Last year, we profiled two women who were preparing to race Dirty Kanza and highlighted the #200women200miles initiative. This year we originally planned on catching up with just those two, but then we had a different idea. What if we checked in with…all of them?
Thus, our Dirty Kanza women’s field survey was born. With the help of Dirty Kanza organizer Kristi Mohn we were able to survey nearly 100% of the 2018 200-mile and DKXL women’s fields — over 180 total survey respondents. Here’s what we learned about them.
They’ve Got Each Other’s Back
Social connections and a supportive community are extremely important when it comes to retaining and recruiting women in gravel — especially for events as arduous as Dirty Kanza. Over three-fourths of the survey respondents reported that the primary reason they signed up for this race was because they knew someone who’d already done it, because they’d done Dirty Kanza before, or because they already raced gravel and wanted the challenge.
Between balancing work, family, relationships, a social life, and more, nearly half of the survey respondents reported finding time for long rides as the biggest training barrier they faced. While free time for training was in short supply, motivation was not — only 2% of respondents said that lack of motivation or staying motivated was their biggest challenge.
They Live for Endurance
Cycling was by far the most popular endurance sport among survey respondents with one person explaining, “Tried a half marathon once. I quickly returned to my bike.” That being said, large percentages of respondents also had experience in triathlon or running and 20% responded with “other” which included activities like long-distance swimming, rowing, skiing, backpacking, and multi-day adventure racing.
They Lean on Their Local Bike Shop
A vast majority of survey respondents say they went to their local bike shop for a bike tune-up and/or to shop for equipment. Many also leaned on shop employees when it came to garnering racing and gear advice. Even in the age of the internet, there’s no replacement for the first-hand knowledge and expertise that comes from industry pros!
Their Advice is Simple
When asked what their number one piece of advice for other women who are thinking about signing up for Dirty Kanza, overwhelmingly the most frequent response was “Just do it!” followed by various versions of “Don’t doubt yourself.” Here are a few of our favorites:
- Ignore the bros who impose.
- Never stop believing that you are capable.
- Train hard and then believe in yourself and the hard work you put in.
- It’s absolutely possible and worth it; it’s all about your mindset.
- Sign up and put your butt on the start line.
- Don’t overthink it. All you have to do is keep pedaling.
Type Two Fun is Definitely Their Thing
There aren’t that many people in the world who would describe a 200-mile blisteringly hot and unrelentingly windy gravel race in Kansas as epic, amazing, empowering, or magical, but most our survey respondents did!