2019 Dirty Kanza 200 Race Report: The Perfect Storm but without the Rain

Dirty Kanza 200 returned for 2019 with all-new Northbound courses, a change in ownership, Garmin as title sponsor and a rider lottery to ensure a fairer selection process for would-be participants. At the helm of DK, there were no changes, with Gentleman Jim Cummins steering the ship, but with less stress and an abundance of resources provided by new owners, Life Time.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, June 1, 2019, riders from all over the planet, 2,700 of them in all, for every distance of Dirty Kanza, were busy making preparations. Riding the miles, big or small, preparing their bikes, making travel plans, coercing spouses, partners, friends or family members into joining them for the big day in Emporia, Kansas.

Joining me in the quest for 200 miles at the 2019 Dirty Kanza was my long-time friends and three-time veterans of the race, Mr and Mrs K-Dogg. Dogg Senior (he’s 64yo now) won the 2016 DK200 for Men’s 60+, so he doesn’t have much to prove. But after a very bad day on the bike in 2018, he was looking to finish a little better whilst Mrs K-Dogg was out to avenge her abandonment in 2018. Yours truly was hoping to complete my fourth Dirty Kanza 200.

My Road to Dirty Kanza 2019

Sometimes the road isn’t smooth with bumps along the way, similar to what you can expect at a gravel bike race. Much of my path involves this website, an entity that has forever changed my life. Gravel Cyclist was never founded with the idea of what it has become, today or in the future. Originally, the intent was an online repository for my silly ride reports, the odd video or two and so on. The site’s visitor count and numbers for its related social media entities have grown significantly, making a big impact on the time I have available. I’m a passionate bloke, and whilst there are days where I question my motivation to keep Gravel Cyclist rolling along, I genuinely love sharing my experiences, pumping out press information about new bikes, events, updating the event calendar, reviewing products, etc. Gravel Cyclist has become a major source of information for a lot of riders, which is the primary reason I keep plugging away.

I don’t share much of my personal life on the site, I generally keep that well segregated. Behind the scenes I spend most of the year in North Central Florida, where I work a legit 40-hour a week job, own a home and all that goes with it, have a great connection with my family who reside in Australia, and a girlfriend is very supportive of all that I do.

Juggling everything is difficult at times, sleep deprivation is a real thing and something I need to trim from my life. I never get enough sleep, as I put so much time and effort into the website along with everything I mentioned in the latter paragraph. This isn’t an online pity party, I have no time for that rubbish, but the two months leading to 2019 Dirty Kanza could have gone better. Adversity is part of life, but how you deal with it is what makes the difference.

My training rides for the Dirty Kanza 200 hadn’t gone as smoothly as years past. Mid-April saw a crash during a spirited training ride in North Central Florida, genuine suffering and doubts at the Fried Clay 200K in Georgia, and media duties at the Sea Otter Classic. Much as I love the tech side of gravel cycling, producing all of that video content from events such as Sea Otter as a one-man crew is draining.

May started off well, culminating in the high point of the month, riding the inaugural Wild Horse Gravel in De Beque, Colorado with the Roll Massif crew. Unfortunately, the positives of that were overshadowed by a turn for the worse in my private life. My dear mother took critically ill on the eve of May 8, 2019. She was rushed to intensive care, her kidneys were likely on their way to failure. They had been a recent source of trouble, but with her tenacious nature, one that has always inspired me to keep moving forward, I expected she would pull on through. Knowing all of this was going on so far away, I had a difficult time maintaining my composure at the Wild Horse Gravel event.

Returning to Florida from Colorado on May 12, I was on the cusp of booking a ticket for a flight to Adelaide, Australia (my original home), to spend a couple of weeks with mum. Sadly, life is cruel at times. Mum’s health began a downhill slide the very next day; a massive heart attack which lead into a coma. Mum was now in Palliative care, which I believe is known as Hospice in the United States. It is difficult to write this piece without losing it emotionally and crying my eyes out. During this timeframe, I felt powerless to do anything. I was heartbroken, knowing I would never see her alive and in person again. Mum’s life was drawing to a close. I relied on messages from my brother and father of her status and continued downhill slide. My last conversation with mum prior to hospitalisation some weeks prior was about something inane related to her computer. How I wish that conversation could have been different. She knew I loved her but if only I could have told her just one more time. Mum passed away on the morning of May 15, 2019, a few days after Mother’s Day. I am still grieving her passing and trying to comprehend the loss my father is experiencing; the loss of his spouse and partner of 54 years.

My employer kindly granted three days of bereavement leave, the first of which I spent riding my bicycle all day long. The ride served as therapy and my final Dirty Kanza training ride. No matter how the 2019 DK200 would turn out, I would dedicate my effort to mum, and continue driving Gravel Cyclist in a forward direction with her in my thoughts. Mum will always be with me, and I’ll draw on the good memories, despite being so far away for over 22 years. Being away from family has been the most difficult part of expatriate life.

Part One of the Perfect Storm

The month of May saw the Midwest USA drenched by never-ending rain, storms and tornadoes. Residents of areas affected by mother nature’s rampage have experienced losses of life, property damage, and financial ruin in some cases. Agonizing over what tyre to use at Dirty Kanza when storms are in the forecast seems insignificant when you think about everything else that has transpired.

A week out from the race, the weather forecast around Emporia was questionable. The Gravel Cyclist website had a busy day on Monday before the race, visited countless times by people using search keywords such as “dirty kanza mud”, “dirty kanza tires”, etc. That Monday saw heavy rain continue to fall in the area, right up until the evening of Wednesday, May 29. Undoubtedly, most everyone was hoping the prediction of two bright and sunny days for Thursday and Friday would dry things out before race day. The weather forecast for race day, June 1, was another matter. The forecast hovered between 40% to 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms, possibly later in the day. With a forecast of uncertainty, it was prudent to make plans for a potentially wet and muddy race. I set about preparing a “Plan A” dry weather bike, and a “Plan B“, muddy weather bike. I ultimately chose “Plan A”.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Some additions to my saddlebag. Tubolito tubes are compact!

The lengthy drive to Emporia from Gainesville, Florida, takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 hours. The advantages to driving including packing a minivan to the gills with bikes, clothing and nutritional supplies, more than you could ever load onto a plane without paying for excess baggage fees. That’s where it ends.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Regular butyl tube at top, 2 x 700c x 42mm Tubolito at bottom.

With the company of a friend, splitting the drive is a more enjoyable experience versus the mostly solo trips I’ve made to Emporia, Kansas in the past. 2019 was no exception, a long solo drive it was, split over two nine-hour stints.

Accommodations, NPR and the Dirty Kanza Expo

2019 dirty kanza race report

Historically, events such as Sea Otter and the missing for 2019, Interbike, were the places that manufacturers released new bikes and related products. Dirty Kanza has made such a huge impact, that its vendor expo has grown significantly with approximately 100 vendors on-site, and now a key event to release new product. Allied Cycle Works released their elevated chainstay Able gravel bike, whilst another prominent company joined them in a new bike release, although technically, I cannot talk about it here due to an embargo being in place.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Jeremiah Bishop of Canyon readies his bike, shod with 32mm tyres!

More on that bike at a later date, along with some other goodies I captured on camera. I also snagged some video of the DKXL racers departing for 350 miles of Kansas gravel fun at 3pm on Friday. DKXL is a next level adventure!

2019 dirty kanza race report
Jamie and Collin of Kuat Racks. Collin now has 6 x DK200 & 2 x DKXL finishes!
2019 dirty kanza race report
Gravel Cycling’s man of poetry, Jim Phillips.

2019 dirty kanza race report

For 2019, I was sharing accommodations with Lyman Agency / ENVE Composites crew at the beautiful Gufler Mansion, located just a few blocks away from downtown Emporia. The historic mansion features over 10,000 feet of under-roof space and 10 Bed and Breakfast style bedrooms. Staying at the Gufler is a lovely experience made better by the hosts who live on the premises.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Dave Zabriskie setting up his 3T Exploro gravel bike.

In addition to the ENVE crew, we were joined by a cast of ex-professional cyclists such as Neil Shirley (who now works for ENVE), Dave Zabriskie (Floyds of Leadville), and Christian Meier (The Service Course), Sarah Max (2nd place at the recent BWR), Ryan Steers (Giant Factory Off-Road Team), some fellow journalist types, and staff of Floyds of Leadville (sorry, I don’t recall everybody’s name).

2019 dirty kanza race report

On Thursday morning, NPR (National Public Radio) correspondent and gravel cyclist, Jay Price, interviewed me for inclusion in an article about “Gravel Racing Lifts Rural Economies”. You can hear the broadcast from that Friday’s Here and Now Show, at this link.

2019 dirty kanza race report
DK Pre-ride with Mr & Mrs K-Dogg.
2019 dirty kanza race report
Plenty of pre-riding happening.
2019 dirty kanza race report
Yours truly pre-riding the “Plan A” bike with ENVE G23 wheels.

Part Two of the Perfect Storm – June 1, 2019, Dirty Kanza 200

Riders awoke to clear sunny skies with plenty of humidity in the air, and a high temperature of close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit / 32 degrees Celcius. I call North Central Florida home for much of the year, so these temperatures and humidity presented no great surprises. I was the last rider to leave the Gufler Mansion for the Dirty Kanza start line that morning, just a few blocks again. Naturally, obligatory final pre-race bike checks and visits to the facilities I probably shouldn’t talk about had to be made.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Kae Takeshita of the Panaracer Gravel team.

At my fourth appearance at Dirty Kanza, I am still in awe of the assembled mass of 1,200 riders for the 200-mile race. There is no other event in the world I can think of that replicates this huge experience.

2019 dirty kanza race report

I snapped some video of the front row of call-up riders and other megastars, before settling in a couple of rows back, in the company of my 64yo teammate, K-Dogg.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Yours truly with the Dogg at right (head down).

Following the pattern of years prior, I was being tracked live by SRAM Neutral Support courtesy of the Quarq Qollector device… I was hoping for a decent performance to keep the live audience entertained!

2019 dirty kanza race report

6:00am CST came about all too quickly, 3-2-1 and we were off. Shoes clipped into pedals, and the howl of over 1,000 gravel tyres on pavement let loose along Commercial Street, Emporia.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report

Riders shuffled forward under the “neutral” pace to position themselves for a favorable entry to the first of many miles of gravel. Yours truly, following my own well-established advice, drifted back to a favorable position, providing plenty of space in front to watch for potholes and errant chunks of gravel, in addition to a little more room for braking.

2019 dirty kanza race report
The madness begins!

2019 dirty kanza race report

From my perspective, the pace was berzerk once we rolled onto the gravel, and it didn’t take long before the 1,200 strong group of riders was completely stretched out.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report
Ahead, a fellow Aussie all the way from Melbourne!

Initially, I was rolling along somewhere in the front 200 or so riders, but by the time 10 miles of gravel had rolled beneath my wheels, I’d been passed by at least another 400 riders, all keen to get themselves further up the road. I was in my own world, staying to the right of the road and out of harm’s way, taking in the early morning sunrise above the Kansas Flint Hills.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Taylor Norton of Tampa, Florida, and owner of The Bikery.
2019 dirty kanza race report
More of the Florida crew.

Something wasn’t feeling right. I was perspiring more than I would usually expect, and my legs weren’t terribly keen on maintaining my usual steady, but manageable tempo. The conversations I had with riders coming to and fro along the course were a good distraction, with many riders passing along kind and flattering comments about my work on the website. Hearing those words from people I’ve never met in my life was really nice.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Adrienne, a regular contributor to the site, rides in Women’s single speed.
2019 dirty kanza race report
A small water feature during the early miles.

The format for the 2019 course was different from the past three editions, in that there were two checkpoints versus the usual three. This had mandated an adjustment in my training leading into the race, but one I had rehearsed reasonably well. However, my overall constitution hadn’t improved any, in fact, I was feeling quite awful after just three hours of riding.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report

I experienced an untimely front wheel valve leak around this time, which came about after I lowered my front tyre pressure a smidge to help with comfort – pneumatic suspension is best. It seemed the sticky valve had backed out the core somewhat, resulting in a slow leak. It took two inflate attempts with my trusty Co2 inflator before I realized what the issue was. Running tubeless? Be sure to carry a valve core tool!

2019 dirty kanza race report
Riding through Eskridge, Kansas.

2019 dirty kanza race report

My solid food choices of Lara Bars in various flavors were of little appeal, but I did manage to consume at least two of them during the first 50 miles.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report
Right: I didn’t catch this gent’s name, but can you say Legend?!
2019 dirty kanza race report
This lad was riding flat pedals and sneakers!
2019 dirty kanza race report
Reminder: Kansas isn’t flat.

Around this time, I connected with a rider from the ENVE crew, Bo, who was also feeling the pinch at this early juncture. We stayed in close contact for the remaining 14 miles into Checkpoint One, located in the town of Alma.

2019 dirty kanza race report

It turned out Bo and I were the last riders being crewed by ENVE / Floyds of Leadville to arrive at the Checkpoint. I took a spot in the shade on a lawn chair, whilst Richard of Floyds attended to lubing my bike’s chain.

2019 dirty kanza race report

My cooler was once again my salvation and contained almost identical contents to the cooler I prepared for the 2018 race. Speaking with a good friend post-race who is better versed than I in the fine art of race nutrition, it was likely I was already dehydrated at this juncture, which in turn brought about the feeling of nausea. I’ve experienced this several times in long training rides, but there is usually a convenience store close at hand to rehydrate and so on. But this is Dirty Kanza, and things are different. I consumed pickle juice, Perrier water, a Mexican Coke (contains real sugar) and a Reed’s Extra Strength Ginger Brew. I didn’t know it at the time, but more than likely, all of these substances possibly amounted to nothing more than a gut bomb, which doesn’t usually happen. Things were so different from my 2018 Dirty Kanza experience.

Bo and I left the Checkpoint together and made a determined effort to keep each other within sight. It turned out that Bo had been suffering from a nasty bout of Pneumonia just two weeks prior, something nobody needs at any time in their life. We pressed on towards the town of Alta Vista, home of the race’s neutral water stop for 2019. This section of the 2019 200-mile course was hot, open, desolate and rocky. The organizers weren’t playing around when they hinted at this being the most difficult course to date.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Surprisingly, there was very little hike-a-bike.
2019 dirty kanza race report
Chunky gravel.

My stomach had gone from bad to worse. I forced myself to stop every thirty minutes or so, to force a gel down my throat chased by a dose of plain water. My hydration mix of choice, Gu’s Roctane, was of no appeal to me at that moment in time. My pedaling had gone from a steady effort, to pedal, coast, pedal, coast. It seemed the wheels were falling off my campaign for the 2019 Dirty Kanza.

2019 dirty kanza race report
I took a nap somewhere around here.

Approximately 85 miles into the course, I made the strategic decision to take a nap beneath a tree. Somewhere along the way, Bo and I had split up. I didn’t film or photograph the napping scene but imagine a large tree with cooling shade, and plenty of soft and lush grass below. At least seven fellow gravel cyclists had the same idea. Historically, I’ve always thought that roadside naps were a bad idea, but I needed to get off my feet to cool down and recover a little. No records would be set today.

2019 dirty kanza race report

Some ten minutes passed before I remounted my trusty steed for the rumored neutral water stop I’d heard about near the town of Volland. But first, the challenge of Little Egypt Road lay in wait.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Little Egypt Road Photo 1.

This road had been talked up during the lead-in to the race, claimed to possess traits such as baseball-sized chunks of gravel, a sketchy descent and more. To be honest, I’ve ridden roads in worse condition than Little Egypt, but it is a road to be treated with respect. The reports about baseball-sized rocks and gravel were true, but nothing worse than I’d encountered riding across railway ballast.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Little Egypt Road Photo 2.
2019 dirty kanza race report
The Little Egypt Road descent.

My one error during my A-Bike preparation was gearing. The 46/34 chainring pair was good, 46/30 would have been better, but a true one to one gear ratio or less for the biggest climbing cog would have been optimal.

2019 dirty kanza race report

EF Education First needs a massive thank you from every rider who stopped 99 miles into the course. EF’s neutral water stop and ice cold, wet bandanas were an amazing gesture and saved many a rider from a rough day and the perils of dehydration. I took water and a bandana around my neck and slept beneath the shade of nearby trees for at least 20 minutes. Doubts crept into my mind. Would I be capable of riding a further 102 miles to the finish?

2019 dirty kanza race report
Riders taking a break from the Kansas heat.

Bo appeared at the Checkpoint sometime during or after my dirt nap. He may have been there the entire time, I honestly don’t know, but he was in a pretty bad state, possibly worse than my own. He announced he would ride a little over 100 miles before calling it a day. This news was disheartening, as I was hoping we could continue together, muddling our way along to Checkpoint two. Consuming gels had become a major chore in itself, nothing was of appeal, but I needed calories. Because my body was burning 30% to 40% of its energy cooling my skin, another 40 or so percent pedaling the bike, this didn’t leave a lot remaining for food digestion. I suspect anything I did consume at this time sat in my stomach… I recall feeling bloated.

2019 dirty kanza race report
T-Shirt by Floyds of Leadville.

I love dirt and gravel roads, but I was so out of it, every bump was consuming energy I didn’t have to burn. Bo and I kept sight of each other on and off for 20 miles, before I spotted him making for the roadside. I suspect this is the moment he called for a ride from the ENVE crew. In addition to his body meltdown, Bo’s Di2 battery was running on critical and had shut down operation of the system to just the rear derailleur.

2019 dirty kanza race report
This water crossing was a welcome relief from the heat.

Remember people, it takes but a second to check your battery status… do it before every ride! Meanwhile, I pedal / coasted my way into the town of Alta Vista, home of the neutral water stop.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report
The Alta Vista timing gate. Bad day = not a fast time.

I need to interject here for a moment and thank every rider who spoke to me during this very dark time on the bike. I have never felt so much positivity and support from riders who know me from the website, or who had met me as a fellow rider for the first time. This is what gravel is truly about. Gravel isn’t about the five percent of riders smashing it at the front. Apologies to those who may have seen me vomiting on at least two occasions, I tried to be discreet about it.

Within the town limits of Alta Vista between water refills, there was a glimmer of hope my stomach was feeling better. Perhaps I could finish the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200 after all? It would all depend on the amount of climbing between Alta Vista and Council Grove, the town hosting Checkpoint Two. As a reminder, Kansas is far from flat. Think of short, punchy climbs, anywhere from three to twelve percent, all-day long, and you get the picture.

2019 dirty kanza race report

2019 dirty kanza race report
Another sweet, cooling water crossing.

The hills started not long after departing Alta Vista, and for a while, about 133 miles into the course, the roads flattened out significantly, many heading along a somewhat downward slope. For a while there, I was riding well, but the wheels fell off again… energy levels were almost non-existent, and the motions of pedal / coast continued. My friends TJ and Jennifer, also making their base somewhere in Florida, rode past me as I was attending to gel consumption by the side of the road. They’d had their own set of difficulties, but looked to be well on the way to finishing their fifth Dirty Kanza 200!

2019 dirty kanza race report
Knackered = hike-a-bike time.

For me, a nasty set of hills within the final 10 miles / 16 kilometres made their presence felt. It was here that I regretted my gearing choice of 46/34 with an 11-32 cassette. Oops.

2019 dirty kanza race report

I walked myself and bike over the summit of at least three of these steep climbs. Off the bike for a moment or two, a lady whose name I don’t recall from the Chamois Butter team chatted a while and took a selfie with me. If only my brain was functioning in order to film the moment, using my handy DJI Osmo Pocket camera with a built-in gimbal. Whether my conversational skills were coherent at the time is up for debate? In the dark place, I don’t usually have much to say, sorry.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Entering Council Grove, Kansas.

I rolled into Council Grove, Kansas with a running clock time of 13:55:37 – an absolute shocker of a day. Two years earlier, but on the Southern course, I knocked out a solid time of around 13:30 something. What a difference a bad day makes. Without doubt, I had never suffered this much on a bicycle going so slow, and all of it live for everyone to see on the Quarq Qollector website. AJ of the ENVE crew greeted me with my cooler and an update on the overall race as it pertained to the leaders.

2019 dirty kanza race report
Tired and defeated this time around.

No manner of hydration or recovery during that short 30 minutes I spent in Council Grove, could bring me back from the dead. I was too far gone. I’d begun to shiver, and with 50 miles and a significant number of climbs to scale between mile 151 and mile 185, finishing the 2019 Dirty Kanza would be a painful, difficult task. My available lighting was not up to the job of at least four hours of riding, and my cognitive powers were barely functional. If I press on, I may finish, but at what cost? I could damage my internal organs, hurt myself in a crash and more. I called my girlfriend for some advice. Based on the tone of my voice and mono-syllable conversational skills, she recommended I abandon the race. In reality, I’d already made that decision but really wanted to hear it from her.

Just like that, my 2019 Dirty Kanza 200 campaign to finish four in a row came to an abrupt end. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but the decision to abandon was a good one and in the interest of my health and safety. Earlier, some fellow riders were surprised to see me suffering and so far back. I politely remind people reading this report. I’m a regular bloke, I’m not a superstar athlete and I too have bad days from time to time. Close to one-third of riders who started the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200 abandoned, with many notable riders on that list. I was happy to have ridden 150 miles. Massive kudos to all who finished the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200, it was the toughest edition I’ve attempted. To those who abandoned, don’t beat yourself up about it. I haven’t, live to ride another day, you can always try again next year!

2019 dirty kanza race report
My steed served me well.

What’s next? Some recovery time away from the bike, catching up on a ton of content from Dirty Kanza, and likely after some rest, appearances at some smaller gravel events / fun, solo rides.

As always, thank you for reading, my race video from Dirty Kanza 200 is coming soon.

For those so inclined, you can see my Strava data HERE (power measurement provided by Rotor Inpower).

35 comments on “2019 Dirty Kanza 200 Race Report: The Perfect Storm but without the Rain

  1. Jayson, yet another great write-up! I’m sorry for your Mums loss, but you didn’t lose at DK. You were a participant, not too many can say that! You’ll do better next time when you have your training and nutrition in order. Keep on keeping on!

  2. Great write up and sorry you did not complete it. Its good to hear too that you feel that this was the hardest dk200 you’ve seen. It was my first and i was blown away by how hilly and techy it was. I saw you walking around the expo a couple of time and wanted to say hi but you were mr. popularity and always engaged with a fan..next time.
    My condolences as well for the loss of your mum.
    Thanks again for this site! i read a ton of it and it calmed the paranoid deamons and helped with my gear selection and what to expect..could not have done my dk without ya.
    mark

  3. I was one of those guys that thanked you for all you do at Gravel Cyclist. I sure didn’t think you were hurting that bad! I just thought you were like the rest of us!! I was able to finish but certainly not in the time I had hoped. I ran 50/34 11/34 and sure wished I had another gear at about 110 miles. I live in Atlanta and when you are ready to get it going for next year you can come ride with me in the North Georgia mountains . I be happy to host you! Then we can both go back to Emporia in 2020 and slay the course.

  4. JOM – Great write up as usual. Some days your the hammer and some days you’re the nail as they say. Most of us have been in that dark place before. You handled it very well and congrats for sticking it out for 150 miles.

    I’m sorry to read about your mother. I know you will cherish those memories for the remainder of your days. I look forward to seeing you at the Georgia Gravel Grinduro if not before!

  5. Hi JOM – I’ve been a lifelong endurance athlete, and have had my share of DNF’s. There are times you simply can’t – and shouldn’t – go on. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. But the feelings still hurt. If it helps at all, let me add to the chorus of folks who have told you how helpful you have been to me over the past several years. Thanks again for all the great info. , help and support you haven given the gravel cycling community.
    Bob

  6. You are welcome! “Thank you for reading”
    I am sorry for your loss. Moms are great.
    A suggestion talk to a urilogist. They can do a 24 hour urine test.
    I have several days like you described only after 25 to 40 miles on hot days. It turned out I am making kidney stones.

    Put the camera and microphone down and ride for yourself. Tost the message ” This page left intentionally blank”

  7. Thank you JOM,
    You shared things far more important than the race with us.
    Races will come and go, but the love from family, friends and strangers is what carries us through life’s darkest hours…..
    And you didn’t fail.

  8. Brilliant. Brutally honest post. Thank you for taking the time and effort of writing it up. Appreciate the tips about spare valve cores and such.

    I guess like Arnold that ‘you’ll be back’ next year. All the best.

  9. Thank you for another great story and as many have mentioned, my condolences and hate your 2019 effort failed.

    I would like to mention I met you at the tent reviewing the bike I think you are not to mention as of yet. I didn’t get into “it” with you but your site has been instrumental and helpful in my first DK and successful DK 100, finishing inside the top 1/3.

    10 and a half months ago, I never heard of gravel or Dirty Kanza. 10 and a half months ago I was about to turn 50 years old and 30 pounds heavier than I am today. I decided to try cycling to improve myself and that’s when I learned what a gravel bike was.

    This site was one of the first I saw when searching “gravel” and it was this site where I learned of Dirty Kanza. I got inspired reading about DK and other race reports. I set a goal to get in shape and enter DK 100 before I even owned a bike.

    Id like to say thank you Mate for all the hard work you do on this site, and all the articles from contributors that make this site the best in gravel coverage. Your site and efforts truly have made a difference in my life.

  10. Jom, thanks for sharing your DK200 experience. You have my utmost respect and gratitude for all you have done and shared. So sorry to hear about your Mum. Life can and does throw some heavy gravel on the road. We must go on. How did the K-Dogs do?

  11. Hey Jays. Commiserations for the loss of your mum. Cherished memories will live on.
    From reading the above I was feeling exhausted for you. Seems like there was/is a lot more going on than what you may acknowledge either physically, mentally or emotionally or all of them.
    I’m sure your brain will be analysing all of it for some weeks to come and when your energy gets back to normal you can make more informed decisions going forward.
    Take care.
    Also, those rides with repetitious, short, steep, leg sapping climbs, are the worst.

  12. On longer rides, I often find myself having conversations with my mother. I think about her a lot on the road as my mind drifts to friends, family, and life events. She lived in a care facility near my home, and I would bike to see her during every outing. She’d share a 7-UP with me. I know the other residents thought I was a sweaty, stinky mess, but mom always enjoyed seeing me come in. I’d also see her from her 11th-floor window as I rode away. To this day I look up at the window as I pass the facility. I think you will find comfort in thinking of your mom, and talking to her, during future training rides and races.

    As for the Gu Roctane, I love that stuff, but have figured out something…It doesn’t seem to quench my thirst. It will be fine for the first few hours, and it doesn’t gut bomb me like a soda or Gator-ade, but what I find is that I am really thirsty. I have determined I need a source of plain water and the Roctane. I don’t mind a 2-liter Camelbak, so will start riding with that soon.

    Your DK performance is admirable, even stopping under the conditions you experienced. As mentioned previously in the comments, some days you are on it and some days you aren’t.

    I want to thank you for all of your articles, advice, etc. I purchased my bike based on your recommendations, as well other accessories. I appreciate all of the information you provide and the service you provide the gravel community.

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m looking forward, as always, to reading the rest of your report.

  14. Hi Gravel Cyclist! My name is Wendy Culp. I am the Chamois Butt’r lady that chatted you up and asked you for a selfie! 😊. Thank you for obliging me! I’m sorry your day did not go as planned. You still killed it and should be very proud!

    1. Hey Wendy! It was really nice meeting you! There is always next year, I’m sure we’ll cross paths again somewhere in the Midwest.

  15. I always look forward to your commentary, perspective,advice, reviews etc. I’m so sorry for your family loss. Very difficult to deal with, especially tying to prepare physically, emotionally and professionally for dirty Kanza..
    I hope you get the support you need. And selfishly, hope you’’re willing and able to continue the gravel cyclist website.

    Sending you a lot of support…

  16. Jom, glad you made the right call and pulled the plug when you did. I made some space for you at the first shade/nap stop and saw you were already pretty deep in the hurt zone. Impressed you were able to carry on for as long as you did – longer than I did! You have an army of grateful followers who appreciate all you do. Grieve, recover and thrive.

  17. Firstly, I am so sorry about your mother. I read your entire report! This newbie gravel cyclist finished her second DK 100 VERY slowly. 🙂 And though I don’t know about some of the things you wrote about ( I would probably never have a plan A. vs a plan B. bike), I could relate to much of what you experienced. I have a very interesting story I’m working on from the Newbies perspective, of course! 😉 I do hope you feel better 4 days post race and send much love and kudos for listening to your body.

  18. My condolences. Sorry to hear about your loss.

    I saw you at around mile 40. You seemed to be suffering a little so I didn’t disturb you. Very shortly after that the heat got to me too. Up here in Montreal we’ve had a very cool spring. My body was not ready to cope with the heat, humidity and cloudless sky on race day. I was quite nauseated by cp 1, but pushed on, more and more slowly, to the EF water stop, and then to the water stop in Alta Vista, where repeated attacks of vomiting broke my spirit and made me think about a possible medical crisis. The amazing volunteers shuttled me to cp 2 in an air conditioned jeep. When I stepped out of the jeep, I was soon on my knees again, but five minutes later more volunteers had transferred me to a pick-up for a ride back to Emporia. Unfortunately, I had to then drive myself for an hour to our airbnb in Topeka. A tough day, but there’s a good chance I’ll give it another go in the future.

    Feeling almost 100% now. Hope the same for you.

  19. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your Mum. Big hugs

    Sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail. You still crushed it out there! DK is no joke, even for a race veteran as yourself. So many things can happen or go wrong. I’m sure you’ll be back next year, stronger than ever.
    I’ve enjoyed your content for the past several years. You always have the best first hand race coverage. Keep up the good work!!

  20. Thanks for an open and honest report. So very sorry for your loss! I lost both of my parents in less than 3 years time. Both went through hospice care in there last days. I know you miss your mom dearly. It’s been three years since I lost my dad and I still find myself reaching for the phone to call him.

    As for the race, very gutsy ride. We all face days when we don’t have ‘it’ or things go wrong. Hate to see it at such a major event. But, your account of the ride and attitude will help out many others as they prepare and someday face similar circumstances. I met you at Dk200 ’18 and enjoyed the encounter. I missed it this year as my son graduated from high school that weekend. I hope to see you out there in ’20 when I’ll be shooting for #3.

  21. Sorry to hear about your mom! Want to thank you for this website, Youtube videos and everything else you do! I enjoyed the quick talk that we had on Friday just before the start of the DKXL. When I saw you around 40 miles, I believe we were in Eskridge, KS you looked and riding good! Sorry that the day didn’t finish well!

  22. My sincere condolences on the loss of your mom – as an expat myself, I was in a similar situation a few years ago. so I can empathise regarding the distance-enhanced pain and suffering. You have my compliments too, on both articulating that loss so eloquently and on making it through so much of DK, especially given that as background and your gastric distress – more distance-enhanced pain and suffering, you could say!

    — Irish John on the tandem at Dirty 40 in Vermont a few years ago

    1. Appreciate the words John – I fondly remember riding with you at Dirty 40, that was a fantastic event – a shame it ran for only one year. Hope all is well, and hope to see you in person next time I return to New England.

  23. JOM, thanks for sharing your tale. With great respect, I send you and yours deep condolences on the loss of your mom. Been there… it takes time. And thank you for all the time you put into this site… the videos, the words, the reviews, the rides. For me personally, it has inspired me to get off my duff and do more with my cycling. Especially on the gravel. Ride on! Cheers.

  24. JOM – I abandoned the race as well, at mile 121, and have been beating myself up ever since. Like you it was heat/hydration related issues. I wouldn’t have made the cutoff but wish I’d attempted the ride from Alta Vista to Council Grove. You putting it into words has/is helping me put my suffering and decision to abandon into perspective. We’ve exchanged comments on YouTube on occasion and my decision to ride Lynskey is a direct result of your review. The bike performed flawlessly, ’twas an engine problem.

    From a “real life” perspective, sorry for the loss of your mom. Keep pedaling, it’s an amazingly healing process to pedal and remember the times we shared with those we’ve lost. On solo rides, let yourself get lost in those memories and conversations with your mom, then stop and shed a tear when needed.

    Thank you for all you do for this amazing gravel community. Keep up the great work and I hope to meet you next year at DK 2020.

    Tim

  25. Thanks for sharing your experience. Not everyone has the fortitude to share the hard days, but the hard days are the ones that make us stronger. I was very glad to visit briefly with you at DK, not knowing all the life challenges you have had lately. Best wishes in your grieving for your Mother. From my own experience it will continue for your lifetime. Take solace that the grief will mellow and your memories will become a source of comfort. Thank you for sharing the beauty and the beast that we Kansan’s know the DK is. Cheers!

  26. Great write up. This is why people come to your site. These are the kind of life events and ride issues we all go through. Consider yourself lucky you were able to start DK as most everyone I know got shutout of the lottery (again). My 4th DK finish will have to wait. Sorry about your mom. Hope the next ride goes better for you. Thanks for the website.

  27. Sounds like a really hard day for you – and a hard time in general, sorry for your loss. I watch your videos but really enjoyed reading your write up this time. You definitely made the right decision to call it a day, no question about it. I wonder if making the course harder for 2019 was really a wise choice by the organisers? It sounds like it was plenty hard enough before! I’ve never even done 320km on the road and doing it on that kind of chunky gravel… my God. Then to stick in extra climbs and reduce the number of food stops… maybe they should reconsider on health and safety grounds?

  28. So sorry to hear about your mother. Always sad when a parent passes.

    As far as DK200 – I’m a big fan of knowing your limits. Better to avoid an accident/injury that could negatively impact your health or safety,

    Thanks for the write up

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