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.

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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.

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The Pit Crew, l to r, Me, Gregg, Kelly, Janice, Cheri, Kyle


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.


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The End

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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 in my pit crew, from l to r, Cheri, Gregg, Janice, Kelly and Kyle.

 

 

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.  You may recall that Gregg was my riding partner last year.  He couldn’t commit to the training but made sure he was there to lend a hand and offer encouragement along with Cheri, his partner, who also was in our pit last year.

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Kelly wearing the colors

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

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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.

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Gregg made sure I tried his preferred energy drink.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Bruff’s Bar & Grill

Attended the 7pm riders meeting at the Granada theater.

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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


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2017 Dirty Kanza Prep & Training

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


Prep / Training

Many changes from last year’s Part II – Prep / Training plan including…


Changes to the bike

Still riding the Willard.

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Raleigh Willard I @ 4am on race day

With a few changes to the setup that worked quite well:

  1. Handlebars – Salsa cowbell type 3, double-wrapped, wider, not as deep in the drops (comfort), and double-wrapped to reduce vibration and prevent a repeat from last year’s numbed fingers.
  2. Cassette – Shimano 12-36T – granny gear means staying in the saddle during climbs, adding weight to the rear tire preventing slippage.  Not standing preserves energy reserves deeper into the day.
  3. Tires – Teravail Cannonball – 700×38 – shaves 2mm’s width from the tire with no downside.  Even with goo tubes, they (seem to) roll a bit easier vs. last year’s Schwalbe Marathons.

Summary of changes to bike

Once again this bike gets me across the finish — in time.  I did have a bit of trouble during the 3rd leg.  The afternoon thundershowers brought  with them mud and rocks getting into the gears.  This caused them to grind (hence the name) and required frequent stops to flush.  Otherwise a chain or derailleur surely would break, and did for those who didn’t pay heed.

These were extreme road conditions; I doubt anything but a single-speed would have done as well.

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Mile 134 (3rd leg) of the 2017 dirty kanza and sloppy / muddy road conditions.


Training

Significant changes from last year.  Here is my 2017 training log:

# Week     Longest Day     Total Miles
1.  Feb  6          83             216
2.  Feb 13          63             201
3.  Feb 20          90             222
4.  Feb 27          58             167
5.  Mar  6          79             207
6.  Mar 13          95             212
7.  Mar 20          45             181
8.  Mar 27         111             213
9.  Apr  3          98             202
10. Apr 10         141             285
11. Apr 17          23              23
12. Apr 24          79             239
13. May  1         160             327
14. May  8          70             199
15. May 15         101             155
16. May 22          55             192
17. May 29         208             252

The strategy included the following:

  • Every two weeks ride a bit further on the long day.
  • Hold the longest day at least one month prior.
  • Don’t ride long during the week.
  • Hills, hills and more hills.
  • Work on speed / intervals.

This made life easier as every other weekend I’d embark on a long training ride.  Sawtoothing my way up to about 160 miles — at the beginning of May.

More hills and interval training (ugh), where things get pushed to limit, but actually spent fewer long days on the bike.  I took it easy during the week with up to 120 miles logged between M-F.

Most of that training was pavement on the roads and trails around Little Rock.

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Downtown Little Rock (LR)

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North LR (from the river trail)

A lot of time spent outside of LR, in the mountains and deltas.

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Harper’s loop

Here’s a descent down Thornburg Mountain:

 

Another coming off the backside of Wye mountain on Hwy 300:

 

There was one week grinding Kansas gravel outside Salina, including this century ride on the Native Stone route in Wabaunsee County.

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Native Stone trail mile 19

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Native Stone mile 84

Always remembering to take a break now and then…

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@ Diamond Bear in NLR

Training Summary

I finished the race, shaving about an hour off last year’s time, but there’s room for improvement.  Still, I felt pretty good after the ride, and recovered quicker than last year.


Hydration

After last year’s fiasco running dry during the 2nd leg, and almost DNFing, I was determined to change.  I added a 2.5L camelbak to my 1.8L platypus bladder (in the framebag), along with two water bottles.  I also paid attention to electrolytes on the long, sweaty rides.

Hydration Summary

Amazingly enough, even with all that water, I ran out about 10 miles from CP2 @ 95 miles.  An improvement over last year, but not good enough.

If you get one thing from this post:

Bring plenty of water for that 2nd leg of  DK!!!  (more later).


Food

My nutrition plan also failed me last year with a bonk on the 2nd leg.  This year I eased my foolish opposition to factory products.

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I learned the hard way that nutrition is crucial on those long rides (2nd only to hydration), and started eating those syrupy goopy packages of food.  No, I still don’t like, but to be successful on long rides, consistent, one must consume their calories — gradually and consistently.   Eat too much at once and get sick.  Too little and run out of gas.  For me the optimum is about 100 calories every 10 miles or so, which allows me to keep going, seemingly indefinitely.

Food Summary

My nutrition plan was a success in 2017.  I was able to eat, and stay energized, until the finish.


Next Post: Part II – Preamble