Training: Cracked worse than a cheapo carbon frame – Dirty Kanza Prep for 2018

Sunday, April 29. 2018

For the past several days, I’d been lugging around a cold. Airline travel, long hours and not enough sleep will do that to you. And, this was supposed to have been a vacation! A working vacation that is, namely a rushed trip to Monterey, California, about 100 or so miles south of San Francisco, California for my trip to the 2018 Sea Otter Classic as working media. Among all of that madness, I did manage a super sweet dirt and gravel ride near Mariposa, California… there is a video coming later from that ride!

Saturday, April 28, I was supposed to spend part of it with the Dogg duo of Mr and Mrs K-Dogg, out for 140 or so miles of mega Dirty Kanza 200 training. Rather, I stayed at home to focus on recovery, articles for the website and a bit of yardwork.

It should be noted I get bored easily. I hate riding the same route, day in, day out, and the thought of riding one of my well-proven 150-mile gravel routes wasn’t floating my boat for Sunday’s solo training ride. Instead, I was in the mood for discovering some new areas of my Florida locale, but well beyond the comfort zone of your average road bike ride.

My Raleigh Roker with Enve M25 review wheels.

Dixie County, Florida, measures 705 square miles with an approximate population of 16,203 as at 2015. The county seat of Cross City would play as the major stopping point of my chosen route. Prior to that would come about 130km / 80 miles of wandering about the place, on dirt and gravel roads that seldom see traffic.

This beautiful part of my route requires one to hike-a-bike.

Google Maps is a wonderful invention. Its Street View technology (thanks Google car!) is especially helpful for route planning, provided you don’t stray too far off the beaten track. In my Aussie homeland, drivers of the Google car aren’t afraid to get them crusty on dirt and gravel roads. In my experience, the USA-based Google car drivers generally eschew dirt roads… and getting their cars all mucked up. Satellite maps are helpful, one can zoom in and look for the transition of pavement to dirt and gravel, and generally determine if a road is passable. Should you see a road narrow down to a driveway, that’s a hint of private property.

The one thing Google Maps in Satellite view cannot do, or any other mapping website for that matter, is the ability to identify “no trespassing” signs, fences, private property or hunting compounds. This problem sets the tone for things to come…

I had the option of stopping in the town of Branford, Florida at 75kms / 47 miles along the route for a refill. Because my first planned stop was just 25kms / 16 miles later, I decided to bypass Branford and keep rolling. My two by one litre Zefal water bottles were only half empty, so all indications were I had plenty of fluid on board for the short jaunt ahead.

Above is a photo of the hunting compound I chanced upon some 16kms / 10 miles later. The road that once went through was now closed. Thankfully, I had to backtrack only four’ish miles before I had routed around the compound and back onto my course. Unfortunately, this detour placed me too far away from my planned stop at 100km / 63 miles into the route, meaning my first stop would in reality come in Cross City, some 130km / 81 miles into the route.

I am the first to admit I hate Camelbaks. But about this time, I was wishing I’d brought along my aeons old Camelbak Razor, currently languishing away at home, collecting dust. It’s during these erroneous moments of exploring that you wish for these things! Considering there were no store options anywhere nearby, I continued following my route towards Cross City.

At 111kms / 69 miles into my journey, I began down a road that would ultimately lead to another hunting compound, but this time, with much higher fences and absolutely no chance of re-routing around. Adding to my problems, my water bottles were almost empty and the maximum daytime temperature of about 28C / 83F had been reached. It wasn’t looking pretty and I was feeling a bit suspect.

This pool of water was knee high. I know because I traversed it.

My wandering on the outskirts of this gargantuan hunting compound was limited to just eight miles / 11 kilometres, but I would need to completely backtrack some and take paved roads into Cross City.

Nineteen kilometres / 12ish miles doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re out of water, tired and rolling into a headwind, the sensations aren’t pleasant. I thought about stopping at one of the few houses dotted along my revised route for water, but I have concerns with entering private land with a house sitting atop it in most parts of the world these days. A solo lycra clad dude in desolate Florida may not be welcome?!

So I plodded on, all the way into Cross City on pavement, some 142kms / 88 miles on two litres of water, and several Gu gels and blocks for nutrition. Saying I was completely knackered is an understatement. But, I’d still managed 25km/hr / 15.8mph average speed over the course of this insane route, so that was a positive, but there was absolutely no way I could recover to ride another 60 or so miles / 90ish kilometres back to Gainesville.

What to do?

I could call my good mate Nature Boy, aka #1 Prong aka Rob and ask for a ride, but that slacker never answers the phone… and owes me about three rides. So, it was over to good old reliable Dr. Pain. He’s always around and his trusty pickup truck has saved many a cyclist!

The final leg of my journey wasn’t fast, but it was along a pleasant and mostly shaded rail trail, from Cross City to Trenton, Florida. By day’s end, about 190kms / 118 miles had rolled beneath my wheels.

Cracked, barely enough energy to hold up the bike!

Dr. Pain took video of my arrival into Trenton, albeit it in Portrait mode (most people seem to do this). The one and only frame capture from that video, pictured above, tells the story well. So cracked.

Today’s tan line by Champ Sys Apex bib shorts and Gu Energy!

What was the lesson learned during this training ride?

  1. Don’t trust Google Maps.
  2. Carry a Camelbak or other hydration when solo scouting (I will be featuring a new hydration pack option soon from Sea Otter 2018).
  3. Have a Plan B (all good there).
  4. If in doubt, turn about. Glad I followed my own advice!
  5. Don’t be afraid to call a friend!
  6. Have a good sleep that night.

Soon, the training saga for Dirty Kanza 200 continues, with my final long ride coming in a few week’s time… just 175-miles… but it should go better than this sorry tale… whee!

Thanks for reading!


23 comments on “Training: Cracked worse than a cheapo carbon frame – Dirty Kanza Prep for 2018

  1. I am old and slow and can carry up to 11 liters of water for a ride. Another option is a water filter. They are like a straw.

  2. JOM you nutter! I consulted the Walk-a-bout manual. It clearly states that Camelbacks are allowed on any death march over 60 miles. It’s not like there are crowds of judgmental roadie fashion police in a back woods hunt camp. Someday we are going to find your skinny Aussie arse slumped over the bars being gnawed on by a pack of starving Dingos.

    I’m just sayin’

  3. agreed with James – water filter sounds like a great idea.

  4. I haven’t done it yet either but thinking strongly about get some kind of water purification system for gravel riding. In Pa here though you probably aren’t from civilization more than 10 miles. I have no problem asking fro water and get the stares when they ask how crazy you are when you tell them how many miles you have ridden. lol Good luck in your training.

    1. Ironically, I am in PA at the moment. In Lewisburg for a media preview of a new gravel event, UnPAved. This is a MUST do event! It is on my site calendar.

  5. The Google story I like the best is about an overnight road trip blindly following the turn by turn instructions. About midnight the next instruction was “take ferry.” Gah!

  6. The very concept of ‘hunting compounds’ is new to me and a bit frightening.

  7. Add “7. Stop often and top off the bottles on training rides.” to the list.

    JOM, what jersey is that?

    1. Tim, the jersey / bibs are review samples of Champ Sys Apex line of apparel. They are a new sponsor for my Team GC entity – which I am thrilled about – they kindly sent this review sample along for me to ride as they manufacture my new team kits.

      1. Reminded of someone who once said, “Always look good for the camera even when you are riding like crap.” 🙂

        Glad no serious long term effects from this bad experience. Carry on!

  8. Those “I thought this road went through” rides are the best/worst. FYI another resource for the internet road recon are the county road maps from your state’s Department of Transportation. Some states have better maps than others, but Florida’s seem pretty good. Sometimes they’re more accurate than Google re: whether or not a road goes through private property or not.

    1. Excellent advice, thank you. I will make mention of this on my Newbies / Mapping and Cartography resources page.

  9. Great report. I have in the same position many times and sometimes have risked being seen rather than backtrack. Haven’t been shot yet(knock on wood)

    Be wary of official county maps too though. The most recent(2017) version of my home county in GA contains many errors. Roads that haven’t existed in years, roads that don’t connect anymore(darn hunting compounds). Sometimes the only way to be sure is to actually see it with your own eyes.

  10. My first organised dirt ride here in Oz had me wondering why so many riders had back pack water bags until I grabbed my first swig of an unseen dirty water bottle teat. Spit, cough, spit, spit, spit. Now I knew why. There was also something frizzy that went into the side of my mouth. Urgh!
    On the filtration front I filled a bidon from a mountain roadside stream near the top of Falls Creek thinking it was high on the mountain and should be “clean” as it was crystal clear water. The following two weeks I was (very) repeatedly reminded it was a bad idea along with the doctor from what was found in my faeces.
    Live and learn.

  11. Your post title put me into shock. I had searched for “Roker” and found this post. I interpreted it as the Roker cracking. OMG will my Roker fail dangerously on the next ride? Finally I read enough to see the title needed to start with “I”. Heart rate back to idle.

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