Living Jackson

Benefits of cycling

This Is Dirty Kanza

This is my first year coming out to the
Dirty Kanza. The race has been around for over a decade, I’ve always wanted to make
it out here. If I was gonna try and sum up and describe what this race is, I’d
say it’s more than just you racing the competition it’s you battling the
elements. This race is gnarly. There’s hills. There’s heat. There’s
nowhere to hide from the heat at all. Not a lot of trees. Everything’s wide open,
exposed. It’s on gravel roads. Just about 100 percent gravel. Razor-sharp rocks.
Nothing’s going easy and it never feels like you’re catching a break the whole
day. Just a battle in every aspect of it. This race is intense. Well I wouldn’t say
intense. It’s just f*@king hard. Let’s see if we can figure out how to do
this. Woohoo. A little Dirty Kanza prep here. People probably wonder what kind of
stuff you get into to train for a big race like this so for me I wind up doing
a lot of racing. Croatan Buck 50. That’s a 150 mile gravel race. Southern Cross is another 70
mile gravel race but anyways a lot shorter than 200. When you start racing a
whole lot it gets really tough to stack on a lot of training on that because you
still need to really focus on recovery. It’s gonna be hard to get in the exact
time to train for 200 miles other than just getting out on the gravel bike and doing
rides on that. That’s gonna be one of the best ways to get out and do it. Preparing for this race you want to try
and acclimate yourself as much as possible to what you’re gonna be racing
in. I trained back home in Georgia. I spent a lot of time on the steel
Renegade. That was crucial. Got a lot of my training on gravel, riding in the heat,
getting a lot of climbing up in the mountains. Kind of forces you to suffer.
Bike rides really really well and it’s so forgiving so for logging in big miles
on it and not getting fatigued, you know, it was just a great training tool. Having
the right equipment, training properly, makes a huge difference and I think that
was the best preparation I could do to get ready for this race. Right now I’m actually heading out for a
ride. Probably wondering, “Oh what, what kind of stuff do you think of
to get ready for Dirty Kanza?” I actually don’t like to think about it. 200 miles
on the gravel bike is gonna be a real test to see what I’m capable of.
You never really know what you’re getting into. You can look over maps or
course profiles and kind of get an idea but I have found for me the secret
weapon is PBJ’s because those little rascals got me through the Buck 50.
And chamois butter. Might bring some sample packets of chamois butter. And
tubes. I’ve heard lots of tubes. Packing up today. Maiden voyage just before we
strike out for DK 200 here. So pulling some things apart. I’m gonna be racing
something new and when we get there we’re gonna be building it up. Right now I’m
cannibalizing a couple bikes to come up with one really awesome bike when I get
there. It’s always part of the adventure so
we’ll see. We shall see. I work very closely with TC at Jamis.
He’s the product manager for the road side. To have him out here, supporting me
with the different feed zones, it’s incredible. Not a lot of companies
are gonna put their product manager out there and have them manning
the battle station. I wanted to come out to kind of be in it with Thomas. We’re doing
the chase rig for him. We’re doing the feed zones. And I’m watching what he’s going
through. Just being immersed in this environment and seeing and hearing from
him gives me the best product feedback in the moment. He can see what these
bikes are subjected to and to be able to tweak it based off real-world conditions,
I mean it just makes for a better product that’s tested in the battlefield. You know to hop out on a bike for 200 miles
I think comfort is paramount. When it came to be go time, the carbon Renegade
was definitely the bike to choose because it’s so light and fast. It’s amazing to think that this race had
grown from 13 racers in 2006 to just under 3000 racers. You get on the starting
line and you look back and it’s just a sea of people. Gun goes off and we start
trucking out of town by police escort. Hit the first little gravel road. And then you start to get into some big
chunky gravel and a lot of the stone is Flint rock. So it’s just super
razor-sharp and it’s not even something you can really avoid. It just wreaks
havoc on everybody’s tires. Thirty miles into the race you’re stuck with couple
hundred riders all around you. I couldn’t see anything because we’re so tight
together. Wound up getting a massive sidewall cut. This is just cruising on a
plain road. Next thing you know you just hear this tstststs
Still didn’t see him. Me either. I’m worried about him a little bit. Had to hop off. Put
multiple boots in it. I kept thinking the sidewall was gonna keep splitting or
split all the way across the casing but the thing was just super durable and
worked well. Then you’re trying to chase back and you can kind of get back into a rhythm. Mile 65 in, I got to the first aid station.
Swapped out bottles, got a Camelback. How’s it going Thomas? This is how good. Oh s*@t. Was able to keep on trucking. That was the nice thing racing early in the morning as the Sun hadn’t
come up but once the Sun got up high then you could really feel the winds
start to pick it up and that Sun was just baking on you. You’re just dying
from heat. The course, it’s very similar so throughout the whole day you race for
a few miles. You make a left or you make a right and you go again and race for a
few miles and it’s just turn after turn on like a grid course. Around 120 we got
to a neutral feed. A lot of people I heard at the different aid zones, they
were like, “You know I’ve had three flats already and I’m done with this, I’m
throwing the towel in.” and I knew I didn’t want that to me, I didn’t want my first
DK race to be a DNF. I needed to see this thing through the end and as the miles ticked
away, it just got more and more easy because you kept thinking to yourself,
“Man, I’ve gone 120 miles, 80 more to go.” Shortly thereafter I flatted again on
something. That was the last tube I had so I had to nurse it in and play it as
cautiously as I could. And then you hit these creek crossings where you could pick
up debris going through there. I have to get some more tubes from TC. I’ve been burning through them today. And then you’re battling these little punchy climbs and you’re trying to pick the best line and not flat through there. Then you start rolling. Next aid at mile
150 and man that was just awesome. Got water, got some Coke, restocked supplies. Yeah a ziplock bag and it’s got one tube and two CO2s. I was trying to stay
cool. Trying to take in as much fluids as possible. Alright buddy. Thanks. Yup, have a good one. From mile 150 on I actually felt the best. And was able to catch some of the riders that leapfrogged me in that aid zone. So I started to feel good and I can
get back into a rhythm. The carbon Renegade, it was phenomenal you know. It
helped really absorb a lot of that vibration and saved my lower back. Even
with the heat and the terrain, the rough roads, the fatigue was non-existent.
Absolutely amazing comfortable bike. Felt really strong at the end. Felt great
to pull it off and finish it. Today was long. Exceptionally long. And I was
plagued with three flats in the front and several rear punctures and the heat
was just brutal as well. 200 miles of zero shade, getting cooked. I’ll probably
wind up with like Sun poisoning tomorrow. Even though I put sunscreen on, it just
got washed off immediately. I think a lot of people wonder, “Is this race fun?” or
they ask, “Why did you do it?” I don’t think it’s about fun. I think
it’s about the experience. You know the leaders are probably finishing this
thing in ten hours and you’re gonna have people coming in at 3 a.m. It’s about
self accomplishment and proving to yourself what you can do and what you’re
capable of. I wound up coming in just under twelve and a half hours. That put
me in for the Top-50. I was hoping to pull off an 11-hour time
and I think that was completely reasonable. A lot of people I’ve talked
to in the past, they’ve been out, they may not have finished the race but they come
back. They have to do it and they have to finish it. So just to come out for the
first time, finish it, do pretty well, I’m happy with it. It was a great experience.
Turned out to be a fantastic event. Alright. Woah, look out now. So another
exciting story in the gravel world. Have a good one.

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