If you’ve ever broken a bone, and perhaps even moreso if you haven’t, you likely understand the apprehension of getting back on the bike once it’s healed. Colin Strickland broke his pelvis just this past October, and merely hearing that puts a chill in me when I see footage of him riding the Dirty Kanza 200 this year. It was very scary, he says, because the pelvis is the central part of all motion, especially in riding a bike. But it didn’t break all the way through, and therefore didn’t require a cast. Ultimately, it healed completely and apparently, it hurt me more than him, because not only does he claim to have zero pain in his pelvis after a complete recovery, he won the Dirty Kanza. And by won, I mean he crushed it. Strickland, who’d never before raced the Dirt Kanza, finished the race at a record-breaking 9:58:49; Peter Stetina, 2nd place winner, came in at 10:07:54. He had even crashed a few times between having healed and last week’s race, and there was no sustained pain or recurring injury.
Strickland credits his win on his ability to go fast on the downhills. At 170 pounds, he has a greater velocity than many bike racers out there, especially in a field saturated with roadies like himself. But his larger stature isn’t the only thing that helped him cross the finish line. “Choosing the best line versus OK line over 200 miles really adds up to a lot of minutes. Keeping upper body low versus sitting up in the wind also adds up to minutes. So yeah, doing simulating. Nobody wants to do that because it’s awful.” But going through simulations, including riding for 150 miles solo, really helped Strickland finish so strongly.
If anything, that 150-mile ride was an omen. Colin Strickland pulled away from the pack after just 105 miles and rode the last 95 miles solo, using that velocity and ability to choose a good line in his favor. Amity Rockwell dragged him (as Strickland said) on a 120-mile training ride full of huge climbs, which also helped his body prepare and transition from the 45-minute crit races he’s been used to competing in. Rockwell, meanwhile, also won the women’s field for the Dirty Kanza 200.
Strickland, who lives outside Austin, says his favorite place to ride offroad is the Lockhart, Texas, about 20 miles southeast of Austin. “It’s really Austin’s gravel destination,” he says. In addition to racing bikes and having as much fun as possible doing so, Strickland is in the process of opening up a honky tonk in Lockhart called The Well. It will hopefully be open next year and will be an event space/venue, but really primarily a legit Texan honky tonk. He is opening with a friend, and they will begin construction in August, once The Meteor, Strickland’s team sponsor, opens their location on South Congress in Austin.