What is a gravel grinder?

A gravel grinder is just a road race on the dirt, right? Wrong… Gravel grinders have become their own genre of cycling entirely over the last several years. Today, the Dirty Kanza 200 in Emporia, KS holds the crown as the premiere gravel event in the world. This off-road adventure race takes the 2000 racers that participate around a 200+ mile course through the wide-open farmlands of middle Kansas.

The terrain consists of everything from smooth and packed dirt roads, torn up jeep trails, rough and loose gravel, rocky stretches on flint and limestone, and athletes will even face several knee-deep water crossings. There are 3 rest stops, each about 50 miles apart. Aside from this, the ride must be done completely self-supported.

Preventing flats, and reducing the risk of mechanical problems is key. Bikes need to be specifically built and modified to handle such a brutal event. Which is why we unboxed a brand new KTM Canic CXC 11s yesterday for my first ever gravel ride and we’ll be taking it to the starting line, as-is, tomorrow.

Stay tuned for a full (hopefully successful) race recap on Monday with “My First Gravel Race Pt. 2” and follow along below: