Ted King’s 310 Mile DIY Dirty Kanza

by Jeff Whitfield on | 2 Comments

Commentary Rides Gravel

King of the Ride
King of the Ride

When I read about Ted King's DIY Dirty Kanza, I was intrigued. I couldn't wait to watch what I knew would be a very inspiring video. It wasn’t until I started watching it till I realized exactly the level of crazy it actually is: a 310 mile romp across Vermont completed in less than 24 hours. That’s just nuts!

I was talking about the Ted King ride with someone else the other day. After telling them about it, their response was one of absolute amazement. It’s like taking three days of the Tour de France and condensing it into just one day.

Plus, what Ted King did was actually longer than the Dirty Kanza, which maxes out at 200 miles and around 10,000 feet of climbing on remote areas of Kansas. By comparison, Ted completed 310 miles on his own in Vermont with over 34,000 feet of elevation! As Ted explains in his post on Strava it was 90% gravel and, with a funny hashtag, an #accidentalEverest.

What was inspiring for me about watching Ted was the bike setup he used, specifically his tire choice. Ted rode on a set of Rene Herse Switchback Hill 650×48mm tires. I personally ride on a Barlow Pass 700x38mm tires with my road wheelset, which can handle more than just road terrain for sure. But I also have a set of WTB Horizon 650bx47mm tires which are quite similar to the Switchback Hill tires. It’s interesting to see Ted ride on a tire that doesn’t have all that much tread. Makes me want to get out more with my Horizon’s and push them to see what they can do.

Obviously, the ride itself is inspiration enough. Granted, Ted is a professional rider whereas I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get something out of it and apply it to my own goals. I have a 100 mile DIY century road ride planned for this year. Now that I’ve watched this ride, as Matt Damon might say, “I’m going to have to Ted King the shit out of this!”

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I literally have a set of Barlow Pass 38's FSE Carbon wheels (https://fairwheelbikes.com/) & a set of Switchback Hill on Hunt Carbon 650 wheels, (https://us.huntbikewheels.com/products/650b-adventurecarbon-disc). While most folks would happy having the choice of running either size, my OCD addled brain wants me to pick one size and stick to it. I'm 57yrs old w/FTP of approx. 200. If you were to look at my Strava where I have run both sizes, multiple times on various (30-45 mile) road & mixed terrain routes, you could not draw any correlation on my times based on which wheels I had used. I have been fast & slow on either set. There might be something to 700's maintaining speed slightly better....? A rider with an FTP of 300+ might force larger differences in times on a given route......? However, if the Barlow Pass tires offer a slight advantage on road, for me the Switchback Hills offer a huge advantage both in comfort & speed on gravel or dirt. Seeing Ted use the Switchback Hills for that 300+ miler has provided some convincing reassurance. Anybody looking for a set of lightly used FSE Carbon 700c wheels?


Yeah, that's something I thought about when I built my Surly Midnight Special. I converted a couple of FSA wheelsets to thru axles: one 700c and one 650b. I found that the 700c wiht Barlow Pass 38's work best for mostly road rides so I stuck with that. For gravel rides and more difficult terrain, I put a set of 48mm Juniper Ridge tires which, to me, feel easier to ride on than an equivalent 700c version. Just can't see putting a large volume tire on a 700c rim.