Dirty Kanza 200: Resurrection – by K-Dogg

K-Dogg at the 2016 Dirty Kanza 200.

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.

The mental cramps were the worst – they almost shut me down. That Dark Place (explained well in this interview) loomed up and started to crush my spirit. “This is just too hard” it said. ” Just give up… make a U-turn. That last food stop is only a few miles back. Just give up and they will drive you home now!” I was standing and straddling my bike watching with fascination as my quads twitched like writhing snakes just under the skin.
K-Dogg on his way out of Checkpoint #1, 2016 Dirty Kanza 200.

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.

I eventually finished and amazingly made the podium for really old people.
Note from JOM, K-Dogg is being modest. He won the DK200 60+

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.

So now it’s two weeks until DK200. I’m actually excited now. It only took 50 weeks but the lingering Dark Place finally drifted away like a bad dream on a sunny dawn. I’m actually looking forward to it now and here is why…
  • 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.
* = JOM says his nutrition plan is dodgy at best. Busch Beer is not good.
  • 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.
K-Dogg on JOM’s wheel, 2016 DK200… before the mud hit the fan.
If this is your first DK100 or DK200, don’t underestimate the effort required and the little disasters that may occur along the way. Focus on how lucky you are to be able to spend all day (and night?) on your bike uninterrupted.
How often do you get to do that?
See all y’all in Emporia!
Gainesville, Florida


  1. Avatar Tom

    I don’t know the difference at this point of running 100 miles and riding 200 (that is until after DK) but after being through the lowest of lows after running for 15+ hours hopefully my mental game is in tact.

    • JOM JOM

      100 mile ultra? You will have no problem with 200 miles of DK.

    • K-Dogg K-Dogg

      I couldn’t run around the block much less 100 miles. Bad knees.
      Plus runners never get to coast. It really helps! 🙂

      You are awesome!


  2. Avatar Sasha

    So…I so relate to your misery! As a Fellow 2016 DK200 finisher (not as fast as you by any stretch but I finished!), I realized that hydration is the biggest key for this and other ultra-endurance events. I planned well, got lucky while many of my fellow riders did not.

    Best of Luck! May the wind be at your back the second half this year and can’t wait to hear about your adventure as well the new hydration strategy & implementation.

    Cheers and Ride Strong!

    • K-Dogg K-Dogg

      Thanks Sasha!
      People used to ask why I do DK200. I say I don’t really know.

      A friend we call the Belgian Diesel says….”Because I can.”
      That is what I say now.


  3. Avatar Paul

    Thanks for the recap, did 100 last year and 200 this year hoping not to end up in that dark place…big ride again this weekend…and will be packing music for the ride as well…inspiration perhaps…see you there..

  4. Avatar BWepps

    2017 will be my first DK200. I’ve been doing a ton of reading on food, hydration, training, etc. My bike is ready, my body is ready, my mind will be the wild card. Doing long windy, cold, rainy gravel rides has helped as I consider it physical and mental conditioning.

    My hydration plan is 3 water bottles from the start to the first checkpoint, rehydrate massively there and then don a 70oz Camelbak + two bottles for the remainder of the ride always drinking more at the checkpoints.

    • JOM JOM

      Sounds like a good plan! More water / hydration is always better, especially if we experience a hot day.

      Your training will definitely have you ready for the task ahead. DK200 is a very difficult ride for anyone who attempts it; just finishing is a major accomplishment.

    • K-Dogg K-Dogg

      You should do fine. I recommend you also bring along an anti cramp product called
      “Hot Shot.” It works if you need it…your legs are still tired but the cramps go away.

  5. Avatar Larry Brenize

    Being the noob to gravel grinding I am trying to read all the ride reports I can. I am totally shocked that so many peoples bikes chains/wheel became disabled so early in the ride/race. How do you know whether you can ride thru the peanut butter or whether you should dismount? On ultra distance rando cycling 1 or 2 people might have bike mishaps but most have their stomachs or knees/legs/calf’s going out either via cramps or a stomach uproar on the 400k, 600k, 1200k rides. That has to be very discouraging when you have traveled that far for the ride let alone the entrance fee money/crew costs etc. Since water seems to be a premium what can you do if you bike gets stuck with all that peanut butter mudh?

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