Custom Checkpoints for the Dirty Kanza

Kiel Reijnen and Peter Stetina will ride Checkpoints with personalized paint schemes for the 200-mile gravel event.

Peter Stetina and Kiel Reijnen are about to ditch their skinny tires for something a little more gnarlier on June 1 as they jump into the Dirty Kanza gravel race aboard custom-painted Checkpoint SL gravel bikes.

The popularity of gravel grinding has exploded in recent years. The Dirty Kanza began with 34 participants in 2006 to over 2,000 riders flooding the small town of Emporia, Kansas last year. It’s an epic event of 200 miles, mostly on rugged gravel roads, and it draws people from around the world to race around the Flint Hills in brutal headwinds and unpredictable weather. The time cut is 20 hours, and last year’s winner in the men’s category – former WorldTour pro Ted King – completed the course in 10 hours and 44 minutes.  It’s that hard.

Stetina recently participated in the Belgian Waffle Ride, and he said afterward it was as hard as any classic he had done: “I don’t think I’ve suffered that bad in a decade of being a pro,”  he added.

While Stetina competed in the BWR on his Madone, both pros will tackle the DK200 on custom painted Checkpoints, making the race a little more special for both. “The coolest thing is equipment choice as the options are endless,” pointed out Stetina, one of only a few who opted for a road bike in the BWR. “Everyone has something different; there will be points during the day where everyone has an advantage or disadvantage over others. It brings a new element to racing.” 

Gravel riding and racing seems to be capturing a new generation of cyclists who are looking for adventure and experiences rather than measured performances. This attitude has drawn in a different crowd of relaxed, unique individuals to the sport and it makes for a very different vibe on race day. A race like Dirty Kanza isn't just a race against other cyclists. It is a 10-hour race against yourself. I expect during those 10 hours I will feel excited, sore, fast, hungry, powerful, weak, lost, and when I finish, a sense of accomplishment.

- Reijnen

The Bikes

Reijnen’s Checkpoint pays homage to his homeland of Bainbridge Island, Washington, and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, of which he is a member. His bike prominently features an illustration of a salmon recreated from the tribe’s official symbol, along with a color scheme inspired by the land: blue for the water of the Puget Sound, forest green for the native fir and cedar trees, and bright pops of infrared pulled from Salish art seen throughout the region.

I first fell in love with cycling while riding trails around the island where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. The custom gravel bike Trek created for me isn't just the perfect bike to enjoy those trails again, it is a reminder to stay connected to my roots. Painted with Salish Sea artwork and the embroidery pattern from my Cowlitz tribe, this bike honors both my childhood and my ancestors. It will be a privilege to race it at Dirty Kanza.

Stetina’s Checkpoint features prayer flags encompassed with the flag of Colorado (for where he was born and raised), the flag of California (for where he lives), an outline of Lake Tahoe (his favorite training grounds), a hop flower for craft beer (one of Stetina’s passions), and a phoenix—a symbol that holds a special significance.

“I am in love with this Project One Checkpoint,” said Stetina. “Tibetan Prayer Flags have always had a place in my life, they are in my house and tattooed on my chest. The prayer flags are inscribed with important images of my life and the pearl white base is striking in the sunlight.

“The phoenix represents two things for me. It represents Santa Rosa, where I currently live, and its continuing recovery from the 2017 wildfires, as well as my own comeback from a smashed leg when everyone thought my career was over but Trek believed in me.”

Checkpoint SL is Trek’s flagship gravel bike. It’s built specifically to carry you to the mud-caked finish line of the world’s greatest gravel races and features a lightweight OCLV Carbon frame, gravel-smoothing IsoSpeed, massive tire clearance, and extra mounts for gear and accessories.

Reijnen’s and Stetina’s Dirty Kanza bikes will be outfitted with Bontrager’s new Aeolus Pro 3V carbon wheels and a new Bontrager GR1 tire. The wheels have a Rapid Drive 108 hub and a wider 25mm internal rim width that better supports higher-volume tires for a smoother, more confident ride.

I haven't been this excited to ride my bike since I was 17 and bought my first real road bike. This bike encourages me to ditch my watch, ignore how many watts I'm pushing and try a new route.

- Reijnen