Spoke Talk: Why the face?
I realized I am signed up for the Dirty Kanza 200-mile gravel race, otherwise known as the DK200. The DK200 is in early June in the Flint Hills of Kansas. It actually sounds easy enough. No mountain passes, no chance of snow, no altitude to contend with. I have put in many a 200-mile day. I once rode 430 miles in a 24-hour period. I was younger, underemployed and a bit naïve, but I have done it. So, Why the face?
Here it is May 1, and I am riding my Eriksen Gravel bike as much as I can. It is my new obsession. What makes toeing the line for the DK200 scary is the unknown. Kansas sounds flat. It’s not. The gravel roads in Kansas are not like Routt County’s. They are two-track width, and the flint in the Flint Hills stands for sharp rocks, as sharp as a knife — sharp enough to cut your tires. Kansas is also hot, really hot, in June, and windy, too. Finally, I will be riding big gravel tires, which means speeds are not going to be as fast as a 200-mile road ride, not even close.
To get over my trepidation about this ride, I’m focusing on tips gained from years of riding longer distances. These tips will help you prepare for an epic gravel ride like the DK200, the local Tour de Steamboat or any long-distance backcountry mountain bike adventure. So, whatever your riding goal is this summer, check out my 5 tips to make sure you are prepared.
- Have your bike checked by a mechanic, including the tires, rim tape, drivetrain, spokes, rims, brake pads and tighten and lubricate all bolts. Prevention is cheaper than a costly repair and/or rescue.
- Think time not miles. A ride like the Tour de Steamboat covers more than 7,000 feet of climbing at elevation. You need to pace, eat, drink and enjoy. Be prepared to spend seven to 10 hours on your bike by actually spending seven or more hours on your bike.
- Eat food, real food. Rice balls, burritos, cheese sticks, fruit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches power me much better than commercial bars. I still use commercial bars when I need to, but real food tastes better, generates enthusiasm to eat, and it’s cheaper.
- Bonking is not certain death. In fact, you can typically rally from that dizzy, fatigued feeling within five to 10 minutes just by eating. Yup, eat, drink, eat some more, and soon, your mood and body will feel better.
- Keep track of your rides by fun factor. Noting the folks you rode with, how you felt and goals reached will keep you motivated and enjoying the bike.
Visit tourdesteamboat.com for the rest of my tips. Early registration for the Tour de Steamboat ends May 31, so register today.
There are at least 12 local riders and businesses headed to Kansas for the DK200 to ride, race and support. Wish us luck, Steamboat. Full report in June.
Katie Lindquist is director of the Tour de Steamboat, a noncompetitive road cycling event benefitting Yampa Valley nonprofits. Find more information at tourdesteamboat.com. She is also a World Champion 24 Hour Solo racer, Race Across America competitor and longtime bike rider.
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