Another Dirty Kanza 200 is done and dusted. This iconic gravel race draws riders from across the globe to test their mettle on the rocky roads that traverse the Flint Hills region of Kansas in the midwestern United States.
This year's field was stacked with current and former professional athletes, including legends of the sport such as former cyclocross world champion Sven Nys, 17-time Tour de France finisher Jens Voigt, and three-time MTB Olympian Geoff Kabush.
When the dust settled, it was a former winner and a gravel neophyte who rode away with the wins in the men’s and women’s 200-mile categories.
This year, the event organizers added a 350-mile “XL” version for a select group of 34 experienced gravel racers who rode through sweltering afternoon temperatures and a night filled with thunderstorms to lay claim to the first ever DKXL.
Here’s a look at the fastest bikes at this year’s races.
Ted King’s Cannondale SuperX
The once and current king of Kanza, Ted King won his first Dirty Kanza 200 in 2016 aboard Cannondale’s 650b and front suspension-equipped Slate. This year, King opted to run Cannondale’s SuperX cyclocross bike.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time on the SuperX this year. The bike is basically designed for my backyard in California where I’m constantly linking up pavement and off-road. The SuperX rides like a road bike on the road and then tears up the dirt,” King said.
“I felt given my size, the 700c wheels would be an advantage on the long, open roads,” he added.
King took cues from many other Kanza racers and added clip-on aerobars to his cockpit this year.
Kaitlin Keough’s Cannondale SuperX
Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com racer Kaitlin Keough fought off former Dirty Kanza winners Allison Tetrick and Amanda Nauman - along with 100 miles of head winds - to take the win in the women’s 200-mile category.
Not only was it Keough’s first attempt at Dirty Kanza, it was also the first time the 26-year-old racer has participated in a gravel race.
The petite cyclocross racer stuck to the bike she knew best. Like King, Keough opted to run her SuperX cyclocross machine with a few gravel-specific touches including a Quarq Tire Wiz to monitor tire pressure over the course of the day.
Component highlights: SRAM Force 1 drivetrain w/42t chainring, Quarq DZero power meter, Zipp Course 30 wheels, 700x38 Maxxis Rambler tires, Quarq Tire Wiz
Matt Acker’s Salsa Warbird
Matt Acker is a racer and event organizer from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s taken on the 200-mile Dirty Kanza three times before trying his hand at the DKXL this year.
His bike of choice was a hot pink Salsa Warbird equipped with a painted-to-match Lauf Grit fork. Acker said he loved the Lauf fork for taking the edge off the rough terrain.
If he had to change one thing about this set-up it would be swapping the 11-32t cassette for something with a wider range.
Component highlights: Lauf Grit fork, SRAM Force 1 drivetrain w/Wolf Tooth chainring, Quarq power meter, Industry Nine hubs laced to Velocity Aileron rims, 700x38 Terravail Cannonball tires, Zipp Vuka EVO 70 clip on aero bars, Oveja Negra frame bags
Rebecca Rusch’s Niner RLT 9 RDO
Rebecca Rusch is no stranger to ultra-endurance events. Before becoming a three-time Queen of the Kanza, she was 24-hour mountain bike racer with multiple world championship wins to her name in 24-hour and adventure racing.
For the DKXL, Rusch rode her Niner RLT 9 RDO with modifications to make it through the night. To keep her lights and Garmin charged, Rusch used a dynamo front hub with a Sinewave Cycles USB top cap.
To keep herself fueled, Rusch used Revelate Designs’ Tangle frame bag and Mountain Man feedbags.
Component highlights: SRAM Force 1x drivetrain w/42t chainring, Quarq DZero power meter, ENVE M50 front rim laced to a Shutter Precision PD-8X dynamo hub, ENVE G23 rear rim, Maxxis 700x38 Rambler tires, Revelate Designs frame pack and feedbags