This past weekend saw the annual migration to Emporia, Kansas for the Dirty Kanza, often called the most hardcore gravel race on the planet. Kona Adventure team rider and 24-hour solo World Champion, Cory Wallace took his Libre to the event to try to better his 15th place from last year’s event. The event route is nothing short of extremely challenging and takes its toll on both riders and equipment over the course of the 200+ miles riders endure throughout the day.
Cory’s race report on his blog gets into the gritty details of the day.
“The first 25 miles of the race started out pretty neutral as we all eased into the long day ahead but soon we hit a gauntlet of rough and rutted out roads. Here the chaos began as riders started crashing and flatting all over the place. There was a lot of sketchy riding going, especially from those riders sporting aero bars, so I hopped on the wheel of Geoff Kabush as he had some smooth lines and generally finds a way to end up at the front of races. Unfortunately, he soon flatted the road-looking tire he was running, so I followed another guy, who crashed hard into a mud puddle, and then another guy bounced off me as he went down in a rut. Eventually, we hit some smoother gravel roads again with the lead group having gone from around 500 to 50 riders. From here we hit some rolling hills and by the time we rolled into the first feed zone at kilometer 100 we were down to just 17 riders in the lead group. My pit crew was awesome with Marco from Velo Plus and Jordan from Kona getting me in and out of there in 30 seconds, just in time to catch back onto the group as it was charging and no one was waiting around.”
Eventually, Cory would meet his maker with a stubborn lock ring. “A few miles later the rear tire sprung a leak, plugging and Co’2ing it, I was back rolling again soon but it would give out a few miles later requiring another plug. This plug would also eventually fail, and with just one C02 left it was time to put a tube in which is never a good thing. From here the day unfolded into a total meltdown as the lock ring nut on the valve stem was pretty much welded on. In 15 years of racing, I’ve never failed in removing a lock ring nut. I have some tough fingers from tree planting so many years, but they were no match! I used rocks and my multi-tool to try and loosen it but there was no way. I have no idea why that thing would be on there so tight but given it was a new bike it was something I hadn’t even considered to check. Thus I hopped back on my bike and started riding the rim. It was shocking how few riders passed me as apparently our lead group had destroyed the rest of the field pretty good!”
What happened next is like something out of a book as he needed assistance from a good Samaritan. Cory eventually fixed his tire and was able to claw his way back to a 28th place after being in no man’s land without food and assistance. Cory has a very in-depth report of the race, which is quite entertaining over on his blog.