Dirty Kanza Or Bust!

Confession: I suck at gravel.

Let me rephrase that. I love riding on gravel roads, and I love training on them. But anytime I line up at the start line of a gravel race, I fall apart. Granted, I’ve only done a few gravel road races in my entire race career, but the moment the promoter says “GO!” I’m usually off the back of the pack within the first couple of minutes. As a result most of my experiences with gravel races have consisted of me riding by myself, battling the wind and my mental demons alone.

A few years ago I decided to wave the white flag where gravel racing was concerned. Every now and then I’ll still show up, but I always do the shorter distances, typically on my Salsa Beargrease.

Until now. It is Dirty Kanza or bust for me this year.

The last couple of years a lot of my friends have raced the Dirty Kanza 200 and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the race. I also heard a lot of epic things; like how hard the race is and how hot and windy it can get. One friend told me it’s usually 118 degrees during the race. I’m not sure if that was an exaggeration or not, but heat is not my friend. I heard that Kansas gravel is nothing like the hardpacked dirt roads (with a few scattered rocks) that I train on here in Michigan. I heard that the rocks in Kansas are sharp and can shred tires at the drop of a hat.

Truth be told I’m really nervous, a little scared, and a lot excited. I have competed in a lot of endurance races but nothing like this. This race seems a little more “out there” and that's nerve wrecking for someone who is extremely challenged when it comes to following directions.

I only have two months to prepare. In that time I’m going to have to dial in a race bike, purchase a Garmin GPS unit, figure out how to use said Garmin, and get some major miles into my legs. I also need to figure out where I’m staying and who the heck is going to support me. Eek! After looking at my to do list I’m even more nervous.  :-)  It’s going to be an adventure all right, but at least it will be an adventure by bike.

Stay tuned...I’ll be sure to write another training update soon. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips or suggestions, I’m all ears!

This post filed under topics: Danielle Musto Dirty Kanza 200 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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Kelmeister | April 2nd, 2015

Forget the Garmin. Learn the maps and cue sheets. (There is a system!!!) I ended up returning my Garmin 1000. What a waste of money!!!

Primer on Road Naming in Lyon County
East West roads are numbers starting at 10 in the south. Every mile(ish) north it goes up by 10. So 10, 20, 30, 40 etc… If there is a road between 10 and 20 it would be 15. See easy!

North South roads are numbers starting at A in the east. Every mile(ish) north it goes up by a number (Rememebr skip I O and Q as they look like numbers). So A, B, C, D etc… If there is a road between A and B it would be A5. Super easy!

Also this year - Only two supported pit stops. One around mile 75 and one around mile 150.

Also three big pieces of advice:
1. Tubeless (With NEW tires)
2. Work on your eating plan. This is not a race it is an eating contest. Try to learn to eat without getting sick
3. Work on your hydration plan.

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Nick | April 2nd, 2015

Very cool story, it resonates well with life in general; you prepare for everything, but sometimes you still find yourself struggling to keep pace with others.  I’m sure you will do just fine. Try to remember that just finishing the Dirty Kanza is quite an accomplishment.

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Space Cadet | April 2nd, 2015

I agree with Kelmeister, learning the maps and cue sheets are important. Your race will last from 12 to 20 hrs and you can’t count on your battery lasting that long, especially if you link additional hardware to it.

Roads: The Dirty Kanza prides itself on bring you the roughest and most beautiful terrain in Eastern Kansas. That being said, you will hit sections that are as smooth and fast as pavement.

Tires: Find ones you are comfortable and confident on for long periods of time. When a flint rock wants to slash your tire, it’s going to slash your tire. I can put 3,000 miles on a tire in the Flintshills and be perfectly fine. I’ve also had brand new tires slashed within 2 miles on gravel. I run Bontrager LT3 and I have a friend who runs a 32mm slick/touring tire on the rear. Both handle the terrain fine. Carry a tire boot kit with you-homemade or store bought- they don’t take up much space and can get you through to the next checkpoint.

Weather: Sorry no help here. Over the past decade of the DK, weather has been all over the map. Yes, there are times mid-days temps with humidity will hit triple digits; however, last year was 83 for the high. So have your mind ready for anything and everything.

Have your SAG carry extra water bottles incase you lose some during the ride. There will neutral water stops at miles 30ish, 100ish, and 170ish, so running dry will not be a problem this year.

Everyone’s #1 Goal is to finish, so race your race and I’ll see you at the finish line.

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RC | April 4th, 2015

They have a group giving support. I think last year they charged $75.00. Seems like maybe a good investment. They have awesome reviews.

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