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.