Be Prepared


Editor’s foreword

It’s a Dirt Tan Bike Club milestone, people! You know your blog has hit the (teeny-tiny) big time when somebody agrees to be a guest contributor.

Here’s my fellow Lincoln Abraham, sportsman of the year, and owner of the occasional serious dirt tan—Dr. Addison Killeen. He’s a Dirty Kanza and Gravel Worlds finisher with some good advice on equipping yourself to become the same.

If you’re particularly thorough and look up Addison in the 2016 Dirty Kanza results, you will discover that he finished with a pretty crummy time. And you may think, “Do I really want to take his advice?” The answer is, “Yes. Yes, you do.”

There’s a good reason for the crumminess of his DK finish. When I suffered a nutritional Chernobyl around mile 140, Addison cast aside all personal ambition and set about nursing a delirious me through the remainder of the course. He encouraged, cajoled, lied and sweet-talked me along. He all but hooked me by the nostrils and dragged. When we finally approached the finish, shoulder-to-shoulder, he squeezed his brakes in the closing feet so I might “win.”

The guy’s a bloody saint, is all I’m saying. He’s nails.



Be Prepared

By Addison Killeen

Growing up, I always recited the Boy Scout’s Motto, “Courteous, kind…” and on down the list. The most rehearsed sentence was “Be Prepared.” Whether it was with a knife, rope, tent, or food, you always had to be ready for anything nature may throw at you.

This is the same philosophy you need to take for the Dirty Kanza 200. The Flint Hills will throw everything at you—including (but not limited to) mud, water, river crossings, heat, wind, dust—and did I mention mud?

Last year, in my first DK, I planned a lot. I had a list of everything I’d eat and do at each stop. I thought I’d share my year-old notes to help friends this year with their lists.

First and foremost: Know your bike.

The Flint Hills will eat up your tires, your derailleur, your chain. If you’ve been good, Kansas may stop before devouring your frame, but no promises. Practice for emergencies. Flats and busted derailleurs are usual suspects. Know how to convert to single-speed. If you run tubeless, you can still suffer a slash. Be prepared to slap on a boot (an empty GU wrapper can work in a pinch) and switch to a tube.

Know thyself.

Well, just know that after 150 miles, you’ll need some recharging. Some of this means having extra Chamois Butt’r to help extinguish whatever spontaneously combusts on your backside. Another checkpoint luxury you may like: a change of bibs, new socks, or a washcloth to clean your face/arms/legs. Familiarize yourself with the glory that is the ice sock. A friend of mine also has a set of headphones to play music after the third stop. Music wards off demons in the dark. Don’t argue. It’s science.

Know your gut.

Manage your calories and nutrition the whole way. You’ve already trained many hours, and so you know what works and what doesn’t. Stick to what you know—those familiar foods you’ve proven you can stomach in rough conditions. Nobody pays me to write this, but GU Roctane is awesome. A little sugar and a measured amount of caffeine go a long way when you’re exhausted. (A note on caffeine: It helps to abstain for four or five days before the race. That way, your body will light up when you need it to late on race day.)

It will also help with nutrition if you have a mix of things that are sugary, salty, and savory. Things like Rice Crispie Treats are great. Pickles are good for salt, and so’s the juice. A good mix of food may go a long way to not having your gut eat you from the inside.

When it comes to hydration, be prepared for what you think you know to fall apart. You may “know” you can ride 50 miles on three bottles. But that’s when you’re clipping along at 17 mph on a gorgeous day. What about when it’s 92 with a 25 mph “breeze” pointed squarely between your eyes? Carry more, especially on legs two and three.

Lastly: Arm yourself for a fight. No, not with other bikers. Gravel cyclists are almost universally friendly. Even the pirates. (Although I wouldn’t recommend stepping between Dan Hughes and the Gravel Triple Crown.) The weapon every biker needs is a mud shiv. Pack something in your panniers or Camel-bak that can peel away peanut-butter mud off your tires, drive train, fork and stays. My weapon of choice is a busted wooden spoon whittled to a godless point. Never go to a gravel race or prison without one.


Never leave pavement without it.

The Flint Hills, as this blog’s founder says, are like razor blades in peanut butter. Somehow, the wind blows in every direction, and there’s nary a tree for shield or shade. So be prepared.


Starting line (on the bike)

4 GU Roctane gels

2 HoneyStinger waffles

Camel-bak of water

2 water bottles

1 small sunscreen

2 tubes

3 CO2 cartridges

2 tire levers

Tire patch kit

2 Chamois Buttr

Mud shiv (see above)

Ear buds

Chain lube


Quick link

Multi-tool + chain tool

Front light

Rear light

Phone with extra battery pack


Checkpoint 1

At stop:

1 Starbucks Frappucino

1 Large blueberry muffin

1 Pickle and juice

1 Banana

Reapply sunscreen


Load onto bike:

1 gallon water

3 GU Roctane

3 Honey Stingers

1 Chamois Butt’r

1 CO2 cartridge


Checkpoint 2

At stop:

1 Coke

1 Chipotle burrito

1 pickle with Juice

1 banana

Reapply Chamois Butt’r

Reapply sunscreen


Load onto bike:

1 gallon water

4 GU Roctane

3 Honey Stingers

1 crunchy granola bar

1 extra tire tube

1 CO2 cartridge

1 tire lever if needed

Checkpoint 3

1 Coke

1 PBJ Sandwich

Leftover Chipotle burrito

1 pickle and juice

Wash face

Reapply sunscreen (if there’s still sun)

New bibs

New socks

New headlamp

Recharged rear light


Load onto bike:

1 gallon water

4 GU Roctane

4 Honey Stingers

1 bag Gardetto’s

1 tire tube (if needed)


Finish line


Hospital stretcher


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