The Gravel Cyclist Dirty Kanza 200 Training Plan – Part Two – The Bike

Orbea Terra: The Plan “A” Bike for 2017 Dirty Kanza 200.

Greetings trendsetters! In Part One, I covered my loosely formed training plan for the 2017 Dirty Kanza 200 as well as the food I plan to consume race day.

Part Two covers my bike preparation and related items.

Unlike some of us riding Dirty Kanza 200, I am in the enviable? position of riding a review bike for this year’s race. I firmly believe that a proper review constitutes training rides, and wherever possible, running a bike through the wringer at a legit gravel race / event. Picking lines on a crappy gravel road is easy when you’re alone, but in a race / event situation, it’s a whole different story!

I won’t be going into intricate detail about the riding properties of the Orbea Terra just yet, that will be saved for the review. The Terra is brand new to market and I’m aboard  the top tier model in size small (about a 54cm top tube).

The bike is shod with Shimano’s superb Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting / hydraulic brake drivetrain, FSA’s new K-Light Adventure crank fitted with 46 / 30 chainrings and Mavic Pro All-Road disc brake wheels with Schwalbe G-One tyres in 40mm.

The Orbea Terra kitted up for Dirty Kanza 200.

Immediate differences you will notice from the stock build are my wheelset and tyres of choice. For race day, I’ll be rolling the American Classic Race 29’er wheelset (enter our contest to WIN a pair of these wheels!), but on my brand new pair in the latest finish from American Classic and Panaracer’s marvelous Gravelking SK tyres. The Mavic’s are relegated to spare status for the event.

Pictured above is the regular version of the Gravelking SK tyre in 35mm. For race day, I will be rolling the just-released 38mm version of the tyre, which features additional sidewall protection, a must-have for an event such as Dirty Kanza. The Flint Hills of Kansas are not kind to tyres. Orange Seal’s Endurance Formula sealant is my sealant of choice, and that of Team Gravel Cyclist – mostly a team of slackers who have a lot of fun!

The American Classic MTB Race 29’er wheelset… not just for MTB, it is superb on gravel and weighs around 1,500 grams for a pair.

Trialing Ashima’s lightweight AI2 rotors with Titanium bolts.

The cockpit, and the busiest area of the bike. In the photo above are a Garmin 800, external tube battery and USB cable to ensure the Garmin goes the distance, GoPro camera remote (two for race day – front and rear) and K-Edge mount for the GoPro camera + larger battery.

In this photo, you can see the Shimano Di2 satellite climbing shifter button, reversed from the suggested method of mounting. The GoPro remote is sitting on top of the the bars just for photographic purposes, but will be zip tied and moved lower so I can operate the Di2 switch sans hassle.

Left of the Garmin 800 is a light mount for a Cateye 700 lumen LED light. I hope to make it to the finish line before night falls, but with 200+ miles of gravel roads, anything can happen! Hopefully not a bad leg day…

The stock saddle has been replaced with my personal favorite, the Fizik Arione. Also in the photo are my saddle bag, rear Knog taillight and rear facing GoPro camera mount. This particular mount is far superior to the stock Garmin seatpost mount.

Inside the saddle bag are 1 x tube, 2 x Co2 cartridges, 1 x microscopic Co2 inflator, 1 x tyre lever, 1 x KMC X-11 master chain link and 1 x tyre boot. An additional tube will be stashed in the cavity beneath the saddle on race day… a chain tool will also be jammed somewhere.

For water and hydration, I rely on Zefal’s Magnum water bottles, which hold about one litre. They are held in place by King Cage titanium bottle cages, and a Fix-It Sticks kit serves as the bike’s toolkit.

The rear bottle cage is also home to the backup inflation system, namely the Specialized Air Tool Road Mini Pump.

FSA’s SL-K Light carbon crankset and 46 / 30 chainrings – perfect for those who ride a high cadence when the road tilts upwards. There are many steep climbs in Kansas. Kansas isn’t flat!

Shimano Ultegra Di2 GS mid-cage rear derailleur and 11-32 cassette.

This year, I am running a reasonably lean setup and will not be using a small frame bag for food. In my rear pockets will be a Platypus Softbottle in .5 litre or one litre (to be detmined), Gu gel flask, Lara Bars, Gu Chews, and extra Gu gels in those pockets, or stashed underneath the leg gripper of my bib shorts. You can see my food and hydration in more detail on Part One. I plan to reload gels, bars, bottles etc, at each aid station.

The Plan B Bike

In the event the Dirty Kanza weather forecast is for rain, sludge and muck, I will run the Lynskey GR250, a titanium gravel bike I have been enjoying and reviewing for some time. The video review is due to appear soon (I promise!) – the GR250 has superior tyre clearance over most any bike on the market today. Ideally, I will have more than five minutes notice to swap bikes, unlike last year’s Dirty Kanza rainstorm, which pelted Emporia about two hours before race start, and caused major pandemonium for a lot of riders, five miles into the course!

Pictured at the finish of the 2017 Middle Georgia Epic, I may have been dropped from the front group of racers, but I rode my bike just about the entire time while others walked, with zero issues relating to tyre clearance. Same story again at the 2017 Land Run 100 in the mud, although I abandoned that race due to cold, rain and near hypothermia 🙁

Pictured in sunnier times with 650b wheels and WTB Horizon tyres, the Lynskey GR250 “Plan B” will be fitted with American Classic Race 29’er wheels and Panaracer’s lesser known tyre, the Gravelking Mud, a tyre I used at Land Run 100.

Pre-Ride your Gear

Sunday May 14, 2017. Early into 176 miles of DK training.

I cannot stress the importance of pre-riding your race bike setup for a race such as Dirty Kanza 200. Don’t wait until race day! Pre-rides are the time to find out where the gremlins are, and fix them ahead of time.

K-Dogg of Gravel Cyclist. He’s returning to defend the 60+ DK 200 title!

Last Sunday, joined by K-Dogg, Mrs K-Dogg and our friend the Belgian Diesel, aka Lambert, we rode our race setups over 176 miles / 284 kilometres of mixed surfaces. The ride included pavement, dirt, gravel, sand and a bit of sludge. For extra training, I took the crew on a notoriously sandy sector that had everyone walking – what doesn’t hurt you makes you stronger, right? :mrgreen:

The Belgian Diesel on Walkabout.
Somewhere in BFE Florida. Mrs K-Dogg is hiding somewhere.
The Belgian Diesel on a tough, heavily washboarded road.
A long day in the saddle. 10.5 hours of riding.
At the end of the ride. SMASHED.

For those so inclined, you can check out my Strava data from Sunday’s ride, HERE.

What’s next?

This weekend I’ll be at Almanzo 100, an event I have always wanted to ride. After that, rest, relaxation and what they call tapering… before a long journey in a minivan packed full of bikes, spares and stuff to Emporia, Kansas.

Good luck with your preparation! Thanks for reading!


  1. Avatar Nic

    What bar tape do you have on the Orbea?

    • JOM JOM

      Nic, it was branded Orbea but it looks very similar to the tape sold by Arundel.

  2. Avatar Dave

    Do you start with the power pack plugged into the Garmin, or plug it in when the battery starts to get low?

    • JOM JOM

      Dave, I leave the external battery plugged in all day. The Garmin 800 allows charging / recording and navigation while this happens. Not so sure about the newer 1000 models, etc.

      • K-Dogg K-Dogg

        I have a 1000. I leave the power pack plugged in with no problems.
        I hate fiddling around one handed while bouncing over rocks, mud and sand.

        • JOM JOM

          Forgot you had a 1000 K-Dogg, thanks for chiming in. There ya go Dave!

  3. Avatar MG

    I look forward to seeing you, and hopefully riding with you, in Emporia. Safe travels, man!

  4. Avatar Beargrease

    Yes, very nice bike. But, will you be able to beat 60+ YO K-Dogg on it? 🙂

    Hope you packed a snorkel for the Almanzo water crossing. 😮

    Best of luck and welcome to Minnesota!

  5. Avatar Peter Bradley

    Hi, Do you have a link to these new release 38mm GravelKings that you mention. From my understanding, its a smooth tread like their smaller tires and not the same tread as the 35mm tires you have on and 40 mm tires

    • JOM JOM

      Peter, same tread as on the 35mm and 40mm tyres, at least my samples are. I received my samples directly from Panaracer USA, although there were no details on the Panaracer site when I last looked. They first came to public attention when the Bicycle X-Change shop of Wichita, Kansas announced their availability. This shop is directly affiliated with the Panracer Gravel racing team and is in contact directly with Panaracer Japan.

  6. Avatar Matthew Mercer Smith

    Hey JOM!
    I’m trying to size a Terra but I don’t have one local to try.
    I’m almost 5’10 with about 31-32inch inseam.
    It looks like these bikes run full, but I’m right between a small and a medium frame.
    I noticed to went with a small. What are your measurements and how was the size?
    I’m dying to hear from someone with some real world experience on that frame!

    • JOM JOM

      Matthew, I’m 5’11” with 32 inch inseam. I chose the small and run a 110mm stem and setback seatpost. It fits me perfectly.

      The Terra is the bike I raced at the 2017 Dirty Kanza – it doesn’t get any better of a test than that. I’d say, go with the small, you can always upsize on the stem and a setback post to get the fit dialed in.

      • Avatar Matthew Mercer Smith

        JOM! Thanks for the response, m8!
        You are a total freak, chimp, monkey man! I bet you have no trouble swinging through the trees… =D
        So, for you, the smaller bike with a longer stem is the way to go. That’s really interesting.
        My bike shop has ordered both the Small (53cm) and Medium (55cm), so I’ll play around on both next month and see what works best. Thanks!

        • JOM JOM

          LOL… you can always make a smaller bike, bigger, getting a little creative with stems and such. Making a bigger bike smaller, just doesn’t work so well.

          If you check out the average European Worldtour Pro road bike, this is totally their mantra… smaller frames.

  7. Avatar Flavdabike

    I see you carrie only 2 liters of fluid on your bike. Is it enough for each of the 50 miles leg during the DK 200?

    • JOM JOM

      In addition to the 2 x litre bottles, I also had a 500ml Platypus bottle in one of my jersey pockets. I did grab a water handup during the 3rd leg of the race, which is 62 miles long – without doubt, the most difficult. It is within the rules to accept water from locals along the course. That aside, I had plenty of fluid on board, but this handup saved me using my platypus bottle. What works for me, may not work for you. Bear that in mind… I ran a very lean setup.

  8. Avatar Tina Shen

    Very much enjoy your writing. I’m pondering Terra vs. GR250 for mixed riding in western New England, where the steep woods roads may be loose and washed out, depending on weather and the public works budgets of small towns. Since you’ve spent quality time with both, I wonder which you would recommend. As the paved roads crumble around here, whichever bike might end up being my default ride. Thanks

    • JOM JOM

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for writing in. Either bike would suit you well, but if muddy conditions and tyre clearance are of concern during the wetter months, I would choose the GR250. Additionally, using wider tyres on a bike such as the GR250 definitely provide a measure of additional safety and comfort, not always afforded by a narrower tyre. I rode the 2015 D2R2 on a Lynskey Monster CX rig (aka MTB with drop bars) and Specialized 1.8″ Renegade tyres… the ride quality was sublime.

      If you missed it, check out my video review of the GR250 here –

      Good luck with your decision!

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