“DK200 definitely pushed me to new physical limits that I didn’t even know were possible”
BY THE NUMBERS WITH ALISON TETRICK – DIRTY KANZA
Professional road cyclist Alison Tetrick swapped her road bike for a gravel bike to take on the legendary Dirty Kanza. This grueling gravel race covers over 200 miles of rolling dirt roads across the Flint Hills of Kansas. Just attempting to finish the event is monumental challenge for any cyclist. Tetrick hit the start line with her Lezyne equipped gravel bike (previewed by Alison here) as one of the favorites for victory. Though she had never raced an event of this distance, she knew she was prepared for the challenge. When the dust settled, Tetrick successfully battled her way to a hard earned win and, well, smashed the course record along the way! Afterward, she sent us the race data she recorded using her Lezyne Super GPS computer and we loaded it into our GPS Root website. We then got an exclusive interview with her where she provided further insight into her race data and winning ride!
BY THE NUMBERS WITH ALISON TETRICK ~ DIRTY KANZA
– Distance: 206 miles
– Total Ascent: 8,000+ feet
– Avg. Speed: 17.5 mph
– Time: 11:41:40
- Lezyne: At 206 miles, Dirty Kanza is an insanely long race. However, the distance is just a part of the event’s difficulty. With the nonstop rollers, endless gravel roads and soul-crushing stretches of headwinds, DK200 is as brutal as it comes. What was the most challenging part of the event for you?
- Alison: The first 100 miles was the easiest for me, however you can see from my data that it was technically the hardest part of the race. I stayed with the small lead group of men for the first 100 miles and I raced it like I would on the road. I wanted to bank on my race fitness and hang with the front group as long as I could. I am sure I paid the price for these efforts later, but it was too much fun to turn down. The most difficult part of the course was miles 125 to 165. Granted, a man rode by me and told me that was the hardest part of the course. I wish he didn’t say that. During those miles, it was the longest distance to the checkpoint at 62 miles in between. It was at the heat of the day, I was riding by myself and the roads were the least maintained of the day.
- Lezyne: On paper, the event looks flat-ish, but in the end you accumulated more than 8,000 feet of climbing. Can you describe what that’s like compared to a typical ride you’d do that sees the same total but coming from just a few climbs?
- Alison: Dirty Kanza has a sneaky way of getting climbing in there. The race just rolls up and down the Flint Hills and it forces you to pedal about 97-percent of the time. Instead of doing 2×40-minute climbs to get the elevation gain, you do about 80 one-minute rollers throughout the day, but the descents aren’t significant enough to recover on. It was my kind of course and I really did enjoy the roller coaster of it all. It is good for a power rider that is used to staying on the gas and keeping momentum both uphill and downhill.
- Lezyne: At mile 201 — five miles from the finish — you hit your max speed on the day at 37 mph. What was going on then?
- Alison: I think I was holding on for dear life. At this point in the race, I was struggling with cramping and a whole new physical barrier within myself. I think I might have even done the aerotuck on my Cannondale Slate here for survival.
- Lezyne: You saw your highest heart rate peaks between miles eight and 24. Was there some pretty good action going on that early in the race?
- Alison: This was the most fun part of the bike race! I was racing with the men and just following the separations. I knew this suffering would pay off once the field leaned out a bit. I do remember bridging back up to the men after a mud crossing and seeing my heart rate at 191 bpm. So much for an endurance race…
- Lezyne: The race was mostly self-supported, unlike the racing you normally do. Did you pack a DK200 specific survival kit? What did it include?
- Alison: Thanks to Lezyne, I had the best DK200 survival kit! I used the Lezyne Super GPS for turn-by-turn directions. I carried the Lezyne multi-tool with the chainbreaker, pump, saddle bag, three CO2, three tubes and two Pitstops just in case. I wore a Camelbak and carried two water bottles (in Lezyne cages). At the checkpoints, I had an assortment of food including doughnut holes, frosted circus animal crackers, potato chips, and bourbon — just in case. Don’t worry, I didn’t need the bourbon. Well, not until after the race.
- Lezyne: Another challenge during Dirty Kanza is having to rely on personal navigation. How much did you have to rely on your GPS computer? How much of the event were you by yourself?
- Alison: Thank heavens for the Lezyne GPS! I was solo for about 80 miles of the race and needed to rely 100% on that computer. It gets confusing without street signs and just gravel roads for miles. I did take a few wrong turns considering my brain was not operating at high octane at the longer distances, but my angel of a GPS quickly showed me the way.
- Lezyne: You set the course record, so its safe to assume you had a pretty good day on the bike. But, was this also the most difficult day you had on the bike?
- Alison: I had so much fun all day, and the parts that were more challenging were beautiful as well. This type of event is different than the pain felt in traditional bike racing because you can control everything. You don’t have to follow a pack or a specific pace. You can do your own race the way you want to. I think I have had more difficult days on the bike due to my mental status, but the DK200 definitely pushed me to new physical limits that I didn’t even know were possible. I think that was what made it the best day on the bike rather than the most difficult. Just finishing the DK200 is an accomplishment and you need to have luck on your side. You also get to explore parts of your inner crazy that you usually ignore. I had to rely on myself and my equipment to get me through the day, and I gained confidence through my performance. Braking barriers and challenging yourself is satisfying.