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Yuri Hauswald knows a thing or two about riding bikes a long way, having won his share of 24-hour races. He’s our go-to guy for tips and tricks for races where you put your hand up for “service” and the team car never shows.
No race embodies that spirit better than the Garmin Dirty Kanza, which covers 200 miles of rough Kansas gravel roads across relentlessly rolling hills and prairie. The fastest pro finishers will arrive after around 11 hours of racing, while the most brave souls will finish just ahead of the 3AM cutoff time.
If our math is correct, 200 miles is a lot further than 100 miles, and it requires some big changes to the rider’s approach. So much so that Yuri has designed some of his own gear to keep up with the demands of a race that packs a week’s training into a single day.
On most rides a couple of water bottles and a few gas station stops will be just fine. But a ride as long, hot, and desolate as Dirty Kanza means carrying more water than your frame can hold. Not only is there a long distance between aid stations, but the repercussions of getting a little bit dehydrated are severe when racing all day long. Yuri worked with Camelbak to create the Chase vest, a stripped down version of a hydration pack that allows him to carry 1.5 liters of extra water and a lot of extra food. Given that there are no follow cars in the Flint Hills of Kansas, the Chase vest also makes for a quick and easy way to resupply—just grab one from your support crew and get back out onto the gravel. Think of it like Nascar, but slower, much less noisy, and far more dusty.
If you’ve ever hung out around people who ride drop bars off road, you’ll know they’re also unhealthily excited about tires. It’s like British people talking about the weather or politicians telling lies; gravel people just can’t help themselves but to ask about tires. Yuri’s a big fan of WTB Nano 700x40mm tires for Kanza and has never had a flat, even in last year’s 350-mile epic. He runs a lot of sealant as an extra safeguard.
Yuri’s nutrition strategy is what he called “nibble nibble, sip sip.” He keeps about 200 calories an hour of gels and hydration mix trickling in. Of course nutrition is deeply personal, and one person’s delicious semi-solid snack is another person’s worst nightmare. So if you train with burritos, race with burritos. And if you win with burritos then you’re a Floyd’s kind of person!
Beyond all of that, Yuri tries to keep a positive attitude and come into the race nice and fresh. “You’ve got to be like the little engine that could,” he said. So coming into DK make sure to sleep well, eat healthy and catch up on your relaxation and recovery so that your mental tanks are full. And whenever you come to an obstacle (of which there will be many in a race of that length), you think you can overcome it.”
The Floyd’s crew will be at the Garmin All Things Gravel expo and racing Dirty Kanza, so stop by and say “hi.” Be sure to pick up a few packs of CBD gems as well, because the more relaxed you are the faster you go, and even if you don’t eat them in the event you’ll need all the help you can get to relax and recover after a day like DK!