Have you achieved good results lately? Come check out the ToughSkin Open and save some green. We’re offering free ToughSkin Open registration for the first 50 male and 50 female registrants that have placed in the top 5 of any 60-mile-plus Gravel RaceGrinder, or Gravel Gran Fondo from January 1, 2021 – August 1, 2022. Not a top 5 finisher yet? Put the pedal to the metal in this year’s Toughskin Open to compete for free registration in 2023.

Email us your results today to get your code for free registration. If you haven’t qualified for a freebie yet but you think you might in 2022, go ahead and register now to reserve your spot; you can email us when you win and we’ll work it out then. Oh, and don’t forget to book accommodations while the booking is good. Although Union City is exquisite for cycling, the gravel is not that great to sleep on.

Who we’ve found so far

If you’re one of the winners listed below (or if you’ve got the results but we haven’t listed your race yet), heck yeah! Let’s make sure you’re registered!

If you know somebody on the list, also heck yeah! You’re friends (or frenemies, coworkers, distant acquaintances) with a kickass rider who’s earned a sweet perk. Send ’em a link to make sure they register so y’all can ride together. Or against each other. We’re cool with whatever the situation is, though Mario Kart-style antics are prohibited. Our routes are treacherous enough, thanks.

Event name MenRider NameResultEvent name WomenRider NameResult
Spin the District ToughskinJohn Atkins1Spin the District ToughskinSue Neurath1
Pete Edmonson2
Michael Zinkann3
Chad Conley4
Justin Pugh5
Spin the District Denim60Will Gillen1Spin the District Denim60Melissa Whitley1
Kenneth Wood2Teresa Rose2
Nathan Brown3Jennifer Klein3
Taylor Gonsoulin4Kathleen LaPorte4
Flynn Whitehurst5Claire Colbert5
Southern Cross, GAMatthew Dockins1Southern Cross, GALauren De Crescenzo1
Jerry Dufour2Hannah Arensman2
Carson Beckett3Hannah Dalsing3
Thomas Turner4Kat Sweatt4
Jack White5Isabella Hyser5
Red Clay Ramble Long, GAJaden Grimes1Red Clay Ramble Long, GAAli Lecraw1
James Carney2Gillis Rowston2
Michael Sanders3Jenna Rittenhouse3
Julien Meaud4Wendy Jacobsen4
Dylan Lindsey5Rhys Young5
Red Clay Ramble Short, GAJackson Evans1Red Clay Ramble Short, GAMaggie Evans1
Drake Lindsey2Saskia Hoppe2
John Sasser3Jean D’Alessandro3
Sean Hulse4Tyler Houston4
Raniel Dantic5Renee Weidner5
Kissing Bridge Classic Long, GAJames Dunaway1Kissing Bridge Classic Long, GAElizabeth Eidson1
Arthur Murray2Abigail West2
Patrick Markarian3Wendy Jacobsen3
Tristan Haseler4Wendy Ewing4
Levi Cole5Beth White5
Kissing Bridge Classic Short, GASean Hulse1Kissing Bridge Classic Short, GASaskia Hoppe1
Chuck Wilkinson2Lynn Burch2
Brian Brown3Isabella Posth3
Doug Day4Kim Ranallo4
Amy Price5
Assault On Currahee Mountain Long, GAAndrew Blackstock1Assault On Currahee Mountain Long, GARhylee Wittrock1
Ben Renkema2Saskia Hoppe2
Jaden Grimes3Amy Price3
Conley Wilhelm4
James Carney5
Assault On Currahee Mountain Short, GATaylor Gonsoulin1Assault On Currahee Mountain Short, GAAbigail West1
Jonathan Ivester2Elizabeth Murray2
Michael Mack3Kate Crockett3
Brian Brown4Laura Battista4
David Tiller5Mindy Garvin-Leighton5
Mulberry Mayhem Long, GAElliott Baring1Mulberry Mayhem Long, GASara Fletcher1
Thomas Turner2Krystal Burnham2
Andrew Blackstock3Courtney Cooper3
Michael Sanders4Erin Harris4
Ben Renkema5Monica Desjardins5
Mulberry Mayhem Short, GATaylor Gonsoulin1Mulberry Mayhem Short, GAAriel Johnson1
Charles Haws2
Jason Cormier3
Colby Doepel4
Doug Day5
Georgia Gravel Grinduro, GAReny Townsend1Georgia Gravel Grinduro, GANicole Blessing1
Carlos Pacheco2
Jaden Grimes3
Nate Moser4
Luis Berrios5
Georgia Gravel Sramble, GAAustin Noyes1Georgia Gravel Sramble, GAAlynn Lecznar1
Timothy Brown2Margaret Bishop2
Prasad Manne3
Rod Fortney4
David Bishop5


Just outside Atlanta, featuring all the gravel and all the road miles you can eat, plus beer and chili.

Spin the District Gravel and Road Fondo

Remember the Fondo? The big ride, the Union City Fondo and Gravel Grind, the epic Spin the District finale? Back in 2018, 2019, and last October? Yeah, that was awesome. Let’s do it again.

What do you think about Saturday, October 22, 2022

Because that’s the date. It’s on. We’re doing it.

As always, the Fondo will take you through horse country in beautiful Union City, Ga.—easy on the eyes and the wallet, and super simple to travel to, bike and all. Which bike, you ask? We can’t answer that for you. You must choose.

You see, with each passing year, we make our gravel routes (the ToughSkin Open and the Denim60) more and more…what’s the word…mental. Punishing. Ridiculous. Each time segment is unique, all favoring a different style—gravel, road, mountain or cyclocross—so unless you’ve been developing an enchanted groadtaincross bike, you’re going to have to decide which bike to bet on and make it work. 

The mixed-gravel adventure comes in two sizes, 60 and 120ish miles long, each incorporating an unpredictable mix of gravel, pavement, mud, water, man-made obstacles and the constant up and down of the Chattahoochee Hill Country. There’s also 30-, 60-, and 100-mile road options that incorporate…road. Just road. Which is nice, too. Real nice, actually. 


People (mostly us, but sometimes other people) have been calling the Fondo “The Unofficial Mixed Surface Championship,” because it attracts the best of the best gravel riders from across the country. Why do champions flock to this ride in particular? Check it:

  1. It is, as previously described, spectacular. No other ride combines all these different disciplines into one supremely gnarly event. 
  2. Union City is scenic and affordable in terms of travel and accommodations, and only a few minutes from Atlanta.
  3. Our rider support is excellent.
  4. Our after party is even better.
  5. Winners ride free.

So yeah, okay, maybe #5 should’ve been at the top. Each year, Spin the District invites the year’s gravel champs to register free of charge; this year, the first 50 male and 50 female entrants who have placed in any U.S. gravel race over 60 miles since January 1, 2021 will be granted free registration. (If that’s you, email about your free registration sooner than later. It would be devastating to find out your request was our one-hundred-and-first. Elliott Smith would write a song about you.)

Whoever finishes each of the day’s rides fastest will receive sweet custom medals, while the time segment winners in the road and mixed surface century events (men’s and women’s divisions) will be awarded wrestling-style championship belts. 

Win or lose, all riders chill together as equals after the ride with food, beer and massages.



Registration opens on January 2, 2022  and can be completed online:
Spin the District 2022 Fondo Registration

Book accommodations in advance for the best rates:
Spin the District Accommodations via the ATL Airport District


It’s simple: Spin the District is a bike race. Well—four bike races. Well—okay, they aren’t all races, and there’s a lot of other stuff, too, so it’s more like Spin is four weekends of cycling and parties, with festivals, beer crawls, training rides and more thrown in for added awesomeness. It’s Atlanta’s answer to Athens Twilight, 6 days of Berlin, RAGBRAI, and Rebecca’s Private Idaho, all in one family-size party pack. See? So simple!

Spin the District is hosted by the ATL Airport District, the official convention and visitors bureau for the cities of College Park, East Point, Hapeville and Union City, Ga. For more information about ATL Airport District, Spin the District, and the Union City Fondo, visit

Outback Bikes’ Pete Wicker on bucking the bonk

Long time cycling sponsor (in all things cycling) Pete Wicker gets ready to teach the next generation a thing or two
at the 2019 Hapeville Criterium kids races. Thanks Pete, SPIN and everyone in the Atlanta cycling community thanks you!

By Pete Wicker
If you ride a bike, you may have experienced the dreaded BONK! Also known as hypoglycemia, bonking feels like hitting a wall. This does not make for a great time on your bike.

Eating before you’re hungry and drinking before you’re thirsty sounds like good advice. There are a few things to remember. If your ride is an hour or less, water will get you through. If your ride is longer, a banana, energy gel, or bar every 45 to 60 minutes works best for me. Additionally, if it’s a hot and humid day, I use an electrolyte drink, usually in an easy-to-carry tablet form. I recommend you try a few different brands of energy foods to see how they work before any race-type workout. Always drink enough water: one to two bottles an hour on a hot day, or just one per hour on cooler days.            

Recovery is probably the most overlooked part of cycling by novices. There is a 45- to 60- minute window to replenish muscle glycogen. Your body craves replenishment and will recover better with a mixture of carbohydrates and protein.

Personally, I love a variety of cycling activities. Velodrome Racing, Cyclocross, Gravel, Time Trials and Mountain Biking are a few of my favorites. Track Racing is the purest form of cycling that I enjoy most. With one gear and no brakes, it’s kind of like riding a rollercoaster—but your cycling nutrition shouldn’t be.


Outback Bikes

Hapeville Criterium Kids Race
Pete pushing the up-and-coming to become Hapeville’s next Champion.
(or based on both of their faces, maybe Pete’s the one being pushed?)


ATLANTA (April 23, 2022) – ATL Airport District is thrilled to welcome both cyclists and spectators alike to Spin the District – the community’s third annual cycling race series, providing an immersive experience for guests and transforming the area’s streets into a premier cycling destination. Following last year’s cancelation due to COVID-19, Spin the District is returning in full swing this year – offering food, entertainment and festivities for all to enjoy. The cycling events kick off with the Hapeville Crit on Saturday, April 23, followed by the College Park Crit on Sunday, May 1, and the East Point Omni on Saturday, September 17. The high-powered cycling action wraps up on Saturday, October 22, for the Union City Fondo and Gravel Grind, and as a bike-positive event, all Spin the District events will have a complimentary bicycle valet available to everyone arriving on two wheels.

“We’re really excited to bring Spin the District back to life this summer and fall,” said Cookie Smoak, president of ATL Airport District. “Having closed the chapter on a long year, we’re overjoyed to have the opportunity to bring the community together once again and showcase all that ATL Airport District has to offer – as a premier cycling destination and beyond.”

Union City Fondo Denim 60

Hapeville Crit | April 23

Kicking off at 11 a.m., Spin the District launches during USA Crits Speed Week with the Hapeville Crit – a fast-paced, 1.4-kilometer route in the heart of the city. Hapeville’s course will feature the first and fastest cycling adventure for participants – including a seven-corner course and 150-meter straight finish. The day will include racing for all ages and levels, finishing with the crowd favorite kid’s tricycle race and the best pro men and women racers from across the country. Friends, family and cycling enthusiasts can gather for a Saturday Block Party at Jess Lucas Y-Teen Park to commemorate the weekend with frothy drinks, food and festivities throughout the afternoon. Rider registration and details can be seen here.

College Park Crit | May 1

Wrapping up the initial Spin weekend and USA Crits Speed Week, the College Park Crit will last from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a block party scheduled from noon to close. The College Park course will feature a five-corner circuit, tight turns and an uphill finish, all located in the historic streets of downtown College Park. Spectators are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs, tents and sunscreen – and can indulge in local food trucks throughout the afternoon, alongside family-friendly games and kid’s races. Cyclist registration and details can be accessed here.

East Point Omni | September 17

Calling all cycling enthusiasts – East Point’s Omni is the biking event of the season! A party for both riders and spectators, the race is located at Dick Lane Velodrome – the only concrete cycling facility in Georgia – and is an all-out race on bikes going 40+ mph with no brakes, no coasting and only one gear. Guests can enjoy live entertainment from a DJ, food trucks, local craft beer, Velodrome concessions, games and

beyond – all while enjoying a view of cyclists and the city’s historic Sumner Park. Admission for the public is free of cost, and cyclists can find registration details here.

Union City Fondo | October 22

Spin the District comes to a close with its highly anticipated finale – the Union City Fondo and Gravel Grind. Known as one of the best values in the country, the gran fondo is a high-energy finish to Spin the District, offering a variety of mile options and range of routes through South Fulton, Coweta and Carroll Counties. Cyclists can choose between 30-, 60- and 100-mile gravel and road routes, with a range of classic routes like the Polyester100, Rayon60 and Velour30. This year’s course includes an option to partake in challenging gravel rides, including the ToughSkin Open, a hard-wearing gravel blend, and the Denim60, made for a resilient, smoother ride. Guests can celebrate the conclusion of Spin the District with music, drinks and bites in Union City following the races. More information on rider registration can be seen here.

More details are forthcoming. For more information on ATL Airport District and Spin the District, click here.

About ATL Airport District:

ATL Airport District is the official convention & visitors bureau for the cities of College ParkEast PointHapeville and Union City, Ga. ATL Airport District CVB’s mission is to generate economic development for the cities mentioned above by effectively presenting the community as a preferred tourism, convention and meeting destination. For more information, please visit

Fall Event Cancelation

It is with sorrow and disappointment that we must announce the cancelation of all Spin the District events scheduled for the weekend of September 17–20, 2020, due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. The Spin the District team has been hopeful that with carefully-enforced health safeguards in place, the events could proceed in some capacity in 2020. However, the latest uptick in positive tests and hospitalizations in Georgia has proven to be the final straw, as our insurer is now unable to provide the coverage that makes Spin possible. 

Planning and coordinating any event on this scale requires a lot of time, resources, volunteers, and constant communication with our city partners. While September is still a few months away and we hope that the pandemic will slow significantly by then, we can no longer justify the costs and resources needed to ensure the event can meet our own high standards. Instead, we’re turning our focus toward 2021. 

According to the rules of registration, there are no refunds—so we’re changing the rules. After all, no one could have predicted a worldwide pandemic. All currently registered riders now have the following options:

  1. Deferral. Paid and qualified riders can elect to defer their registration until the 2021 event (September 17–19, 2021).
  2. Donation. Paid riders will donate their original entry fee to MTB Atlanta to help build and maintain local trails.
  3. Refund. We are offering to refund paid entries in full, excluding processing fees.

Participants are asked to make their selections by September 1, 2020. Decisions not received by the deadline will default to the Deferral option.

For our part, we’re rolling forward what resources we can in order to come back better than ever in 2021. We plan to start strong with our Spring Criterium series in the spring, followed by our fall events next September. In the meantime, please stay safe out there, and ride on.

Please email us at for questions or to request a refund.

100 Free Entries. Because, why not?

by Wayne Whitesides – All things SPIN

Spin the District’s Union City Gravel Gran Fondo is offering free entry to its 100- or 150- mile gravel races! The first 100 men and 100 women who have placed in the top 5 of ANY +50-mile gravel race between September 22, 2019 and September 16, 2020 are invited to register free of cost. Are we crazy? What’s gotten into us? It’s simple. We want this year’s Gravel Gran Fondo to be the toughest yet. The more tough competitors, the tougher the race. It makes sense to us.

If you’re sold and ready to blaze a trail on our course, you can email us now if you’re a Top 5 rider to get your code, and we’ll see you in a few months. (Don’t forget to show us where we can find your results) If you still think we’re nuts, read on for a personal explanation from one of the founders Wayne Whitesides, pictured below (left). (right) Madeline Larsen Pearce – 2019 Toughskin150 winner

Spin the District Gravel Race Free Entry

It’s more than just a gimmick.

I think fellow promoters can agree: gravel riding has officially exploded in the U.S.! It’s happened to such a degree that cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, recently announced they have their “eye” on gravel. In other words, they want to standardize gravel riding events for their profit—and could inevitably ruin them in the process. Overregulation will make gravel events sterile and bland. Yet it is the lack of rules and the uniqueness of rides/events that has always attracted riders to gravel. People ride for the experience and plan their year around specific, story-worthy rides. Those seeking the “path less traveled” do not want cookie-cutter gravel rides that blend together.

The best of the best???

When your event sells out in minutes or becomes so popular that you have to pick random people out of a hat, you are bound to leave quality riders sitting on the sidelines. These riders are left to choose a new path. In doing so, you’re limiting the quality of your field and defining the experience people have. (unless you’re just wanting to ride to ride, we’re not here to judge how you ride the event) Not to mention, lotteries give riders anxiety. ‘Did I get in?’ ‘Did my buddies who were going to split travel costs with me get in?’ ‘Do I need to start scouring the web to buy someone’s golden ticket who can’t go after all?’ It’s a risky line in the sand that promoters are willing to make in order to sell out. Of course, we want to break registration records, but not at the expense of race quality.

Our free entry helps address this potential problem. We want you to know who else got in, and to know you will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the legends of this sport. This is all in an effort to launch your experience to the stars! You spent a lot of money and made a big commitment so it makes sense you want to ride with the best. Even if you are a “Fred” like me just hoping to finish before the time cut, riding with quality riders elevates the experience. Last year at DirtyKanza, lining up next to people I fanboy over and then reading about their epic race battle for days to come is something I will never forget. Just breathing the same rarefied air as female champ Lael Wilcox, or Stentina Howes, and eventual men’s winner Colin Strickland made my 19-hour journey through hell worth every second. Did we mention we already have Ashton Lambie qualified – duh – and signed up to race the Toughskin150? He’s coming with our 2019 Velodrome Champ, John Croom, who’s out to prove he’s got the brass to win our Big A$$ Belt.

Spin the District Gran Fondo Belt Polyester100
While Goliath believes he’s a giant and ruler of the office, he’s no match for the belt.

Long story short: It’s part of our trifecta experience

We’re offering free registration to a fourth of our fields for the best of the best to ensure that the quality of our Gravel Gran Fondo is nothing short of primo. Of course, it’s only a portion of your overall experience. Our courses are as tough as nails and guaranteed to challenge anyone, and our weekend experience is second to none. In an ever-crowding market, you have to stand out. We want to stand out with the best and make your Spin the District experience the trip of the year, or dare we say, lifetime!!! 

Are you a top 5 rider? Please email us with at least one top 5 placing from September 19, 2019 through September 20, 2020, and let’s get you on the list. 

Do you want to ride against the best? Let’s get you over to registration (opening February 28). 

Spin the District Husky100 Winners

Don’t forget to connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with the latest.

Back from Dirty Kanza – Bring on the Toughskin150!

by Wayne Whitesides – crazy event marketing guy

L5 Flyers & Piedmont College representing. Women’s Cat 3/4 Hapeville Criterium Podium. Just one part of four Spin the District cycling events this year in the the ATL Airport District.

It’s been a fast two months for me with racing, training, marketing, and promoting all things cycling. I’m back from a trip out west and now getting ready for our next cycling events – East Point Velodrome races and the Union City Gran Fondo & Gravel Grind.

It was a cycling party in the streets!

Before I go further, I wanted to briefly comment on the first two events we put on in the ATL Airport District. Spin the District, it’s called, kicked off our second year this May with a two-day criterium race series. We filled the streets of Hapeville and College Park, Georgia with a stacked field of quality riders (from 24 states and 13 countries, thank you very much) and threw bigger parties than ever. (Fond memories of tacos and crawfish!) It was a magnificent sight to see such great racing happen in my backyard. Adding the Hapeville and College Park Criteriums to the national caliber USA Crits Speed Week Series was just the boost we needed. Next year will be bigger and better still, so mark your calendars for the first week in May. Also, be on the lookout for an overdue proper recap of the weekend.

Soon after the criteriums ended, with close to 3,000 training miles in my legs and the beginning of a stomach bug, I packed up my gravel bike and gear into a 32-foot rental camper with six of my buddies. (Jason “TrailDog” Hanlin, Dan Raudebaugh, Matt Connors, Jason Linscott, Jacob Dearolph and Dennis Decker were all there. No, none of them caught the stomach bug.) We were headed west for Kansas and the 202-mile gravel race known as Dirty Kanza.

Planning for a race while training for another.

I should mention that throughout this experience, I was thinking about the Toughskin150, a mixed-gravel race that I have been planning that will be part of the Spin the District Series coming this fall. (Check it out here.) I was inspired by ultra-gravel races like Dirty Kanza, Super Skaggs, and the Belgian Waffle Ride, and the painstaking route planning for the September event comprised most of my training leading up to leaving for Kansas. And painstaking it was, both figuratively and literally. I took great pains to develop a grueling route to bring in souls looking to dig deep and fight off their inner demons to finish, scouring Google Maps and for every hint of loose road surface, then driving around and around hunting down roads that link up to create a safe and desirable course to meet the standards of my inspirations. And I felt great pain in the process, having now ridden pretty much every speck of gravel within a 100-mile radius south of Atlanta.

Work or play? How about both!

My “day of work” ride to check out the ToughSkin150 route. 1) Unincorporated Yellow Dirt, Georgia 2) The lollipop route Dirty Sheets 3) My new favorite place to ride – Heard County, about 40 miles south of Downtown Atlanta

I’m a partner at the advertising agency that is creating all the design and marketing material for the ToughSkin150 and all the Spin events, and a week before we left to race Kanza, I selfishly declared a “day of work” was necessary so that I could go out and “test” the route before announcing it. (It was technically true!) Of the proposed 160-mile, 10,500-foot-total-elevation course, I had enough time (10 hours) and energy to do 120 miles and 2,000 feet short of the total climbing. After that day, I headed west wondering how in the hell I was going to get another 6 hours out of my legs in a day and finish Dirty Kanza and/or holy hell was my Toughskin150 route just too hard!?!? (More on the Toughskin150 and our crop-length counterpart Husky100 in future posts. Back to the Dirty Kanza.)

What kind of sick twisted event are you going to?

The promoters of Dirty Kanza had developed a gravel course that appeared on paper to be the toughest challenge since the race’s inception in 2007. It was a northwesterly course that would mean strong headwinds in the mid-day sun, but a nice tailwind for the last 50 of the 202-mile day. The challenging route also included 10,000 feet of constant up and down rollers and a lot of B gravel roads. In Kansas and most of the Midwest, you have paved roads, standard gravel roads, and B roads, which are gravel/dirt/sand/grass roads that get little-to-no maintenance and are typically only used by farmers—and even farmers avoid them when they can. Some B roads are little more than two deep ruts separated by tall grass.

The weather had been horrible for weeks prior, the Arkansas River flooded, and reports from all the gravel blogs were that the start town of Emporia was underwater and to expect plenty of “peanut butter” mud on the course. Peanut butter mud! Luckily, the course dried out just in time and there was little mud. I still don’t know what peanut butter mud is like, but after riding over the dried-out B roads with 12-inch-deep tire ruts, I don’t want to find out. There’s no way I could’ve finished the peanut butter version.

One of the gravel roads on the route. At least 95% of the course was at least this or worse

I’ve gotten this far and realized some of you may still not know what Dirty Kanza is and why I’m yammering about it. Well, Dirty Kanza (just Kanza for short) is the country’s premiere one-day gravel bicycle race. It has a 100, 200 and now 350-mile version. For most, the race is more within yourself than against another rider, and finishing the race is a huge achievement. The event is held in the Flint Hills, which are notorious for giving riders fits with flats and mechanicals. For those of you saying, “Kansas is flat,” you’ve never seen the Flint Hills. And as I mentioned, the B roads are a bit of a mess, though extremely fun!

What makes it especially hard, though, is that for the most part it’s “Self Supported,” meaning you are in charge of you; food, water, and repairs are managed by you and your crew only in two designated support areas. Support was not allowed on the course. If you broke something you had to fix it. If you ran out of water, good luck. For the 200 mile version, support came at miles 64 and 150 this year, plus a water-only stop at mile 120, and an unexpected-but-appreciated water-only stop at mile 90, provided by pro cycling team sponsor EF Education. (Thanks, y’all. I needed it.) Between those stops, you needed to carry enough food and water to get you to the next point. For me, that meant adding an average of 12 extra pounds of gear on my bike and back. I estimated I’d burn 7,000–8,000 total calories and go through 14 liters of fluid (roughly 21 water bottles). In the end, I needed way more water, and I lost my appetite early on—a terrible combination. I know I didn’t come close to replenishing the calories burned. A rookie move.

The Emporia Theater is a true treasure. In our pre-race riders meeting we were instructed to line up based on how we thought we’d finish, hence our view from the start. If there is a next year, I won’t be so far back. I spent the first two hours slowly moving through the field.

For the 200-mile event, we were among 1,205 riders randomly selected through a lottery from around 3,000 applicants. Our fellow riders included some of the best road pro men and women and gravel specialists from around the world, with the likes of World Tour riders Taylor Phinney, Peter Stetina, Lachlan Morton, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen, and last year’s winner Ted King. Some of them suffered from numerous flats, but they all got the beatdown in the end by gravel specialist Colin Strickland out of Austin, who broke away from the group with 95 miles to go and completed the course in a record 10 hours — hours upon hours ahead of me. Equally impressive was female rider Amity Rockwell, from San Francisco, who finished in just under 12 hours! For them, this truly was a race, and from what I’ve heard it sounded pretty epic. (I recommend the Velonews article “Commentary: A perfect battle at Dirty Kanza 200” by Fred Dreier. It’s an inspiring read.)

While Dirty Kanza is of course about fitness and stamina (our event was 200 miles in one day after all), it’s even more about mental strength. You need to know how to fight off the uncontrollable urge to quit, the inner demon I mentioned earlier. Even the pros had to dig just as deep I did—just a lot faster.

Then again, for me, coming from a velodrome/track racing – sprinter – background, anything over one kilometer is too much. Granted, it’s as fast and as hard as you can go, so it’s not exactly apples to apples. I had also retired from racing a few years earlier, so I restarted my training and mental preparedness from scratch, 20 pounds overweight and 48 years young. I suffered! I suffered like you can’t imagine. Or maybe you can. My little stomach bug decided it wasn’t quite finished with me, and the heat and lack of shade took a huge toll. This was the hardest and dumbest thing I have ever done.

The leaders come flying through. I’m probably coming over the first hill off in the distance.

My goal was to finish in a lofty 15 hours, not accounting for temps that would reach 107° according to my cycling computer, or the… ummm… health issues I’ll save for another article. I hobbled in at a very proud-yet-humbled 19:17 with Trail Dog Hanlin and Dan by my side, whom I caught up to in the wee hours of the night, both going through their own struggles. My whole party finished, all five of us who raced. Matt powered through first in 15:45, and Jason L was right behind in 16:08. We all have a tremendous amount of gratitude to Jacob and Dennis who came along to give us support. They quietly and effectively kept us moving by keeping our equipment running and in order, cooling us down, forcing us to eat, and most importantly pushing us back out to finish without really saying anything. We could not have finished without them. I cannot thank them enough. (And here’s a nod to all the support crews. You all rock!)

Next week, I’ll write a detailed play-by-play of my day and the struggles I had and witnessed along the way. Of the 1,205 riders who started, only 852 finished. Fighting the cutoff times in the latter half of the day, I saw most of the non-finishers strung out along the way. I felt and suffered with them. For most of us, just putting one pedal stroke in front of the other was all we could muster.

Even though I spent ten hours swearing off the race and silently cursing out the promoters for not having a third aid station, I now can’t stop thinking about doing it again.

Bike racing, training and promotion. All part of the job. It's really hard not to love what I do. Here's a little recap of my journey to race one of the hardest one day cycling races in the country. I went through all the emotions to finish. Read on to find out how it all went.
19 hours later. We all finish Dirty Kanza. L-R) Matt Connors, Jason Linscott, Dan Raudebaugh, Me, Jacob Dearolph, Dennis Decker, & Jason Hanlin