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Alex Howes (EF Pro Cycling) was supposed to be gearing up for Dirty Kanza right now, but that’s not really how things have worked out, with the race now postponed until September.
Just the same, that’s not going to stop Howes from putting in a long day on the bike this week.
The 32-year-old American, who rode to third at Dirty Kanza last year, has decided to embark on a journey from his house up at around 2,500 meters of elevation near Boulder, Colorado, to the Kansas state line on Thursday. Along the way, he’ll cover a whopping 355 kilometers (220 miles), a tad more than even the 200-mile race at the real Dirty Kanza.
“This is sort of an ode to Kanza,” Howes explained in a press release from his EF team. “I mean I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that riding the Dirty Kanza was one of the coolest events I’ve done. I’d even go as far as to say that it was probably the coolest thing I did last year and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. So to have that postponed is a huge bummer.
“This is what we’re going to try and replace it with. This is just lighting a little sparkler here for Kanza.”
Howes said that he sought out “the quietest roads” he could find, prioritizing gravel, when mapping out his route. After some planning and looking around on Google Maps, Howes drew up a route that he estimates features 60-70% gravel roads, in keeping with the Dirty Kanza theme.
Howes may hit some headwinds during his journey, but he will at least have a traveling companion to share pulls with: his friend and fellow Dirty Kanza veteran Spencer Powlison.
“I’ve got a buddy here in Colorado who is basically at the same level of training I am, which is not a high level of training at the moment,” Howes said. “The guy’s a wildcat. His name is Spencer Powlison. I kind of floated this idea out there, and I’d been hemming and hawing over it for a while. Then he got wind of it, and he was like, ‘Dude, if you do that, I’m coming with you.’
“I looked at his quarantine schedule, and he’s up in the mountains as well and equally hermited up. So I thought, ‘All right, well, let’s make some plans here.'”
Howes is expecting to spend some 12 to 13 hours on Thursday making the trek from the mountains and across the High Plains terrain of Eastern Colorado to the Kansas border. Upon finally reaching his destination, he’ll have a ride waiting for him.
“So I’ve talked my lovely wife into doing the shuttle,” he said. “She’s going to drive out there. She said she had to go to Target to buy some things for her school presentation, and so I was like, ‘Well, the border of Kansas and Colorado is only two and a half hours past Target, so you can just swing on over if that’s okay.'”
You can track Howes journey, which is set to start early Thursday morning Colorado time, here.