DIY Gravel: Ted King’s Epic Cross-Vermont Ride

Ted King’s DIY Gravel may have been born out of necessity – there are no gravel races right now, so why not ride our own rides and challenges in the mean time? Ted’s idea has been a lot of fun, and more than a thousand riders have risen to the challenge.

A few weeks ago would have been Dirty Kanza, the biggest and most prestigious of the gravel racing calendar. Ted King used the opportunity ride across the entire State of Vermont on backroads: 312 miles (500 km) and more than 32,000 ft (9700 m) of climbing. His team made a great video about his ride. I was struck by how the emotions of Ted adventure remind me of the great randonneuring challenges, like the Raid Pyrénéen or Paris-Brest-Paris. It’s neat to see how racing, cyclotouring and randonneuring all come together in this epic adventure. Enjoy the video!

23 Responses to DIY Gravel: Ted King’s Epic Cross-Vermont Ride

  1. Matt Molitor June 15, 2020 at 6:39 am #

    Anyone know if the route is posted anywhere?

    • Steve Park June 15, 2020 at 8:46 am #

      The route on Joe Cruz’s RideWithGPS…https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32265156

      • Jan Heine June 15, 2020 at 8:46 am #

        Thank you for posting the link to the route!

      • Matt June 16, 2020 at 2:02 pm #

        Thank you!

  2. Steve Park June 15, 2020 at 7:01 am #

    Which RH tires did Ted choose for this route?
    I couldn’t see them clearly.
    This is a crazy route but tags some amazing sections of VT dirt. Would love to ride it as a multi-day tour.

    • Jan Heine June 15, 2020 at 8:18 am #

      Ted rode the 650B x 48 Switchback Hills with Standard casings.

  3. Nate June 15, 2020 at 7:30 am #

    But which tires did Ted choose?

    • Jan Heine June 15, 2020 at 8:19 am #

      See above: Switchback Hill 650B x 48 mm Standard casings. They were more than up to the job.

  4. Kent Stewart June 15, 2020 at 8:18 am #

    Thanks to you and Ted King for the video.

    Makes you want to go out and pump up the tires and go!

    Congrats to Ted.

  5. Matthew June 15, 2020 at 9:13 am #

    Kanza is a nickname for the Kaw Nation. Thus, the term “Dirty Kanza” is offensive. The petition to change the name is closed but the page includes information:
    https://www.change.org/p/change-dirty-kanza-event-title
    I don’t want to be described as dirty nor do I want to refer to an entire nation as dirty, so it makes sense to me to no longer use the term “Dirty Kanza”. Please reconsider.
    Thank you.

    • Jan Heine June 15, 2020 at 9:42 am #

      I was also concerned, so I looked into this a bit more. That petition appears to have been started without consulting with the Kaw Nation. Kanza is a term for the entire ecosystem of the Kanza Prairie, not just the Kaw Nation. The Dirty Kanza organizers and the Kaw Nation together issued an open letter addressing concerns about the name, which indicates that the Kaw Nation has no issue with the name. You can find the letter and a little more discussion here:

      https://bikerumor.com/2020/04/21/dirty-kanza-probably-isnt-changing-its-name-heres-why/

      I believe that this should settle the matter for now, unless the Kaw Nation decides that its leaders did not act in their best interest. So far, that does not appear to be the case.

      I also am glad that another even, Land Run 100, changed its name to Mid South, because the land run of 1889 was a massive displacement of indigenous tribes that should not be celebrated in any way.

  6. Alexander June 15, 2020 at 10:19 am #

    Did you have a discussion with Ted on why (not) to use mudguards. Looks like he could have used some…

  7. Bill Lindsay June 15, 2020 at 10:28 am #

    I’ve used a super-short-travel shock (Lauf Grit) on the front of a 650B road bike for the roughest San Francisco Randonneurs adventure series brevets. I felt like I was cheating, it was so awesome. Generally, it seems that the general consensus among “roadies” is that forks are unnecessary, too heavy, etc. “mountain bikers” dismiss 30mm forks as pointless. Will Ted’s use of the Lefty fork change anyone’s mind?

    • Jan Heine June 15, 2020 at 11:04 am #

      All our testing shows that stiff forks cost a lot of energy, so I think it’s inevitable to have some sort of suspension – whether active like the Lauf or the Lefty or passive, as in flexible steel fork blades – become common on gravel bikes. It’s the one thing that’s limiting a lot of BQ test bikes on fast and bumpy downhills. During our Copper Canyon, even the experienced gravel racers had to stop and rest their arms during the really bumpy 2000 m (6,600 ft) downhill.

      • Mark June 15, 2020 at 7:34 pm #

        I had a 2016 Trek Domane with the IsoSpeed suspension front fork. Apart from the (for me) too slow steering, I thought it rode beautifully on rough asphalt and even heavily corrugated dirt roads—though I had to get my brain around the idea that the head of the fork tube, not the fork blades themselves, was flexing. I rode it for c.20,000 km of brevets on pavement and some very rough gravel roads, plus some bike packing touring, and it performed well—though the mudguard guard mounts were inadequate and the bike needed careful packing for longer rides.

        The latest Domane uses the same technology & has clearance for 38 mm 700c tyres. I don’t know how it would be for 650b, and I haven’t seen or read of anyone using 650b on the Domane, but I always thought the Domane was/is, in many ways, a good candidate for 650b and a good carbon randonneur bike.

        Because I have concerns about carbon’s durability—reinforced by damage to the Domane through plane & train travel and some, to my mind minor, falls—and its, er, carbon footprint, I’ve moved back to steel and titanium frames. But I’d still be interested in your opinion of the Domane suspension system and the bike as a whole. I thought the IsoSpeed struck a good compromise between no suspension and a fully-suspended fork. (I believe Trek now makes a gravel bike using similar technology, but I’m most interested in the Domane.)

      • Vince June 16, 2020 at 2:48 am #

        I second this.
        As the move away from high trafic roads is a strong cycling trend and not fashion, I believe “gravel” will increasingly dent into old-school X-Country MTB as I (and many others) have done it in the late 80s. There was no front suspension initially, but as soon as they appeared, they were a massive hit. I see no reason to avoid them today. The underlying reason to have more confort (and efficiency) is still there and with modern material, we can avoid the downfalls of the first shox (weight being the first).
        I don’t believe gravel and MTB will merge, because I think many coming from road cycling are not interested to move all the way to what MTB has become. They want to ride on paved and unpaved roads and feel like on their road bikes.
        Light and small travel suspension is an inevitable trend on “all road” bikes.

      • Derek June 17, 2020 at 10:09 am #

        Why do you refer to fork flex as “passive”? If the wheel moves relative to the main triangle, and it’s intended to do so, then it’s just as active as an “active” suspension fork. Sure, it doesn’t have tons of travel, and no damping, but the Lauf fork doesn’t have damping either does it?

        • Jan Heine June 17, 2020 at 12:13 pm #

          You are right. I guess we should instead distinguish between forks with moving parts – whether telescopic or some linkages – and those that flex without moving parts.

  8. BRENDAN June 16, 2020 at 1:20 am #

    Why doesn’t Ted use a Berthoud saddle anymore?

    • Jan Heine June 16, 2020 at 8:20 am #

      Leather saddles suffer when you ride without fenders. An underseat bag can protect them somewhat, but getting soaked isn’t good for the leather. So he found that his leather tops started sagging and then they weren’t so comfortable. All in all, it wasn’t worth the hassle – at his power output, he barely touches the saddle anyhow!

      • Jan Heine June 16, 2020 at 8:20 am #

        When I asked Ted about his saddle choice, he was quick to point out that he still uses his Berthoud saddle on his fat bike, where he’s going slower and sitting more on the saddle.

  9. Brendan June 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm #

    Do you still have the prior RH water bottles available? I like those better than the current large opaque graphic version.

    • Jan Heine June 16, 2020 at 3:35 pm #

      I also really liked the previous bottle a lot. Each Rene Herse water bottle design is limited to 500 bottles. All the previous ones are sold out. Sorry about that.

      Generally, our web site’s inventory is accurate. If something isn’t on the web site, we don’t have it.