Dirty Kanza

Dirty Kanza, Round 2

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.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

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.” 

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Cory’s Support Crew

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!”

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

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.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Time to Get Dirty!

It’s Dirty Kanza time and Kona Adventure Team rider Cory Wallace is back in the saddle aboard his Libre! Last year Wallace raced the DK200 for his first time and ended up with a respectable 14th place out of over 1,000 racers. He endured several mechanical issues, including a couple of flats that took precious time to fix. Anthony Smith chronicled last year’s race in this gorgeous photo essay.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

We caught up with Cory to chat about this year’s race which Bicycling Magazine is calling the most difficult to date. Some top-level road racers have entered into the fray this year, including Taylor Phinney. Wallace will have is work cut out for him, but we know the 2-time 24-hour World Champ has exactly what it takes to push the pace!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Cory’s race bike from 2018.

“My goal this year is to have a clean race.  If I can stay out of trouble I expect to be fighting for the Win.

My preparations this year took place in Nepal as I hiked and biked all over the Himalayas at some high altitudes this winter.  One key ride was riding the Annapurna circuit in under 24hrs. After that this fully supported DK doesn’t look so daunting.  Training in Nepal might sound very different than racing across the hot and humid flatlands of Kansas but it built a big Diesel engine which is what you need at DK.  It also kept my mind happy while putting in some 30 hr + training weeks.  Being happy and positive is the biggest key in these ultra-endurance races so that is what I try to focus on.  

A couple of weeks ago I also spent 2 weeks racing and training in the heat of Costa Rica which should help have the body ready to go this weekend!
Last year I double flatted early on in the race then spent 11 hours riding from 700th ish position up to 14th at the finish.   It was amazing how many riders detonated during the race and it showed me that a really good result is within grasp if a guy can stay out of trouble early on.

Going into this year I changed my tires up to a bigger 700 x 45c WTB Riddler.  These tires should be tougher and they will also add an extra element of comfort over the duration of 202 miles on bumpy Gravel roads.
I’ll be riding a Kona Libre this year with Shimano Dura Ace electronic shifting, a WTB Silverado saddle and a shorter stem (65mm vs 80) for comfort and handling.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

For songs I’ll just be listening to the birds out there, trying to stay in the present moment and soaking in the sights and sounds of one of the last remaining native grasslands in the USA.  

My snacks during this ride will be all Clifbar based.  I plan to eat 9 Clif bars, 2 whey protein Clif bars, 4 packages of blocks and 2-3 double caffeinated Clif shots.  The treats will be the two ice cold V8’s I’ll have waiting in the feed zones.  A key to this race is having a good support team in the 2 feed zones and I have that covered with Marco and the boys at Velo + KC looking after me!” -Cory Wallace

Cory is bib # 1662! You can check in on the live results here: https://www.athlinks.com/event/174195