This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Jesse Blough, who has bounced back from several serious injuries to compete in the Silk Road Mountain Race and Iberica Traversa aboard his Salsa Cutthroat. Find his story and details on his rig here…

I’m Jesse Blough and I live in the incredible mountain town of Bend, Oregon. My background is in running and fast-packing, but I broke my back in a climbing accident in 2012, which put running on the backburner for a while.

Fortunately, my neurosurgeon was a cyclist and convinced me to buy a bike to keep up my training. I dove into racing road and gravel shortly after, and eventually found that I could combine my love for racing bikes with my passion for getting lost in the mountains for days at a time through bikepacking.

Jesse Blough, Salsa Cutthroat

Last year, I participated in the first edition of the Silk Road Mountain Race, but not before breaking my femur during a gravel race just a few months prior. I worked hard to recover quickly for this incredible race and had a blast. This April, I finished the Iberica Traversa, an 1800km race from Tarifa, the southernmost point in Spain, to Saint Jean de Luz, France. I completed the route in 9 days, 16 hours, and 35 minutes for fourth place. This kicked off a jam-packed year of racing, including a 100km ultramarathon in September (that I will bikepack 100 miles to and from), and two of the Salsa Chase the Chaise gravel races – one in Oregon and another in my home state of Pennsylvania.

The Cutthroat and wheelset were built up with the primary goal of being able to go fast while bikepacking. I wanted the geometry of a mountain bike and the comfort of several hand positions. The Cutthroat was the obvious choice. The dynamo hub and light are new this year, and proved extremely useful on a five-day shakedown trip through New Mexico. I chose mechanical brakes and a reliable drivetrain to prioritize serviceability in the field, while being inexpensive to replace. Having the versatility of both the wide-range cassette and Wolf Tooth CAMO chainring means I can customize the gearing for any terrain without rebuilding the drivetrain.

  • Jesse Blough, Salsa Cutthroat
  • Jesse Blough, Salsa Cutthroat
  • Jesse Blough, Salsa Cutthroat

I like a high cadence on the hills (insert roadie jokes here) so an easy climbing gear is very important to me, and with a 9T small cog, I can still get 100+ gear inches on the top-end. Bags are Dyneema where available because I love the material, and Revelate makes some of the lightest, most efficient, and reliable gear on the market. Simplicity and efficiency are my goals with all gear and bike choices.

  • Frame/Fork Salsa Cutthroat
  • Rims DT Swiss XR 391
  • Hubs Shutter Precision PD-8x Dynamo (front), DT Swiss 350 32h (rear)
  • Tires 2.2” Maxxis Ikons Skinwalls in 60TPI (tubeless)
  • Handlebar Salsa Cowchippers + Fred bar with Profile Designs t3+ Carbon Aerobars
  • Crankset SRAM GX with Wolftooth CAMO Chainring
  • Cassette e-thirteen TRSp 9-46 (511% range!)
  • Derailleur SRAM Apex 11-speed
  • Brakes Hayes CX Expert Mechanical
  • Shifter(s) SRAM Apex
  • Saddle Fizik Antares
  • Seatpost Whisky no.7 Carbon Seatpos
  • Stem Salsa Guide
  • Front Bags Revelate Designs Pronghorn Harness & Drybag, w/ Egress Pocket
  • Rear Bag Revelate Designs Viscacha
  • Frame Bag Revelate Designs Cutthroad
  • Fork Bags Salsa Anything Cage HD w/ zPacks DCF roll-top dry bags
  • Accessories Sinewave Beacon light, Profile Designs UCM w/ mounts for light and Garmin
Jesse Blough, Salsa Cutthroat

I love meeting and sharing experiences with others, and I’ve had the chance to engage with some truly amazing people by being part of the bikepacking community. I’m always stoked to chat on Instagram or in person about bikes, or to get out for a ride.

I highly recommend getting a professional bike fit, particularly if you have lots of previous injuries like I do (torn hip flexor, dislocated shoulders, broken sacrum & femur, five broken ribs, etc.). I’ve had all of my bikes fitted and even small adjustments can make a huge difference on long days in the saddle. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, PedalPT in Portland, Oregon, is an awesome resource.

You can follow Jesse on Instagram @thegreatjesse. And if you’re interested in reading more about the Salsa Cutthroat, check out our long-term review.

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