Trendsetters (taking cues from JOM), here we are again about to take part in this grand adventure under the wide open skies of Kansas!
To assuage my pre-race nerves I make lists of what to bring. This is my third Dirty Kanza adventure, although last year I crashed out.
- Do not crash out. I still don’t know why I crashed out last year but I’ll try to be more alert for what my mountain bike buddies call “baby heads.”
- Water. Lots of water. I carry and drink about 4 liters of water every 50 miles. This requires a Camelback or similar.
- Electrolyte powder / hydration mix of your choice. Consume at least six to eight liters of electrolytes during the whole adventure. Bring extra powder in little baggies, pre-measured. If you’re like JOM, you’ll pre-mix your bottles and stash them into a cooler, assuming you have access to a crew, other than the crew-for-hire people.
- Consume at least 250 calories every hour on the hour. I munch on Clif Bars, then Lara Bars during the first half, then taper down to gels. Half the gels have a little caffeine and the others do not. Pre-open the solid bars so you don’t crash out on a baby head while struggling to open them one-handed.
- Extra chamois cream. Reapply at every feed station! JOM recommends Buckler Skincare’s Crème Fraîche. Visit Buckler’s website, enter code GC15 to save 15% off Crème Fraîche until May 31, 2018.
- Chain lube. I carry a tiny Vizine dispenser filled with lube. JOM uses Dumonde Tech lube and carries a 2oz container. Either way, your chain will thank you and be more efficient later on.
- Sunscreen. At least SPF 50 and waterproof. You sweat a lot and it has been known to rain in Kansas. Arm skin protectors are helpful, especially if you get chilly at some point.
- Ibuprofen. Take the Ibu’s around the halfway point. Your bottom will thank you.
- Tums. Your stomach will thank you. Fold the pills into a small square of foil and put where you can quickly find and open.
- Toilet paper. Fold a few plies of TP (or poo tickets if you’re JOM) into a baggie. Your GI tract will thank you. TP or soft paper towel can be helpful to clean smeary glasses and Garmin / Wahoo screens.
- Tools. Allen keys, chain breaker and a re-usable master chain link. Practice fixing your chain before you begin this adventure. Check out some of the tools JOM recommends: Fix It Sticks – SPURCYCLE Titanium Multi-Tool – Wolftooth Master Link Pack Pliers.
- Cell phone. With important numbers saved, especially the number of your support crew! Spare battery for the cell phone if you leave it on all day.
- Garmin or Wahoo navigation device with extra battery. Just about everybody will need this. The Garmin 1030 supports a clip-on battery, whilst most other devices will need an external battery plugged in and lashed to the stem.
- Tubes and inflation. Carry two tubes, two CO2 cartridges, a tire lever and a tire boot. A small pump is recommended as a roadside Plan B. Stash a tire, two tubes and two cartridges at every checkpoint. If you’re like JOM and have access to a crew, you’ll leave a spare wheelset with them.
- Roll tubeless tires. They can be a pain to travel with if you fly, and sometimes, mounting them can be a challenge, but the advantages are well worth making the switch. Learn how to switch to a tube setup in the event you have a tubeless fail. Don’t be a weight weenie. Mr and Mrs. K-Dogg roll beefy 600 gram tires measuring 700c x 38mm (Teravail Cannonball). JOM prefers the 700c x 35mm/38mm variant of the Panaracer Gravelking SK for dry conditions, and the Panaracer Gravelking Mud in 700c x 35mm for nasty conditions. In all cases, we rely on Orange Seal Endurance Formula sealant. Whatever your choice, bear in mind that Kansas has really sharp flint rocks. You could waste a lot of time fixing a flat on a tire with a lightweight casing versus one with better flat protection and more weight. Kansas has hills but they are not the Alps. Overall bike weight is not a factor you should worry about, reliability is key.
- Attitude. Eventually, most of us hit the “Dark Place” where it’s not very much fun anymore. Everybody has their own way of getting past it. Bring some attitude to the front of your brain. Tell yourself you volunteered to be here so you can volunteer to finish this great adventure. Sometimes it pays to slow down to find another group of gravel cyclists whose pace you are comfortable with. Tell yourself there are hundreds of people behind and ahead of you. You are not alone. Soon enough you will find how much further down that road you are capable of going.
See y’all in Kansas!