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Gravel Gear

LSD and shaved tires – TJ Eisenhart and Colin Strickland’s Big Sugar Gravel bikes

Big Sugar Gravel is a 100mi race in Northwest Arkansas. Here is how two pros are approaching it.

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TJ Eisenhart and Colin Strickland are two of the 1,000-plus racers who will take the start line at Big Sugar Gravel in Bentonville, Arkansas on Saturday. Both seasoned racers have unique takes on what the right set-up — and look — is for the rough-gravel course.

Eisenhart, an artist and ex-road racer, revels in the acid-trip-inspired artwork on his Santa Cruz Stigmata.

Strickland, a past winner of the race now known as Unbound Gravel, is opting for bigger, 42mm tires on his Allied Echo, shaving down some of the side knobs to ensure clearance.

Take a look below at their bikes.

The Santa Cruz Stigmata has always been a gravel/cyclocross bike — something that just became en vogue with Cannondale and Specialized in the last few weeks. Eisenhart put his own psychedelic spin on it. “This bike is inspired by your first time doing acid,” he told me. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Eisenhart is equal parts artist and bike racer. This is his signature “trippy bird.” (Photo: Betsy Welch)

A fan designed this sticker for Eisenhart; that’s his daughter Nirvana. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Psychedelic flourishes abut Pirelli 45c Cinturato tires. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Two stories here: tech, and color. On the tech front, Eisenhart rocks a 9-50t e Thirteen cassette with a Kogel Kolossos Ceramic Oversized Derailleur Cage mounted on a SRAM derailleur. On the color front, well, you can see for yourself. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

A SRAM Force crank with Garmin’s Rally power-meter pedals and a bashguard on the crank because turquoise. (Photo: Betsy Welch)
Gravel superstar Colin Strickland chose an Allied Echo for Big Sugar. The design is his; Allied painted it. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Tire clearance is tight with 42mm Specialized Pathfinder Pros on the Echo, which Allied design to flip flop between road and gravel.
Strickland shaved the tops of the side knobs off to fit. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Strickland said he won’t run the saddle bag or top tube bag for Big Sugar, opting to use his pockets for gear and snacks instead. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Strickland designed the artwork for his Echo and picked up the bike two weeks ago. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Echo, echo, echo. The Allied stem houses brake and shift lines. (Photo: Betsy Welch)

Strickland has a Dynaplug Racer tubeless tire plug kit mounted to the seat tube for easy access.

TJ Eisenhart brings flair to the gravel race. (Photo: Betsy Welch)