This year Salsa is sending the Dirty Nine down to the 2015 Dirty Kanza 200. Andrea Cohen is Dirty Three. -Kid
Ahhh…the Dirty Kanza 200 is upon us once again. This will be my third year toeing the line at this event. Since 2013 Dirty Kanza has grown immensely and so have I in terms of my cycling abilities. In 2013 it took me nearly 18 hours to finish the event, but in 2014 I finished with a time of 14:37. Shaving close to four hours off my time, I really surprised myself! There are always a lot of variables, but I was elated by the amount of progress I had made in one year. I knew I would be back in 2015. I had to see if I could slay the Flint Hills again!
My first and most important goal for 2015 is to stay focused on the small things. 200 miles is a long way, 14 hours is a very long day, and the hundreds of people I will be riding alongside are all very intimidating pieces of the Dirty Kanza puzzle. To keep my head level I put the little details that I can control at the forefront of my mind. I take each mile one at a time and really trust the hard work and preparation I have put into getting ready for this race.
I am ready for a long day and excited to challenge myself! During these races I become a quite selfish person. I am there for my fellow riders, but I also need to remember to eat and drink on a schedule and focus on my cue sheets (so I don't end up lost like I did at Landrun 100!). I would never ignore someone, but I will let someone know when I want a moment to myself to recollect my brain! My other goals include attempting to beat my time from 2014 and to stay within the top ten ladies overall. These are pretty specific goals so I always have to remind myself that there are a lot of factors that can make these goals impossible. For me they act as motivators to push a little harder.
This year is also exciting for me because I am working with coaches! The Sprinting Kittens, Max and Lindsay, have been working with me since March. I really enjoy having a coach and it seemed like the right year to get back into a structured training plan. Typically I just rode whenever I felt like it, but I knew that if I wanted to grow this year I would benefit from coaching. They give me scheduled workouts, but they mainly focus on the mental training behind my races. The psychology behind why I do certain things during a race or training ride can really impact my growth as an athlete. Conquering the demons in my mind at mile 160 is one of the hardest things about Dirty Kanza. It's not the burning quads or burning hot Kansas sun. It's always my mind that wants to stop me. I have switched from riding a certain number of miles during my rides to riding a certain amount of time. It really helps me teach me to keep going and stop looking at the numbers of miles I have ticked off.
I will be riding a Salsa Warbird this year. Every year I have done Dirty Kanza I have ridden a different bike and I have finally found a bike worthy of crushing that Flint Hills gravel. Coming from a too aggressive cyclocross bike, I will finally be comfortable for all 200 miles.
I’ll also use some of my favorite pieces of gear during Dirty Kanza. First up is my cue sheet holder. I stole the idea from Salsa product manager, Joe Meiser, last year. This year while I was getting ready for Trans-Iowa I broke the original I had made prompting panic, but in the end a better version. I utilized a broken Portland Design Works fatbike fender and E13's zip-lock bag that their components come in to create the best cue sheet holder I have personally used. I don't want to say it's the best holder ever, but I bet it comes close! I bolted it directly to my top cap and used two zip-ties to tether it to my stem. I also cut a small hole for my Cateye computer to poke through! Finally I attached the bag with lots and lots of packing tape. Crystal clear! I am not getting lost this year.
My second favorite piece of gear is the bottle cage-mounted C02/pump holder. For the longest time I never carried a frame pump because I could never find a spot I liked on the bike. Birzman makes a C02/pump bracket that fits under my bottle cage and I never take it off of the Warbird.
I am extremely excited to roll into Emporia in just over a week. The energy and anticipation running through that small town is one of the greatest feelings, and seeing so many old friends and making new ones is something I cannot wait for.
200 miles of gravel is just icing on the cake!
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I live, work, and play in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa may not have epic mountains or vast skylines, but it boasts hundreds of miles of gravel. That is where I found my true calling. In 2012 I attempted my first Trans-Iowa, got lost, and was instantly hooked. I have been there every year since. I am constantly looking for that next adventure to keep me teetering on the line between insanity and clarity. Bring it on! andreafromiowa.wordpress.com.