Around 30 miles in the skies began to brighten and the threat of rain faded.

Photo gallery: 2018 Dirty Kanza 200

by Neal Rogers

Two hundred and six miles is a long time on a bike. It’s long enough to be “in a bad place” for 40 miles and yet still be the second female finisher.

It’s long enough to bonk hard, hallucinate, think that the trees around you are people, recover, feel amazing, and finish in the top 10.

You can pack a lot into 206 miles. And just in case you’re the type for whom 206 just won’t be enough, Dirty Kanza now offers a 350-mile option.

The 2018 edition of this iconic gravel race was won by 200-mile specialist and former pro roadie Ted King, 10 minutes ahead of retired road pro Joshua Berry, with Canadian mountain biker Geoff Kabush in third, 20 minutes off the winning time. It was a bit of redemption for King, winner in 2016, after a rough go in the 2017 race.

In the women’s race, Katie Keough, currently third in the UCI’s world cyclocross rankings, was crowned the 2018 Queen of Kanza; the Cannondale rider finished 19 minutes ahead of Amanda Nauman, with 2017 winner Alison Tetrick rounding out the podium, three minutes behind Nauman. Keough’s time was fast enough to equal 20th place in the men’s field, which belonged to her husband and pacesetter Luke Keough of the UnitedHealthcare road team.

For those not familiar with Kanza or this type of gravel racing, there are many elements that will probably be familiar from road or cyclocross.There is controversy over equipment choice, controversy over tactics, controversy over written versus unwritten rules, controversy over what should and should not be controversial. Or maybe that’s just on Twitter.

What may be less familiar is the overall sky-high level of stoke and fun among both spectators and riders. If you’re a bit jaded about the state of cycling, Emporia, Kansas, on the first weekend in June is an excellent cure. Also, it’s pretty cool to see Sven Nys riding anonymously by a group of spectators who are yelling “looking good, man! You can do it!” In the end, however, Nys could not do it — several punctures and stomach issues saw the Belgian cyclocross legend abandon, underlining just how difficult the Dirty Kanza truly is.


Want more on this year’s Dirty Kanza? You can read all about Alison Tetrick’s day of embracing her inner crazy while racing the gravel roads of Kansas here.

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