It’s hard to research gravel cycling and not soon become aware of a phenomenal gravel ride known as Dirty Kanza. Ok, it’s probably impossible. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Dirty Kanza 200 is a two hundred mile gravel bike race through the flint hills of Kansas. Since I discovered its existence, shortly after my interest sparked for gravel riding, it has motivated me in ways I just haven’t been in a very long while. Ten years ago, when I first made the very real, very serious decision to become heathy, flip my somewhat pear-shaped body 180 degrees, and become someone I liked better than the someone that stared unflatteringly back at me from the mirror each day, I knew in a way that I could not fully explain or comprehend that I had reached a cross roads in my life. Well, actually more like a fork, seeing as to how there were only two real ways to go–straight down the road of indiscriminate eating and other bad habits, or the unknown, very scary road of self-improvement. I chose the latter, I’m proud to say, and cycling plays a major role in propelling me along said road. Not at first, but it’s what rescued me from a waning interest in daily trips to the gym. Just at a time when I found my self-improvement program in jeopardy, I discovered a life on two wheels and haven’t been the same since…in a good way. Now, like so many pure roadies before me, I’m courting the gravel bug and am in very real danger of getting bitten. The deeper I dig, with each passing Youtube video, (what did we do before YouTube?), and Duck, Duck, Go-search, I can feel a bubble of excitement growing deep in my cycling soul. I’ve got to do this! And I’m going to. How? Where to start? I’ll figure it out. I’ve got to. Because what better way to become the worlds greatest gravel cyclist than to set a goal to participate in the DK200 next year? Sounds good to me.
Seriously, I figure setting my sights on the most challenging gravel ride there is will be a fine way to motivate myself to venture beyond the relative safety of the hard top–the road most traveled. Eighteen months should provide ample time for training, mistakes, and more training…annnd more mistakes. Just hopefully not too many of the bleeding kind.
Thus far I’ve only managed to scratch the surface. It seems as though the research climb just becomes steeper and more technical the farther I get into it. So much to consider. Gear, nutrition, logistics, how to train, bike selection, and training a support crew which consists of one wonderful person who is always remarkably supportive of my cycling endeavors–my awesome wife, I feel like I’m off to a great start.
Soon, my LBS and Amazon will become my near constant haunts, (like they’re not already). I have just started building a few gravel routes on Strava, and I believe I’ve settled on a bicycle brand and model. I’ll touch on that a bit more in a later post.
Before long, I hope to be testing my hidden, as of yet undiscovered gravel skills on those Strava routes and familiarizing my support crew with them as well. Bless her heart, I hope she doesn’t realize whats she’s getting into until its too late. Until then, I’ll continue my research. Now, where’s that remote? Ah yes, hellooo YouTube.