Aevolo Cycling‘s Lance Haidet and two of his teammates took part in this year’s Dirty Kanza gravel race. When the dust settled, Lance rolled in for an impressive top-20 finish despite three flats and having never competed in the event before. Racing his Lezyne GPS equipped gravel bike, the former U23 cyclocross national champion shared his data with us using our GPS Root website and offered a bit of insight to go along with it.
Click on Full Ride Details to view Lance’s ride data on GPS Root
Lezyne: What was it like racing your first Dirty Kanza?
Lance: Now that I’ve had a couple days to forget about all the suffering, DK was honestly pretty awesome. Going into it, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was unsure about the route, the gravel conditions, what the weather was going to be like (we were supposedly going to get thunderstorms and some rain, but instead we got baking sun and temps in the mid 90s), and epically unsure about how the body would feel after 7-8 hours in the saddle. I was definitely venturing into the unknown, but I think that’s what makes DK 200 so rad.
Lezyne: Was Dirty Kanza the longest race you’ve ever done?
Lance: Oh yeah, by far! About 70 miles and five hours longer than anything I had ever done.
Lezyne: Did you have a strategy for the race?
Lance: The strategy was basically to stay with the lead group as long as possible, try not to flat, and eat and drink literally as much as I could. I’d say the strategy would have worked pretty well, except for the fact that flatted at mile 40, lost the lead group, and then proceeded to flat two more times over the course of the day.
Lezyne: You had two other teammates in the race — did any teamwork com into play?
Lance: Having my teammates was pretty awesome for the first quarter of the race because we were able to help each other stay in good position and could work together to close small gaps after technical or rocky sections. After about mile 50 though, we all started to have our own issues with flatting, cramping, bonking, etc., so we didn’t get to ride and work together as much as we were hoping.
Lezyne: You didn’t race with any power or sensors, was that good or bad?
Lance: Although I would have liked to have had power or heart rate data to analyze after the race, I think riding with no sensors was actually pretty cool. 200 miles of gravel is such a gnarly mental and physical test that riding purely off of feel just seemed right. Plus, not being able to see how few watts I was putting out over those last 50 miles was probably pretty good for the mental state.
Lezyne: You’re kind of in between the WorldTour level and the gravel purest: What’s your take on where the state of gravel racing is?
Lance: Personally, I think the gravel scene is super cool. Although I do race a lot on the road, I freaking love riding bikes in the dirt. Being a CX guy, I incorporate a lot of gravel, mountain biking, and urban assaulting into my training, so I am super excited that gravel racing is as jammin’ as it is. Also, just the overall vibe and participation numbers at gravel events like DK are pretty awesome.
Lezyne: Now that you’ve finished your first DK200, what advice would you give someone getting ready to do it for the first time?
Lance: I’d say having a solid support crew is definitely pretty key at DK. My dudes Jono and Vince made sure I had everything I needed food, hydration and equipment-wise at each aid station. Because of them, I was able to mentally break the race up into three segments knowing that all I had to do was make it to the next aid station. Seeing how dialed they were gave me extra motivation, and allowed me to reset and refocus at each checkpoint. Lastly, I’d say that no matter how well you prepare, there is going to be a point (or many) during DK that you are not mentally or physically ready for. Knowing that in advance will help to keep your head straight — even when your eyes are crossed, you’re drooling on yourself, and your hands, feet and taint have all been numb for the past 50 miles.
Lezyne: Would you race it again?
Lance: Oh, for sure. Next time I will probably try to train a bit more for it though.
Lezyne: According to your data, it hit 100 degrees out there. What steps did you take to stay properly hydrated?
Lance: I believe it! It was flippin’ hot out there. I think grabbing a partially frozen Camelback at each aid station along with two bottles of Gu Roctane mix was definitely the move. The Camelbak kept me cool, and while it melted I would drink the two bottles. I also tried to be very good about taking Gu Roctane Electrolyte capsules and hydration tabs throughout the day. Normally I am super into caffeine, but a day that long and that hot, I tried to limit caffeine to avoid cramping, and sometimes it makes my head feel a bit weird when I’m dehydrated.
Lezyne: Even though Kansas is quite flat, you climbed nearly 8,500 feet. Does it help being a climber?
Lance: Although I don’t think there was climb over two minutes, 8500 feet is still 8500 feet. I think being a bit on the lighter-side made the rollers a little easier, and as I was moving up after my first flat, the climbs acted as good points to quickly jump from one group to the next.
Lezyne: At what point in the race did your ‘cross skills come in the most handy?
Lance: There really weren’t as many technical bit as I was hoping, so the need for ‘cross skills was sort of minimal. However, there was this one time when the dude ahead of me lost it in a muddy rut, and as his bike was sliding, his front tire acted as a plow and sent a wave of mud and water straight into my face. Although I was 69% blind, the cross skills pulled through, and I was able to bunny-hop both him and his bike. There was also this other time that I popped a sweet wheelie in front photographer, so yeah, that was cool.
Lezyne: What piece of Lezyne gear was the most important for Kanza?
Lance: The bell, it has to be the bell. In the last 25 or 30 miles of DK, when you are in a very dark place, you can angle the Classic Brass Bell just right so that the sun’s reflection flickers in your eyes and draws you to back to the light. Plus, just giving that thing an occasional ring is totally comforting and makes you crack a smile every time. In all serious though, the Mega XL GPS was probably my most important piece of equipment. Finishing an almost 12 hour day of navigating, and still having over 50% battery life was super reassuring, especially when seeing how many people barely made it over halfway before their devices failed them.
Lezyne: Did you have any mechanicals?
Lance: Just a few flats. My experience with DK 200 proved my theory that vision is much more important than a draft in gravel racing.
Lezyne: You hit your max speed (41 mph) and mile 58, what was going on then?
Lance: Haha, yeah, I know exactly was going on then. After my first flat, I was trying make up as much ground as possible, so on this dead straight gravel descent I decided to be a total roadie and give it the good ol’ super tuck. I guess it was cool, because I hit my top speed for the day, but it also kinda sucked because there some pretty serious braking bumps that were bit sketch. I kept it upright, but man, I racked my nuts on the top tube so hard. Pretty sure it toughened me up for the next 142 miles.