Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gravel On The Mind

I am not going to lie to you....I haven't been able to focus on very much these past few weeks.  As the BIG SHOW gets closer that's all I can think about. To tell you the truth... I am a wee bit nervous about the Dirty Kanza this weekend, don't tell anyone. Returning back to beautiful Emporia I am two for three.  Just thinking about riding my magnificent Kona Jake the Snake for just over 200 gravel miles brings a smile to my face and also a grimace. I know what I will have to do to get to the finish line and look forward to it.  However, every year is a different gravel game. Honestly, it doesn't mean shit that I have finished twice before and I know that.  Finishing one year does not insure you will finish again.  A lot can happen when you ride your bike out in the middle of nowhere for 200 miles. I don't care who you are, this race is not easy and can chew you up and spit you out.  I am fortunate I am not a "wanted man/woman".  My guts are churning just wanting to finish. Obviously I wouldn't have the stomach to be a front runner. I can't imagine the feelings of the podium chasers or those who are trying to defend their spots from last year. All I want to do is FINISH.  If at all possible before midnight would be awesome.

I believe that I have done everything right, everything I needed to do to secure a finish.  I began obsessing about this race about two days after the last one, roughly June 4th 2013.  What could I have done better?  What should I do different in 2014?  Last year was such a whirlwind and my DK experience was incredible even though I did not finish within the 17 hr goal I set for myself.  I may not get 17 hrs or finish by midnight this year but I am gonna give it hell and then some.

My training was anything but stellar.  In fact it started out really rough.  My first four outside training rides ended up with me being picked up and me ripping off my derailleur on the final one. I fought several round of bullshit during the Winter/Spring.  I fought a kidney stone, a real fiesty one at that.  Being on antibiotics for two months did me no favors either.  Those pills tried to suck the life out of me... to no avail.  Going through nearly two months of tooth troubles and rounding out with a broken heart made for a crappy start.  I figure if I can survive all that and come out with a smile I can finish the DK200.

Time to focus on some things I have going for me this year.... I spent most of Winter (we had a LONG one) at the gym.  My son put me through the paces, made me do hard shit, lift heavy stuff, jump high, carry heavy stuff, flip and beat tires, endless squats, lots of get the picture. Along with that I kept my running daily, rode my trainer for some base miles, and became intimate with my foam roller. Again. I ate like I normally do, a vegetarian diet, and added in some supplements from The Supplement Superstore.  Their Level 1 stuff is amazing.  Try the Chocolate Coconut protein powder mixed with vanilla almond milk, it's awesome. Level 1 Ignition, liquid carbs, was an incredible find which I added to my nutrition arsenal. At $16.99 a can it's more affordable than CarboPro at $27 a can, it's the same stuff.   Liquid food is easier to digest than solid food and causes me less stomach distress so it is a win-win. I also learned to nibble on my nutrition instead of devour it.  Taking a small bite every 15 minutes or so has worked well for me. I don't get hungry and my blood sugar doesn't get all wonky either.

One thing I haven't done is look at the weather.  Mother Nature and the weather folks will make you bat shit crazy if you let them.  I plan to look at the weather on Friday morning right before we leave.  I can only hope for a non eventful weather day.  I still have nightmares of the wind and cringe every friggin' time I feel it in my face.  Aaahhhh, the memories.  Honestly, the wind sucked A LOT but riding  with good people helped keep me pedaling.   I even got stuck in my small 26 ring with 100 miles to go and I still would not give up.

No matter what the DK throws at you take it and deal with it.  You get to ride your bike in a beautiful area with like-minded peeps ALL day long. May the wind be at your back, your legs feel strong, and there be beer when you are done.  Good luck!

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