Trying to go Back-to-Back at Dirty Kanza

UnTapped co-founder Ted King stepped away from World Tour racing, but continues to fuel the engine room as the world of gravel is burgeoning. Awarded the King of Kanza in 2018, Ted set out to Emporia, KS for the 14th running of Dirty Kanza, the grand daddy of all gravel racing, in hopes of taking home another win in 2019.

You’ve moved clear across the country, from California to Vermont, this past year. How’s that move been?

Is it too cheeky to say wicked good? It’s been an amazing move. Laura and I went from a tiny corner of a house in the San Francisco Bay Area to now owning a farmhouse with ten acres, a barn… another barn, and a stream running nearby. We couldn't be happier.

How’s the training been?

It's been anything but normal! I’ve heard that it’s been a long spring all across the country and no chillier example than New England. But that’s comes with the territory and something we were excited about. We’ve nordic skied, alpine skied, and alpine toured all throughout the winter. Shoveling is a full time winter sport here. We fat-biked and traveled quite a bit. The spring thaw never seemed to come in force, so doing stuff like pulling taps with my partners at UnTapped has been a fun way to stay active.

Sounds like you’re taking it all in. Welcome back from Kanza, how did it all go?

We brought out a crew from UnTapped with Doug and Tim representing in the growing DK expo. The timber frame is a popular spot among expo-goers, which is anything but a typical 10-by-10 tent.

The weekend is as busy as ever. It’s a balance of visiting sponsors, leading rides, trying to see friends I only see about once per year, plus being social all contrasted with trying to lay low, keep the nerves in check, and not exerting yourself until race day. I wouldn’t change a thing, but boy oh boy is it a busy few days.

The race unfolded in typical fashion. 3000 riders whittle down to 1000, then 500, then 50, then half way into the race we’re already down to a dozen. The race is as competitive as ever with five coming in directly from the World Tour, plus professionals in every category – road, mountain, and cyclocross. The exposure and heat was a high as ever with a brand new course for 2019.

Ted approaches a lonely tree. Close inspection is not needed; that is not a sugar maple.

I stayed on top of my nutrition rigimen of one UnTapped, alternating Coffee and Maple, plus one waffle every hour. I can’t speak highly enough of the Chai Waffles. I can’t get enough spice. Similarly, I’m drinking at least a bottle per hour. It’s pushing the mid-90s and stifling humid. Hydrating with Ginger Mapleaid is such an amazing “palate reset”. You can’t get tired of such a piquant taste. And Lemon Tea is so refreshing as it gets on a hot day.

Another sip of Mapleaid down the hatchet.

I say I had a great seven hours... too bad it’s a ten hour race. I haven’t been logging the big big miles, partly from being busy elsewhere and partly from the dank spring weather, so I just fell short. It was the fastest year to date and I’m thrilled how I raced. I’ve had a really fun, totally different leadup to Kanza. There isn’t much I would change going into 2020, so I’m already excited for more!

All photos courtesy of Ansel Dickey