Note: this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016.
Part IX – Finish Line
new team member
Did I say something about being +1 at Checkpoint Three? I lied. We were actually +2 with the addition of Kristin.
We made the deal after she led us back into Madison. It made perfect sense. She was riding alone and could use some company. Gregg and I were minus a working GPS. I don’t know that it was said in so many words, but it meant no one left behind.
It was now total darkness, but we had Kristin to guide us.
“In approximately .2 miles you will turn left onto the unmaintained roadway,” she’d tell us with her soothing southern lilt. Her voice far better than the British woman who speaks to me in my car. Kristin if you ever need a new job I bet Garmin would hire you.
She was absolutely brilliant. A positive light leading us to the finish line.
What’s the second thing your GPS (sometimes) does after telling you which way to turn? It tells you to turn back around because it got confused – right? We all know it happens. Another reason Tim told me to not use the GPX tracks. Next time…
On one such turnaround, I got sloppy and fell over. Gravel aggravated old hip injury now inflamed with pain and swelling.
Don’t worry about it, get up and continue on, the voice inside my head told me.
Now and then we’d stop and let Gregg catch up. At the turns. I didn’t count, maybe four or five times. In truth we didn’t have to wait very long. Long enough for a good drink or to rifle through the frame bag to replace a battery unit on the headlight. But it was dark, the field had thinned and the roads twisted.
“You guys don’t have to wait on me!” he would say. He didn’t want to be the one that prevented us from getting a finishers glass. I’d been keeping an eye on the times and distance.
“We got this,” would be the reply.
As the riders passed, they’d ask questions, wondering which way to turn, trying to figure out who knew what, following the competent ones.
“Do you guys know where you’re going?” one pair asked.
“We’re going to Emporia,” I told them in a cheerful voice. “Where are you guys headed?”
The old man, holding a lantern and clanging a cowbell like crazy. It’s zero dark thirty, riders trickling by and he’s still out there.
As we propped each other up with words of encouragement.
Dig deep. Good work. Almost there. We got this.
A few miles from Emporia I remembered the railroad tracks. That every 17 minutes a train passes through. That there is a barricade. That under no circumstances does a rider cross one.
It was then I noticed what I thought was a blinky rider taillight were actually lights on a barricade. The train was stopped and its last car was blocking the crossing. Then slooowly it crept away and the guards lifted. We’re moving again.
The last couple of miles went quickly. Weaving our way through campus and onto Commercial Street I knew we were in time.
And they waited for us, cowbells still a-clanging and cheering like it meant something, which of course it did.
When it came time to cross, I waved Kristin ahead.
“No, let’s cross together,” she said.
We were nearly the last across, but in this race, finishing is all that really matters.