Colin Strickland
Photo credit: Philip Edsel / The Red Bulletin

Dirty Kanza Champion Breaks Down His Gravel Cycling Gear

What gear is Red Bull pro cyclist Colin Strickland going to use to defend his Dirty Kanza title — and perhaps break his own record? Check it out.

Colin Strickland, who last year stunned the Dirty Kanza world by posting the first sub-10-hour time for the 200-mile event, was poised to put up another monumental effort.

But like just about everything else, the famed gravel race through the rolling hills and valleys of Kansas succumbed to the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, all is not quite lost. DK officials announced cycling event, now under the umbrella of Life Time Fitness, will take place in September. That gave us a little time to catch up with Strickland, who at 34 also has four Red Hook Crit titles under his belt, and get a gear breakdown from the man himself.

Colin Strickland Gravel Cycling Gear

Bike: Allied Able

Allied Able bike

Strickland rides an Allied Able, which he says is optimal for gravel. What does he like? Strickland touts the Able’s light weight, compatibility with wider tires, and agility. This is the bike Colin piloted to his record-setting victory at the 2019 Dirty Kanza.

Helmet

Specialized Evade Aero helmet

Colin’s skull protection is a Specialized Evade Aero AirTrix Helmet. It aims to remain lightweight and balance ventilation with aerodynamics. But the best part, according to Strickland, is Red Bull’s custom paint job to make it one of a kind.

Sunglasses

To protect his eyes from intense UV rays and driving wind, Colin rolls in the ROKA Eyewear CP-1x. It has a variety of color variations and matches the custom paint job on his helmet.

ROKA sunglasses

Apparel

The rough terrain of gravel cycling can punish a body if you’re not wearing the right gear. Strickland worked side by side with Rapha to custom design his own Aero Jersey and Bib Shorts that feature a combination of lightweight and fast-wicking fabric with compression and protection to fend off sores and (some) pain.

Colin Strickland Rapha jersey and bib cycling shorts

Shoes

Shoes are essential to optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment. So Colin dials into Specialized Recon 7 bike shoes that he’s “worn in for perfect comfort.” Specialized touts the Recons as having the brand’s lightest and stiffest carbon plate. They weigh about 9.5 ounces per shoe.

Colin Strickland Specialized S-Works Recon MTB shoes

He typically chooses mountain bike pedals, cleats, and tread to guarantee traction from the sticky mud of Oklahoma to the rugged rocks of Oregon.

Wheels

To roll over long miles, Strickland outfits his Able with medium-depth ENVE Composites 3.4AR wheels. He said the 39mm front and 43mm rear carbon tubeless rims offer stability in crosswinds and durability on rough and surfaces.

Over 10 hours at speeds varying between 15 and 35 mph, he claims the aerodynamic advantages add up to several minutes.

ENVE Composites 3.4AR wheels

Strickland also believes tubeless tire technology is essential for the demands of gravel racing. He uses Orange Seal tire sealant to keep his tires airtight and act as the first line of defense to immediately seal any punctures that occur during a race.

Pack

arundel dual seatbag

Having the proper gear on you for a quick fix or bike tune is essential. And Strickland nestles the Arundel Canvas Dual under his seat, where he stores his Specialized multitool, C02 inflation device, Dynaplug puncture kit, spare chain links, and emergency tube.

Nutrition: Skratch Labs and Red Bull

He also utilizes Skratch Labs drink mixes and Lab chews before, during, and after the race to hydrate and recover. He also signed on as an ambassador with Floyd’s of Leadville to help relieve insomnia before races. Floyd’s said Strickland takes the brand’s CBD SoftGels “before bed as part of a relaxation routine.”

Skratch Labs Floyd's of Leadville nutrition and CBD

Finally, because Strickland’s average competition can last between 5 and 10 hours (100-200 miles), he downs two 8-ounce Red Bull Energy Drinks — one before the race and one at mile 50 — to maintain energy and keep his body moving.

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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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