Images by Ian Matteson/ENVE Composites
Dirty Kanza is now in the rearview mirror, the dirt and mud have finally been thoroughly washed away, our bodies have somewhat recovered, and the brain fog has subsided. Even thoughts of riding a bike again are starting to return. Over the course of the weekend we talked to a lot of PR Lotion users and heard some interesting perspectives on what motivates them to ride 200, or in some cases 350+ miles, of gravel roads at Dirty Kanza.
It was a range of reasons; for some it was to test themselves against the top cyclists out there and using PR Lotion helped buffer acid so they could push harder throughout the day. Others were simply looking to experience the day and didn’t have a finishing goal in mind. These were the riders that told us PR Lotion was an essential part of their program, pre-event and during, so they could have any help possible getting to the finish, and still being able to walk the following day.
We wanted to share the experiences of some of the riders we talked to. Some raced DK, some rode it just to get their name on the finishers list, and others simply couldn’t get enough miles.
Most mentally fit: Yuri Hauswald
In 2015 Yuri won Dirty Kanza, but this year simply doing another 200 miles wasn’t enough so he jumped into the inaugural DKXL, which meant he’d be riding a whopping 350 miles without any support. Let’s be honest, he’s seriously nuts. Well, Yuri not only made it, he finished in 2nd place.
”I was lucky to have no mechanicals, no mental breakdowns, no navigational issues and no real physical problems; all of these had to align, and incredibly, and they did. Through the oppressive heat and humidity, mud that rendered my bike unrideable, bobcat sightings under nighttime lightning storms, howling prairie winds and hail, and so much more, I rolled interminably forward to the distant finish line. 25:51 hours later, I pedaled down the DK finish chute to complete something I truly did not know was possible.”
Lights are on but nobody’s home: Ryan Steers
This would be Ryan Steers’ first Dirty Kanza experience and by the time he made it to the finish line he was hardly a shell of the man that was so eagerly chatting with everyone the previous day in the expo at the Topical Edge booth.
“I drastically underestimated the difficulty of Dirty Kanza and the number of things that can go awry in 206 miles of razor-sharp rocks, mud, dust, wind, and heat. It’s the hardest day I’ve ever had on a bike, but suffering with over 2,500 other gravel nuts made for an amazing experience.”
Just a Sunday ride: Joe Kleidosty
Joe is a Kansas local and a regular at the local gravel events. But even with considerable experience things can still go awry out in the Flint Hills.
“DK was about friendship and facing adversity this year for me. I made it up to the lead group at mile 30 and then a sidewall cut occurred on my rear tire. A teammate helped me fix it and then another rear tire flat occurred before checkpoint 2, and another friend offered help with fixing that one–my friends helped to save my day! PR Lotion was a big help, as I basically rode from mile 35 to mile 196 alone, I offered words of encouragement to everyone I could and provided free pulls, if they could latch on. No cramps or feeling of heavy legs all day long–just a somewhat pleasant ride through the Flint Hills.”
Dirty Kanza 400: Mike Ivancic
For Mike, 200 miles was fine, but why not bookend it with two more century rides? Leaving from his home in Kansas City the day before, Mike rode to DK, then back home the day after.
“I figured it would be a nice way of priming the pump and wanted to sandwich DK200 around two century rides. Besides, it’s all mental with very little of it being physical. You just have to take care of your caloric needs. Somebody said ‘why don’t you just ride there’ as a joke, and the wheels got turning. People told me not to do it and that made it a bigger challenge. During DK I helped three riders on the military team that were struggling–they weren’t going to make it without me pulling. I’m more of that guy that’s going to pull and do the lead out, I’m the workhorse. At the final checkpoint we re-applied PR Lotion and that helped one of the guys who had been cramping. We came across the finish line together, four wide.”
200 miles of smiles: Sean Schmidt
After having finished Dirty Kanza last year, Sean knew that you have to be prepared for anything...because Kansas in June can throw a number of weather curveballs at you.
“What a day! It had everything DK has to offer...mud, heat, wind–it was the hardest day ever on the bike and I LOVED every second of it! I go to the World’s Premier Gravel Race for an epic challenge and it gave it to me! I was honored to be out there as part of the field, got pushed to different limits, got through them, and rode back into Emporia with a bright smile on my face. Damn, I love this race and love the whole event. As soon as I got off my bike and was walking to the finisher’s coral, I had already started thinking about next year’s DK! I adore this race, this town, this experience!”
For more information about Dirty Kanza go to dirtykanza200.com