The secretive and shadowy DS100K committee has released this year’s route for the Harrisburg edition. It can be downloaded in gpx format here. They have also made available a cue sheet which gives directions for the ride. This is the second of this years 3 DS100K rides. The first took place in Massic County, the Feb 23rd one starts in Harrisburg and the last will begin somewhere around Carbondale or Murphysboro.
The ride will take place unless the weather is too bad, for example temperatures are below freezing, like in the 20s, ice or snow accumulation, heavy rain, cold temperatures and light rain, Storms.
It’s important to note this ride does not exist, is not connected with any person or legal entity, it offers no support, nor does it charge any fees. How could it, it doesn’t exist.
So lets review just a bit in case anyone needs help getting up to speed. The DS100K is a gravel grinder, sort of. A Gravel Grinder is an adventure ride/race that takes place on mostly gravel or dirt roads. When most people think of gravel grinders they think of “The Dirty Kanza 200” which is the premier event of the category. Gravel Grinders seem almost tailor made to break a rider’s spirit. Never ending flat and boring gravel roads in rolling Kansas hills and wind so strong that it could blow you off your bike.
It wouldn’t be too tough to build a ride like that in Southern Illinois. Less then an hour’s drive North lies countless miles of fields surrounded by gravel roads, but that’s not what the DS100K is about.
To the South is the Shawnee, countless acres of hills and forest, with the gravel road here and there. The Dirty South rides hit up some of these gravel roads and connect them together with some excellent improved roads to create a route with some challenging climbs, breathtaking scenery and of course gravel road sections.
Dirty South rides take place in the winter because riding gravel in the winter makes sense. You work harder and go slower on bigger tires so you create more heat. The hills and forested roads block strong winds, and the scenery gives you something to ride for.
Dirty South rides are no drop, they aren’t every man for themselves races. Not to say that DS100K are easy or slow, there will be plenty of places to stretch your legs. Riders who wish to forge out on their own are welcome to do so, but they better know where they are going. Last year at the Carbondale Dirty South a small group I was part of decided to ride out ahead of the pack. We missed a turn and ended up riding to the Mississippi river before we realized the mistake. It became an 80 mile trek to find our way back.
Many Dirty South riders struggle over their choice of bike and tire, there have been riders on mountain, road and cyclocross bikes do fine on the ride. The most popular choice is the cyclocross bike, but a mountain bike with some slick, or semi slick tires is almost as good. A road bike with smaller tires is not recommended, though riders have completed DS100K on 700x24s without problems.
Really it doesn’t matter what you ride, carbon fiber, steel, bamboo, mountain, road, it’s just a gravel road, its just a bike ride, its just fun.