Thanks for checking out my Dirty Kanza coverage on Audio Blogger and for reading my posts on my experience there. Today I want to wrap things up with some thoughts and comments on that event.
The Event Organizers: An event is only as good as the people behind the scenes making it happen. I can say that to a man, Dirty Kanza had the best people behind it you could ask for. They obviously took what Trans Iowa inspired them to do and made it their own. Kudos to the staff of Dirty Kanza!
The Event Itself: When you look at the way the event was set up and the course it was run on, again, you have to be impressed. It could quite possibly be the ultimate gravel grinder. With the length, the hills, and the variance in texture and quantity of the gravel road surface, Dirty Kanza has raised the bar on what an epic gravel grinder is.
Next Year: What I Would Change: This is just my opinion, but since I also help promote an epic gravel grinder, I think I can comment here with some wisdom. The course markings were so good that the riders maps were almost superfluous. You had a 200 mile course marked as well as an XC race course! The self sufficient nature of the event might be enhanced by making the riders rely more on navigational skills. Here is my suggestion: Have the riders self navigate while in the rural areas via a map, such as was provided, or by cue sheets, ala Trans Iowa. Then when riders reach a city, have the course marked with the ribbons, as was done in the rural sections this year. The cue sheet idea makes the riders have to pay attention to navigation a little more, adding another element to the challenge. Cue sheet numbers go up when you have more turns. The most turns you have in any given stretch are usually in towns. Eliminate the town cue sheets with the marking tape and the cue sheet numbers will be much more reasonable. Hmmm..............now that I think of it, maybe Trans Iowa should do that!
Next Year: What I Wouldn't Change: I wouldn't change alot of things. I wouldn't allow more competitors. Why? Because the nature of the event would necessarily have to change along with having more people in the event. In short: It either should stay small, or have 250 people on course with all the attendant hoopla that that kind of an event would require. I liked the smaller, more manageable size of the event. It was more of a close knit group, as far as the racers were concerned, and everybody was able to get something from the event, if they so chose to do. Go big and you lose all of that. I wouldn't change the venue headquarters. As long as the Travel Lodge will have you, I would continue to use them. They had a great place to stay at reasonable prices and the race organizers had a great place to base their operations from. Also, the racers themselves could all congregate there, and many stayed in the facility making the level of camaraderie high. Don't change the entry fee unless you absolutely have to go higher. These "underground" type of events should stay simple and therefore the race entry fee should reflect that. Finally: Don't let your plans become so rigid that spontaneous occurances are denied a chance to arise. What do I mean? Well, take for instance the post race gathering. The organizers didn't plan that, it just happened on it's own. I wouldn't mind it if it was the same way next year. A similar thing happened at Trans Iowa this year in Algona, excepting that it was much colder and unpleasant outside! I'm not sure how you "plan" for that, but it really lent to the low key, fun atmousphere of the event. Sometimes promoters make a big deal out of somethings that are more fun if they are simple, know what I mean?
On My Personal Experience: Now there's something I would change! Of course, I'd finish the event, first of all. However;I am not going to get too down on myself . It was only the first competition for me in almost ten years. I know what I've got to work on, and being in Dirty Kanza has shown me that. I absolutely had a blast this year. There were some parts of the course that brought out a very personal experience for me and I enjoyed that. I'm sure that if I had seen and ridden all of it, it only would have enhanced that for me. I really am excited about having been back on the other side of the fence and I look forward to doing that some more.
For now though, I see many long rides in my future this summer!