2017 Dirty Kanza Finish 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


Regroup

I went looking for Derrick but couldn’t find him.  A woman, found out later his wife…

“Are you John?” she asked.

I replied with my name and didn’t make the connection.  I’d forgotten the color of his support team and he got my name wrong so that made us even.

He caught up ten miles later, by then chasing the fast chicks.  I called out as they zoomed past, wished them well.  This is how it works.  Alliances change according to the conditions and needs from one moment to the next.

A lone rider stopped at the edge of downtown — Rick from Dewitt, Arkansas.  He was ready for takeoff.

“You headed out, how bout we team up?”  I asked matter-of-factly.  The deal was struck and then there were two.

Eventually, maybe twenty miles later, we picked up Jeremy, which made three.  It worked pretty well.  Not much small talk, but lots of operational chatter.  You’d thought we were out on military maneuvers.

  • “Rocks on left.”
  • “Mud — go right!”
  • “Off course, turning around.”
  • “Rough! Slowing!”

There were specializations.  For example, Jeremy was the scout.  His bike had fat tires and so he’d bomb the downhills, call back to us what he saw, letting us know of the dangers.  Rick did most of the navigating.  I kept watch on time, distance and set the pace.

By this time we were all suffering and made brief stops every ten miles or so.  We’d agreed that it was OK, had plenty of time, and weren’t worried.

Caught up with Derrick six miles from home.  Apparently he couldn’t keep up with the fast chicks either, but gave it the college try, and we had a merry reunion.

We rolled over the finish line somewhat past 2:00 am.

IMG_5452

Rick and I crossing the FL

Here’s the official video feed:

https://results.chronotrack.com/athlete/index/e/29334039

And the unofficial one:

My support team was there along with a smattering of hearty locals to cheer us and offer congratulations.

Jeremy, Rick and I had a brief moment where we congratulated each other before LeLan handed over our Breakfast Club finishers patches and I overheard Rick in his southern drawl…

“I don’t care if it does say breakfast club on there.”

Next were the hugs and pictures with my pit crew and I was nearly overcome with emotion.  Felt pretty good about the finish and I don’t care if it says breakfast club on there either.


Acknowledgements

In addition to my pit crew…

My wife Cindy deserves most of the credit.  She bought the bike four years ago that got me all fired up again about cycling.  Lots of times when I’m out there riding I should be home working.  Throughout this she continues to support without complaint.  Thanks baby, you’re the best, I love you.

Next, are the guys at the bike shop — Arkansas Cycle and Fitness, my support team back home in Little Rock.  They tolerate abysmal mechanical abilities, patiently listen to requirements, and teach when need be (often).  Time and again the necessary adjustments were made to correct the issues I was having with the bike.  They’ve encouraged and cheered, offered suggestions on routes, tactics, training, nutrition, hydration and everything else related to the sport of endurance cycling.

Finally, my cycling buddies — the Crackheads.  Truth be known they’re probably more trail runners than cyclists, but they’re incredible athletes, from whom I’ve learned much about training for these types of endurance events.  In the summertime, when the skeeters and chiggers get too bad for Arkansas trail running, they come out and ride which makes me happy.


Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 12.01.19 AM


The End

2017 Dirty Kanza Checkpoint Three

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


Don’t Worry Be Happy

My thoughts as I roll out of Eureka @ 3:30pm…

  • Thirty minutes at a checkpoint is too long, double the plan, but was overheated and feel much better now.
  • I’m enjoying myself.
  • It’s only a hundred miles back to Emporia, I could do that in my sleep.
  • What’s that a storm cloud headed our way?  It’s gonna feel good when it gets here.

Mud & Camaraderie

That first century was a frantic pace and there’s not much time or energy for team building.  We help each other out, but it’s all business.

The second part is when stragglers clump into semi-cohesive units.   It’s only natural and in any case, foolish to ride alone.  A group of riders will always be safer than one, assuming everyone does their job properly.  Each new set of eyes brings another brain to identify and solve problems.

There’s Jim, who took a few years off from his securities job down in Atlanta, Georgia to help his wife with their Montessori school, and train for this race.  He and I teamed up during the first half of the third leg.  As the worst of the thunderstorms rolled over.

Before we crossed the US hiway 54, a rider was waiting to be picked up by her support team.  Another victim of muddy roads, a derailleur twisted, bringing an early end to a long day.  We stopped, checked and offered encouragement as a car whizzed by us.

“That’s a storm chaser!!”, someone called out, leaving me to wonder just how bad these storms were gonna get.

Derrick, is an IT guy from St. Joseph, Missouri, riding a single-speed bike on his way to a fifth finish, and with it a Goblet commemorating 1000 miles of toil.

We rode for a bit at the end of the third, right at dusk.  My GPS, up to now worked flawlessly had changed into the nightime display mode and I could no longer make out which lines to follow, missed a turn and heard the buzzer telling me I’d veered off course.

I stopped and pulled out my cue sheets.  Those were tucked safely and sealed to stay nice and dry.  What, I forgot to seal, its pages wet, stuck together and useless?

I was tired and let my mind drift.  Why didn’t I bring a headlamp on this leg?  I’d be able to read the nav screen better.  And where is everybody?  How long have I been on the wrong path?  Am I lost?

Be calm.  Get your focus and above all think.  What about the phone, maps are on it too.  It’s almost dead but plenty of reserve power available.

Just then Derrick’s dim headlight appeared in the distance.  He stopped and we quietly discussed my predicament.  For some reason his GPS device couldn’t figure that turn out either.  It was then we noticed tire tracks off to our right, turned and got back on track, both nav devices mysteriously resumed working once again.

Jeremy is the service manager at one of the better bike shops in Topeka, Kansas.  He’s making a third attempt.  Two years ago, he broke down in what turned into a mudfest.  Last year, he completed the course, but twenty minutes past due and didn’t make the 3:00 am cutoff.

His bike was a grinder of sorts with some fats.  It sounded like a Mack truck on the downhills, but geared like a mountain goat on the uphills.  I want one of them bikes.  Going to have to look him up at that bike shop one day.

Last year I remembered him lying at the roadside, probably ten maybe fifteen miles outside of Emporia.

“You alright?”, we stopped and asked.  It was an hour or more past midnight and the blackest of night.

“Yeah man, just tired, and need to rest a bit.  You guys go on, I’m fine”, he calmly told us.

There’s the guy from Iowa, who normally wouldn’t be at the back-of-the-pack (with us), but his derailleur snapped and he’d just converted to a single-speed as I caught up with him, and his buddy.  This was a first attempt for both.  They’d been making good until the rains hit.

Or the four chicks, from where I do not know, who were much faster than I, but somehow kept passing me.  How I would get past them again remains a mystery.

Also, all of the others, whose names can’t be placed, but the stories can…

Storms

 

Seven miles into that third leg came the rain.  It felt good, but introduced challenges.  The roads become slippery and a rider could easily go down.  They become muddy and the bike very much wants to break down.

Both are critical risk factors in terms of finishing.  One’s outcome much worse than the other.

Fortunately, both problems have good solutions.  The first, slow down the descents, pick through the rocks, pools of mud and water — carefully.  If in doubt stop and walk a section, although I never had to on this day, except for that one crossing with peanut butter on the other side.

By the way, these pictures that I’m posting are from the calmer sections.  It’s never a good idea to stop along a dangerous roadside just to take one.  That will create a hazard for the other riders, who then have to deal with you in their pathways which limits their choices for a good line.  When the going is tricky, keep it moving, if possible to do so safely.

The second problem means frequent stops to flush the grit from the drivetrains.  When it starts grinding, it’s time to stop and flush.  Mind the grind.  Once I pulled out two centimeter chunks of rocks lodged in the derailleurs and chain guards.

Use whatever is on hand.  River, water, bottles, puddles.  There was mud — everywhere.  In the chain, gears and brakes.  It’d get lodged in the pedals and cleats of our shoes making it impossible to click in or (worse) to click out.  I’d use rocks to remove other rocks or whatever is handy and/or expedient.  It helps to be resourceful at times like this.  That’s not a fork, it’s an extended, multi-pronged, mud and grit extraction tool.

The good folks alongside the road were keeping us supplied with plenty of water.  It wasn’t needed for hydration, but for maintenance.  I’d ask before using it like this, to not offend them.  Pouring their bottles of water over my bike, but they understood and didn’t seem to mind.

We got rerouted once because the water crossing decided it wanted to be a lake.  This detour added a couple of miles to a ride that was already seven over two hundred.

The rain made for slow but I was having a good time and didn’t want the fun to end.

Enjoy this moment.  Look over there, all the flowers growing alongside the road.  The roads were still muddy but the fields were clean and fresh, the temperatures were cool.

18839605_10211238844279637_2474816412111977923_o

wild flowers along the third leg

Madison (once again)

Rolled in about 930p under the cover of night.

DBcdbilXkAA5Knz

930p @ Madison CP3

After all that fussing over nameplates in the previous leg and found out it was mounted incorrectly.  It partially blocked the headlight beam and had to be fixed.

I was in good spirits, but hungry, my neck ached, and my bike was in some serious need of attention.  All of this was handled with calm efficiency by Kelly & Co.

Kyle, who’s an RN, provided medical support with pain relievers and ice packs.  They knew I liked pizza late in the race and had a slice or two. It may not sound like much now, but gave me the needed energy boost, from something that doesn’t get squeezed out of a tube.

As soon as we got the nameplate fixed it was time to get the drivetrain running smoothly once again.

All the while, Kelly and Mom were assisting and directing.  There’s the headlamp needing to be mounted, fresh battery packs, change to the clear lens on the glasses, socks, gloves, cokes, energy drinks, refilling water tanks, electrolytes, gels and more.  There’s forty-some to go, total darkness, unmarked roads.  Possibly more mud on the remaining B roads.  Weather forecast clear and mild.

Let’s Finish This

“Who are you riding with?”, someone called out as I was leaving.

“Derrick and I are gonna team up”, I called back, which was true, that was the plan as we rolled into town.  Now I just had to find him.  Madison was practically deserted at this hour, its checkpoint regions, i.e. red, green, blue, orange, were spread out, and what color did he say he was again??

 

Twenty two minutes spent refueling at checkpoint three and into the darkness again.  That last leg started @ 10 pm with 45 miles to go.  I could do that in my sleep, may need to.

Screen Shot 2017-06-17 at 9.32.30 PM

Next Post: Part VII – Finish Line

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


Hills

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 7.37.52 AM

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.

18739244_10211234384128136_2090943215450639509_o

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.

18921146_10211235035664424_5479857057133262155_o

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.


Nameplate

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.

20170603_111823

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 9.44.40 AM

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.


Water

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.


Eureka

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.

IMG_5414

Kelly wearing the colors

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

IMG_5399

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.

IMG_5411

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


Intro

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.

DKanza17_0853-(ZF-6262-22992-1-001)

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.

IMG_5389-1

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


Intro

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.

IMG_5365

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


Intro

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.


Wednesday

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.


Thursday

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.

20170601_201225

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.

18814820_10211226657414973_1003506424059792543_o

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.


Friday

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).

20170602_150645

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.

20749

Bruff’s Bar & Grill

Attended the 7pm riders meeting at the Granada theater.

20170602_190827

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.


Intro

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


20160606_154153

 

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.

mishap

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.

inspiration

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.

humor

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.

suspense

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.

finish

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.

finish-line-shawn-kristin

Kristin and I at the finish line.

the celebration

IMG_0136

Wish there was still beer.

13322107_10208535114988952_5373638712455820277_n

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 3.22.26 PM

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


eastbound

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.

northbound

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 9.38.19 PM

Rolled into Madison @ 10p

Thirty minutes under the cutoff.

IMG_2618

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