2017 Dirty Kanza Training Plan

In 2015, I offered my personal DK training plan free to anyone that wanted a copy. After sharing a copy with 100’s of folks over the past 2 years, I thought I would update the plan for 2017 and offer it again. So, if you’re looking for a quality training plan that will help you achieve your goals in Emporia, leave a comment and I’ll get a copy to you.

Here’s what a rider that followed the plan last year had to say about the plan:

Training with the plan increased my FTP by about 10% and I’m climbing better than I ever have. The plan was tough, but it helped out very much getting prepared for the 2016 DK200 where about half the field DNF. I made it in to the faster half of my age group (60+ Male). This was my 4th gravel ride ever and my first ultra distance ride. The training along with good mental prep, bike prep and nutrition plan all came together nicely for me. It wasn’t until the last hour really that I noticed my legs getting a bit tired (guess I should have ridden harder!). – Steve

As Steve said, the plan is tough. It is demanding and it will push you.  The results are worth it! The Dirty Kanza is waiting…

And, there’s no catch. I won’t email you or market anything to you. I created this plan for myself (I used it 2 times) but was taken off the bike by an injury suffered while playing baseball. Rather than just let the plan waste away, I thought I would help out as many people as I can so they can show up in Emporia and crush their goal.


DK200 Training Plan

The Dirty Kanza 200: Focus

While the Dirty Kanza is still over 6 months away, it seems that everyone is already preoccupied with the event. Conversations about the race have come up on every group ride for the past two weeks. Those conversations continually include the same two questions: “is it really that difficult” and “do you think I could do it?”

The answer to both of those questions is a resounding YES! The Dirty Kanza isn’t just hard. It’s f-ing hard! It is the single hardest bike ride you will ever attempt. But, any person that really wants to finish can finish. The crucial factors are desire, training, and riding within your abilities. recurring conversations on this topic have forced me to find words to describe the race. In the 3 race reports I’ve written, I always end up saying that words can’t describe the Dirty Kanza. That’s still true today. I still don’t have words to effectively describe the experience of grinding across the Kansas Flint Hills. But, in searching for ways to describe it, I came up with a way of explaining what to expect throughout the day.

The Dirty Kanza is typically broken into 4 sections, with checkpoints around miles 60, 100, 160, and then the finish. It dawned on me this weekend that CP1 is the easiest (shouldn’t be any surprise), and CP2 is the most difficult.

Start to CP1: Reaching CP1 is relatively easy—any trained bike rider can pedal 60 miles. But, how you get there determines how the rest of the day will go. Go too hard here and the day inevitably ends early.

CP1 to CP2: this section, for me any way, is the real test of the day. With the first 60 miles completed, reaching the mid-way point with a clear head and a working bike is the real challenge. It’s not that the section is any more difficult than the others, but rather the mental aspect of what’s ahead. The negative questions (“can I do this”) always seem to come during these miles. This past year, I rolled into the CP2 full of energy and ready for the rest of the day. The previous two years were a completely different story, though. Both times, I reached the second checkpoint concerned and questioning the rest of the day…and in both of those attempts, I ended up dropping out.

CP2 to CP3: I consider these the lonely miles. Be ready for miles on your own. Bring lots of music. Stop and take a few pictures.  Everyone is forced to ride his or her own pace after the first 100 miles. As a result, even those who planned to ride together seem to end up parting ways during this section.

CP3 to Finish: I may not be fully qualified to write about this section considering I’ve ridden it only 1 time. Then, I was fully energized and riding faster than I rode all day. I’d like to say that is what can be expected, but I’m more realistic than that. I had a great ride during the last section because I rode well under my threshold all day. But, there’s a big lesson in that! Stay focused throughout the day and the end comes easy.

The key ingredient for a successful DK200 is focus. You have to get your mind into the challenge of the day and you have to keep the negative thoughts away. A solid training plan, specific nutrition, and sharp appreciation of what’s ahead will help get you there. And, like I’ve told everyone that’s asked, if you’re thinking about trying the Dirty Kanza, you absolutely should! Sign up, train hard, and go for it!

Riverfront Cyclocross – Year-round CX Training Course

Great news for KC CX’ers: the city of Shawnee has agreed to allow a year-round CX course at Shawnee Riverfront Park.

Riverfront Cyclocross

Here’s the low down from SingleSpeed Pirate.

Great things have happened in the world of Cyclocross here in the Kansas City Metro Area. The City of Shawnee has allowed construction of a Cyclocross Training Course at the Shawnee Riverfront Park, a park that is otherwise undeveloped – with great views and the feel of being in the middle of nowhere.

How awesome is it that you cyclocross maniacs can actually train ON a CX course, and not only the road or a trainer? This is a great opportunity for the cycling community and we are totally psyched to make this happen, for YOU.


  • The Course is open during normal posted park hours (daylight – 10 p.m.).
  • See the maps below for directions.
  • DO NOT park on the Levee.
  • DO NOT park in the fields.
  • Please use the designated parking area
  • Pack out your trash, there are no ammenites at this park. Help keep the CX course open and the park clean.
  • The course runs CLOCKWISE.
  • Course starts ON the Levee at an orange wooden stake (above the parking area)
  • Group rides and mock training races are allowed, please coordinate events with me at singlespeedpirate
  • DO NOT alter the course.
  • Open rain or shine.
  • Course Length is 2.3 miles.
  • Obstacles – Stairs/Barrier/Steep Descent/Steep Ups n Downs.
  • Course is very fast.

The course is NEW and NEEDS traffic! Expect a bumpy ride until we get enough tires out there to get a line burnt-in and smoothed. Tell your friends!

And a map to Shawnee Riverfront Park:

Juggling Act

I decided a few weeks ago that I would stretch my racing experiences by competing at God’s Country Duathlon. I’ve always done a little running in preparation for cross season, but I’ve never done any real training. Last week, being 8 weeks from the race date, I decided to plan a training schedule. Somehow I have to mix running in with a heavy cycling load. I read a few blogs and Troy Jacobson’s web site, and settled on what seems like a pretty routine mix. I even have bricks on my calendar. woo-woo!

As I planned out the weeks leading up the race day, I noticed something concerning: the Ouachita Challenge, a 60-mile endurance MTB race in the hills of Arkansas, is the weekend before God’s Country. Is it possible to compete in an endurance event and turn around the next weekend for a short run/ride race? March could prove to be an interesting training month!

Dirty Kanza Training

Today, while I was out on a 4-hour ride, my mind kept wondering back to Emporia. Last year was my first attempt at the Dirty Kanza, and the outcome wasn’t what I planned. My training last year consisted of a whole lotta miles at or just below threshold. In the 6 weeks before the event, I scheduled 3 centuries a week (Tue, Sat, Sun), with plans for each one to be at threshold. The other days of the week were 20-50 miles near recovery pace, with a shorter, more intense workout one day each week. Considering I didn’t finish, I don’t know if this was the right approach or not.

Fast forward to today. My mind was occupied with what went wrong. I settled on three key areas, each of which I plan to address this year:

  1. Nutrition. My plan last year was focused on eating enough calories every hour along with a steady stream of Cytomax, Gatorade, and water.
    Changes for this year: less solid food, reduced carb intake, and closer focus on hydration. While searching, I found an article on Hammer that states the case very clearly:
  2. Pacing. Based on results from previous years, I wanted a pace that would bring me in between 14 and 15 hours. At the start, I watched as a big group shot off the front. The urge to go with them was pretty intense, but I sat down and rode at my own pace. Overall, I feel like my pace was good. At about the 20 mile mark, I let my pace rise several MPH–something about too many rabbits up the road–and while I never went into the red zone, I think that section was intense enough to put me in a deficit.
    Changes for this year: Set it and forget it! I have to maintain my target pace no matter what’s up the road.
  3. Equipment. I packed entirely too much sh*t last year. With rest stops around 60, 100, and 140 miles, there’s no reason to carry more than necessary.
    Changes for this year: no camel back–two water bottles will suffice; no extra tubes–one tube and a patch kit (the Swalbe tires held up great!); no extra food–see number one! Last year I had gels, bars, and who knows what else to eat. This year I’ll carry bottles and a few gels. Equipment probably had the least to do with not finishing last year, but theres no reason to carry the extra weight.

As far as training goes, I’ll probably continue with the same basic program. In addition to upping the mileage as the date approaches, I’ll try to work in more miles on gravel. Last year, I had no idea where to find gravel roads. Thanks to Guru’s and other events in the area, I now have plenty of options.

Look for more posts as the big date approaches. See you in Emporia!

2010 CX Season. Over.

This past Sunday I raced the De Stad Cross Cup at St. Mary’s College. Just like every year, the course was by far the best of the season. A bit difficult due to soggy, power-tapping ground in a few spots but otherwise fun as hell. Chris has a knack for utilizing the campus to create a fun and challenging course. And those cobbles…

Despite a great start, I found myself only going backwards…and not caring about it. I moved up to 3rd wheel by the first turn, but two turns later, I let the next guy back pass me. And then the next. And then another. Half a lap in I realized I didn’t have any fight in me. D’OH! I twisted through the course, trying to make the most of it but I never really felt like racing. And that’s the real story.

I finished 9th; not terrible but also not as good as the previous races this year. Mentally and physically exhausted, I decided to take off Monday, and then I ended up taking off Tuesday, too. I rode for a little over an hour Wednesday morning just to get the legs going again, only to find myself fighting a stomach thing that afternoon. It still lingers today. I’m starting to realize that this–lack of motivation in the race, sore legs, low immune system–is my body’s way of saying, “take a break!” So today I pulled out the calendar to plan the end of the season. Problem is, the season ended without me really knowing it. Here’s how…

  • Racing tomorrow (Manion’s Cross) is out after being sick all week
  • No races next weekend for Thanksgiving
  • The next race, the Boss Cross MO state race, is December 4. But, we’re out of town for a family function that weekend
  • After that, the next race is 12/31.

Rather than take a break only to come back to race in frigid temps, I’ve decided to call it a season. I’m tired and my body is pushing back pretty damn hard. I plan to take next week off…just to make sure I’m over being overtrained, and then I’ll hit the weights. This isn’t how I wanted this year to go, but some times you just gotta go with the flow. Yes, I’m a dead fish.

The Hills Have Eyes

Last night was the Achluophobia Gravel Grinder, a night-time romp across gravel roads of eastern Kansas. Despite the name, no one was afraid of the dark. There were moments, though, when I began to wonder about fear of the dark, like rolling across an intersection and seeing an eerie fence with several bicycle corpses attached to it. How and why exactly were they there??? The rolling joke has something to do with banjos plucking away in the distant hay field and duct-tape underwear. While there were no “eyes” in the fields last night, there were a few “i’s,” as in intensity, during my workout today. Cheap name, but…

We were fortunate, too, that mother nature decided to play nicely. A line of downpours moved across the city just before the ride. I had the wipers on during the drive over, but by the time I arrived at the starting point, the only traces were cloudy skies and a chilly north wind. There was a small spot of drizzle an hour or so into the ride, but it wasn’t even enough to make the roads muddy.

The eight that showed up rode southward from 199th with a nice tailwind and the sun setting off in the distance. The route led us south, almost to Paola, before turning back to the north. It was about 18 miles to the turn, and the tailwind kept my attention! I was hopeful that it would subside before we turned north. But, alas, it was still blowing when we made the turn. With our slow-n-easy pace, it really wasn’t much of a bother, though. We cranked along, completing the 50-mile ride in just under 3 hours.

This was my first night ride, and I have to say, I’m hooked! Riding through the darkness brings a new level to bicycling. Dog chases bring on a whole new sense of urgency when you can’t see the enemy! And, the hills! It’s awesome to drop down an incline when you can’t see the bottom. Going up brings a new challenge, too, because with no view of the end, you can’t gauge your effort. As a result, I found myself riding a bigger gear with more effort on the hills. Granted, our pace was pretty slow so I wasn’t breaking any laws. But, I look forward to a fast night ride and the challenges of the hills.

Today, I decided to skip the local cross race, Manion’s Cross, and instead rode a pretty intense set of hill intervals. Needless to say, after grinding gravel for 3 hours last night and then hittin’ it today, my legs are pretty toasted. Not quite “race cooked” but close. The first Boss Cross races are next weekend, and I plan to be there!