I failed in my first ever race. I had a 40 mile leg to complete in 4 hours and I could not do it. The leg? 40 miles between Cassoday and Florence. The race? The 2011 edition of The Dirty Kanza 200. In 2011 there was a relay option. Teams of two. Each person was to do 100 miles. There was no DK 50 or DK 100 option at the time so this was the entry level opportunity. I wanted so badly to be a part of this event I jumped at the chance. It didn’t work out. I was a tad naive. I did have a pretty new bike though!
Smitty was my partner and he’d do the first 60 mile leg. Smitty took off at 6am to try and complete 60 miles in 6 hours. I took off to Wal Mart to by a couple Hostess Apple pies, some sandwich wraps, maybe a couple Clif bars, some water and some Coke. Pretty sure I also got some powdered sugar donuts. Unfortunately Smitty rolled in about 15 minutes late so we were DQ’d. Mr Cummins himself though must have felt sorry for me and let me ride my leg. I had hopes that maybe if I crushed it, they’d let us go on. I had fresh legs and rolled out hard and fast…for about 10 miles. I remember when it hit about 20 miles in…I was in over my head. My longest ride had maybe been 30 miles in mild temps. It was hot. My water was going fast. I remember at one point licking the sweat off my arm because I was craving salt. Ha! I had full leg cramps going on. One lady needed a tube. I had a tube. I had no idea how to change a tire. She changed her tire and gave me some water when she saw I was out. That helped a little. My 40 mile ride ended at the halfway checkpoint of the DK200 in Florence Kansas in just over 4 hours. I was exhausted. I was so incredibly disappointed in myself.
See that was the deal though. To fail like that. To see other riders failing alongside the road too exhausted, too disappointed to do more than grunt or raise a finger as you road by. There was competition sure, but it was more of a family out there. Riders were watching out for each other. Helping each other. I sat at the halfway checkpoint and listened and watched other riders. Riders who were going on. Riders who might finish. I remember Eric Benjamin camped in a lawn chair. I watched and listened to Garret Seacat and Jed Sampsel getting ready to ride on. All local riders. Most eventually got up and rolled out. All hugely inspiring to me at the time. I couldn’t imagine doing another 40 miles, let alone 100. Later that afternoon is when the storms hit. The heat changed to cold. The winds picked up and the rain came in. We even had hail for a bit that year. Insane. For a short bit…I was a part of that insanity. Jed and Garret later finished and that was it. I had to do it. The whole thing. In 2012 I signed up for the Dirty Kanza 200. I rode slow. We had perfect weather. I road slow but consistent. I finished at 1:06am.
I have a lot of friends that signed up for the Dirty Kanza 50 and the Dirty Kanza 100. I hope this years DK50 or DK100 ends up being next years DK200 for you. I hope you remember to look around and take it all in. I hope you are too stubborn to stop pedaling. I hope you are able to feel what I felt crossing that finish line. I wish you all the very best.
Start pedaling. The season is starting soon.
So yeah that was crazy. Dirty Kanza filled 1900 rider spots in 2 hours. It’s official. The Flint Hills, Emporia and the surrounding towns are still considered kinda cool. Can’t wait until June!!!
But…its only January so now what? Watch football. Watch basketball. Eat some nachos. Drink some beer. I’ve got 5 months to train right?? What’s that? LandRun100? Stillwater, OK? March 12? Oh yeah. Two months away.
I took a Christmas break from riding for the most part. For two glorious festive weeks intervals were replaced by watching movies like Elf and Christmas Vacation. Roctane?? Try some Hot Chocolate. GU gels?? Only if they taste like candy canes and chocolate chip cookies. (Not together, that’d be gross). Hell I even had time to fit in a kick ass Star Wars movie!!
But now…now…DK registration flips a switch in the head. The season is starting. May not look like it outside but if you wait until it’s warm…you’ve waited too long. Trust me. I know. LandRun100 is waiting for me around the corner. Time to grab one last cookie, slurp down one last hot chocolate marshmallow and get on the bike.
Gonna be a fun year for all of us!!
Goals are a funny thing. Set correctly they can be a driving force of motivation. Set too high and they can lead to disappointment. I’ve set quite a few goals for myself this year. Some goals are measurable and some goals are simply meant to be reminders of the important things in my life.
1. Don’t lose an endurance race in 2016. Look. I finally “got it” in 2015. Winning isn’t about podium finishing for guys like me. I don’t have the time to commit to ever podium finish. Winning is simply not losing the mental fight. Finishing the damn race. Too many things I can’t control can end my race but the one thing I can 100% control is the mental fight. Quitting is too easy. LandRun100, DK200, 24HoursofCumming, GravelWorlds and RebeccasPrivateIdaho. My goal is to not lose in 2016.
2. Ride a sub 7 hour time in a 100 mile gravel race. I think I can do this but I’ve never ridden “through” an event. I rode Rebecca’s Private Idaho in 6:42 last September but that was only 93 miles. Close. I’m too social not to talk to other riders but I could ride the final 30 miles stronger instead of relaxing. It’s a goal.
3. Race the Sun at the DirtyKanza200 and win the challenge. My best time is about midnight so this would mean beating that time by over 3 hours. That’s tough. That seems crazy tough. Finishing by 10pm would be a huge accomplishment and I’d be proud of that but I like goals that are a stretch. Finishing by about 8:45pm is a big stretch. Weather plays a huge factor of course but I’m going for it.
4. Be a better community volunteer. Life’s not all about riding bikes. I’ve served on multiple community organization boards for years but I do suffer periods of burnout. Time to step it up again in 2016.
5. Adventure more with my family. My girls are 6 and 9 now, going on 18. Time to spend more time adventuring with them. Simple things like grilling out once a week. Hitting Camp Alexander walking trails once a week. Family bike rides around The Dale. There’s a whole world to explore and it starts in our backyard. 2015 was a great start and we’ve built up some momentum for 2016!
Going to be a great 2016!
What are some of your goals for 2016?