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Stages Cycling athlete, Geoff Kabush, is taking on the Dirty Kanza!
Yeti’s cross-country OG, Geoff Kabush, is a jack-of-all trades contender on the mountain bike; no matter the event, when he shows up, he must be considered a favorite. Geoff opened his 2018 season with a win at the Moab Rocks event, then he was competitive at Sea Otter with top ten finishes in both the STXC and XC.
All of these events were relatively short, so it comes as no surprise that Kabush was at the sharp end of the field. But if you look at Geoff’s 2018 schedule you’ll find he has something out of the ordinary planned for June this year—The Dirty Kanza.
Dirty Kanza is a 200-mile gravel grinder, often referred to a DK200, that runs through the flint hills of Kansas. It was started by Jim Cummins and Joel Dyke in 2006 with just 34 starters. Last year, in 2017, the event sold out to 2,200 participants. DK200 is the undisputed crown jewel of gravel grinding. Not only is the distance daunting, but the entire event is self-navigated and supported, which makes it a true barrier-breaking challenge for anyone that shows up.
So, how do you get from pro short track to 200 miles of suffering? For that matter why would you want to? The same reason anyone shows up to DK200—the challenge of it.
‘It’s the race that I’ve been thinking about the most this winter and spring,’ said Kabush in our exclusive interview. Listen in as we talk to Kabush about his interest and aspirations at Kanza, and dabbling in the trendy world of gravel grinding.
Belo is the full text of our conversation with Kabush about taking on DK200.
Well… I can’t say that I’m looking forward to the fun factor at Kanza. It’s one of those things that I’ve tried to do throughout my career—take on new challenges. It’s fun to figure new things out and this is definitely going to be a challenge—I’ve never ridden 200 miles. It’s the race that I’ve been thinking about the most this winter and spring. I’ve been figuring out the equipment, nutrition, navigation, and just how the whole event works. I’ve never been to Kansas. It’s a bit of an unknown and I’ll be putting myself out there. It sounds like a really cool event. A lot of my sponsors are involved with it. I’m sure it’s going to be quite the sense of accomplishment to make it across the finish line. I’m looking forward to taking it on.
Oh, I’m competitive, so I’m definitely going there to try to win the race, but it sounds like it is going to be a really impressive field this year. The event has been building for the last couple years and there’s going to be a really high-quality field there. It’s going to be a long mental burn type race of attrition and tactics. I’ve always enjoyed that. It’s something you’re going to really have to wrap your head around and save your energy, be efficient, take care of the details with eating and see who has something left in the last two or three hours. It’s an intimidating one to take on but also fun and exciting to see what happens.
As far as the pacing, I think it’s going to be decided by the group and there’s definitely some fire power coming all different disciplines. It’s going to [come to] being efficient in the group and trying to shave [limit] those maximum efforts in the group from the early part of the race to save your firepower for the end. I think the biggest thing I’ll be paying attention to is the nutrition. In a five or six-hour race you can cut corners and make it to the end, but in 200 miles and 10 or 11 hours, you really need to pay attention to the nutrition early on and make sure you’re fueled for the end so that you have the horsepower to fight at the finish.
I think you can train the gut a bit to take on the calories. So, in training it’s breaking down the calories and how many I can ingest comfortably in an hour [balanced by how many he’s expending as measured by Stages Power -ed.] and planning the nutrition with the timing and feed zones and the hydration as well. It’s always been my strength in the shorter races to smooth out those power efforts. So, I’ll be looking to really moderate the high-intensity efforts early on to ease the efforts over the steep climbs, even sagging those climbs a bit. You really have to stay in the lead group— know my competition—and know when it’s important to make the moves. It’s all a bit unknown, the strategy and the pacing, we’re going to see maybe for the first time some team tactics at Dirty Kanza along with some really powerful riders from different disciplines, like triathlon. It’s going to be a really interesting dynamic, so it’s a little bit unknown, but taking care of the nutrition and trying to save those maximum efforts for the end [is key].
Kabush tracks his output with Stages Dash, but he also uses it to track his input. You see, while the Dash displays output metrics like Watts, HR, Lap Times, NP and more, it can also be remind you when to eat and drink. Set these reminders up in the settings and up take your nutrition game to the next level.EXPLORE DASH
It’s been a busy three weeks of racing, so to finally have a little bit of a break has been good. It’s only a month out to Kanza, but I always work in some endurance rides. Yesterday I did a five-plus-hour ride around Lake Tahoe, where I’m hanging out right now. The big thing is really making sure I’m comfortable on my equipment for the long ride. Luckily, I’m on the new Open bike, which is really set up perfectly for the feeding, nutrition and tires [clearance] for the long ride. So, I’m really making sure I’m comfortable with the saddle and in my position. With the training, really paying attention to the off the bike stuff—core strength—10 or 11 hours on the bike is going to be pretty brutal on the body so making sure not only the endurance is there but also the core strength to really make sure the back and body is ready to go for that long.
Yeah, for the off the bike stuff I always try to do something simple that I can do at home. I find if I go to the gym it’s kind of a barrier that makes it easy to skip. So, at home I often do a little bit of core strength, whether it be plank or exercises on a ball along with some push-ups, stuff that I can work in 20-30 minutes regularly a few times a week to make sure I maintain it and I’m able to do it while traveling and racing throughout the year.
The Open is a really interesting bike. It almost gives me too many choices for my equipment. It’s built with a lot of clearance, so I can ride all different sizes of gravel tires or even 27.5in mountain bike wheels and tires. I’ll be opting for a regular gravel tire in a 700c set up. The big thing you hear and read is about the flint in Kansas and some really sharp rocks so that’s the big decision—what tires, what width and what size.
I’ll most likely be going with some 40c Maxxis tires, whether it’s the Rambler or a more durable road training tire, the Refuse, which they make in 40c. It doesn’t have a lot of knobs, but it’s really durable. So, it’s a balance in trying to make a decision on the tire. The Open has a ton of mounts on it, two regular bottle cage mounts, with a third water bottle cage mount underneath the downtube if I want it and a dedicated bolt on, so I’ve got myself a feedbag for stashing nutrition there. There are a lot of small details as well, navigation is a big part of the race in Dirty Kanza, there’s no marking so you have to carry your own navigation device for the length of the event and make sure it doesn’t run out of battery. The little bolt-on feedbag is, not only, good for the nutrition products but I’ll probably run a little battery pack in there to make sure the navigation device stays powered up.
When training on the road, Kabush uses Stages Power R with his existing Stages Power L meters, transforming it into a dual side, watt-measuring machine.SEE STAGES POWER R
I checked in with some friends that are doing it, Barry Wicks (Kona) has done it. His recommendation was ‘don’t even start if it’s raining,’ it’s supposed to be horrible dirt. I’ve talked to other guys who’ve done it before, Ted King, who won it; I ride with him in NorCal. I chatted a little bit with him about his set up and strategy. Matt Lieto is another triathlete who’s jumping in this year, so I talked to him about nutrition and stuff. I’m going to get out there early to see the conditions and make some final decisions on equipment while I’m out there. It’s all a little unknown and you can only take others advice so far. I also think it’s going to be a whole different event as far as the strategy this year with the competitiveness of the field. So, you can get as much advice as you can, but you’re just going to have to make decisions on the go out there when the racing starts.