Donnelly-supported rider Yannick Eckmann tackled the rough and dusty roads surrounding Emporia, Kansas last weekend. He came away bruised, battered and happy. We followed up with Yannick after the race to get his take and offer insight to those attempting this iconic gravel event in the future!
You knew the DK 200 was going to be a long, tough day in saddle. Now that you’ve done it, what do you really think? It's one hell of a race. It was amazing, yet physically and mentally brutal. 12 hours felt like 24! I think many riders think if you just go steady you’ll be fine, but the course terrain and conditions eventually take a toll. Everyone suffers at this race.
Everyone says the atmosphere around the Dirty Kanza weekend in Emporia is something special. How would you describe it? The whole scene is one of the best I have experienced and I have been to a lot of races in my life. My friend and I were in a grocery store and locals were asking us,“ You racing the DK? ... Well, we will be out there at 6 in the morning to see you guys off. Best of luck!” The support form the whole town is really want makes it so special. I think that is true for most successful events.
Now that you’ve completed your first Dirty Kanza , what advice would you have for those who are thinking of attempting it for the first time? If you are planning to do the DK you need several really, really long rides under your belt. You need to know what ten plus hours of riding feels like. Whether you're super fit or even just going slow, any ride more than ten hours is going to be uncomfortable. It's inevitable. You need to be ready to deal with it both mentally and physically.
This is obvious, but good tires are an absolute must. I used a 40mm wide tire and it was right choice for the rough roads. As far as nutrition goes, I would suggest packing some real food you might crave and is easy to digest. Bars and gels are good, but some comfort food will keep you happy throughout the race.
I would also suggest to ride, rather than race the DK, if that make sense? If you go out too hard you're in for a long and painful day. However, if you pace yourself from the beginning then you'll be much better off. That was my big mistake. I tried to stay with the front group as long as I could. I got shot off the back and paid the price for a while.
What goes through your mind at mile 100 knowing you are only half way done? At mile 100 I was almost out of water. All I was thinking about was getting a Coke and chips at the second feed zone at mile 150. That's all that kept me going.
Any memorable moments on the course you want to share? Nothing in particular stands out, but It's always great to ride with your friends and make new friends out on the course. Everyone is hurting as much as you are, but we motivate each other to push on. Everyone becomes teammates at some point.
Will we see you on the DK 200 start line in 2020? Uff! That is a hard question to answer right now. I'm happy I was able to finish and check it off the bucket list.To be honest, I think I may be better suited for 50 to 100 mile races. The DK 200 is amazing, but once may be enough for me!
What’s up next for your summer gravel adventures? It's time for a little rest and recovery! I'll still be commuting to and from work to keep the mileage up. Once I feel like I am rested and ready I'll be enjoying some big weekend rides prepping for the Steamboat Gravel race. I may hit up Ted King's gravel event after that, too. Should be a fun summer!