Speedvagen at Dirty Kanza 200
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Dirty Kanza has a reputation for being one of the hardest gravel events in the country. For the first time Speedvagen had two riders out there. Christian Meier, owner of The Service Course, and former world tour pro. As well as track racing star Ashton Lambie. Below is a photo essay shot by Andy White, accompanied by some narration from the outside looking in and a Q & A with Christian.

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by: Richard Pool

The morning of DK I woke up knowing the race would have a few hours head start, due to the early start time and time zone changes. A 10-18 hour race in the remote regions of the Flint Hills is super hard to cover and really the only way to watch the race unfold from afar is through hashtags and checkpoints. When I first checked in, I saw on Instagram that Christian Meier was off the front and had a 3 minute gap at mile 20, that lead ballooned to 6 minutes. a short while Later.

Q: Was going off the front from the gun planned? It’s a super bold move and one I think could work at DK, but you have to have a flawless ride with zero flats to stay out of sight. Can you walk us through your thoughts during that solo time?

I did think about it but wasn’t really planning on it, it just sort of happened as I followed a guy and then not long after he went back to the peloton. I think it could maybe work though, you are right, would be epic!  Though I had issues that later on.

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Ashton Lambie raced the 100 mile event with a big track block coming the week after DK. Rolling into checkpoint one, making a super fast pit and getting out of there before the dust had even settled from his rear wheel. From minute 40 on he was off the front and never looked back. Finishing in 5:05 with a 20+ mile per hour average.

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Checking in with Andy, after a stretch of silence on the internet he updated that Christian had a string of flats that cost him the lead.

How many flats did you get?

I got two flats, one I managed quite quickly with a Dynaplug but the other I had to tube it. 

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Give me one word to describe your day?


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You always hear how hard DK is we are curious from your perspective as a former pro, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hardest) compared to every race you have ever done in terms of difficulty where would you place DK

That’s a tough one, the course itself is quite demanding but as far at the gravel goes it’s not too technical and quite fast. What made it hard for me was pushing though when I was already really cooked, those circumstances made it probably one of the hardest things I have done on a bike, even in grand tours it may not be the course itself that makes a day hard but more the circumstances around it. 

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What was your highest emotional point of the day and what was your lowest? 

The high of the day was for sure the early morning, solo, sun rising, flying on the straight roads with all the animals about, amazing. At the second feedzone at 150 I was in pretty rough shape and I knew those last 50 miles were going to be extremely hard, so I would say that was the low point. 

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Anything you regret about your day? 

Nothing! It was probably the most I have ever suffered on a bike but I needed to finish. I was empty and depleted at the second feed but pushed through with the help of a mate. Off the front solo during those first 65 miles was incredible, the sun coming up, all sorts of animals out, it’s was amazing!

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Was DK what you expected? 

It was and wasn’t. I have done some long events like this in the past couple of years, and they tend to be a good discipline for me but on the day many things went pear shaped for me. I was not ready for that heat and my eating and drinking plan was not right for DK.

What was your nutrition plan?

I had planned nutrition using some good natural bars and fat gels, a bit of carbo drink but mostly water. Going back I would definitely go with more real food like small sandwiches both sweet and savory, skip the carbo drink and stick to a bit of salt in the snacks. I usually go well on mars bars but maybe a bit too hot for DK..

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Will you be making a second attempt next year?
I will definitely need to do it again, I can’t leave it like that as I don’t feel I was able to really give my best physical effort. 

Give new comers one thing to know before attempting DK?

There are a lot of hills! Kansas is not flat!

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Questions? Comments? High Fives? Drop us a line info@speedvagen.com

The Vanilla Workshop
Taking it to 11 with Jenn Levo
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(11….hard hitting questions with Jenn Levo. OG Speedvagen designer and customer service manager)


1. Where are you right now?

1735 SE Powell Blvd. 
Workshop headquarters.

2. Road or CX?
My favorite race is a crit. When I first started racing here in Oregon, every weekend in the summer from June to August we'd have a crit on Saturday and then on Sunday. You spent all summer going fast in circles around city blocks and people would come out to watch and cheer you on. It was a good summer if you won enough money to pay for all of your races, buy some beer for your teammates, and you still had all of your skin left. 

3. Give us a cycling "Pro Tip" that has made an impact on you?

Skate deck grip tape on my CX levers for better tactile advantage in wet muddy conditions with gloves. Hat Tip KFC!

4. Tater tots or Fries?
Sweet potato fries.

5. What do you put on a bagel? 
Did you know that a proper crispy but chewy bagel is my favorite food? It's my favorite because it's such an easy thing to get anytime you want. I figure, why have a favorite food like a fancy restaurant steak that you only eat once and a while, when you can eat something simple and amazing and it can make you happy every day?! It's so easy and affordable! But... at the same time, if I ate a bagel everyday it might get old real quick. That's why I only have one bagel a week. It's a rule. And, I always get the chive spread, but if I wanted to treat myself I'd get lox, capers and tiny little slivers of red onion. *Also, if I have poppy seeds in my teeth please tell me.*

6. Last book you read?

I'll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara. (It's about the Golden State Killer. I actually borrowed it from the library twice; however, the first time I chickened out of reading it because... murder. The second time I borrowed it, I polished it off in about a week. It was that good!)

7. Favorite race you have ever done?

My favorite race was also my favorite day on the bike ever, and also the hardest day on the bike ever, the 2013 Rapha Women's Prestige. We had a really solid crew of Ironclad ladies together for the 123 mile race, but at mile 30 we had some mechanical issues on Mt. Tam that put us in last place pretty quickly. There were so many opportunities in the remaining 90ish miles for us to quit, but we pulled together, problem solved and finished before Rapha shut the clubhouse down at sunset. 

8. Favorite Cyclist all time?

Tina Brubaker. ;) LEGEND!

9. Whats next?

Good question.

10. Soup... true or false? Why? 
False. I like chewing my food while I still can.

11. Favorite bike we have made since you started 
I'd have to say that while there have been a lot of really super nice builds that we've put out the door in my almost seven years at Vanilla, it's hard to pick. I help everyone with their orders, so I've most likely seen slightly under 1000 bikes go out the door. I think picking my favorite of those would be like Charlotte (from Charlotte's Web) picking the favorite of all her spider children. As a result, I'll say my favorite bike that we've made was my first Speedvagen, a geared CX bike. In my first year here, I spent a lot of time day dreaming about my bike... especially what paint scheme and colors I wanted to use. When you can do "almost" anything you want, it's harder to decide than having a limited amount of options (the struggle is real). I loved how it all turned out and every time I look at that bike, I smile. It fills me with so many warm fuzzies. Which, that's what I want all of our customers to feel when they look at their Speedvagens. I understand.

Speedvagen By The Numbers:

By the numbers  

May 7th 2019


4 bike (12 miles ) 

5 car




So much sun and warmth


3 pour overs


As you know we have been on the road, both with an over seas Fitting Tour as well as Sea Otter. Now that the dust has settled we are back at the shop cooking on new ideas and projects. We just reloaded on a fresh batch of GTFO's. We are also developing a few new parts spec for that bike as it was design with the knowledge of eTap Eagle AXS was on the way.

Questions? Comments? High Fives? Send them to info@speedvagen.com 


The day in 4 photos.