Last year was my first and almost only DK200. The last 50 miles was the most misery I’ve experienced ever on a bike. I ran out of water, ran out of electrolytes, hated all my race food, had massive leg cramps, butt cramps, shoulder cramps, hours of nausea and the dreaded mental cramps.
But I soldered on… and not for the noblest of reasons. My wife, Mrs. K-Dogg, and teammate, JOM of GravelCyclist.com were behind me. I would never hear the end of it If I gave up now. I told myself I was no longer racing. It’s just survival now… I will go as slow as it takes keep rolling… nothing more. “There is no try… only do”, said Yoda.
Days later friends asked me if I’d do it again. I told then not to ask me right now. A few months later, the answer was the same… “don’t ask me now.” When that wild 12 minute registration period opened for the race earlier this year, I still wasn’t sure but Mr.s K-Dogg and JOM got in. I didn’t. “What a shame” I said. “We are getting you in” insisted the Mrs… which “We” did.
- I have finished several other endurance races and KNOW my limits are mostly mental. Our bodies are incredibly resilient. You can push them more than you yet realize.
- JOM*, Mrs. K-Dogg and a few friends have scientifically analyzed and improved our race hydration and nutrient intake based on lots of experience. My biggest failure at last year’s DK200 was not carrying enough water. Two to three bottles are sufficient for a 50 mile ride when you can maintain a steady 20+ mph pace. When you ride 50 miles at 8 mph into a headwind over giant hills you need three times that. Bring a variety of foods and pay strict attention to getting enough electrolytes and easily digestible food. Conventional wisdom is you need to eat a minimum 250 calories per hour of race effort.
I know I’m not going to die. There are hundreds of people around you that will help. It’s just another bike ride… with a few thousand of your best buddies. Be ready for that dark place. Don’t panic. Find your happy place. Mrs. K-Dogg and I agree that the happiest place is in the company of other racers. Shamelessly draft them if you need to. They are all nice, down to earth people.