Each year, cyclists from all over set a goal to complete the Cup O’ Dirt Challenge by riding either 12 dirty metrics (100km) or 6 centuries (100 miles) on dirt during the calendar year.
To qualify, a ride must cover 100 miles or kilometers in a day, at least 80% of it on dirt — gravel, singletrack, rail-trail, dirt roads, anything except pavement.
Those who complete the challenge receive a coveted “Cup O’ Dirt” custom hand-made stoneware mug.
This was my first year taking part in the Challenge, and I got a slow start, but eventually knocked out a dozen dirty metrics (two of which were actually dirty centuries).
Here are my Cup O’ Dirt rides, with links to the Strava activities:
May 14, 2016, 77.4 miles, 11.8 MPH — I met up with some friends for a bike overnight (S24O) at Hillsdale Lake State Park. I rode the Prairie Spirit Trail north to Ottawa, then gravel east to the lake. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
May 15, 2016, 82.6 miles, 11.7 MPH — From Hillsdale Lake, I rode south through Paola and Osawatomie and Lane, connecting with the Prairie Spirit Trail at Scipio, and taking the trail south to Iola. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
May 22, 2016, 68.3 miles, 14.8 MPH — The title of this ride refers to The Elsmore Dragon, mascot of the old Elsmore School system. The route begins in Iola, heads south on gravel, then east into Bourbon County, north to Bourbon State Fishing Lake, west to Elsmore, north to Moran, and back to Iola. This was my first hot-ish ride of the year, but I felt good throughout, and had a nice pace. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
May 29, 2016, 85.0 miles, 14.2 MPH — This route goes west from Iola, visits the Lizard Lips Cafe near Toronto (a famous stop on the Trans-America Bicycle Trail, with a guestbook signed by touring cyclists), then back through Yates Center to Iola. Passed or met 10 cars all day, tops. Clouded up and sprinkled all the way from Toronto to Yates Center, but never actually rained. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
June 19, 2016, 69.3 miles, 11.8 MPH — This route begin at Iola, then explores the country west of the Neosho River, south to Chanute, then back north on the east side of the river, through Humboldt, and back to Iola via the Southwind Rail Trail. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
July 15, 2016, 83.1 miles, 12.4 MPH — The intention was to get in a hundred miles, riding to Fredonia to meet friends for lunch, then back, but after-lunch stomach cramps led me to shut it down and call for a rescue ride. Yes, the dreaded “call of shame”. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
July 23, 2016, 100.9 miles, 13.1 MPH — There’s this thing called “peakbagging” — visiting the geographic high points in every county. There’s also a thing called “geocaching” — using GPS to locate hidden geocaches. This ride combined the two activities, bagging me high points in Bourbon, Crawford, and Neosho Counties, plus a number of geocaches. The route was southeast of Iola, through the towns of Savonburg, Elsmore, and Moran. It was a long, hot, and dusty day, but I felt good enough to get in the century. According to Garmin, the peak temperature was 107.6 °F. Bike: Retrospec Amok.
July 30, 2016, 64.0 miles, 13.5 MPH — Headed north to meet a friend for lunch in the town of LeRoy. The route there was via Woodson County gravel roads, the route back was on gravel to Colony, then to Iola via the Prairie Spirit Trail. Bike: Nashbar 4050.
August 10, 2016, 66.1 miles, 13.8 MPH — Rode west on some minimum-maintenance roads, then back through Yates Center and Humboldt. A very hot day, and nearly bonked, but not quite. The gravel and dirt was 99% dry today, all except for a section of minimum maintenance road north of Piqua. The mud went on for awhile. Ahhh, the joys of rim brakes. Bike: Nashbar 4050.
August 13, 2016, 70.2 miles, 14.5 MPH — Rode east through the lands that source the Marmaton River. Visited Elsmore, Uniontown, Moran, and Gas. Bike: Nashbar 4050.
August 28, 2016, 66.0 miles, 14.8 MPH — Headed south to visit the ghost town of Rollin, Kansas. Back through Chanute, Humboldt, and Southwind Rail Trail. 66 miles at a steady, comfortable pace, mostly on quiet and remote gravel roads. Just a gorgeous day to be out and about. Bike: Nashbar 4050.
September 2, 2016, 107.8 miles, 13.9 MPH — Finished up the challenge with a flourish, my first-ever century on the Prairie Spirit Trail. It was a good day for it — not too hot, not too cool, neutral wind. Had some problems making headway on parts of the trail, too many things to stop and look at; a good problem to have. Bike: Nashbar 4050.
I had a great time participating in the Cup O’ Dirt Challenge this year. I found it very motivating to work towards the goal, and inspiring to see others do the same. Lots of great memories here.
In addition to the Cup O’ Dirt Challenge web site and Facebook page, there is also a Cup O’ Dirt Chasers Strava Club, where you can follow along with other cyclists in the Challenge.
Hoping to do the Challenge again in 2017!