2017 Dirty Kanza Prep & Training

Note: This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.

It’s broken into seven parts:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line

Prep / Training

Many changes from last year’s Part II – Prep / Training plan including…

Changes to the bike

Still riding the Willard.


Raleigh Willard I @ 4am on race day

With a few changes to the setup that worked quite well:

  1. Handlebars – Salsa cowbell type 3, double-wrapped, wider, not as deep in the drops (comfort), double-wrapped to reduce vibration and prevent a repeat from last year’s numbed fingers.
  2. Cassette – Shimano 12-36T – granny gear means staying in the saddle during climbs, adding weight to the rear tire preventing slippage.  Not standing preserves energy reserves deeper into the day.
  3. Tires – Teravail Cannonball – 700×38 – shaves 2mm’s width from the tire with no downside.  Even with goo tubes, they (seem to) roll a bit easier vs. last year’s Schwalbe Marathons.

Summary of changes to bike

Once again this bike gets me across the finish — in time.  I did have a bit of trouble during the 3rd leg.  The afternoon thundershowers brought  with them mud and rocks getting into the gears.  This caused them to grind (hence the name) and required frequent stops to flush.  Otherwise a chain or derailleur surely would break, and did for those who didn’t pay heed.

These were extreme road conditions; I doubt anything but a single-speed would have done as well.


Mile 134 (3rd leg) of the 2017 dirty kanza and sloppy / muddy road conditions.


Significant changes from last year.  Here is my 2017 training log:

# Week     Longest Day     Total Miles
1.  Feb  6          83             216
2.  Feb 13          63             201
3.  Feb 20          90             222
4.  Feb 27          58             167
5.  Mar  6          79             207
6.  Mar 13          95             212
7.  Mar 20          45             181
8.  Mar 27         111             213
9.  Apr  3          98             202
10. Apr 10         141             285
11. Apr 17          23              23
12. Apr 24          79             239
13. May  1         160             327
14. May  8          70             199
15. May 15         101             155
16. May 22          55             192
17. May 29         208             252

The strategy included the following:

  • Every two weeks ride a bit further on the long day.
  • Hold the longest day at least one month prior.
  • Don’t ride long during the week.
  • Hills, hills and more hills.
  • Work on speed / intervals.

This made life easier as every other weekend I’d embark on a long training ride.  Sawtoothing my way up to about 160 miles — at the beginning of May.

More hills and interval training (ugh), where things get pushed to limit, but actually spent fewer long days on the bike.  I took it easy during the week with up to 120 miles logged between M-F.

Most of that training was pavement on the roads and trails around Little Rock.


Downtown Little Rock (LR)


North LR (from the river trail)

A lot of time spent outside of LR, in the mountains and deltas.


Harper’s loop

Here’s a descent down Thornburg Mountain:


Another coming off the backside of Wye mountain on Hwy 300:


There was one week grinding Kansas gravel outside Salina, including this century ride on the Native Stone route in Wabaunsee County.


Native Stone trail mile 19


Native Stone mile 84

Always remembering to take a break now and then…


@ Diamond Bear in NLR

Training Summary

I finished the race, shaving about an hour off last year’s time, but there’s room for improvement.  Still, I felt pretty good after the ride, and recovered quicker than last year.


After last year’s fiasco running dry during the 2nd leg, and almost DNFing, I was determined to change.  I added a 2.5L camelbak to my 1.8L platypus bladder (in the framebag), along with two water bottles.  I also paid attention to electrolytes on the long, sweaty rides.

Hydration Summary

Amazingly enough, even with all that water, I ran out about 10 miles from CP2 @ 95 miles.  An improvement over last year, but not good enough.

If you get one thing from this post:

Bring plenty of water for that 2nd leg of  DK!!!  (more later).


My nutrition plan also failed me last year with a bonk on the 2nd leg.  This year I eased my foolish opposition to factory products.


I learned the hard way that nutrition is crucial on those long rides (2nd only to hydration), and started eating those syrupy goopy packages of food.  No, I still don’t like, but to be successful on long rides, one must consume their calories — gradually and consistently.   Eat too much at once and get sick.  Too little and run out of gas.  For me the optimum is about 100 calories every 10 miles or so, which allows me to keep going, seemingly indefinitely.

Food Summary

My nutrition plan was a success in 2017.  I was able to eat, and stay energized, until the finish.

Next Post: Part II – Preamble

2016 Dirty Kanza

This post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016.

It’s broken into nine parts:

Part I – The Signup

Part II – Prep / Training

Part III – Friday

Part IV – Starting Line

Part V – Checkpoint One

Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Part IX – Finish Line

Just one more mornin’
I had to wake up with the blues
Pulled myself out of bed, yeah
And put on my walkin’ shoes

I went up on the mountain
To see what I could see
And the whole world was fallin’
Right down in front of me

Pull myself together
Put on a new face
Climb down off the hilltop now, baby
Get on back in the race

Gregg Allman, Dreams



2016 Dirty Kanza Part IX – Finish Line

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Part IX – Finish Line

new team member

Did I say something about being +1 at Checkpoint Three?  I lied.  We were actually +2 with the addition of Kristin.

We made the deal after she led us back into Madison.  It made perfect sense.  She was riding alone and could use some company.  Gregg and I were minus a working GPS.  I don’t know that it was said in so many words, but it meant no one left behind.

new moon

It was now total darkness, but we had Kristin to guide us.

“In approximately .2 miles you will turn left onto the unmaintained roadway,” she’d tell us with her soothing southern lilt.  Her voice far better than the British woman who speaks to me in my car.  Kristin if you ever need a new job I bet Garmin would hire you.

She was absolutely brilliant.  A positive light leading us to the finish line.


What’s the second thing your GPS (sometimes) does after telling you which way to turn?  It tells you to turn back around because it got confused – right?  We all know it happens.  Another reason Tim told me to not use the GPX tracks.  Next time…

On one such turnaround, I got sloppy and fell over.  Gravel aggravated old hip injury now inflamed with pain and swelling.

Don’t worry about it, get up and continue on, the voice inside my head told me.


Now and then we’d stop and let Gregg catch up.  At the turns.  I didn’t count, maybe four or five times.  In truth we didn’t have to wait very long.  Long enough for a good drink or to rifle through the frame bag to replace a battery unit on the headlight.  But it was dark, the field had thinned and the roads twisted.

“You guys don’t have to wait on me!” he would say.  He didn’t want to be the one that prevented us from getting a finishers glass.  I’d been keeping an eye on the times and distance.

“We got this,” would be the reply.


As the riders passed, they’d ask questions, wondering which way to turn, trying to figure out who knew what, following the competent ones.

“Do you guys know where you’re going?” one pair asked.

“We’re going to Emporia,” I told them in a cheerful voice.  “Where are you guys headed?”

The old man, holding a lantern and clanging a cowbell like crazy.  It’s zero dark thirty, riders trickling by and he’s still out there.

gut checks

As we propped each other up with words of encouragement.

Dig deep.  Good work.  Almost there.  We got this.


A few miles from Emporia I remembered the railroad tracks.  That every 17 minutes a train passes through.  That there is a barricade.  That under no circumstances does a rider cross one.

It was then I noticed what I thought was a blinky rider taillight were actually lights on a barricade.  The train was stopped and its last car was blocking the crossing.  Then slooowly it crept away and the guards lifted.  We’re moving again.


The last couple of miles went quickly.  Weaving our way through campus and onto Commercial Street I knew we were in time.

And they waited for us, cowbells still a-clanging and cheering like it meant something, which of course it did.

When it came time to cross, I waved Kristin ahead.

“No, let’s cross together,” she said.


Kristin and I at the finish line.

the celebration


Wish there was still beer.


I put my steed to rest.  Well done Willard. Well Done.

We were nearly the last across, but in this race, finishing is all that really matters.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 3.22.26 PM

the end



2016 Dirty Kanza Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line


We were late pulling out of Eureka – almost 4pm and knew our odds of finishing before the 3am cutoff…

After a few miles a voice.

“Well hello there Arkansan!  And no, I’m not stalking you…  I read it on your jersey,” she offered politely.

This is Kristin.  Remember I mentioned something about my GPS being messed up earlier?  It wasn’t long after meeting her that I had to turn it off.  I’ll not dive into the details.  Why am I mentioning a broken GPS and Kristin in the same paragraph?

gps glitch

A few miles later I watched Kristin turn in the “wrong” direction but stifled the urge to call out because I knew my Garmin was in the process of fubaring.  When another rider made the same mistake I knew it was me and not them.  I took off after them.

Gregg was not far behind.  He has the same kind of GPS as me.  Guess who set it up?  I was mad and then remembered Rebecca’s (Rusch) words the day before.

“Things will go wrong.   Don’t worry about it.  Just deal with it.” (shit happens)

I’m paraphrasing but you get the point.  I have cue sheets in frame bag, bike computer (odometer), map, three compasses.  Three Compasses.


A man next to the road was holding a water hose and I stopped.  Over the next two minutes we talked and topped off the water tanks.  He provided intel about weather and the next water crossing.

I can’t recall his name but would like to thank him sometime.  Ran his own aid station.  Wants to do it again next year.

Over the next forty miles, I raced (chased?) whoever in front of me.  There were hills.  There were roads.  Some shouldn’t be called roads.

As expected, with the sun setting the temps became comfortable.  The winds turned into a nice summer breeze.

As the evening turned to night we rolled (back) into Madison.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 9.38.19 PM

Rolled into Madison @ 10p

Thirty minutes under the cutoff.


Madison (again)

Our team was +1.  Brian, another DK200 participant, had dropped out at 100 miles and was now in our pit.

Kelly was shoveling pizzas and cokes my way.  I was back.  Emporia is 44 miles away and time is running out.

Next Post – Part IX – Finish Line

2016 Dirty Kanza Part III – Friday

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

The day before the race was a blur.  So many loose ends.  Started with a phone call when I flared on Gregg.  I’ll gloss over the details (to spare the victims) but can assure you there were heroics on this day.

Somehow Kelly and I managed to make it to the riders meeting in Emporia by 5pm.


What?  The 200 mile race is actually 206 miles?

which made us kind of thirsty…


Mulready’s gave us a warm welcome after the 5p riders meeting


Had a nice dinner at Bruff’s and off for the last bit of preparations.  We’d heard it was the best steakhouse in town and my KC strip did not disappoint.  Something said during dinner, hung in the air for me.  Once upon a time, one of us ordered steak the night before a big race and suffered GI distress because of it.

“That won’t happen to me,”  I confidently stated.

Somewhere while dotting all those i’s and crossing them t’s I forgot about getting a good nights sleep.  It was well past midnight before I laid and two hours past that before the sleep.

Disappointed.  I had a 25 miler plotted that would have taken the edge off.  It went out and back along the DK routes.  A hard lesson learned.  Arrive two days early.  Do the prep on Thursday.  Leave Friday for some R&R.

Next Post: Part IV – Starting Line



2016 Dirty Kanza Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

west then southbound

I did not feel well and had eaten very little since Checkpoint One.  I was getting dehydrated, had an intermittent cramp in the left quadricep and had just Hit The Wall.


D Rd. mile 75, Linda Guerrete Photography

By now Gregg and I were (mostly) riding within eyesight of one another.  He would catch me on the downhill sections and I would pull away on the climbs or when facing the wind.

2nd leg was the toughest…

  1. The winds 20 mph+
  2. The hills
  3. The heat

Gregg didn’t have to tell me that he was hurting and every time he asked how I was doing would always be the same reply.  Talking (or even thinking) about it made it worse.  Once he shared a partial bottle of water.  It wasn’t enough, but the gesture was.

I would have been much better with some fresh water.  The EFS mixture was holding out in my frame bag but I had to force myself to drink from it and it didn’t quench my thirst.  My mind thought I was dying – of thirst.  My body was struggling too with fatigue, GI and heat distress.

At midday the sun was brutal and riders began clustering around what shade there was alongside the roads (not much).  I knew stopping now would be a mistake so kept crawling along.

It was also during this section I got off my bike and walked a few hills.  I did not count, but guess three or four.  Some riders dismounted on every hill and pushed their bikes over.  Many were limping.

Sometimes I would issue a lament, intended in jest, to break tension during the climbs.

I thought Kansas was supposed to be flaaat.


And the miles slooowly ticked away.  I forced myself not to look at speed and distance and focus instead on controllable things like heart rate, respiration and conservation of the remaining matches.

I recall walking up one particularly (especially) steep hill and noticing the heart rate was still hovering around 147.

Are you kidding me?  If I have to work this hard I might as well be pedaling and vowed not to walk up another, and didn’t.

The cramping was kept under control.  Occasionally the left quad would squawk and I would ease off.

I was still having fun.  The hills were technical and required unwavering concentration and skill to navigate.  Let your mind drift at the wrong moment and things go from bad to worse in an instant.  These are the moments I live for.

It was around mile 97 that my thirst became unbearable.  It was still 6 or 7 miles from Checkpoint Two.  Normally not very far but under these circumstances perhaps too far.

I still had a little EFS left in the tank but again it wasn’t easing my thirst.  I began to consider the damage being done to my body and calculated if it was worthwhile to continue.

Suddenly two jeeps appeared in the distance, kicking up dust, and sped my way.  After rapidly closing distance, they pulled alongside the road and several passengers immediately burst into view waving bottles of water in the air.

It was a sight of indescribable beauty.  I pulled over, held out a hand and a bottle magically appeared in its palm.  I poured it down in about three seconds and put out my other hand in hopes of another.  That one straight to the jersey pocket.  Held it out again, poured over my head1.   Ahhhh!  Held it out again, also downed in a few seconds.

In a few moments everything changed.  I went from the brink of collapse to a new resolve.  Was I considering a DNF?  Not only no but HELL NO!!!

And I’d unlocked the Roadrunner’s cryptic message, before things got so damn crazy.  He told me to use them jeeps.  Ostensibly because they have fresh water. 🙂


Gregg caught up and we rode the last few miles into town together, lightheartedly bantering with the locals, smiling and exchanging high fives with the children, basking in the glory of the moment.

turning point

Didn’t realize it at the time but things were starting to go our way.

Our support team was now +1.  Kelly, who’d stepped off the course at Checkpoint One (more on that later) was now working in our pit full time.  This added a pair of hands for the bikes, to load bottles, and another brain to help troubleshoot problems.

Our support team knew we were both in trouble.  Gregg was sitting in a semi catatonic state and I refused to eat.  They poured water on Gregg and began putting things in my face to eat.  I would wave them off.

No sandwich, no payday, no rice cakes.  Pickle? I think I’ll try a bite of that.  Yuck .  Water melon?  OK let me try that (not too bad).  Jerky no.  Gu no, chips, cookies, oranges, no. You have a homemade barcake thingie made just for us and this race?  Normally I’d be all over it but right now… NO.

What’s that a cracker with a little tuna on it.  Let me try that.  Well that isn’t horrible, ok, I’ll try another, and another…


Here I am at Checkpoint Two, Eureka KS

Kelly is a marathon runner and he’s dealt with his share of cases of exhaustion.  He pointed out that my voice had that raspy sound runners get just before quitting.

What me quit?  HELL NO!!  It was here that I formulated a battle cry that would be carried over the next 100 miles.

not quitting unless

  1. Kicked off the course (missed a cutoff)
  2. Left leg fully cramps
  3. GI distress becomes acute (no description needed)

We managed to get in and out of the Checkpoint Two in about 20 minutes which was a bit better than the first checkpoint.  But time was not on our side.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 4.09.49 PM

Leaving town somewhere before 4pm meant there’s a hell of lot of real estate left to cover and we still haven’t turned north yet, back into the wind.

My hope was with the sun dropping, so too would the temps and the winds.  The weather patterns seemed to support that hypothesis.

We shall see…

Next Post: Part VIII – Checkpoint Three


1. (Should be obvious)
The merit of pouring a bottle of water on top of oneself (i.e. to cool off) is proportionate to the proximity of fresh water.  If it’s a long way, save it for drinking.

2016 Dirty Kanza Part V – Checkpoint One

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line


When I first turned south, past the early mud flows, through a peaceful field, a kooky roadrunner came out and issued a warning.

“Jeep.  Jeeep!  Jeeeeeep!!!”  Looking right at me.  I hoped that it was meant for another, but nope, just me.

I watched him watch me as I continued on my path southward, he stayed put, in the middle of the road, waiting, silent, expectant.

What was the message my strange sentinel of the Flint Hills carried I wondered.  Was he telling me that I should go rent a jeep before continuing on?  Ride like a jeep maybe (hopefully)?  Beware the jeep?  Or, that it would be a jeep that would have to rescue me later?


And that’s when things got a little crazy.  There were hills, water crossings, cattle guards and the roughest of roads.  It was rocky, muddy, technical and fast.  My machine performed capably and I had a blast.  Never out of control, kept speeds lower than 30 on the downhills, lower than 20 over the ruts, washboards and unpredictable surfaces that were commonly encountered.


C. Heller Photography

What I signed up for.  Forget the worldly cares and focus on the NOW.  Past the obstacle in front, and the next.  Take them one at a time.  Amazingly, awesome therapy.  🙂

Dirty Kanza16_3865-(ZF-10162-92722-1-002)

River crossing, MSPhotos

The other side (a few moments later)


handheld gopro shot

The field was crowded (shared with half pinters).  There often were two lines.  The temps were comfortable, winds favorable and everything seemed to be fine.

Dirty Kanza16_0877-(ZF-7072-54430-1-001)

Camp Creek Rd., mile 25, MSPhotos


Camp Creek Rd., mile 30, TBL Photography


I was feeling pretty good until looking down and being surprised at my heart rate.  It was running a full ten points over the expected.

It’s called burning matches.  Burn them too soon and you run out before the finish.  Once you’re out, it’s over.  This is still early, why all the matches?

My cousin Gregg later characterized the first leg as doing squats for four hours straight.  That’s probably not far from the mark.  Speaking of Gregg, it was just before we hit Checkpoint One that he speeds past me.  I hadn’t seen him since around five or six miles in but there he goes now.

I remember wondering what that meant.  Was it because I was getting slow, he fast, or a combination of both?


No worries, push it to the back of the mind and press on.  Rode into Checkpoint One feeling kind of OK but not really.  Sort of sputtering.  A piston was misfiring.


Checkpoint One, Madison, KS.

Gregg had beat me by a few minutes.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there was trouble.  Nonetheless I stocked up on the ample provisions that were waiting for us.

Special care had to be taken of the equipment.  The water crossings on the first leg had dried out the drive trains and they were squeaking mightily.

My appetite was waning.  Higher temps were kicking in and a normally hearty food consumption rate was dropping off.


It was then a fateful decision was made about hydration opting to refill both bottles and the 1.8L bladder with the EFS mixture.  I thought going all-in with the EFS would get me back some of the calories being lost from lack of appetite.

I should have carried a couple more pints of pure water.  There was plenty of room inside the jersey.

These mistakes were caused by a fuzzy-head, from the lack of sleep the night before.

And another problem… time.  As in it’s being wasted.   It had taken almost four hours to reach Checkpoint One.  Some of that can be blamed on derailleurgate, but really?  Four hours to go the first fifty?  Not good.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 9.08.16 PM

Not exactly burning up the race course.

Adding insult to injury, it took (what seemed like) ten minutes to find the support vehicle.  Bottom line, it was thirty minutes before returning back to the course bound for Checkpoint Two.

Waaay too long and yet another worry that had to be pushed to the back of the mind.

Next Post: Part VI – Hitting The Wall

2016 Dirty Kanza Part II – Prep / Training

The pic above is my entry for the 2016 DK200 unboxed.

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

Introduction to Prep & Training

Part II is long and not important to this story’s narrative.  It  will describe the preparation of machine and physiology for the rigors of a two hundred mile race.  Read if you want to learn about the details, otherwise skip to the next part.


Nowhere near my name does the word professional appear with respect to exercise or cycling.  I have been doing both for many years, but only as an amateur, and of late as an enthusiast.  I have many years of experience, and will impart wisdom in areas that I can claim expertise.

The Bike

OK, we’ve signed up, now what?  I’ve never before ridden an organized gravel race and nothing over 100 miles.  Where do I start?

Start with the bike.  I could write a post outlining the considerations of selecting one for an event like this.  It’s well-trodden ground and I’ll leave it for the pros.  Here we’ll describe my selection and rationalize – just a little.

The Decision for a 2015 Raleigh Willard I

My brother Tim ordered and assembled three 2015 model Raleigh Willard I bikes for Dan, Kelly and I to use.  These bikes are aluminum-framed.

I have read a lot about the advantages of the various frame types (steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium) and tried to make an informed decision.  I reckoned comfort was futile because the bike will be vibrating like crazy due to the roughness of the chert gravel roads in the Flint Hills.

I already knew that aluminum was cheap, durable, lightweight, and stiff.  Most of the bikes I’ve ridden over the past 20 years have had aluminum frames.

Cheap is always good because it means I can afford one.

So too are durable and lightweight. Their importance grow when we factor in my weight and gear.

Stiff will be mixed.  Not good on vibration, an important factor.  Good on downhills.  Velocity is a critical factor.  There will be lots of downhills at Kanza.

Hmm, must think more on this.   The stock 40 mm tires will smooth out the ride negating much of the stiffness of the aluminum frame (right?).  There’s also vibration dampening seatposts that can take the edge off.

I was lukewarm to the idea of disc brakes.  The added weight is OK, but I have not always been pleased with its performance.

So after weighing the pros and cons, not the least of which was budget (I still had lots of stuff left to get), the Raleigh Willard I seemed like a smart buy.

Here are the factory specs

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.00.24 AM

specs for 2015 Raleigh Willard I

Assembly / Setup

Tim’s an experienced bike mechanic and did the assembly from his garage in Salt Lake City before shipping to us.


The Raleigh Willard yet to be assembled in Tim’s Garage.

He did a great job getting them ready.  Here’s mine again newly assembled. (size 54)…


2015 Raleigh Willard I fully assembled


I adjusted the setup from stock by adding and changing the following things:

  1. Bontrager Montrose Comp saddle (comfortable)
  2. Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost (vibration dampening)
  3. 11-32 rear casette (wider range with lower low and a higher high)
  4. Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 700×40 RaceGuard tires (more rubber)
  5. True Goo self sealing tubes (not taking any chances)
  6. Revelate Tangle frame bag (w/ platypus 1.8L bladder, spare tubes, food, battery packs, cue sheets, maps)
  7. Two cages (w/ 24 oz water bottles)
  8. Velo Cateye bike computer (simple distance / speed)
  9. Garmin Edge 800 GPS unit (direction )
  10. Gopro digital camera (fun)
  11. Cygolite Metro 400 headlight (> 8 hrs life w/ batt pack @ medium intensity)
  12. Seat bag (w/ tire change tool, extra tube, multitool w/chaintool, 4 CO2)
  13. Frame-mounted tire pump (not taking any chances)

I carried enough gear to change about four flats in a row.  At the checkpoints there were boxes containing more tubes, spare chains, links, cables, and spare derailleur in case things went haywire.


Boxes of gear

Each rider on our team carried one of these (somehow) on race day.


cue sheets and course maps

Here it is with most of the mods listed above.


2015 Raleigh Willard I

Bike Summary

This bike performed flawlessly during the race.  No mishaps, flats, chain or derailleur issues of any kind.  Thanks Tim for all of the time you spent helping me to procure, assemble, modify and prepare this racehorse.  This part of the plan went perfectly well.

lessons learned

Next time I will double-wrap the handlebars.  I also will get better riding gloves (more padding).  206 miles on those roads == sore hands.

ruh roh gps

Problems with Garmin device going off course and pointing in the wrong direction.  This annoyance tuned critical later, in the 3rd leg, as the field spread (more on that later).

he told me so

Tim specifically warned me about this problem and recommended that I not use the gpx tracks but rather navigate off the base maps and an image overlay with the course.  I chose not to heed his sage advice and paid for it.  Luckily I found help, in the form of an angel.  (again more later)

more testing

I would have discovered the GPS routing problem if I had tested on location.  I purchased the Garmin device a few weeks prior – not enough time.

The Training

My training was simple and went according to plan.

Gradually increase the number of hours spent per week and its longest ride.  I had over four months until race day so there was plenty of time.  If for any reason a week is skipped or reduced, cross those days off but keep going with the schedule.

The goal, get to 75% of the total mileage.  I also wanted to get comfortable with the idea of spending long hours in the saddle, in the wind. I learned not to fight the wind but to accept it.  (sort of)

It was during these long rides that I formulated my pacing, fueling and hydration strategies.  I learned that I wasn’t fast, but I could comfortably average 14 mph (gun time) on most days and figured that would be good enough to get me across on June 4th.

Proposed Training Plan

#  Week of  Longest Day  Total Miles
1.  Feb  7           80          200
2.  Feb 14           90          210
3.  Feb 21           95          215
4.  Feb 28          100          220
5.  Mar  6          105          225
6.  Mar 13          110          230
7.  Mar 20          115          235
8.  Mar 27          120          240
9.  Apr  3          125          245
10. Apr 10          130          250
11. Apr 17          135          255
12. Apr 24          140          260
13. May  1          145          265
14. May  8          150          270
15. May 15          155          275
16. May 22          160          280
17. May 29          Taper
18. Jun  4          206

Simple is not always easy.  This plan looks brutal until you realize that I could take days or weeks off anytime I wanted.  This allowed my body to recover and get ready for the next big ride.  It also gave my mind time to rest which kept things fresh.

Perform one long ride every weekend and around 120 miles on the weekdays.  Vary miles and intensity on the weekday rides. 5×25, 4×30, 3×40, 2×60, 1×100, or all of the above.  Ride hills, flats, and combination.  Windy and calm days.  Fast, medium, slow or mixed tempos.  Hot, med and cold temps.  Rain or shine.  Keep the body guessing what is to come next but also on a steady training regime for endurance.  Don’t just put in the miles, set goals.  This is your chance to get dialed in.  One ride is to get comfortable with high winds.  Another hills, heat, rough gravel, or darkness.  Maybe a particular ride is just to have fun.

My actual performance followed the plan pretty well.  You can see there are some gaps in there but overall maintained the gradual buildup to 160 miles or 12 hours in the saddle.  During this training stretch I did about eight centuries.

Actual Training Log

#  Week of  Longest Day  Total Miles
1.  Feb  7           78            -
2.  Feb 14           89          210
3.  Feb 21           90          233
4.  Feb 28           63          186 (gravel)
5.  Mar  6          108          225
6.  Mar 13           94          156
7.  Mar 20           80           80
8.  Mar 27           37          113
9.  Apr  3          116          253
10. Apr 10          132          269
11. Apr 17          110          228
12. Apr 24           97           97
13. May  1          117          266
14. May  8          150          285
15. May 15          106          130
16. May 22          163          306
17. May 29           54          172  (hills)
18. Jun  4          206

I managed to get most of these training miles using my GPS on Strava account.

One big concern is most of this was on pavement and the race of course is on gravel.  There were about two or three weeks of gravel riding outside my parent’s hometown of Salina KS in Feb and March.


East of Salina Feb ’16

And also one brilliant training day outside cottonwood falls.

I mostly rode the Willard, trying to get it setup right and also accustomed to it.  There were many great days of exploration.


Along the Arkansas river, May ’16

Strength Training

The strength training helps with the intangibles of endurance cycling.  The long hours in the saddle become difficult to endure without a strong upper body and core.  To meet the demands of sudden bursts of anaerobic activity when lifting bike across water/mud or pulling hard to steer away from an onrushing hazard like a rut, rock, ditch, …

Weightlifting has been part of my fitness plan for many years.  As I have grown older, I have decreased the weights and increased the reps.  It’s not unusual for a particular set to have 50 reps for example.

My workout plan has three phases

One – Chest, Triceps

Two – Back, Biceps

Three – Legs, Shoulders

The particular workout session usually consists of a single phase within 30 minutes or less.  I often superset between muscle groups.  For example on phase three I can jump between a leg press and a shoulder exercise without stopping to rest between the sets.  Back and forth.  This adds an aerobic element to a workout session and helps to alleviate boredom.

The number of days per week will vary according to where I’m at on the bike.

If I am riding long hours, I will probably not go to the gym that day.  Days with short or no rides I’m usually doing strength training.  I focus on the fundamental and traditional exercises.  Pushups, situps, pullups, dips, flies, leg presses, curls, etc.

Keep It Simple Stupid.  No heavy sets.  No squats, no barbells, no deadlifts.

Don’t ignore the legs.  Leg presses always use high reps, low weights. Calf extensions follow the leg presses (on same machine) and also should be high reps.  Leg curls if it doesn’t hurt on a given machine.  Be careful, not all leg machines are good.  Leg extensions never good.

Also maintain care with shoulders.  Presses are done using dumbbells and perfect form.  Military presses only with light weights and usually on a machine.  Focus on the rear and lateral delts (helping to maintain a healthy rotator cuff).

These movements should feel good.  If you feel pain, stop (the inverse of no pain no gain). If the pain associated repeats with that exercise across multiple days, find another way to work that muscle group.

The goal is to continue cycling for as long as possible which has nothing whatsoever to do with how much weight is on the bar or the amount of time spent lifting.

Short sessions means not dreading which keeps it fresh.  Remain on lookout for new exercises or new ways of doing old ones.

Invest time doing core strengthening exercises.  They can be performed during any phase.  Use various types of movements to avoid overuse and injury.  These movements will help with more time in the saddle, and in particular, down in the drops.

Training Summary

My training plan was successful in getting my body, mind and machine ready for the Dirty Kanza 200.  The long rides exposed many weaknesses in my technique that had to be worked on.  As I got better at training and recovering, my confidence grew.

I managed to add a little hill training into the last couple of weeks and would have liked starting it sooner.  Other areas needing improvement is more time riding in places like the Flint Hills. One, maybe two fifty mile legs along a previous DK route would be a perfect way to access readiness of body and machine.


For hydration I used Electrolyte Fuel System (EFS), two 24 oz bottles and a 1.8L bladder inside the frame bag on the bike.  It was nice not having to wear a camelbak and could drink different types of fluid at the same time.  For example, pure water in the bladder, and EFS in the bottles, was a typical setup.

I like the fluids cold (it’s the simple pleasures) and would always chill &/or ice fluids to the minimum temperature possible for any given ride.

At checkpoints this year our support team, lead by Cheri Parr (more on her later), provided bandanas loaded with ice and soaked in ice water, to wrap around our necks before setting off.  These seemingly small details have a way of tipping the lever toward a successful outcome.

Hydro Summary

My hydro strategy was fine for DK200.  I did experience a dehydration problem on the second leg of the DK race, but that was a problem with execution.  A combination of incorrect mixture and not carrying enough pure water (should have carried one more liter in jersey).


My nutrition plan was also simple.


Typical frame bag goodies packed on a long ride

As you can see, I’m not big on the typical performance fuel products.  I favor fresh foods over processed but will carry things like M&M’s, nutri grain bars and the like.

I experimented a bit foolishly and learned that salad-in-the-bag is not a good concept.  🙂

I also don’t have room in my bag for fresh produce on race day but will look for it at the checkpoints.  Oranges, watermelons, peaches, apples, …, (all good).

Long into these rides (around 75 miles) I would stop at a local mart and get whatever they had available at the time and that sounded good.  These impromptu items varied from chicken fingers, to pizza, corndogs, burritos, etc.  For me, having something of substance late in the day is something that can be looked forward to early in the ride.  But if I had that slice of pizza it was just a single.

I also learned to eat gradually during the long rides and start early as possible, i.e. at 10 miles.  A PBJ or turkey sandwiches works well but only if eaten early on.  🙂


PBJ after about 110 miles on a hot day.

Food Summary

My nutrition strategy worked fine for long training rides, i.e. over 120 miles.  But I found out on race day it doesn’t particularly hold up under the heat.  This is an area of my plan that needs more work.  Perhaps more of a reliance on the performance products.  Stay tuned…

Next Post: Part III – Friday


2016 Dirty Kanza Part IV – Starting Line

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

It was 4am Saturday June 4th in Emporia when my brother Kelly stirred.  We were doubling up in one of the Emporia State University dorm rooms and as he rose nothing had to be said.   I knew it was time.

I managed to push to the back of my mind that I had slept just two hours.  It was a morale buster and inconsequential to the plan.

Having already done the prep, just had to get up, do the last bio/mech steps, eat, and roll to the starting line.

After four months of planning the moment of truth.  It was almost a sense of relief despite knowing that the hard part had yet to begin.


10 minutes before the start.

Also riding with us was my cousin Gregg.  This would be our first attempt at the 200 DK course.  Our confidence was high so we lined up with the 16 hour group.  Little did we know how optimistic that was.  The temps were cool, in the low 60’s, conditions clear and we’re ready to roll.

Next thing we know the race is started and we’re moving down the street to the joyous sounds of the crowds cheering and the cowbells clanging.

Once out of town we immediately saw that 100’s of riders were queued in front.


Kelly and Gregg slow to a coast as we eye the backlog of riders ahead.

Ruh roh.  There was a bit of a downpour a few hours before and it flooded the first stretch of gravel.  Much has been said about the ensuing derailleurgeddon.  I’ve heard varying reports of how many riders were sidelined with broken chains and twisted derailleurs along this stretch.  I felt for those who couldn’t continue.  It was nerve-wracking for us and must have been gut-wrenching for them.  To train for months and out after a few miles.  Tough break.

Kelly, Gregg and I had discussed our race strategy the night before.  It was simple.  Take it easy over the first part of the course.  Let others surge ahead.  Nobody waits during the first 100.  Go at a comfortable pace.  The second half we pick it up a bit.  Like we trained.

But that’s not how it all played out.  After that slow crawl thru the mud and perhaps because of an unclear mind and lack of sleep, I became antsy and wanted to push faster…

Next Post: Part V – Checkpoint One

Dad with Kelly and Timothy circa early '90's.

2016 Dirty Kanza Part I – The Signup

The pic above from l to r, Kelly, Richard, and Tim McKinney circa xmas ’91.

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

My father, Richard McKinney, passed away December 23, 2015.  He had suffered for about 10 years from a series of health problems increasing in severity.  Throughout that time I never heard him complain.  If asked he would declare all of the reasons he considered himself fortunate.

I owe my love for cycling to him.  From my earliest memories, there were plenty of bikes around.  First a Huffy Stingray hand-me-down in the late ’60s.  Later were the department store 3, 5 and 10-speeds, ’70s era European road bikes, and finally into the mountain bikes of the ’80s and ’90s.

In those days (early ’70s) parents let their kids run loose and we took full advantage of it.  In the summer, it was not unusual to leave right after breakfast and not return until just before suppertime (our cutoff ).  Pack up a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we’re good to go.  We’d explore the countryside on bikes.  Pavement, gravel, singletrack and doubletrack.  Sometimes we’d run up against hobos making their way across the area via the highways and railroad tracks.  Maybe we’d come back carrying some kind of snake or turtle and Mom would not be happy.

“What do you think you’re going to do with – that?” she’d ask.

There were boundaries.  Don’t cross the Delaware River west of town or the US Highway 24 to the north.  Little Wild Horse Creek was especially off limits.  Kelly once cut his foot on a crossing, bad enough to require stitches.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 1.03.37 PM

Perry KS hasn’t changed much 45 years later.

Beyond the creek were miles of unbroken ranch land to be explored. The hills NE of town was left by Pre-Illinoian glaciations 600,000 years prior and we couldn’t resist them. We’d hose ourselves down using the water spigot at the edge of town, before returning to our house, between the two churches, one Methodist, the other Catholic.

We thought we were being slick, but Mom would always find out.  Years later she told us how – muddy underwear from swimming in the creek.

Those were simpler times and our parents were not fearful like many are today.  The worst thing that ever happened was being prevented from riding due to a mechanical problem, missing a cutoff or going out of bounds, and getting into trouble (grounded).

A very poor quality Polaroid photo of us in Perry, KS (early ’70s)


l to r, Kelly, Kevin and Shawn McKinney circa ’73

Years later, after I got too busy to ride, my Dad would throw hints by sending me home with new bikes to try out.  I’d mostly ignore his attempts during my 20’s and 30’s but he never gave up and once even sent me home with an electric bike (which I still have).

Here’s a newspaper clipping of me riding one of Dad’s hand-me-down bikes with son Zachary…


From the local rag (Maumelle Monitor) Jan 20, 2000.

Over the years, as my passion for cycling has ebbed and flowed, I received steady encouragement from him.  Of late, as the number of hours in the saddle rose to extreme (crazy?) levels, he continued to support and applaud my accomplishments (modest though they were) never once hinting I might be overdoing it.

My younger brother, Timothy, completed the 2014 DK200 in just under 14 hours.  He subsequently dedicated the accomplishment and gave him his coveted Race Against the Sun award,  I was there acting as support for Tim, and the moment was not lost on me in terms of importance. The seed was planted.

So after Dad died talk returned to the Dirty Kanza and thoughts of signing up in 2016.  Before that time the race was on my bucket list but I had no concrete plans for making a run this year.  After the funeral, and with pleading from my family, we decided to go for it.


When it became time to sign up I was leaning toward the Half Pint (100 miles).  To me it made sense as it would give a taste without having to commit to more training than I was accustomed to.

It was then my brother Kelly convinced me to do the whole enchilada.  You’ll get there in June and want to do the full distance he reasoned.  Somehow he swayed me and I signed up with him along with Gregg (cousin), and Dan (close friend).

Little did we know what we had gotten ourselves into.


Richard J McKinney 1935 – 2015


Next Post: Part II – Prep / Training