The Hairy Hundred Race Recap

Phew. These last few weeks before Dirty Kanza have absolutely flown by. Now I’m 1 week out from race day and in a strange state of PANIC, DESPAIR and ACCEPTANCE.

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Since I last blogged, I’ve gotten some really solid training miles in and it has been a busy June. To recap:

– Paul and I flew to Indianapolis to celebrate his sister’s graduation from Indiana U.

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Im obsessed with her cap

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REALLY good pizza

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Pauls Aunt and Uncle have the most BEAUTIFUL yard

– I rode my bike home from work (leaving my car) only to get completely stormed out the next day. Big thanks to Paul for driving me 30 miles the OPPOSITE direction to work at 5am.

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– My biggest fan

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– I managed to get a couple more days in riding my bike to and from work, but the rain here has been insane. It barely goes a full day without any which really puts a damper (ha) on my cycling.

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But last weekend, we braved the rain and drove out to Rocheport, MO for a race that is super-low key, but well run: The Hairy Hundred.

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I managed to get almost 40 miles in on Saturday (just a quick ride around the airport and to Starbucks), but I felt good and ready to take on 100. It stormed pretty bad overnight and it was a downpour almost the entire 2 hour drive there (not that I would know, I slept in the car).

Kitty helping me pack my gear

Kitty helping me pack my gear

When we arrived, I was SO nervous. There were only like 40 people riding, so the race is nice and small, but this was kind of the make-it-or-break-it race leading up to Dirty Kanza. If I can’t do this, I’m DOOMED for DK.

Well, it started off really well. Despite the rain, the gravel was good and while we had a few water-crossings (giant puddles where you can’t see the ground and just have to trust there isn’t a giant pothole or branch), the sun came out pretty quick and it ended up being an absolutely perfect day (weather-wise. ONLY weather-wise).

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I managed to keep my place somewhere near the middle for the first 30 miles. I was keeping good, steady speed and while there were plenty of hills, there wasn’t anything that I really couldn’t handle. I only walked 1 hill in the first 30 miles and that was more so I could get in some nutrition than actually needing to walk (spoiler: I FAILED at nutrition during this race).

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At about 30 miles, we hit our first Casey’s General Store. I stopped in, used the bathroom, got a 5 Hour Energy, a Gatorade, and some Oreos. Up until this point, I had really only had a gel and some Gu Brew (which really doesn’t have any calories).

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After mile 30, we hit the biggest hills. I walked a few of them, but was still feeling really good. The sun was out in full force now and I was definitely regretting not bringing my sunscreen. I had a couple people pass me, but I knew I was still ahead of a couple small groups. Me being ahead of anyone on a bike is a miracle to me, so I was basically on cloud 9.

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Around mile 50, I started to waver though. I had eaten a waffle and some of my Oreos, but I was being stupid and not realizing how few calories I was actually taking in. We hit some paved roads in town as we headed towards the 2nd Casey’s and I was STRUGGLE BUS-ing here. I wanted OFF my bike.

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I reached the 2nd Casey’s and went in and got a Coke Zero. I ate a GU Roctane and drank my coke and sat on the side of the gas station trying to re-coop. The SAG wagon pulled up and reminded me to check into the bag drop at mile 55 before continuing on. Trust me, I wasn’t going to miss it.

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I pulled myself together and made it a few miles to the bag drop. I camped out at a picnic table here for quite a while with my Coke Zero and a bag of beef jerky. I also ate another GU, but was oblivious to the fact that I’m really only looking at 600 calories for 5 hours of hard work. Fail Fail Fail. No wonder I was feeling sick.

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We had a SAG wagon following us the entire first half, but I found out at bag drop that there was no SAG for the 2nd half. I would have to CALL the race director if I wanted a ride from this point on. This really spooked me (I like an easy out), but I knew I couldn’t give up here.

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I left the halfway point and then hit the hardest hill of the whole ride. It was a steep hill, on a paved road, but the road was pretty busy with cars zooming past me. I ended up getting off and then having to walk my bike on the road. I was super whiny at this point and contemplated walking back to the bag drop and hitching a ride… but I kept going.

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The next 10 miles were a lot of suffering. I was whiny in my head and thankful to be alone. Around mile 65, the two back of the pack racers caught up with me. I was seconds away from calling it in and getting a ride, so I am SO happy that these 2 found me. At the time, I wasn’t all that thankful though. I kinda wanted them to go away and let me suffer in silence, but they were incredible nice and offered to let me draft off of them. The wind honestly wasn’t too bad and at this point it was actually kinda flat. I just felt sick to my stomach and wanted to curl up and nap.

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I rode with them for a while and stayed behind when they got a flat around mile 70. I kept telling myself: “when I reach mile XX, THEN I’m calling for a ride”, but they kept pushing me which I was thankful for.

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The last 30 miles of the race were also on a mix of paved and flat roads. This was key to my survival as well. Had there been a ton of tough hills, I don’t know if I could have powered through. I just knew that there was the final Casey’s gas station around mile 81 and that was officially my calling point. I was going to call Paul and he was going to save me from this suckfest.

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We pulled up to Casey’s and I told the guys I was out. Done. Giving up. But they said they would  wait for me as long as I needed. I bought a 2nd Coke Zero and ate another Gu while camped out in the shade. I knew we only had a few miles (comparatively) left and that those miles were flat and on the Katy Trail which is easy gravel (however, also unreachable by car).

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Somehow the gravel gods looked down on me because I managed to rally (I thank the caffeine for that). I knew that if I gave up now, there would be NO way for me to be hopeful about finishing Dirty Kanza. And I knew the incomplete race would haunt me for a long, long time.

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Those last miles ended up being my best somehow. We easily coasted in with speeds around 13-15 mph and crossed the finish line 3 abreast while everyone yelled and cheered for us. We were dead last, but it felt SO good to complete the race. I owe those 2 guys everything for pushing me to finish.

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We ended up finishing in 10 hours and 34 minutes, but when I looked at my GPS data, I was only moving 8 hours and 44 minutes of that time. Basically 2 hours were spent suffering and whining. This race was incredibly humbling.

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To finish Dirty Kanza, I have to maintain 10 mph (including all stops). If I manage to stick to my nutrition plan and not feel like butt, you might think I have a good shot. Just don’t consider that the Flint Hills of Kansas make the hills of Missouri look like speed bumps.

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So, I finished The Hairy Hundred way slower, way more dehydrated, way more sunburnt and way more last than I had hoped to.. but I finished. I suffered through when I wanted to give up and that’s pretty valuable training for Dirty Kanza. I’m terrified for the Dirty Kanza, but I’m also kind of at peace. I know my “hay is in the barn” even if that hay is more fitting for 75 horses instead of the 200 I need it for.

This weekend is a odd taper weekend of sorts. Tapering for a bike race isn’t as drastic as it is for a marathon/running, but I have plans of grilling out, going to a baseball game, being with friends, and then doing 100 paved and fairly flat miles on Monday.

7 days until DK-Day…. OMG.

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Dirty Kanza Prep: My Bike Setup

So, this lil’ ol’ bike race is pretty much the only thing I’ve been talking about for the past 6 months… but I also haven’t really gone into any real detail on it. Probably being I’m partially in denial about how much suffer is going to happen during this race 😛

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Dirty Kanza covers 200 miles of gravel roads in one giant loop. The course changes every year, but it always starts and ends in Emporia, KS. The course is not marked, so you need to depend on the maps they provide or your GPS to guide you.

Example of the maps they provide

Example of the maps they provide, but this one is just for 50 miles

The race is mainly self-supported, but with 2 check-points in the middle where you can meet up with a support crew (that your either hire, or hope you have nice friends) to refuel, refill, or fix any mechanical issues (this is actually the first year with only 2 check-points, in the past there has been 3).

This year the check-points are in Madison, KS (at approximately mile 75) and Cottonwood Falls, KS (approximately mile 150). In these cities, you have to check-in and then they hand you the next batch of printed maps and cue sheets to direct you to the next check-point (though if you use GPS, you are allowed to load these onto your Garmin ahead of time).

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Cottonwood Falls, KS during DK Training Camp

The check-points are the only times when you can meet up with your support crew. Your support crew is not allowed to visit you at any point on the course, UNLESS you are calling it quits and they are coming to pick you up. So, the miles between you are self-supported. If you’ve done any bike racing, like a century, or an Ironman/HIM or even a 20-mile ride, it might seem like 75 miles isn’t too bad (heck, the special needs during an Ironman isn’t typically until mile 65.. But gravel riding is significantly slower and harsher. 75 miles is 5-6 hours if you are good (and closer to 7.5 hours if you are like me).

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Pauls bike

So, unlike an Ironman where you probably pack: 5 gels, 2 waterbottles, a tube, a C02, and a tire lever.. Dirty Kanza won’t even let you START the race without:

  • Cycling computer
  • Red taillight
  • Front light (Power output is up to you.)
  • Minimum of two liters of water or sports drink
  • Two spare inner tubes
  • Air pump or inflation system

And it says “You Should SERIOUSLY Consider”:

  • A cell phone to contact the “outside world” should you need help.
  • GPS system to communicate your exact location to support or rescue personnel in the event of an emergency
  • Small rucksack / hydration pack
  • Waterproof / windproof jacket
  • Extra thermal top or warm layer to wear if stopped
  • An emergency / survival blanket
  • Food – energy bars, gels, chocolate, etc
  • Tire levers
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Chain tool
  • Allen wrench set
  • Spoke wrench
  • First aid kit
  • Chamois Butt’r
  • Chain lube
  • Cash, debit card or credit card (To purchase food, water, supplies.)
  • Handlebar map case
  • Compass

That’s a lot of gear.

So I plan on setting my bike up as follows:

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2 water bottle cages: (these water bottles will be filled with heavily concentrated Gu Roctane Powder (GRAPE FO SHO). I’ll probably put 4 hours worth of calories in each of the bottles just in case. I’ll have my support crew with 2 additional bottles at each check-point.

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Small bag under the seat: (this is fairly small, but fits a multitool, 2 tubes, tire levers, and 2 C02 cartridges). In addition, when comes to a flat, I’ll have a small pump, my C02 compressor, a tire boot, and another tube in my Camelbak) and additional tubes to restock at each checkpoint, if needed.

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Revelate Gas Tank (bag sitting on the top tube): On a regular day this holds my camera/phone, pepper spray (for dogs), and small snacks. It will also hold my external battery and I’ll snake the cord up to my Garmin for charging.

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Revelate Mountain Feed bag: This is probably my favorite piece of gear ever! It is just so versatile. It can carry an extra water bottle or a soda (each checkpoint is at a gas station), hold Gu, my camera, my phone, ANYTHING! It’s basically a little sack attached to my handlebars with a elastic to keep it closed. I’ve been riding with my camera in it and I like being able to quickly snap photos without stopping.

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Garmin 810: Has turn by turn navigation and we will receive the course the Monday before the race so we can load it onto the Garmin. It won’t last the entire race, so I’ll have an external battery I can plug it into stashed in the gas tank.

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Cell phone in my jersey pocket: On airplane mode until I need it.. Otherwise the battery will drain while it constantly looks for a signal in the middle of nowhere.

Front Light: Lumina 750. I really need to get to work playing around with this and all the different flash and brightness settings, but it is a nice light. I’m also playing around with attached a back-up light to a 2nd helmet and having it at the final check-point. It will probably be around midnight – 2am when I finish, so it will be pitch black and I’ll be in a tough spot if I can’t see.

Rear Light: Turbo Superflash. Super bright and flashy! I highly recommend this light!

Camelbak:

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In it I will have: full 3-liter bladder of plain water, Chamois Butt’r packets (probably 3), Gu, Gu electrolyte tablets, trail mix, handheld pump, my C02 compressor, an additional tire tube,  car keys, chain tool, electrical tape (for taping anything that might break), and whatever other food I can cram in (thinking Bonk Breakers [did you see the new salted caramel flavor?? I’m obsessed], beef jerky, more beef jerky, and more jerky). I’m also looking for a carabiner compass I can just attach to the pack.

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Cycling necessities

Phew, so that’s a lot of stuff… but if I get enough flats, or something happens to my bike, or I get lost, I don’t want to be SOL.

I also plan to stash a 2nd pair of bike shorts in the 2nd checkpoint bag and socks in both bags just in case I’m in need of ‘freshening up’. I’ll have a light jacket too, in case the night gets cool (but I’m doubtful of that, it should be blazin’ hot all day :))

I’m going to do a separate post on my full nutrition plan for the race, but at the checkpoints, I’ll have my special needs bag, food provider by the support crew, a place to refill my water, bathrooms, etc. Each checkpoint is also a gas station, so if I’m in a real bind I’ll be able to buy anything basic that I could need. However, since I’m on the slower end of things, I’m not planning on spending much time at each check-point. Hopefully 10 minutes or less and then back on my way!

So, I think that is everything! I’m sure I’ll tweak it a little bit before race day.

Have you ever done a self-supported race?

Any recommendations or ideas of things for me to add?

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