2017 Dirty Kanza Checkpoint Two

Note: This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.

It’s broken into seven parts:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line


I mentioned earlier that this route was the same as last year’s, and so after finishing then, knew what to expect.  The second leg has about 55 miles and the tallest hills.

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Leg Two begins @ mile 49

From mile 49 to 79 there’s 30 miles of mostly uphill.  Many of these roads cross ranch land and are lightly maintained.  This is the place where fun and pain cross paths.


Mile 62 was still fun

The winds were tame, the sun hidden behind a thick cloud cover keeping the temps down but it was muggy.


Mile 76 getting tougher

It was this time last year when I hit the Wall.  But adjustments were made and was confident that trouble could be avoided.


As the going slows, the tedium grows, the mind struggles to find something to latch onto, and begins to play tricks.  Seemingly big things are downplayed.  For example, my left leg began cramping at mile 85, but I largely ignored it.  The terrain becomes treacherous, but I was unconcerned — just white noise.

Small things become a big deal.  For example, an airplane buzzing overhead, became obsessed with.  It seems stupid now that I pulled out my phone, aimed it up, and snapped pictures while navigating some of the most challenging terrain of the day.


Took this one while riding…. airplane.

Anything to take the mind off the pain.  Don’t look at the odometer or the nameplate.  On its backside was three sad riders, my friends, who couldn’t manage to get it right. I empathized with them.

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Image on the back of nameplate of the happy and sad riders

And that happy rider, who got it right, wanted to rip his face off.  How dare he be happy while we were suffering.  Was he mocking us?  Did I too make a mistake hanging that plate and doomed like the others?

Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense.

For the most part, was doing OK, just slowed, by the cramps.  The changes to the rear cassette, and the hill training, performed as expected.  Remained in the saddle on climbs and only walked one hill — the BE-YOTCH.  Could have ridden it, but my cramping left quad begged me not.


I went into detail last year about running out of water during the middle of the second leg.  This year included changes, adding a 2.5L Camelbak to a 1.8L bladder (framebag) and two bottles (cages) — 1.5L.  That’s about 1.5 gallons for those keeping score back home.

In addition to more water I also used (more) electrolytes, although not enough due to the cramping I experienced.  Had some electrolyte pills stashed in a pouch somewhere, but couldn’t find them.  Leaves me wondering if I’d still cramped with those tablets…

Still ran out around mile 95, nine miles from the next checkpoint.  Fortunately a husband and wife duo were parked at the end of their drive, with a pickup load of iced water bottles in its bed.  I stopped and asked if they would be so kind as to share.

“Are you dry?”, the man asked in his Kansas twang, to which I replied that I most certainly was.

“Take all you want”, he told me.

I downed a pint as we exchanged pleasantries, grabbed another for the road and just like that I’m good.

I grew up not far from here, so already knew well that good people run plenty in these parts.  But still get inspired by them. One of the reasons I keep coming back is to be with them as they celebrate their Flint Hills, during the late Spring festival known as the Dirty Kanza.


From here on out I have my pit crew to help.  Kelly had just completed the DKlite, and was working his magic down in Eureka keeping the crew operating like a well-oiled machine.  Kyle was in from Seattle and Janice (Mom) from Salina.


Kelly wearing the colors

That way when I rolled into town, weary from the road…


Rolling into CP2

All I had to do was hand over my bike, eat, hydrate, and relax a bit.  I can’t tell you how much it helped me to have them there.



That time spent in checkpoint two renewed my spirit and provided resolve.


I had a rough go in that second leg (again) but was feeling better than last year.  I could eat and had plenty of gas left to finish.  The muscles in my neck were beginning to ache and I took a few aspirin, changed into dry socks, ate and drank a bit, and hit the road once again.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 8.48.38 AM

At 58 miles, the third leg is the longest.  I was feeling fine but storm clouds were brewing and I began to wonder what it would be like to ride through one…

Next Post: Part VI – Checkpoint Three


2017 Dirty Kanza Checkpoint One

Note: This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.

It’s broken into seven parts:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line


Running nearly the same course as last year, I knew what to expect.  The first leg is probably my favorite.  It’s wet, wild and the scenery stunning.  Sometimes it felt otherworldly.


Other times, just fun…


But this year I was determined to maintain a focus, preserve fuel by taking it easy on the climbs; staying down in the saddle.


MS Photos

In this I was successful.  That 36T granny gear worked perfectly and I was feeling good rolling into Madison somewhere after 9am.

I signed up the Crew-for-Hire support this year, but only needed them at the first checkpoint.  They were great btw, filled my tanks, handed me cookies, cokes and whatever I needed.  Highly recommended.  There was also the SRAM team, providing us help with the bikes.  I handed mine over and it was returned, running smoothly — again.  Much needed as the water crossings dried out my drivetrain.

One small mishap occurred when I let my bike fall over during the reload.  It broke the gopro mount on helmet.  Oh well, should probably be paying more attention to the road.

Another change, from now on it’s Kelly & Co. as my pit crew.  He rallied the troops, after finishing his DK-lite route, drove down to Eureka, for our scheduled rendezvous at checkpoint two.


Kelly finishing his ride Saturday.

Here’s what it looked like rolling into Madison.



And on into the checkpoint.


Looking OK on time so far…

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 5.07.18 PM

Next Post: Part V – Checkpoint Two


2017 Dirty Kanza Starting Line

Note: This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.

It’s broken into seven parts:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line


This year when that 4am alarm bell sounded I was ready, quickly rolled out of bed, did the needful, had a light breakfast with Kelly, who rode the 50 miler route, and rolled to the starting line.


Saturday morning downtown Emporia

Mom and Kyle were waiting on us there and we snapped a few photos.


And just like that it’s time to roll!!!



Next Post: Part IV – Checkpoint One

2017 Dirty Kanza Preamble

Note: This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.

It’s broken into seven parts:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line


I’ve learned that one of the key aspects to successfully completing an ultra-endurance event like the Dirty Kanza is rest and this year I paid careful attention to that fact the weeks leading up to it.


Last year I arrived in Emporia the day before the race.  This was a mistake.  The flurry of last minute preps interfered with a good night’s rest.  This year’s was Wednesday evening, checked-in, and in bed by 8pm.  My plan was an early rise on Thursday, to get the (real) work done by lunchtime, and have the rest of the day to play.


Was a blast.  First, went on a short ride, and got into some peanut butter.


Forcing a premature end as I didn’t want to risk continuing and busting something.  No biggie, stopped, cleaned off the gunk, had a nice conversation with the turtle that was intently watching, and rode the remaining miles back to town — undeterred.

Still feeling spry, I moved into the ESU dorm, leaving  the hotel room for my mother and sister (Kyle) who arrive on Friday to cheer us on.

Family coming to town is one of the best things about this event.  It started with my brother Timothy back in 2014, for which I was his support team.  That year’s entourage included my daughter, Megan, two sisters, Heather and Kyle, Tim’s wife Angie, and their kids.  My Mom and Dad were also there.  It was bittersweet as Tim beat the sun, and dedicated his award to Dad, who was ailing from cancer, and died the following year.  I discussed these things in last year’s post — The Signup.

Just have fun

My brother Kelly arrived late in the afternoon, and for some reason we thought we needed to consume this Mexican feast @ the local tacohell.


Yes we did

Which provided somewhat of a base before heading out to see Agent Orange and Rev Horton Heat light things up at the Granada Theater.


The Rev still puts on a hell of a show.

I was particularly stoked to see the Rev, who used to pack them into Lawrence’s Jazzhaus, back in the 80’s, when I attended college there.


Was another early rise and great day.  Started out with more work work, and then off to the GU Stroopwafel & Coffee Ride.  A pleasant spin allowing us to shake out the legs.


Followed by some milling around town where I got a shot of Amanda (the Panda) Nauman, and wished her well on another women’s DK200 title (3rd straight).


Amanda The Panda on Friday afternoon, downtown Emporia

Unfortunately, she fell just 5 seconds short of that goal.  I saw her Sunday morning and offered what encouragement I could for which she graciously accepted with a warm smile and kind words in return.  Nice lady, displays the characteristic humility found in gravel riders.

It was a warm, sunny day. After rider check-in, I was feeling a bit parched, and figured it was time for refreshments.

Bellied up to the bar, ordered a Dirty Kanza Kolsch (brewed by Free State), and soaked in the atmosphere of this great, iconic pub.

Later, Kelly and I joined Mom and Kyle, with it, another pint, along with a nice dinner.


Bruff’s Bar & Grill

Attended the 7pm riders meeting at the Granada theater.


Jim Cummins

Where we heard our beloved race director, Jim, gently encourage us to do the right thing.

Afterwards back to dorms, a few late adjustments to the equipment, and off to snooze-town.

I felt really good.  Arriving and getting that prep done early had the desired effect.  I was tired yet excited at the same time.  Looking forward to getting out there…

Next Post: Part III – Starting Line

2017 Dirty Kanza

This post is about my second Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 3, 2017.


Last year’s was chronicled here: 2016 Dirty Kanza.  I made enough mistakes to compel another go at it.

This year’s story follows and is broken into seven:

Part I – Prep / Training

Part II – Preamble

Part III – Starting Line

Part IV – Checkpoint One

Part V – Checkpoint Two

Part VI – Checkpoint Three

Part VII – Finish Line

Tonight we ride, right or wrong
Tonight we sail, on a radio song
Rescue me, should I go down
If I stay too long in trouble town

Now and again I get the feeling
Well if I don’t win, I’m a gonna break even
Rescue me, should I go wrong
If I dig too deep, if I stay too long

Tom Petty, You Wreck Me

2016 Dirty Kanza

This post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016.

It’s broken into nine parts:

Part I – The Signup

Part II – Prep / Training

Part III – Friday

Part IV – Starting Line

Part V – Checkpoint One

Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Part IX – Finish Line

Just one more mornin’
I had to wake up with the blues
Pulled myself out of bed, yeah
And put on my walkin’ shoes

I went up on the mountain
To see what I could see
And the whole world was fallin’
Right down in front of me

Pull myself together
Put on a new face
Climb down off the hilltop now, baby
Get on back in the race

Gregg Allman, Dreams



2016 Dirty Kanza Part IX – Finish Line

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

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.

new moon

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.

gut checks

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.


Kristin and I at the finish line.

the celebration


Wish there was still beer.


I put my steed to rest.  Well done Willard. Well Done.

We were nearly the last across, but in this race, finishing is all that really matters.

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the end



2016 Dirty Kanza Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line


We were late pulling out of Eureka – almost 4pm and knew our odds of finishing before the 3am cutoff…

After a few miles a voice.

“Well hello there Arkansan!  And no, I’m not stalking you…  I read it on your jersey,” she offered politely.

This is Kristin.  Remember I mentioned something about my GPS being messed up earlier?  It wasn’t long after meeting her that I had to turn it off.  I’ll not dive into the details.  Why am I mentioning a broken GPS and Kristin in the same paragraph?

gps glitch

A few miles later I watched Kristin turn in the “wrong” direction but stifled the urge to call out because I knew my Garmin was in the process of fubaring.  When another rider made the same mistake I knew it was me and not them.  I took off after them.

Gregg was not far behind.  He has the same kind of GPS as me.  Guess who set it up?  I was mad and then remembered Rebecca’s (Rusch) words the day before.

“Things will go wrong.   Don’t worry about it.  Just deal with it.” (shit happens)

I’m paraphrasing but you get the point.  I have cue sheets in frame bag, bike computer (odometer), map, three compasses.  Three Compasses.


A man next to the road was holding a water hose and I stopped.  Over the next two minutes we talked and topped off the water tanks.  He provided intel about weather and the next water crossing.

I can’t recall his name but would like to thank him sometime.  Ran his own aid station.  Wants to do it again next year.

Over the next forty miles, I raced (chased?) whoever in front of me.  There were hills.  There were roads.  Some shouldn’t be called roads.

As expected, with the sun setting the temps became comfortable.  The winds turned into a nice summer breeze.

As the evening turned to night we rolled (back) into Madison.

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Rolled into Madison @ 10p

Thirty minutes under the cutoff.


Madison (again)

Our team was +1.  Brian, another DK200 participant, had dropped out at 100 miles and was now in our pit.

Kelly was shoveling pizzas and cokes my way.  I was back.  Emporia is 44 miles away and time is running out.

Next Post – Part IX – Finish Line

2016 Dirty Kanza Part III – Friday

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Read Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

The day before the race was a blur.  So many loose ends.  Started with a phone call when I flared on Gregg.  I’ll gloss over the details (to spare the victims) but can assure you there were heroics on this day.

Somehow Kelly and I managed to make it to the riders meeting in Emporia by 5pm.


What?  The 200 mile race is actually 206 miles?

which made us kind of thirsty…


Mulready’s gave us a warm welcome after the 5p riders meeting


Had a nice dinner at Bruff’s and off for the last bit of preparations.  We’d heard it was the best steakhouse in town and my KC strip did not disappoint.  Something said during dinner, hung in the air for me.  Once upon a time, one of us ordered steak the night before a big race and suffered GI distress because of it.

“That won’t happen to me,”  I confidently stated.

Somewhere while dotting all those i’s and crossing them t’s I forgot about getting a good nights sleep.  It was well past midnight before I laid and two hours past that before the sleep.

Disappointed.  I had a 25 miler plotted that would have taken the edge off.  It went out and back along the DK routes.  A hard lesson learned.  Arrive two days early.  Do the prep on Thursday.  Leave Friday for some R&R.

Next Post: Part IV – Starting Line



2016 Dirty Kanza Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Note:  this post is about my first-ever Dirty Kanza 200 experience on June 4, 2016. 

Read Part I – The Signup

Read Part II – Prep / Training

Read Part III – Friday

Read Part IV – Starting Line

Read Part V – Checkpoint One

Read Part VI – Hitting The Wall

Part VII – Checkpoint Two

Read Part VIII – Checkpoint Three

Read Part IX – Finish Line

west then southbound

I did not feel well and had eaten very little since Checkpoint One.  I was getting dehydrated, had an intermittent cramp in the left quadricep and had just Hit The Wall.


D Rd. mile 75, Linda Guerrete Photography

By now Gregg and I were (mostly) riding within eyesight of one another.  He would catch me on the downhill sections and I would pull away on the climbs or when facing the wind.

2nd leg was the toughest…

  1. The winds 20 mph+
  2. The hills
  3. The heat

Gregg didn’t have to tell me that he was hurting and every time he asked how I was doing would always be the same reply.  Talking (or even thinking) about it made it worse.  Once he shared a partial bottle of water.  It wasn’t enough, but the gesture was.

I would have been much better with some fresh water.  The EFS mixture was holding out in my frame bag but I had to force myself to drink from it and it didn’t quench my thirst.  My mind thought I was dying – of thirst.  My body was struggling too with fatigue, GI and heat distress.

At midday the sun was brutal and riders began clustering around what shade there was alongside the roads (not much).  I knew stopping now would be a mistake so kept crawling along.

It was also during this section I got off my bike and walked a few hills.  I did not count, but guess three or four.  Some riders dismounted on every hill and pushed their bikes over.  Many were limping.

Sometimes I would issue a lament, intended in jest, to break tension during the climbs.

I thought Kansas was supposed to be flaaat.


And the miles slooowly ticked away.  I forced myself not to look at speed and distance and focus instead on controllable things like heart rate, respiration and conservation of the remaining matches.

I recall walking up one particularly (especially) steep hill and noticing the heart rate was still hovering around 147.

Are you kidding me?  If I have to work this hard I might as well be pedaling and vowed not to walk up another, and didn’t.

The cramping was kept under control.  Occasionally the left quad would squawk and I would ease off.

I was still having fun.  The hills were technical and required unwavering concentration and skill to navigate.  Let your mind drift at the wrong moment and things go from bad to worse in an instant.  These are the moments I live for.

It was around mile 97 that my thirst became unbearable.  It was still 6 or 7 miles from Checkpoint Two.  Normally not very far but under these circumstances perhaps too far.

I still had a little EFS left in the tank but again it wasn’t easing my thirst.  I began to consider the damage being done to my body and calculated if it was worthwhile to continue.

Suddenly two jeeps appeared in the distance, kicking up dust, and sped my way.  After rapidly closing distance, they pulled alongside the road and several passengers immediately burst into view waving bottles of water in the air.

It was a sight of indescribable beauty.  I pulled over, held out a hand and a bottle magically appeared in its palm.  I poured it down in about three seconds and put out my other hand in hopes of another.  That one straight to the jersey pocket.  Held it out again, poured over my head1.   Ahhhh!  Held it out again, also downed in a few seconds.

In a few moments everything changed.  I went from the brink of collapse to a new resolve.  Was I considering a DNF?  Not only no but HELL NO!!!

And I’d unlocked the Roadrunner’s cryptic message, before things got so damn crazy.  He told me to use them jeeps.  Ostensibly because they have fresh water. 🙂


Gregg caught up and we rode the last few miles into town together, lightheartedly bantering with the locals, smiling and exchanging high fives with the children, basking in the glory of the moment.

turning point

Didn’t realize it at the time but things were starting to go our way.

Our support team was now +1.  Kelly, who’d stepped off the course at Checkpoint One (more on that later) was now working in our pit full time.  This added a pair of hands for the bikes, to load bottles, and another brain to help troubleshoot problems.

Our support team knew we were both in trouble.  Gregg was sitting in a semi catatonic state and I refused to eat.  They poured water on Gregg and began putting things in my face to eat.  I would wave them off.

No sandwich, no payday, no rice cakes.  Pickle? I think I’ll try a bite of that.  Yuck .  Water melon?  OK let me try that (not too bad).  Jerky no.  Gu no, chips, cookies, oranges, no. You have a homemade barcake thingie made just for us and this race?  Normally I’d be all over it but right now… NO.

What’s that a cracker with a little tuna on it.  Let me try that.  Well that isn’t horrible, ok, I’ll try another, and another…


Here I am at Checkpoint Two, Eureka KS

Kelly is a marathon runner and he’s dealt with his share of cases of exhaustion.  He pointed out that my voice had that raspy sound runners get just before quitting.

What me quit?  HELL NO!!  It was here that I formulated a battle cry that would be carried over the next 100 miles.

not quitting unless

  1. Kicked off the course (missed a cutoff)
  2. Left leg fully cramps
  3. GI distress becomes acute (no description needed)

We managed to get in and out of the Checkpoint Two in about 20 minutes which was a bit better than the first checkpoint.  But time was not on our side.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 4.09.49 PM

Leaving town somewhere before 4pm meant there’s a hell of lot of real estate left to cover and we still haven’t turned north yet, back into the wind.

My hope was with the sun dropping, so too would the temps and the winds.  The weather patterns seemed to support that hypothesis.

We shall see…

Next Post: Part VIII – Checkpoint Three


1. (Should be obvious)
The merit of pouring a bottle of water on top of oneself (i.e. to cool off) is proportionate to the proximity of fresh water.  If it’s a long way, save it for drinking.