Friends - there are gravel races, and then there are GRAVEL RACES.
Last weekend I journeyed to Emporia, Kansas for the 10th annual Dirty Kanza - my first time there, I opted to do the 100 mile event before going straight into the 200 mile event.
This proved a very wise decision ;) Kansas has had a lot of rain and the conditions were tough - muddy and wet. This was not a dry, hot gravel race, it was a muddy humid mess. Within the first 6 miles of the race, the other 1800 participants and I had to dismount and carry bikes through an extremely muddy section for the better part of an hour. I was thankful to have a nice light Cannondale CX bike- as many with fat bikes, mountain bikes and tandem bikes, struggled under the weight of their equipment.
Add to this, the wind, the chill and humidity, gummed up equipment, muddy clothes and shoes, deep water crossings, livestock, barren terrain and often, miles and miles of riding alone, and you have yourself a true race and test of grit.
I ultimately finished as the 3rd female overall in the 100 Half pint event, at just around 8 hours. Given the 50% DNF rate, I was thrilled just to finish!
If you are looking for an event that takes you off the beaten path -away from cars and traffic and hustle-bustle, this is is!