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Aug 23

Downhill daring key to MHK gravelduro excellence

Posted on August 23, 2018 at 1:48 PM by Michael Goens

Aaron Apel is this week's guest blogger at Apel is co-director of Sept. 22 Bleeding Kansas Gravelduro event with Dave Colburn from the Manhattan Pathfinder store.

When people think about Manhattan, Kansas, several visitor-friendly draws may come to mind.

The Flint Hills. Kansas State football. Aggieville. Perhaps Little Apple and Tallgrass brewing companies.

What about gravel bicycle racing? For now, probably not. That's about to change. On Sept. 22, the inaugural Bleeding Kansas Gravelduro introduces the Greater Manhattan region to the fast-growing gravel bicycle racing scene.

Little known in the grander scheme of activity circles, but for much of the last decade, another Kansas town has placed the Sunflower State on the bicycling map as gravel bike racing capital of the world.

You read that correctly: the world.

Why not? With literally hundreds of miles of remote gravel roads winding up and down some of the most beautiful, pristine land in the Midwest, rolling hills in eastern Kansas offer much more than scenic vistas. The Flint Hills present difficult, challenging terrain for bicycle riders while simultaneously leading a calm, serene existence among the most perfect places one might imagine in all the Midwest.

Twin Towers Road

Emporia DK race changes perceptions
Dirty Kanza 200 has completely changed misplaced perceptions of Kansas being flat, of Flint Hills tourism and also given new breath of life to the cycling industry via gravel grinding. Held annually in Emporia, Dirty Kanza 2018 was capped at 2,500 entrants after starting with a 34-participant field in 2006.

How about that? Born right in our backyard! Now Manhattan sets the stage to create the second-largest gravel bike racing event in the state with Bleeding Kansas Gravelduro.

Flint Hills gravel bike racing

MHK gravel race rewards downhill charges
BK Gravelduro incorporates unique racing standards. Unlike traditional gravel bike races that only calculate how fast competitors complete a predetermined loop in the relentless hills, this twist only times racers on certain descents. That’s right, it's only about how fast bikers traverse downhill portions.

Now you still have to complete predetermined 50- or 100-mile routes, but it doesn’t matter if it takes you five hours or 10. Someone who is blazing fast all the way through the course could still lose the race to someone who coasts across the line a few hours later.

A traditional 100-mile race would take even the fastest racers six hours to complete. Because we’re only timing descents, aggregate finishing times will probably float somewhere around 90 minutes.

True to form in Manhattan, we’re trying to keeping things exciting and fresh. We thought it was time to give people a new way to enjoy the beautiful terrain we call home here in the Flint Hills.

Check out the Sept. 22 event – start-finish line on Third Street in Downtown Manhattan with course routes winding south -- it’s going to be a great day in MHK!

Bleeding Kansas Gravelduro   Dirty Kanza   Best Gravel Bike Races   Riding Gravel: Travel by Gravel   Gravel Cyclist   Gravel Grinder Preparations


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