, KS (approximately mile 150). In these cities, you have to check-in and then they hand you the next batch of printed maps and cue sheets to direct you to the next check-point (though if you use GPS, you are allowed to load these onto your Garmin ahead of time).

Cottonwood Falls, KS

Cottonwood Falls, KS during DK Training Camp

The check-points are the only times when you can meet up with your support crew. Your support crew is not allowed to visit you at any point on the course, UNLESS you are calling it quits and they are coming to pick you up. So, the miles between you are self-supported. If you’ve done any bike racing, like a century, or an Ironman/HIM or even a 20-mile ride, it might seem like 75 miles isn’t too bad (heck, the special needs during an Ironman isn’t typically until mile 65.. But gravel riding is significantly slower and harsher. 75 miles is 5-6 hours if you are good (and closer to 7.5 hours if you are like me).


Pauls bike

So, unlike an Ironman where you probably pack: 5 gels, 2 waterbottles, a tube, a C02, and a tire lever.. Dirty Kanza won’t even let you START the race without:

  • Cycling computer
  • Red taillight
  • Front light (Power output is up to you.)
  • Minimum of two liters of water or sports drink
  • Two spare inner tubes
  • Air pump or inflation system

And it says “You Should SERIOUSLY Consider”:

  • A cell phone to contact the “outside world” should you need help.
  • GPS system to communicate your exact location to support or rescue personnel in the event of an emergency
  • Small rucksack / hydration pack
  • Waterproof / windproof jacket
  • Extra thermal top or warm layer to wear if stopped
  • An emergency / survival blanket
  • Food – energy bars, gels, chocolate, etc
  • Tire levers
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Chain tool
  • Allen wrench set
  • Spoke wrench
  • First aid kit
  • Chamois Butt’r
  • Chain lube
  • Cash, debit card or credit card (To purchase food, water, supplies.)
  • Handlebar map case
  • Compass

That’s a lot of gear.

So I plan on setting my bike up as follows:


2 water bottle cages: (these water bottles will be filled with heavily concentrated Gu Roctane Powder (GRAPE FO SHO). I’ll probably put 4 hours worth of calories in each of the bottles just in case. I’ll have my support crew with 2 additional bottles at each check-point.


Small bag under the seat: (this is fairly small, but fits a multitool, 2 tubes, tire levers, and 2 C02 cartridges). In addition, when comes to a flat, I’ll have a small pump, my C02 compressor, a tire boot, and another tube in my Camelbak) and additional tubes to restock at each checkpoint, if needed.


Revelate Gas Tank (bag sitting on the top tube): On a regular day this holds my camera/phone, pepper spray (for dogs), and small snacks. It will also hold my external battery and I’ll snake the cord up to my Garmin for charging.



Revelate Mountain Feed bag: This is probably my favorite piece of gear ever! It is just so versatile. It can carry an extra water bottle or a soda (each checkpoint is at a gas station), hold Gu, my camera, my phone, ANYTHING! It’s basically a little sack attached to my handlebars with a elastic to keep it closed. I’ve been riding with my camera in it and I like being able to quickly snap photos without stopping.

IMG_2261 IMG_2263

Garmin 810: Has turn by turn navigation and we will receive the course the Monday before the race so we can load it onto the Garmin. It won’t last the entire race, so I’ll have an external battery I can plug it into stashed in the gas tank.

IMAG4652 - Copy


Cell phone in my jersey pocket: On airplane mode until I need it.. Otherwise the battery will drain while it constantly looks for a signal in the middle of nowhere.

Front Light: Lumina 750. I really need to get to work playing around with this and all the different flash and brightness settings, but it is a nice light. I’m also playing around with attached a back-up light to a 2nd helmet and having it at the final check-point. It will probably be around midnight – 2am when I finish, so it will be pitch black and I’ll be in a tough spot if I can’t see.

Rear Light: Turbo Superflash. Super bright and flashy! I highly recommend this light!



In it I will have: full 3-liter bladder of plain water, Chamois Butt’r packets (probably 3), Gu, Gu electrolyte tablets, trail mix, handheld pump, my C02 compressor, an additional tire tube,  car keys, chain tool, electrical tape (for taping anything that might break), and whatever other food I can cram in (thinking Bonk Breakers [did you see the new salted caramel flavor?? I’m obsessed], beef jerky, more beef jerky, and more jerky). I’m also looking for a carabiner compass I can just attach to the pack.


Cycling necessities

Phew, so that’s a lot of stuff… but if I get enough flats, or something happens to my bike, or I get lost, I don’t want to be SOL.

I also plan to stash a 2nd pair of bike shorts in the 2nd checkpoint bag and socks in both bags just in case I’m in need of ‘freshening up’. I’ll have a light jacket too, in case the night gets cool (but I’m doubtful of that, it should be blazin’ hot all day :))

I’m going to do a separate post on my full nutrition plan for the race, but at the checkpoints, I’ll have my special needs bag, food provider by the support crew, a place to refill my water, bathrooms, etc. Each checkpoint is also a gas station, so if I’m in a real bind I’ll be able to buy anything basic that I could need. However, since I’m on the slower end of things, I’m not planning on spending much time at each check-point. Hopefully 10 minutes or less and then back on my way!

So, I think that is everything! I’m sure I’ll tweak it a little bit before race day.

Have you ever done a self-supported race?

Any recommendations or ideas of things for me to add?

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3 thoughts on “Dirty Kanza Prep: My Bike Setup

  1. chelsea @ the new wifestyle

    whoa this is super fascinating to read about! thanks for the details because when you had that big long list i was wondering how it would all fit! this takes some meticulous packing, holy smokes! sounds like you’ve got it mapped out and planned out well, yay!

    i’ve never done anything like this nor do i think i would so i’m living vicariously through you! very curious about the nutritional side of what you’re doing too so excited for that post!

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