The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Dirty Kanza

On the eve of departure for Dirty Kanza 200, I’m as ready as I’m going to be…which is to say, not very ready.  Being as I’m not yet finished packing and need to go to bed early, I thought I’d take a little break anyway (it’s all about priorities, folks) and share some wisdom for future riders…or, heck, currect racers.  There’s no time like the present to plan ahead for two days from now.

1. Train right: This is a 200+ mile gravel endurance race.  Log some long miles on similar terrain.

Complete Idiot’s version: Start training one month from the race.  Ride the majority of your miles on pavement.  How about a long ride of 76 miles (just over 1/3 of the total race distance, or to look at it another way, just past the first checkpoint)?

2. Dial in your gear: After registering (on April 30), I started googling Dirty Kanza advice and reading blogs of people who’ve been figuring out their bike set-up since early in the year…tires, bags, gearing…that sounds like a good idea.

Complete Idiot’s version: I got the bike I’m racing on about 3 weeks pre-race.  I got my tires yesterday.  I haven’t ridden a single mile in the saddle I’m using. 

3.  Know your enemy: If possible, training rides in the same area would be great.  If not possible, some familiarity with what to expect is a good idea.

Complete Idiot’s guide: Go in blind, except for the amazing pictures you’ve seen on the Adventure Monkey site.  Here’s an excerpt of the conversation on Monday’s ride:

Robin: “So what’s it like? Is it hilly?”
Kate: “Ummm…it’s called the Flint Hills, so I guess so….”

At this point, my tent is pitched in the “Ignorance is Bliss” campground

4. Be smart about nutrition: Know what works for you on long rides.  Test out your nutrition on training rides. 

Complete Idiot’s guide: Hit the store two days pre-race.  Grab what looks good, full of calories, and easily digestible.  I’m notoriously bad about eating during a race, especially on the bike since my handling isn’t stellar, so this is likely to be an issue for me at the race unless I really stay conscious of food and drink intake.  Another excerpt from Monday:

Chuck: “So, what’s your nutrition plan?”
Kate: “Well…I know I’m going to take some Ensure drinks…it’s kind of a work in progress.”

5.  Have a plan for checkpoints: I want to say “transition areas” here, but since we’re always on the bike we’re never actually transitioning.  Know what needs to be done, do it, and don’t dawdle unnecessarily.  Or, make sure your crew knows what needs to be done. Maybe even make a list for them.

Complete Idiot’s guide: I don’t really have a plan, per se (surprise, surprise); it’s hard to know what I’ll want to eat after that much exertion.  I do have my on-the-bike food bagged up into packages so I don’t have to do much thinking when I’m tired.  I put fresh batteries in my headlamp and bike light in the hopes that I’m still riding and will actually need them.  You know, instead of waiting until we’re leaving on the bikes in the dark at LBL to fix my headlamp. 

I’m going to have to finish just so all this food gets eaten!

6. Get plenty of rest: Cutoffs are based on a 10 mph pace, which means that finishers could be on the bike for 20ish hours.  Go into this well-rested.

Complete Idiot’s guide: Stay up until 4 a.m. reading (why oh why did I buy that second Fifty Shades book? Seriously, they aren’t even that good) two nights before you leave.  Blog instead of packing the night before you leave.  It’s ok…surely you’ll sleep really well the night before the race, right?  Yeah, right.

7. Eat well and make sure you’re well hydrated in the week before the race: I’ve actually done this.  One for seven.  I’ve got this!


If you’re in the market for actual good advice, I can suggest that you don’t google “lamb to the slaughter” unless you want to see some unpleasant pictures. Wow, I’m glad I don’t eat mutton (and will certainly not be googling pigs, chickens, cows, etc).  If you want good Dirty Kanza advice, there’s lots of it out there.  A good place to start is  And when I’m back from Kansas, I’m sure I’ll have pages and pages of “what not to do” for prospective racers.  After all, you know what they say….


Although in blog land it’s more like…


Hoping to be back next week with lots of good stories and pictures for you!  If you want a preview on how things are going, there are a few different ways to check.  There’s my facebook page and twitter page, which I’ll try to update at the three checkpoints (other than that I’ll probably be off my phone since it’s my only way of calling for help if I get stuck somewhere).  You can also check the Team Virtus facebook and twitter pages; I know the guys are planning on updating as much as they can, and they’ll be funnier than me. 

If that’s not enought, you can go to to see live coverage of the start line and commentary with a focus on the final 40 miles of the race (which, if I’m still riding by then, will probably be covered in darkness).  Last, an Emporia radio station will be broadcasting live throught the race from the checkpoints, and you can listen to it live online by going to (thanks to Luke at Team Virtus for getting all that info together so I didn’t have to).

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