The Dirty Kanza XL 350 Mile Race on a Salsa Powderkeg tandem with Tracey was hard, challenging, demanding but all so beautiful at the same time.
The 4 p.m. start was absolutely amazing with a big crowd despite the fact that it was almost 100 degrees out with air so dense you could cut it.
Seeing and watching Tracey get a bit of heat stroke as we rode into the night was hard for me but I can’t even imagine what it felt like for her. It’s not easy to be able to take care of yourself while the captain is cracking the whip to continue on. When your body is in this state the hole just gets deeper. Tracey is one tough cookie and it was actually amazing that she didn’t complain, in between her dry heaving, but instead did everything so we could #RideForward.
At midnight it was still in the upper 80s and the air got even thicker.
A sudden storm let out some turbulent winds and depending where you were on course you got hit with rain. We remained dry.
After the storm blew through it left a nice stiff headwind. Consistently 20 mph with gusts is not an exaggeration. The entire day it was on my nose and noise in my ears as we traveled north and then, just as we changed direction, it died instead of giving us a tailwind.
Sometimes the Midwest gets a bad rap but the Flint Hills of Kansas are so beautiful. Every year when I ride through those green tallgrass prairies I’m reminded of that. And Dirty Kanza is one of those amazing, unique events where everyone in the gravel community really comes out in full force to support each other in their journey regardless of their goals, while also enjoying the scene, making new friends, and doing a little partying!
Out of the invited 34 riders, half finished. We crossed the line in 1 day, 7 hours and 57 minutes. We were 9th overall and the first to ever complete the DKXL on a tandem. Even though it was the inaugural year that still means something.
Admittedly, both Tracey and I really felt the sting of the effort and it might even still be lingering but the ability to share an accomplishment like this is beyond what I can describe in words and will last a lifetime.
Tracey weighed in too: “The DKXL is definitely up there as one of the most challenging races I’ve done due to the distance, intense pace and heat, all which made me very anxious for about 200 miles. Riding the tandem on this course was hard, in my opinion harder than riding solo. We were able to ride most of the terrain except a few hills when I wasn’t feeling so well. We did have to deal with some chain suck but no mechanicals other than that which seems pretty lucky. I enjoyed having the company of my captain and feel extremely fortunate and super stoked that we were able to complete and share this beast of a ride together.”
For the DKXL, our Salsa Powderkeg was our trusty steed and one that we love to ride. It was outfitted with some new Industry 9 wheels (note: not made for tandem but they been the most solid wheels yet that I have ridden on the tandem, stoked!) and a Cane Creek Viscoset, which once again proved itself to be a great headset. The Teravail Sparwood tires were bombproof, which is a true test on a tandem.
I love each of the Salsa handlebars; the Cowbell, Cowchipper, and Woodchipper are all great road bars, but I use them differently depending the event. Now that these handlebars are available in carbon, they’re even more comfortable beyond offering a wide range of hand positions. I haven’t run the Woodchipper in a while and mounted a carbon one (note: I always go for the widest version possible for adventure/ultra distance riding) and was very, very happy with that decision. I really enjoy relearning things that I have learned and/or tried in the past and this was one of those classic times.