Training for Dirty Kanza: Building An Endurance Engine With Jesse Moore

Photos by Ian Matteson

In our ongoing series of articles on all things Dirty Kanza, we have the first of a three-part training piece from Jesse Moore of Moore Performance Coaching. Jesse’s clients represent some of the country’s top athletes, ranging from triathlon to pro road racing. Yet even with decades of experience, his commitment to helping Topical Edge athlete Chris Lyman prepare for the demands of 200 miles of gravel racing might be his greatest challenge yet.

“Of course you want to do that” was what went through my head when Chris Lyman first talked with me about doing Dirty Kanza. It is the natural next step in his evolution towards, or should I say, back to ultra-endurance events.

Chris is a former US masters national champion in the TT and previously was an IRONMAN competitor, so as you would expect from that sort of resume his engine is really good at delivering steady and sustained power. In fact, all things being equalized for age and experience he has one of the best abilities to hold sub-threshold power I’ve ever worked with. Throw in DK features worthy of the word epic, add a close community of soul riders, remove battling cars on the road and you’ve nailed the recipe for getting Chris to go all in on something like DK.

The Challenges

Ideally, for Chris’s physiology, DK would be one very long, steady, individual, non-drafting time trial from point A to point B. That would mirror his IRONMAN days of old and that would be a much simpler training formula to develop and apply, right? “Ride a ton, do a lot of sweet spot tempo, add some threshold work and don’t crash!” Job done.

However, contrary to what most might think about a race this long, it’s not an individual time trial.  It’s a complicated mix of competing physiological stresses that are all vying for the limited space in Chris’s muscles. The demands of the day range from stochastic really high peak powers like you would find in a much shorter cyclocross race (or my favorite image of a 10-corner full gas dirt criterium), to the total kilojoule burn and training stress score (TSS) of an even-tempered and civilized ultra-event like IRONMAN.

What also makes it challenging is that he’ll need to be able to flip back and forth between what I’ll call Jekyll and Hyde styles of power output throughout the day, and do it across a variety of terrain and range of cadences. It doesn’t just start fast and taper off. He may have to hit peak powers and cadences to make a selection or navigate a particularly high torque section at 4, 8, even 10 hours in. All the while, the pace and surges being dictated to him by people he’d actually call friends on any other day! DK is not a go-at-your-own-pace event if you are sniffing around for a podium spot.

On top of needing a full book and a variety of matches to burn on race day, we have to add to the list of challenges the reality that Chris is not a professional bike rider. He’s a “real world” athlete with a business to run and a lot of competing demands on his limited time. We are going to have to be mindful of maintaining some life balance along with respecting the limits of his ability to recover that come with a full life and what we’ll call “mature age class”.

Now that we’ve laid out the challenges in preparing for something like Dirty Kanza, how do we specifically tackle it so Chris is primed for the day? Part 2 will discuss the exact training approach.  

Topical Edge is a proud sponsor of Dirty Kanza. You can read about how Dirty Kanza athletes are using Performance & Recovery Lotion to prepare for the event this year, here. Additional training insight into Dirty Kanza-specific training articles can be found here.

Coach Jesse in the KOM Jersey at the Mt. Hood Classic

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