Dirty Kanza 200 - The Dirty Nine: Danielle Musto

This year Salsa is sending the Dirty Nine down to the 2015 Dirty Kanza 200. Salsa sponsored athlete Danielle Musto is Dirty Nine. -Kid

“You are going to get a flat...everyone does.”

“You will get A LOT of flats...plan on it.”

“The rocks destroy derailleurs. It can get really hot and THERE IS NO shade. The wind can reach 50 mph. There might be cows standing in the middle of the road...blocking you. There could be a tornado and then you will have to lay down in a ditch and put your bikeon top of you. EXPECT THE WORST BECAUSE IT MIGHT HAPPEN AND PROBABLY WILL!”

The list goes on and on. All of the above statements have been said to me (at least once) in regards to racing the Dirty Kanza 200. In some cases they have been said a lot, like the statements regarding flat tires. I’ve been warned about those sharp Kansas rocks so many times I am considering pulling a Burley trailer filled with tubes! Joking...kind of.

If you were to ask me what my Dirty Kanza goals were when I signed up for the race they would be completely different from what they are now. I would have said I wanted to pull up to the start line and be in the best shape of my life. I would have said that I wanted to be 200% prepared for any mechanical that might occur, so much so that I could rebuild my entire bike on the side of the road...in five minutes flat. I would have said that I wanted to be able to change a flat tire in ten seconds! Last but not least I would have said that I wanted to be 100% confident about the course and cue sheets and using a Garmin.

Since my last Dirty Kanza post I’ve made some progress in regards to preparing for the race. I’ve gotten a few long rides in and raced a hundred miler down in Tennessee. I bought a really fancy bike for the race (Salsa El Mariachi) and Velocity USA built me some new and completely awesome BLUNT SS wheels with Industry Nine hubs. It’s an amazing bike and I can’t believe it’s mine! My bike shop sponsor, The Grand Rapids Bicycle Company, is providing support in the form of my awesome mechanic Ted Bentley. This is a huge, huge, huge relief as Ted has been to a lot of my races and knows how to get me IN AND OUT of an aid station quickly. Even if I’m at my worst (crying)...I am confident that Ted will just hand me what I need and shove me back out onto the road...which is exactly what I want from my support!

I felt like I was making progress left and right but then life got complicated. Just as I was about to buy a Garmin our furnace died. And just in case you were wondering, a furnace costs A LOT more than any Garmin! Part of me kept saying that we could wait and worry about purchasing a new furnace later but this is Michigan...and winter will be returning in not-that-many months. So I had to put off buying a Garmin.

After our furnace died life also got really, really busy. I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime to start a kids mountain bike team called the Grand Rapids Dirt Dawgs (with a lot of help from amazing people). We are in the process of becoming a 501c3 and it’s been a huge learning experience. So over the last couple of months I’ve been focusing more on building a team that has 60 kids on it (60!!!!!!) than on training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still riding my bike but I have missed a few workouts (sorry coach) because I was getting first aid certified or studying to get my coaching certificate or learning about bylaws and budgets.  

Am I scared and nervous? Yes! To be honest last week I felt so overwhelmed by “what I don’t know” and “everyone is racing on gravel road bikes and will be so much faster” that I had a complete meltdown at the kitchen table, complete with tears rolling down my face and a bunch of “I’m going to get lost” and “why did I sign up for this” sobs.

But I’m also really excited. Since my last meltdown I’ve managed to put things in perspective. I thought about what I’m going to tell the little GR Dirt Dawgs this summer when they are nervous about riding over a new obstacle or pulling up to the start line of their first race. I would tell them they are so awesome for trying something new and that being brave enough to pull up to the start line of something that scares them is way more important than what place they end up in. I would tell them to keep pedaling because the finish line will eventually show up. Last but not least I would tell them to enjoy every moment of the journey.

So those are my goals for the Dirty Kanza. Instead of focusing on how fast I’m going or how I place, I’m going to focus on enjoying my first ever gravel road race and everything that it entails. And I’m going to keep pedaling because the finish line will eventually show up...unless I accidentally end up in Nebraska :-)

See you all at the start line!


Click here to see Dirty One: Steve Yore

Click here to see Dirty Two: Tim Ek

Click here to see Dirty Three: Andrea Cohen

Click here to see Dirty Four and Dirty Five: Jay & Tracey Petervary

Click here to see Dirty Six: Brian Hanson

Click here to see Dirty Seven: Sean 'Mailman' Mailen

Click here to see Dirty Eight: Joe Meiser


This post filed under topics: Danielle Musto Dirty Kanza 200 El Mariachi Gravel Sponsored Riders Ultra Racing

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Danielle Musto

Danielle Musto

These are a few of my favorite things: Mountain biking, good coffee, good food, and hanging out with my husband, family and adopted greyhound. It really doesn't take much to make me happy. Of course, winning a race every now and then is good too! www.daniellemusto.blogspot.com


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John Borstelmann | May 26th, 2015

good luck at Dirty Kanza! Maybe you should consider putting Slime or Stan’s latex in your tubes…

Danielle Musto | May 26th, 2015

Thanks John! I’m definitely using Stan’s!

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