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Colin Strickland isn't your typical bike racer. He was late to the sport, he began cycling in his early 20's as a means of commuting to class, and he's never conformed to cycling stereotype. Instead, he has simply 'followed his nose' in cycling, enjoying the metaphorical ride wherever it's led.
Coming from alleycat racing, a localised fixed-gear racing scene where bike couriers would race point-to-point without a fixed route, Strickland became one of the faces of the Red Hook racing series, which consisted of short, explosive criterium races in city centres. A far cry from the multi-hour grind of a gravel race, where Strickland saw his biggest victory, winning the unofficial gravel world championships.
His 2019 Dirty Kanza win led to cycling fans worldwide taking to Google to work out who he was, and how this rider they'd never heard of had managed to put away WorldTour pros like Peter Stetina, Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes.
This victory led to Johnathan Vaughters, Directeur Sportif of EF Pro Cycling, offering Strickland a pro contract. It was subsequently turned down by Strickland, who was reluctant to risk the sponsorship deals he'd spent years curating for a WorldTour race calendar.
Instead, for 2020, Strickland is committed to a racing calendar of his own, which most recently included taking to the start line at The Mid South gravel race.
Alex Howes' Cannondale SuperX gravel race bike
Peter Stetina's gravel-adapted Canyon Ultimate CF SLX - Gallery
Lachlan Morton's Cannondale Supersix Evo - Gallery
With riders facing torrential rain, The Mid South gravel race (formally known as Land Run 100) wasn't just a battle between racers but also a war between bikes and thick red Oklahoma peanut butter. With many riders finding progress on the 160km route slowed by conditions, Colin Strickland broke away with a group of six eventually crossing the line in 2nd behind defending titleholder Payson McElveen.
Colin rode a custom-painted Allied Able, the carbon frame features a limited-edition contour style design created in collaboration between Allied, Rapha RCC and Strickland himself. Colin took inspiration from the dry Texan earth on which he trains, and the strips from the geology of rock formations.
The Able is a bike that stands out with its unique raised chainstay. This allows a short rear end without overly limiting tyre clearance. The Able has been designed around a 42mm tyre, Colin ran Specialized Pathfinder Pro Tubeless gravel tyres in a 38mm width, which will have given him a little extra clearance to handle the sticky mud.
The Able is a 1x specific frameset and Colin's drivetrain features a mixture of Shimano Dura-Ace and XTR. A Dura-Ace crankset was used for power data and converted to a single chainring setup using a Wolftooth 1x narrow/wide 46T chainring. This was paired with Shimano's mountain bike XTR Di2 derailleur and cassette which has a range between 11/40.
Wheels and the finishing kit is a collection of ENVE road and gravel components. Chris King R45 disc hubs are built to ENVE 3.4 AR gravel rims which have been optimised to be aero with larger tyres. An inner rim diameter of 25mm gives plenty of support for gravel tyres which Strickland set up tubeless using OrangeSeal (3oz front, 3oz rear). Whether the micro gains from ENVE's Aero Road handlebars add up to anything, the flat tops will no doubt provide a welcoming platform for hands weary from vibrations.
Click through the gallery above for a closer look at Colin Strickland's custom Allied Able.
Colin Strickland's Allied Able full bike specifications
Frameset: 2019 Allied Able 58cm, Rapha_RCC custom paint collaboration
Front brake: Shimano GRX hydro disc
Rear brake: Shimano GRX Hydro disc
Brake/shift levers: Shimano GRX Di2 / Hydraulic brake masters
Front derailleur: none
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR Di2 11 speed
Cassette: Shimano XTR 11s 11/40
Chain: Shimano Ultegra 11s
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100, 175mm
Chainring: Wolftooth 1x narrow/wide, 46T
Rotors: Shimano XTR MT-900, 140mm
Bottom bracket: Chris king ceramic Threadfit 24mm, matte turquoise
Wheelset: ENVE 3.4 AR, 24/24 bladed Sapim spokes
Hubs: Chris King R45 disc 24/24, matte turquoise
Tyres: Specialized Pathfinder Pro Tubeless 38mm
Sealant: OrangeSeal, 3oz front, 3oz rear
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Bar Tape: Arundel Gecko
Handlebars: Enve 42cm Aero Road
Stem: ENVE Road 120mm
Saddle: Specialized S-Works Romin Evo 143mm
Seatpost: ENVE 2-bolt Seatpost
Bottle cages: Arundel Mandible matte
Cycling computer: Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Colin Strickland's kit and accessories
Helmet: Specialized Evade, Red Bull Custom Paint
Shoes: Specialized Recon 7, Custom Insoles by Sol Frost in ATX
Jersey: Rapha Custom Aero Jersey, M
Bib shorts: Rapha Custom Race Bib Shorts, M
Jacket: Rapha Pro Team Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket, M
Base layer: Rapha Merino Base Layer Short Sleeve, S
Arm warmers: Rapha Merino Arm Warmers, S
Socks: Rapha Pro Team Socks, L
Gloves: Rapha Classic Leather Gloves, XL
Glasses: ROKA CP-1X with Custom Colourway, Photo-chromatic lenses
Saddle bag: Arundel Canvas Dual
Accessories: Specialized Airtool CO2 Applicator head, Specialized SWAT multitool, OrangeSeal puncture plug kit
Nutrition: 2 x 8oz Red Bull cans (1 before the race start, 1 at mile 50) 6x water bottles consumed: 4x bottles with SKRATCH Labs Hydration drink mix, 2x bottles with SKRATCH Labs High Carb Drink mix (6 scoops each), 4x SKRATCH Labs Chews, 5x Clif gels
Recovery: 1x 8oz Red Bull, 5x scoops of Floyd's of Leadville recovery mix, 3x10mg CBD Gems