DK200 – So hey, I finished this thing called The Dirty Kanza 200 this year. Not sure why I’m writing about it except maybe to entice a few others into attempting it next year. I rode a leg of the race in 2011 as part of a relay team. I had been riding maybe 8 month’s at the time. By that I mean I had not owned a bicycle since highschool in the early 1990’s and had put maybe 300 miles on the one I currently owned in that 8 month span. I had ridden to Council Grove and back once for a total of like 58 miles. I had ridden a bunch of 20 mile rides. You may ask yourself, why wouldn’t I ride in The Dirty Kanza 200 as part of a 2 man relay team each riding 100 miles? It’s the next logical step, right? Most endurance riders are laughing right now as they read this…and yes, it ended exactly as you are thinking. I rode a 40 mile second leg in the Kansas heat from noon until 4pm, had straight-leg cramps after 20 miles that I fought until Florence, flatted, ran out of water after 25 miles, ran out of GU (I brought only a Clif bar as extra food) and coasted into Florence on fumes and cussing at myself for ever getting on a damn bike. Then I made the biggest mistake I could have made…I went to the finish line party and talked to other riders and watched in awe as those able to gut out the weather crossed that finish line. I made my decision that night that I would attempt the whole route in 2012. Done. Eat right. Train hard. Ride three to four nights a week. No worries. I got this.
I had good intentions. I rode 20+ miles on Thursday night group rides. I signed up for a 100 mile ride in late July, in Missouri. I made it about 5 miles when my chain broke. I knew nothing about fixing bikes so I walked back to the start and sat in a chair for 5+ hours alone waiting for the other riders to come in. I rode in the Veterans Day 30+ mile ride. My tire blew at mile 14…my spare tubes had bounced out of my pack. I called in my support. Fast forward to January. No more than just the 20 mile Thursday night group rides. Reality was in full swing. I have a very active family schedule. I ran a very time consuming business. Riding 100+ miles a week was not in my cards. I had some friends ask me to ride with them in January. 60 miles. It was warm. I hadn’t ridden much but why not? I had lost 6 month’s…better start training. I cramped within 15 miles but gutted out the ride. Mostly by myself as everyone else did great and road ahead, stopping and waiting for me every 5 to 10 miles. I was embarrassed. I was deflated. Six month’s to go until the DK200 and I was cramping after 15 miles. This sucked. What the Hell was I thinking. So…I talked to my wife. We bought an indoors bike. I snuck in as many hour rides as I could. Instead of long rides, I focused on 30 and 40 mile rides. I got faster. 11mph avg, 12, 13…then it was March. Burnout. Then it was April. Burnout. Then it was May. I needed something. I test rode Matt Brown’s old cross bike. Whoa. New feel. New hand positions. New gears. New speed. 15mph on 30mile rides and 14mph+ on 60 mile rides. Cool. Just like college. Crash study for an exam. I bought Matt’s bike and I road when I could. I talked to Tim Mohn and Matt Brown about mechanical issue’s and solution’s. I made sure that it if anything was gonna fail and knock me out of the DK200 it was gonna be me. All me. Sure, weather might hit but ultimately it’d still be my call to be done. Not the bike.
End of May – June 1, I was bouncing off the freaking walls…on the inside. I’d wake up every few hours that week. I replayed every kind of scenario in my head even while sleeping. I could focus on nothing. The week is a blur to be honest. I checked the weekly forecast every hour. I watched the bikers roll into town. I’m blessed to be around a lot of the DK200 organizers during the day so I listened when I could to all the build up from Kristi and Tim Mohn, Eric Benjamin, Jim Cummins, Erik Mathy of Pablove Grub and Matt Brown. I kept my mouth shut and I listened. If I failed, no one was going to know how badly I wanted to finish.
Race Day. I was up at 3:30am. I got my gear ready. My wife, Kerri, and my mother were riding in the DK Lite 20. I was very proud of them and wanted their bikes and gear set up properly. All bikes on trucks and downtown by 5:30am. I had a video cam on my bike and two iPods ready to play a days worth of music. Horn blows and we roll out. I switch on video camera to record the roll out. Battery dies at end of roll out. How the HELL did I forget to charge the battery on the camera?!?! iPod won’t play. Luckily I was in a big group so no worries. iPod finally magically played at mile 30 or so and worked the rest of the day. I loved seeing Emporia riders that first leg. I saw John Decker, Angela Spellman, Corey Bacon…not sure who else. Please forgive me. I was not racing. I was riding my own ride. Goal was 14mph that first leg. I rolled into Cassoday feeling good but not at my target time. I rolled in at a little after 11am I think but I felt good. Fifteen minute stop and I was out of there.
Cassoday to Florence. 40 miles. Worst part of my day. Five miles out of Cassoday and I was d-o-n-e. Depression came fast and it hit hard. Anything and everything rolled through my head. I hadn’t ridden over 60 miles at once this wholeyear. I just now rode 60 miles. How could I possibly do this crap all day? This sucks. I suck. This bike sucks. This food sucks. Work sucks. This music sucks. I want a beer. Beer does not suck. I want to sit under a damn tree and drink a beer. I road like this for 5 miles or about 30 to 45 minutes. I road slow. Great weather and here I was done. I was actually planning my ‘out’. I knew hills were coming at mile 80 or so. There was a kinda dangerous downhill around there also. I don’t mind physical pain. I have a high threshold. I could crash. That’d be honorable. It wouldn’t take much to force a crash on that downhill. I could wait until the hills just after that at 85 miles. I could blame cramps. Lotta people cramped out there last year. Then…Boom. Mile 70…energy came back just as soon as it faded. I’m okay. This is gonna be okay. I can ride to Florence. I’ll stop there but I can make it. An Emporia rider, Chuck, caught up to me a couple miles later. For the next 30 miles we both took took turns pulling for each other. He had decided he’d be done at Florence. I was hoping I’d get a second wind.
Florence to Council Grove. I sat at Florence for maybe 40 minutes. I was doing fine on time. I had like 7.5 hours until cutoff at Council Grove. So…I sat. I felt zapped but in decent spirits. Just zapped. I couldn’t eat anything except pickles. All my onbike food was offlimits. I wanted nothing to do with it. My dad oiled my bike and my wife massaged my feet. honestly I think thatwas the difference. My support crew. Dad did awesome refilling the bike and Kerri just kicked ass at the moral support. Quick side note – awesome feeling with my dad there. We never did the whole touchy feely thing growing up and I always took the easy way out of things when times got tough…so anyway…nice having him there. I slowly forced myself out of my chair at about 3:30pm. I was going to ride out. Eric Benjamin told me…recover on the bike. Okay. Gonna roll out with a plan. Force myself to coast down hills until my legs and lungs come back. I did this for 20 miles…and they came back. HOT DAMN I’m gonna freaking do this thing. I rode strong for 20 miles then hit a wall again but fought through it with visions of grandeur. I’m gonna be the next Lance Armstrong!!! Or maybe just the next Garret Seacat or Jed Sampsel or Scott O’mara!!! Um…without all of the mud walking they did in 2011… Okay so 10 miles out of CG, I ran out of water and energy and was coasting at 8mph. Five Hour Energy drink to the rescue!!!!!!! Those last 5 miles were a blur on flat land at 17mph!!!! I rolled into CG around 9pm and my mind was racing!
CG to Home. I was in another mental world at CG. I was on a freaking high. Kerri had to grab my arm at the checkpoint tent. I could not focus I was flying so high. She told me to get off the bike and sit down! I remember rubbing Steve Weisers head as I walked by…sorry Steve. Gretchen Russel and her hubby fed me M&M’s and cold water, Angela Spellman gave me her helmet lamp, Kerri gave me another foot massage and Steve and I rolled out together toward home. We knew we had plenty of time so we enjoyed the ride. Had to walk the big hills but otherwise felt okay. Last 5 miles were slow for me and I appreciate Steve hanging back with me as I know he coulda gone faster. It was nice to roll across that finish line with a fellow Emporian at 1am to probably still 50 people cheering us on like we had won the damn thing. I got hugged by so many people I lost count. Gotta say those last few blocks…were magical. It wasn’t just 200 miles I had finished…it was a lifetime of unfinished goals being completed. I had set a goal a year earlier and dispite a ton of setbacks…I finished the thing. Freaking awesome.
Within 5 minutes I know Kristi overheard me say I was now done with the riding part of the DK200. I’m not. I have new goals now. I will do everything I can to finish it next year before midnight. I want to be a multiple year finisher. I’m 38 years old now. I hope to keep rolling. I love that feeling of being a kid a rolling down those dusty, dirty gravel hills. I’m even learning to laugh while riding…or walking…up them. Just keep rolling….