I signed up for the 2013 Dirty Kanza during a mountain biking trip in Tucson, Arizona. After a long day on the bike and a couple of bourbons, my confidence was high. It wasn’t exactly a bet, but peer pressure played a big role. So when the friend I had signed up with bailed out a few weeks before the race, I was on my own. I found myself in Emporia, Kansas on the Saturday after Memorial day wondering what exactly I had gotten myself into. As it turns out, I had gotten myself into one of the best gravel races in the US. Off-the-charts energy, amazing views and topography, and a finish line that, thinking about it right now, almost a year after completing it, chokes me up a bit. I am hooked.
This year, I will be riding my 2014 Salsa Warbird Ti. My Warbird is stock except for the tires, which I swapped out for Schwalbe Mondial marathon, the same tires that I used in the 2013 Dirty Kanza. I will use a Revelate Designs Gas Tank and Mountain Feed Bag for food. I may use a Revelate Designs Tangle Bag to carry extra clothes if the weather looks iffy. This Warbird is the perfect bike for the Dirt Kanza. It is designed for long days on gravel. Stable comfy geometry, a plush titanium ride and three water bottle cages make is the best equipped gravel bike made.
My training has two components; bike commuting 30 miles round trip daily during the week and one long ride on the weekends. I have been building up the miles on the weekend rides, culminating with the Almanzo Royal, a 157-mile gravel race in Southern Minnesota, which I completed just over a week ago. The long rides on the weekend also allowed me to test the bike setup and nutrition.
I rode the Dirty Kanza in 13:28 in 2013. I hope to crack the 13 hour mark this year.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.