Note: this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016.
Part IV – Starting Line
It was 4am Saturday June 4th in Emporia when my brother Kelly stirred. We were doubling up in one of the Emporia State University dorm rooms and as he rose nothing had to be said. I knew it was time.
I managed to push to the back of my mind that I had slept just two hours. It was a morale buster and inconsequential to the plan.
Having already done the prep, just had to get up, do the last bio/mech steps, eat, and roll to the starting line.
After four months of planning the moment of truth. It was almost a sense of relief despite knowing that the hard part had yet to begin.
Also riding with us was my cousin Gregg. This would be our first attempt at the 200 DK course. Our confidence was high so we lined up with the 16 hour group. Little did we know how optimistic that was. The temps were cool, in the low 60’s, conditions clear and we’re ready to roll.
Next thing we know the race is started and we’re moving down the street to the joyous sounds of the crowds cheering and the cowbells clanging.
Once out of town we immediately saw that 100’s of riders were queued in front.
Ruh roh. There was a bit of a downpour a few hours before and it flooded the first stretch of gravel. Much has been said about the ensuing derailleurgeddon. I’ve heard varying reports of how many riders were sidelined with broken chains and twisted derailleurs along this stretch. I felt for those who couldn’t continue. It was nerve-wracking for us and must have been gut-wrenching for them. To train for months and out after a few miles. Tough break.
Kelly, Gregg and I had discussed our race strategy the night before. It was simple. Take it easy over the first part of the course. Let others surge ahead. Nobody waits during the first 100. Go at a comfortable pace. The second half we pick it up a bit. Like we trained.
But that’s not how it all played out. After that slow crawl thru the mud and perhaps because of an unclear mind and lack of sleep, I became antsy and wanted to push faster…
Next Post: Part V – Checkpoint One