The Story of 24 Hours of Cumming

24 Hours of Cumming
Over.
In the books as they say.

My team of Tim Mohn, Jeff Young and Jim Cummins was able to nab another first place in the 4×60 relay. Strong rides by my teammates. They never let up and just kept pushing. Proud of those guys. Hugs and high fives all around!


But…

Gravel is not defined by who wins a race. Gravel is more than that. Gravel is defined by the individual efforts. The individual goals achieved. The individual challenges met. Those are the stories that get told around the campfire. Those are the stories we remember and retell year after after. Those are the stories that become legend. The achievements are what stand out to me…not the wins.


Some stories I know about from 24 Hours of Cumming that defined the weekend. Please…feel free to add your own. I want to know more.

1. The little town of Emporia Ks sending up 15+ gravel riders to challenge themselves in the hills of Iowa. Thats a lot of traveling folks to a small little race that’s become less about the results and more about Gravel family. Less about the awards and more about the camping and the stories by the campfire. A race where the Cumming Tap is just as important as the beautiful scenery of the Iowa green.


2. Dangerous Dan. Great meeting and hanging out man. Loved the enthusiasm you have have. Awesome watching you roll in after Leg 2…120 miles down and 120 miles to go…only to rush the stage and Head bang a little with the band. So much energy. Wish I had half that. Of course…I’ve got two kids. You’ve got one on the way. Can’t wait to hear the stories you’ll have of the kid next year. Best of luck.


3. Natasha Krause crushing 60 miles and 4500+ feet of elevation. Her first ride away from the safety of home gravel. Great job!


4. Autumn Howell. Persevering through navigational miscues and finishing what she started. 62 miles turned into 70+. I’m sure she was disheartened and frustrated but she just kept clicking the miles off. Team out of contention she finished the job. Longest ride ever and I’m guessing easily the most elevation gain. Awesome.


5. Courtney Huber. First long solo night ride. Way to fight off the fear and ride through the nigh. Navigational perfection. Great ride when nothing was on the line except the personal challenge of doing it. I heard you bunny hopped a family of raccoons?? Maybe that was just folklore…Proud of you!


6. Mr John Freaking Decker – the man rode an awesome fricking ride only to be derailed 6 miles from the Finish Line…where his relay teammate waited…by his entire crankset falling off his bike! No 8mm wrench in hand John was forced to jog, run and glide the remaining 6 miles. Six miles of HILLS…after midnight!! He could have stopped but his team waited. They needed him so he kept going strong. Way to get it in buddy. Way so cool!! Give it a couple years and the story will be 30 miles instead of just 6…legend.


7. Balkenhol. Helping and supporting all freaking day. Never complaining. Just “what do you need?”. Doesn’t start his ride until 1:30am. No chance to enjoy the scenery. Crushes the route in under 4 hours. Raccoons and deer lining the ditches ringing cowbells and giving handups all the way. Cheating if you ask me but nonetheless…epic. Great job buddy.


8. Shawn Legend of The Flint Hills O’Mara. 400k solo. Shawn wasn’t racing. Shawn was riding. Shawn was doing what Shawn does. Turning the cranks and enjoying being outside on the bike. Solid. Always ready to give a smile. Always ready to ignore the discomfort. Mile after mile. Hill after hill. Move forward. You deserve first place buddy but more important…you deserve that perfect ride. You deserve that feeling of peace we all feel on the bike when we enter that zone. Love ya bud.


9. Steve Cannon. You’ve got a good thing going man. The gravel takes care of itself. Focus on the rider and gravel family like I know you will. The Cumming Tap is perfect. The grilled wings kicked ass. Beer was cold. Fire was warm. High fives we’re heart felt. Appreciation was true. Throw in a few trays of Cinnamon Rolls Sunday morning to go with that coffee and there’s no place else to be the first weekend in August every year.


It’s gravel. We’re family. We’ll travel. We don’t need much. Gravel. Beer. Coffee. Grill. Fire. Hugs and high fives.


Story after story after story. Year after year after year.

24 Hours of Cumming…Steve Cannon…The Cumming Tap.

Please come in 2018…I want to see your next story.

I know I’ve missed stories from 2017. Sarah Cooper killing it on her Fatbike. Smile leading the way. KateG crushing 120 miles. Jacob laying down the rubber and never missing a beer handup. Others. Don’t be offended. I’m old. I miss things. Tell your story. Tell someone else’s story. It’s gravel.


(Ps.  Yeah I borrowed some pics.  You’re family.  You don’t mind right?  Steve Cannon, Paulina Batiz…not sure who else.  Thanks.  👍🏼)


Embracing my Hypocrisy

Ride casual. I preach these words. Embrace your casual side while cycling. Go fast? Whatevs. I’d rather ride with friends and carry on a conversation. Laugh and enjoy the moment. Watch the scenery flow by. Catch the movement and grace of a deer hopping into the trees. Challenge each other on a hill but then smile and joke about it at the top. Regroup and tell a couple stories about the last ride. No true competition other than maybe who has the best sock game going on.

#ridecasual

Except…deep deep down I am competitive. I keep my competitiveness buried. I don’t want to accept it. I don’t like the way being competitive makes me feel. I’d rather stop and help other riders than “race” another rider. Sit on my wheel…I’ll pull you. You need a tube? CO2? Careful this corner is dangerous. Do you have enough to eat and drink?

I channel my competitive feelings inward. I challenge myself. I compete with myself. I win most of the time nowadays. I feel I’ve become fairly strong mentally on a bike. I know how to ride through cramps and pain. I’ve crashed and got back up. I lose occasionally. I’ve chosen poorly with hydration and heat twice and both times fell only to get back up via the ER and fluids. I know better but when I’m competing with myself…I want to win. Every time. I’m okay with this. I’m not competing with others. If I win…no one else loses. If I lose…no one else knows…it’s channeled inwardly.

Except…ONCE a year…I allow just a little bit of that competitiveness to show its face publicly. Once a year I accept my hypocrisy and show it publicly. Once a year I participate in a Gravel relay race. A team of four. 24 Hours of Cumming put on by Steve Cannon. Hosted by the Cumming Tap in Cumming, Iowa. Each leg of the relay is 60’ish miles of hard packed gravel over miles and mile of rolling hills. I charge the hills a little bit harder and take the corners a little bit sharper. I’ll catch a wheel a little bit longer and take a pull a little bit smarter. The beauty of the race is I get to compete against other riders without really feeling like I’m competing. I simply give everything I’ve got for 60 miles. A 60 mile ITT. I ride the first leg every year. There is no “winner” as I come across the Finish Line.  I don’t wish bad luck for any other rider because I know I have a team of three other riders backing me up. My job is simply to give all I can give and put my team mates in the best position possible to win. Sixty miles. Four water bottles. Six GU packets.  Roll strong. Spin the cranks. Blow yourself up and finish your ITT on fumes.

#ridehard

The rest of the day? Chill. Sit around and have a few beers with your fellow riders. High five your team. Support everyone. Cheer for everyone. Hugs all around. Food truck cuisine. Laugh about your lows and be humble about your highs.

Once a year though I do want to win. I want the team to win. I want to stand there next to my team mates with a trophy in one hand and a box of Zebra Cakes in the other. I don’t want anyone else to lose…but my team has taken home the 1st Place trophy two years in a row and I plan on doing it again.

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I’ll make this promise though. If we don’t win…I’ll still give hugs and high fives. I’ll still smile and laugh and tell stories. I might even…no. Never mind. Buy your own damn Zebra Cakes….these are mine.

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Good luck everyone at 24 Hours of Cumming!

#casuallyrace


Gravel reunion

We have a family reunion in Emporia Kansas every year around the first of June. The invite goes out each December. We all mark it on our calendars. Except Cousin Wintle. He never uses a calendar. He just watches the stars in the sky and knows when to show up…with whiskey for all. We start planning. Where will everyone sleep? Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn…random backyards?


March comes around and things get a little more serious. Who’s all coming? Over 2000 people?? Did you accidentally hit “invite all” again?? The Knights, the Brothers Kuat, the Pirates from the Northern Borderlands, Cannon and his Mighty Fatbike, the Mulreadys Gang, ETown Proud, Madison crew, Riders from the City of Gravel, Wild Wendy and her tutu, Stillwater’s loading up the tents, RV’s and VW’s… Cousin Paul and Gudberg coming over from the fairy tale Lands of ‘Eng and ‘Ice. Yuri and his band of California misfits. Panda and the Sheek. John and Venny riding their Cantu’s up from Texas. Petervary’s and Rusch come down from their majestic peaks. Z and Heidi…Mr Shirley himself…all making plans. Too many family members to list…all coming to Emporia Kansas. Land of the Hills of Flint.


Quiet. Silence. See that?? Way out in the distance. A cloud of gravel dust. Coming closer. Quick! Hide the good beer!! Put the bacon away!! A single knock on the front door. Deep breathe. Steady. Open the door. HUGS FOR ALL!! YES!! Welcome to Emporia!! Food! Beer! Rick being inappropriate with all the cousins! Smitty in his rocking chair spinnings tales of glory! JeffY telling anyone who’ll listen about how fast he can drop me on climbs.


Honea…shirtless…again…


Uncle Jim stands up and yells…who wants to go on a bike ride?? 206 miles okay??

Yes!!!

We sweat. We cuss. We ache. We climb. We crank. We get “aero” and we look “so pro”. We bask in the glory of the Flint Hills. We get dirty. We give high fives and chest bumps. We take Selfies and we ‘Gram. Most of all…we enjoy a day on bikes. We enjoy the day with family. Gravel family.


The ride’s over. The Sun was beaten. The Five Timers Club expanded!! The party begins! Biscuits and Gravy!! Bacon!! Burrito’s! Beer! Wine!! Sno Cones! ZEBRA CAKES!!!!!! Sweaty, bear hugs. More inappropriateness from Rick. Lawn darts. Croquet. Fire pits and S’Mores.


Honea please put on a damn shirt…

We play hard. We ride hard. We sleep hard. We hug hard. We love hard. We’re family. A Crazy, messed up, delusional, slightly deranged, loyal, loving, dependable GRAVEL family. We’ll do it again next year. Next year I’m putting up a tire swing. Next year I’ll build some sweet jumps. Next year I won’t hide the good beer.

Next year Honea will put on a shirt…sleeveless of course…but it’s a start….

Ya’ll come back. Ya hear?

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Gudberg and Lauf Forks for allowing me to be a member of their 2017 Dirty Kanza “Dirty Dozen”. I’m so glad Lauf was a part of my experience in Beating the Sun and joining the Five Timers Club. I’ve enjoyed beating the hell out of Laufs “The Grit” fork the past 6 months on our backroads. I have no plans of ever taking it back off the bike!


Love and peace everyone. 👍🏼💪🏼😍


Late June Mornings

Drinking coffee on the back deck. Nessie is on point alerting me to all the birds in the yard. Another Wednesday at the pool with the girls. I haven’t been on my bike once this week and I’m okay with that…until I start worrying about August.


A five week period.

24 Hours of Cumming
Lunar Kanza
Gravel Worlds
Rebecca’s Private Idaho
I’m not a “racer”. I don’t have that competitive instinct. I can’t survive an attack on a hill.

Racer instinct says “nail it!!! Watts!! Watts!! Watts!!”

Casual instinct says “that looks painful. I’m gonna slow down and eat some more Skittles”…I like rainbows.

I know it’ll all be good. I just always have a nagging voice that says…you should be pushing. You can do better.

Good thing I don’t listen very well.

😁☕️🍩👍🏼🤗

I know. I know. August will come. I’ll ride my bike with friends. I’ll give and receive hugs. All will be well. 😍☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

#ridecasual

Oh crap!!! It’s trash pickup day!!!!


Casual Conversation – Amanda “the Panda” Nauman

My wife, Kerri and I took our first trip “across the pond” in 2017.  We flew over to support and ride in our friend Paul Errington’s race called The Dirty Reiver.  Not that Paul needs our support at all.  His event is legit.  Gravel riding in the beautiful country side of Northern England along the Scottish border.  Amazing.  While we were there we were lucky enough to get to know Amanda and David over a few days.  Definitely an experience that would be hard to duplicate.  Amanda recently agreed to take the time to have a Casual Conversation with me.  Amanda is every where it seems right now and deservedly so.  Now if I could just get her to ride tandem with me at Gravel Worlds…I’d even let her drive!  I promise not to spend the whole day gramming and checking Facebook!  Thanks Amanda or the time!!

Okay so here we go…
CASUAL:  Amanda I’m sitting here right now at 6am in my favorite morning “dad” chair. Kids are still asleep. Kerri starting to move around. Dogs outside taking care of a nature break. Peaceful… Me?? Second cup of coffee in my hand and looking at pictures of you in your Panda suit…

…that’s not as creepy as it sounds is it??? Okay. So You kicked butt at Dirty Reiver recently. You watched me get my butt kicked by the same race. Since then you’ve done a 400 mile road adventure over 3 days I believe it was.
Now…the Belgian Waffle Ride. Biggest question I have is…are the waffles as good as advertised? Bacon? Sausage? Is there like a whole Waffle Bar with thousands of toppings? Did you see the coffee pour overs at the third Dirty Reiver CP??? I almost cried. Seriously I got misty eyed as I rode away. I almost crashed. What’s the most amazing CP food you’ve ever had or are you riding too fast to even look? 😁

AMANDA:  Truthfully I skipped the waffles this year. But I hear they are amazing. The man behind the Rock Cobbler is also the man behind the waffles, Sam Ames. He has a knack for good food and good gravel. I would highly recommend his events in Bakersfield, CA if you ever wanted to travel out to California for some different dirt. There’s definitely bacon at BWR and a whole lot of whipped cream and topping options. But it’s one of those events where I’d rather eat all of that at the end of the ride, which he leaves as an option too! But unfortunately this year the heat got the best of me and it took me about three hours after the finish to even consider eating anything with how wrecked my body was. Too wiped to eat was a new level of exhausted and dehydrated for me!

I think the most amazing checkpoint food I’ve ever had was hot chicken broth. I don’t even remember where it was, I just remember it was cold enough and I was craving salt just enough that it was the most amazing sense of satisfaction. If it’s ever cold enough for me to need warm liquid at Dirty Kanza, that would be my winning formula!

CASUAL:  Okay. Now I’m hungry. No more Checkpoint food talk. I know. I know. I brought it up. You mentioned Dirty Kanza. Gravel endurance racing. You’re also a pro cyclocross racer. They seem like opposite ends of the spectrum to me. Consistent power/cadence over a prolonged period of time versus fast twitch burst interval. Admittedly I’ve never raced cyclocross so if that’s inaccurate, let me know. Is there a cyclocross training benefit to riding endurance gravel in the Spring/Early Summer or are they simply two separate loves?

AMANDA:  Yes, you’re right. They’re definitely opposite ends of the spectrum. Fast-twitch, high-intensity and bike handling skills are requirements for cyclocross. In reality those are three of my weaknesses, but for some reason I just love the game of cyclocross.

For ‘cross, the foundation miles need to come in the spring and summer because the quantity of racing in the fall is so heavy. Most of the base needs to be done in these months where I’m training for the longer gravel events, so I make it work perfectly. Admittedly I’m probably doing a little harder efforts than I should be, but that just comes with the love of competing at the highest level in these longer events. I can’t say no to a 200-mile race!

I was a competitive swimmer from the age of six all the way through college and trained specifically as a distance swimmer in my later years. I’m really good at staring at the black line at the bottom of a pool and motoring. 20 hours a week of swimming was my norm. Sound familiar? *Ahem* gravel. At the same time, I’m really good at tapering off those big training miles, focusing on high-intensity, and racing as fast as possible for events like the mile. *Ahem* cyclocross. To sum it up, I’ve found a way to perfectly fuel my competitive nature on the bike since I’ve graduated college. I love both disciplines equally. I don’t know if I’d consider myself a professional cyclocross racer or a professional adventurer at this point. Give me a bike with two wheels and I’ll turn anything into a good time!

CASUAL:  Professional adventurer. I love that term and think it fits well within the Gravel, dirt, back road riding culture. For most of us the Gravel race event is great…but it’s a day. It’s a day followed before and after by backroad exploring. Recently my friends are pushing me hard to take the next step…bikepacking. I even bought a really pretty super lightweight tent about 3 months ago!! I’ve thought about opening it up. I suppose it works…need to try it some day. 😜. Any interest in ultra-endurance or multi day bikepacking events? What about just super casual chillin with friends style bike packing? Btw…I might take up bike packing in flip flops and changing my name to “Super Casual” (thanks for the name change idea StormG). 😁

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AMANDA:  I actually have a huge interest in ultra-endurance or multi-day bikepacking events. I recently became obsessed with the 2016 Race to the Rock story and Sarah Hammond. CyclingTips has a phenomenal video on it here:
https://cyclingtips.com/2016/10/video-race-to-the-rock/
Events like the Indian Pacific Wheel Race are also becoming way too alluring for me. On that note, if anyone knows how I can apply for those insane Aussie adventures, let me know. It likely makes me sounds like a crazy person but I’m becoming more in love with the romantic nature of these epic adventures. When I was in high school I had a religion teacher who told us his story of riding across the United States and ever since then, I’ve always wanted to do it. Someday… when work isn’t so pressing, I’ll get to it.

And certainly, super casual bike packing with friends sounds fun! I have a bike with all the right rack mounts built in on the RLT 9 RDO, it’s just a matter of getting all the gear and finding the time for it. Time and money are slim, so I need to get creative on ways to break into that arena. If anyone is looking to hire a Panda to join in on epic adventures, I’m your girl! If someone gave me all the proper gear and showed me the ways of the wild unknown, I’d be down in an instant. “Wild Panda” and “Super Casual” take on the _____ Adventure could make for a great video!

SUPERCAZ:  I’d be all over that! Let’s make it happen! You bring the Panda suit and I’ll pack my Wookie suit…

…not that I have a Wookie suit…

…okay I do have a Wookie suit…but enough about me and my evening leisure attire.

What’s next for Amanda “the Panda” Nauman for 2017? Any more gravel or gearing up for cyclocross? We both know I’m trying my hardest to talk you into more gravel… What’s on the Cyclocross schedule this year?

WILDPANDA:  It actually all depends on how many spots USA Cycling will be allotted for the American cyclocross World Cups in September. I finished out last season ranked 54th in the world after skipping Nationals for hand surgery and the general rule for World Cup selection is that the top 50 automatically qualify to race. However, the United States is historically allowed to have additional spots (16 total Americans per gender) over the top 50 riders; but I haven’t heard back yet from the USAC representative about the final team selection. The rest of my year will hinge on that answer because it will dictate training and travel leading up to it. I’d love to do Gravel Worlds and Crusher in the Tushars, so we’ll see how things play out!

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SUPERCAZ:  I’m still waiting for Sheek to commit to riding tandem with me at Gravel Worlds. He could pedal us to the podium as I Snapchat you updates all day long! Okay, Amanda you’ve been awesome. Thanks so much for the time put into this interview! Lets end this with FIVE Fast Questions.

1. Better hugger? The Panda, The Yeti or The Casual Wookie?’

WILDPANDA:  Casual Wookie. All the fuzziness. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/File:Fuzzball.ogg

2. Last movie you saw actually IN a theatre?

WILDPANDA:  This is so sad because I can’t even remember; it’s been so long. I can tell you the next movie I need to see in a theater is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I saw the original seven times in theaters when I was in high school. My Johnny Depp obsession knew no limit.

3. Favorite cereal when not in training? (I have a thing for BooBerry and FrankenBerry)

WILDPANDA:  The fact that you specify “when not in training” means you know me too well. Fat kid comes alive with any sugary cereal. I’ll go out of my way for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats, Life, and even Frosted Flakes if I’m desperate at a sketchy hotel in the middle of nowhere.

4. Bucket List vacation spot?

WILDPANDA:  Bali, Indonesia. My mother is Indonesian and I have yet to visit that paradise.

5. Favorite food truck food after a long Gravel Ride?

WILDPANDA:  I’ll order tacos from any ol’ food truck. But the best would be Torchy’s Tacos in Texas. Food trucks aren’t popular around home, but divey Mexican joints abound and cheap, fast, authentic Mexican is all I ever want at the end of a long ride. I visit Casa Ramos at least twice each time I’m in Emporia, just so you know the extent of this problem.

SUPERCAZ:  Amanda thank you so much for your time. Best of luck to you with the upcoming cross season. #crossiscoming

Hope to see you soon on the gravel though!


Dirty Kanza 2017 Thoughts

I have to organize my thoughts before I can move on with 2017…

June 2 – Dirty Kanza Eve

8:30 pm  Say good night to family.  Hugs.  Love you.

9 pm.  10 mg Melatonin.  Gotta sleep.

Sleep.

Midnight – gotta pee

1:15 am – gotta pee…seriously??

3:00 am – gotta pee. What’s the forecast? Gotta Snapchat JeffY from the bathroom.

3:20 am fall asleep hard finally

4:00 am time to get up

Quick pics with parents.

Mom and Dad Pre DK

6 am – Let’s roll.  Jeff lead us out.  Watch the right.  Left.  Dumbass.  Not Jeff…the other guy.  It’s a long day no need to be reckless.  You’ve only got 200 miles to make up that 50 feet gap. I love J’s Carryout. Good job Jeff.  Quit switching lanes.  Feels like that movie Office Space.  What was his name?  Samir! Ouch!! Hole.  Damn crap that hurt.  Focus.  Man we’re flying.  PaulE still back there?  Yep.  ScottG?  Yep.  Good job JeffY.  JeffY gets married soon. Bout time. Hey there’s AndreaC.  A friendly face.  Jeff quit talking and focus.  Doing good.  Feels fast.  Over Rd D Hill.  Boom that was fast and easy.  All still together?  Yep.  Left on YY.  Time for the Towers climb shakeup.  Here we go.  Everyone hold together.  Low water.  Boom.  Shit.  Think that got ScottG.  Not sure.  Damn we’re flying.  Yep.  Scott’s gone.  On to Cattle Pens.  Dang.  Paul’s down.  Flat.  Stop?  Go?  Okay man.  Catch up when you can!  He won’t catch up.  This is kinda crazy.  Go.  Roll.  Ride the wave.  Spin the cranks.  Don’t bomb too fast.  Flats everywhere.  Spin the hills.  I’m missing some energy.  I can feel it.  My spin isn’t right.  Did I overdue it two weeks ago???  Too much running around on Friday?? Will JeffY leave me?  Of course he will.  He has to.  The day is too long.  It’s our code.  We talked about this.  Hang on for 100 miles make the corner, grab the tailwind, re-evaluate and make it home.  Not our first rodeo.  Gonna be Fifth DK for both of us.  Just finish.  Hugs and beers at the Finish Line.  Jeff and Michelle need to have some kids. That’ll slow him down. Oh look there’s Madison!!  I love Madison!!  Rainbows and Unicorns and Skittles and magical Gnomes riding Golden Doodles!!!  I love Treva and Michael!  Ramsey and Lara!!  Awesome town!!  Oh….that stupid freaking brick hill can kiss my arse….spin…spin…spin…there’s Becky.  My wife.  Reagan.  My dad…love family.  Joe and Chuggy are awesome.  Gotta go.  Gotta go.   Gotta go.

Madison Checkpoint

Bobby 8:45am. 17.5 mph avg
JeffY 8:45am. 17.51 mph avg
PaulE 8:49am. 17.12 mph avg

Roll out with Jeffy and Paulina.  Deep water mud.  Hit hard and spin out.  Paulina made it.  JeffY is held up.  Dang.  He’ll be fine.  Go.  Not seeing JeffY yet.  I’m not rolling without Jeff.  Go Paulina.  Catch that train.  Jeff’s my wingman.  I’m waiting.  I’m spinning to make sure he didn’t have a mechanical.  Where the hell is he?  Should I go back.  Blue helmet.  Here he comes.  Grab a train and let’s go.  Let’s roll.  Texaco Hill how I love thee.  Spin spin spin. Jeff’s gonna kill the hill.  He’s rocking it.  I wish I was riding a horse.  That’d be cool. Like a Mustang…yeah a Mustang.  Maybe a magical Mustang.  A Mustang is like a wild horse right?  Maybe I’d be in my Chewbacca suit?  Yeah…that’d be cool…  Crap.  Focus.  I can feel my spin leaving.  Hang on for 100 then re evaluate and just Finish. Finish number 5.  Walk the stage.  Snag the Sun if you can.  We’re flying.  Nature stop at the top.  Slow spin and recover…yes!!!  Paul’s with us!!  Nice Chase man!!  Awesome.  Oh shit.  Uh oh.  JeffY has someone else to ride with now.  Jeff likes to talk and yep…crap there they go.  I wish I had my light sabre and someone took a pic of me on a bike in the Flint Hills swinging my light sabre.  yeah.  That’d be cool.  Focus.  Spin.  Hang on until 100.  Dang it guys just half a gear slower.  Shit.  Okay.  Hang on.  Not gonna make 100.  Keep them in view.  No worries.  Refocus.  Stick to the wattage plan.  Easy.  Consistent push.  It’s okay.  They feel good.  Let them go.  It’s okay.  Its gravel.  Focus.  Thigh Cramp!  Damnit!  Steady.  Don’t panic.  The Bitch is coming.  The Bitch is coming.  (Kerri is making me clarify here that “The Bitch” is the nickname of a local steep hill.  Happy Kerri?)  Steady the cramps.  Gonna need the legs.  On it.  Climb steady.  Should I walk?  Climb.  Climb.  Climb.  Climb.  Yes!  Way to hold together.  I need coffee.  Coffee is awesome.  Espresso.  I freaking LOVE Espresso!!!  Focus.  Let’s get to Eureka.  Crap.  Hot spots on both feet.  WTH??  Why today?  Damn that hurts.  Focus.  Pedal.  Dang it.  Saddle sore already???  Focus.  Re-apply Chamois Butt’r.  Now.  Get to town.  Just get to Eureka.  I hate Leg 3.  I’m failing.  Hold it together.  I’m breaking.  You’re okay.  Still flying.  I’m hurting.  It’s okay.

Eureka Checkpoint

BobbyT 12:31pm 15.96 mph avg
JeffY 12:24pm 16:29 mph avg
PaulE 12:22pm 16:35 mph avg

Chuggy’s awesome. Bike rolling well. Rolling out with JeffY and PaulE. They look fresh and I feel smashed. I can’t keep up for long. They want me to keep up. I hurt. I shoulda ate more. Hell I should have ate something. Anything.  Damnit. They look fast. I’m holding them back. They should beat the Sun.  Time to let them go. It’s my call. I need to do this. Next climb. I’ll slam on the breaks and they’ll fly right by. Top Gun style. Without the missiles though. Missiles would be cool. Love you guys. I’ll get there. Here we go. There they go. Jeff glanced back. He knows. He won’t stop again. Love ya Jeff. I miss Smitty. Hope he’s doing well. There’s Ryan. Naw man. Go get Jeff. I feel like shit. Gotta make that corner. Need that south tailwind. I suck. The Sun is getting away. I’m losing it. Dang it I’m losing it. My feet hurt. My butt hurts. No cramps though. I’m fine. I wonder if Hobbits can ride bikes?  What size of bike would a Hobbit ride?  They got those huge furry feet.  Would they have weird little Hobbit pedals to ride around the Dale?  I need to rewatch those movies.  Focus!!  It’s energy! No energy! Food. I need food. How long has it been? Feeling better. Heading North. Yellow bike. White jersey. Yellow bike. That’s a bright yellow bike. Garrett!! I know him!! Nope. Garrett’s tired. I get it. No worries. Ride well man. Doing well man. Good to see ya. Crank. Crank. Randy. It’s Randy. Cool. Feeling good moving on. Cya Randy. Feeling bad. Moving back. Hello Randy. Feeling good. Moving on. I love you Bobby!! What?!?! LOVE YOU BOBBY!! Awesome. Love me some RandyS. That’s what I needed. Let’s roll. Where the HELL is Madison?? What direction am I riding? I hate this freaking LEG!!! I’m failing. I’m hours behind Jeff and Paul. Is Smitty behind me? How far? There’s Paulina. Stupid Leg 3. Stupid stoopid leg 3. Madison is stupid. I’ve lost the Sun. Not gonna happen. Stupid lost town….oh wait, there’s Madison!!! I LOVE MADISON!!! Crap only 4 hours left until 8:45pm. Only 4 hours until I won’t beat the Sun. Gotta go! Give me water. Fix my bike. I need water now. Gotta go.

BobbyT DK Leg2

Madison Checkpoint

BobbyT 4:52pm 14.90 mph avg
JeffY 4:26pm 15.52 mph avg
PaulE 4:31 mph 15.39 avg

Four hours. I only have 4 hours. I’m done. Everyone likes a losing story right? I could write the story of my failure. Make it all sappy and teary eyed. I suck. only 4 freaking hours to do this last leg. Is it 48 miles? 52 miles? 60 miles? I can’t remember now. No. What did Kerri say back there? I am not in a good mental spot right now? Change my attitude. She’s right. I was a complete ass. I need a mental change. Man. Steve and Emery Weiser were back there. Was I nice? Did Emery see my temper tantrum?? Where was Reagan? I didn’t even high five her. Did I hug her??? Shit. I’m an ass. Worst. Dad.
Ever. I’m stopping and texting them I love them right now. I wish I could go back and hug them. Music. I need music. I got this. Crank. Did they really say Paul was only 13 minutes ahead??? How can that be? We’re both losing the Sun?? I’m not doing my math right. I’m not thinking straight. Ride my bike and it’ll all work out. Ride. Crank. 80-85 cadence. Lock-in at 170-200 watts.  Go. Damn my feet hurt. Pedals unclipped with heals. More Chamois Butt’r. More. My feet are on fire. I would suck as a professional fire walker. Be a cool nickname though. This is my friend, Fire Walker. My butt is on fire. Butt Fire is NOT a cool nickname. Be funny though. Crank. Spin. Move forward. I know these roads. Left. Right. Left. Right. Wait. Did I miss a road. Wait. Shit. I never saw that road with that mud spot from last year. No. No. No! NO!!! If I go back I miss the Sun. If I don’t go back I’ve cheated and I miss my Five timers award. No. Crap. I recognize these riders around me. We didn’t all miss the turn?!?!? Wait. Wait. Calm down. Check mileage. Yeah that looks right. There’s Paulina. Okay wait she was right behind me. It’s okay. It’s okay. Wasted 5 freaking minutes… Damnit dude!!! Get moving. I’m not thinking straight. Pedal just pedal. Focus on catching back up to Paulina. Focus. I love Bird Bridge. Don’t crash. Crashing would suck. What did Steve call it? Hey there DaveM…crap gotta get across those tracks. No train…no train…no train…I’m across!! I see Mulreadys black and pink. Got it. That’s her. There’s Thorndale. I’m home. Holy crap I’m gonna do this. What time is it?? Yes yes yes yes. Ouch ouch ouch. Those tears sting. Stop It. Now I have mud in my eyes.  There’s no crying in cycling.  Face is dirty. Lol this is absurd. Go. Pedal. Caught Paulina. Wait she must be going for a higher spot. She’s still pushing hard. Charge with her or…Naw. I’m good. It’s my fifth time. I’m beating the Sun. My goals are accomplished. I did it. I’m chilling and taking this all in slowly. There’s the tunnel. Goosebumps popping. Cowbells ringing. Highland Hill. ESU. Green Light. No one behind me. Coast! High fives! I love you  Mr Gilligan. Love the name shout out. Two years. Freaking did it. Jim! LeLan!
Adam! Kristi! Timmy! Reagan!!! Bear hug!!! Kerri!!! Love you!! Mom, dad, Jeffy, Paul, Norah, Caroline and Allison, Mel and Tyler, Heather and Darin. Beer from Shawn. Hugs to all!!!

I need to sit. I’m…just…empty.

I love Emporia. I love our community. I crave those random cheers that are for everyone. I long for that Finish Line Chute. I accept the pain the Flint Hills deliver.  I accept the mental beating I give myself. I believe it has made me stronger. I know it has made me stronger. I’m ready to go again. I hate stopping…

Emporia – Finish

BobbyT 7:52:44pm 14.90 mph avg
JeffY 7:20:02pm 15:51 mph avg
PaulE 7:41:05pm 15.11 mph avg

Thank you for the photos Cassie Crotts, Heather Russell, Cherie Crisp and Linda Guerette!

All DKCP2

#teamoreo #midpackattack #ridecasual Photo by Cassie Crotts


Casual Conversations – Neil Shirley – Lyman Agency

I was lucky enough last week to be able to talk with Neil Shirley.  Neil is a retired pro road cyclist who recently worked as the editor for Road Bike Magazine and now works for the Lyman Agency representing several bike brands.  He continues to ride in cycling endurance events throughout the year and has a love for gravel riding.  I love that he was still in the 2017 Dirty Kanza Finish Line tent still giving out high fives and hand shakes to all finishers as late as 3am.  I’m not too far removed from finishing the DK after the midnight hour and I can tell you coming down that chute at 1am, 2am or even 3am…those cheers mean so much to the riders.

Here’s Neil…

CASUAL:  Neil thanks for taking some time with me. I know you won’t believe this but our Facebook “Friendiversary” is next month. June 2016. One year. I have a gift for you! Can’t wait see what you’re getting me!! 😀 Seems like just yesterday I started stalking…I mean following you on Facebook. How time flies…

So. The catalyst of our friendship was/is your participation in The Dirty Kanza here in Emporia, KS. I love our town. I love our gravel roads and I love this event. Something we have in common. I don’t want to turn this into an advertisement for the City of Emporia or Dirty Kanza, haha, but I’m curious when both popped onto your radar and what keeps you coming back? How many DK’s have you been to now?

NEIL:  I heard about Dirty Kanza five years ago when my buddy at Specialized told me about it and some guy named Dan Hughes. How did I not learn about the legend of Dan Hughes back in elementary school? I’m not sure, but he should part of every educational text book from now on. It’s honestly guys like Dan Hughes, Jim Cummins, and a number of others that make DK truly unique from anything else out there. I didn’t know that coming into it for my first time four years ago, I simply wanted to try and win it and didn’t realize it was so much more than just a 200 mile event. After that year I had true respect for what Dirty Kanza is. It’s the people.

ENVE_IM_170603_21470 copy

CASUAL: I think that’s what so many people fail to realize about the “gravel scene”. A race is a race but it’s the almost family like bonds that drive these events. You can’t create that overnight or by attending one race. Locally we have Gravel Worlds, LandRun, The Dirty Kanza…there’s so much family atmosphere there and social media has helped to extend that family. Many of us have virtually been “raised” as cyclists by the gravel scene within the past 5-10 years. It’s what we know best. Having said that…I’ve always wondered about your take on that family scene compared to say the pro-road discipline. Same but different or does the cloud of competition weigh heavier? I hope that doesn’t put you on the spot. Not looking for any juicy details just curious what the atmosphere is like leading up to a long stage race for example and even during the event itself.

NEIL:  I’d say there are few similarities. There is a deep bond between you and your teammates as a pro on the road since you might spend nearly as much time with them over the course of a season as you would with your own family. At the events themselves, there’s a job to do and although that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not friendly with riders from other teams, that is put on hold while you do your job. It’s not about the experience, it’s about performing. That creates a much different perspective and one that I was happy to leave behind. The vibe and atmosphere around gravel is similar to what first drew me to the sport when I started riding mountain bikes at the age of 14. It’s nice to have that perspective again.

CASUAL:  We’re glad to see you out on the gravel with us man. So I’m a gravel guy. I’ve got a narrow view of the cycling world. I’ve had the good fortune of riding in the Dirty Kanza, LandRun100, Gravel Worlds, Dirty Reiver and Rebecca’s Private Idaho. What am I missing out on? What needs to be on the bucket list for a mid pack weekend warrior gravel rider? What needs to be my next gravel road trip? Is it even gravel? Is there a mixed surface event someone like me really needs to get to at least once? Follow this up with what Gravel event is on Neil Shirley’s bucket list if only that dang schedule would line up perfectly?

NEIL:  One event that’s a must-do in the U.S. is Crusher in the Tushar. It’s in Beaver, Utah and by DK standards is quite short at just 69 miles, but don’t let that fool you. You go over 10,000 feet in altitude twice, finishing at 10,500 feet. It’s one of the best run events out there and the promoter, Burke Swindlehurst, keeps it right around 500 riders so it retains the feel of a small event. Only problem is that it fills up the same day that entries go live, so you have to be fast. As far as events I would like to do, the Dirty Reiver sounds exceptional and is definitely one on my bucket list. The cool thing about gravel vs. pavement is that everywhere you go it’s slightly different and you never quite know what you’re in for. On the pavement, the road conditions never change.

CASUAL:  Crusher in the Tushar. I have two friends going this year. Smitty and Jeffy. Definitely on my list for 2018. So many gravel rides popping up and so little time. Does your family ride much Neil? Wife or your girls? Family rides? Or do you hide from cycling a little when at home to take a break? My oldest can tackle a few hills but the loose gravel on downhills makes her nervous. My youngest is 7 and rolls downhill like a runaway train. Screaming and smiling the whole way. I love watching her but I know one of these days a Fall will happen and I’m hoping she’ll get back up and go again.

NEIL:  My wife doesn’t ride, and I think that’s maybe why we’ve had 17 wonderful years together 🙂 She runs and that’s her thing, which is fantastic–we’re able to keep the sporting objectives separate while supporting each other in our goals. My two girls on the other hand, they are 9 and 5 and want to race me all the time. We recently took the training wheels off the youngest ones bike and I think she’ll be a ripper. My older daughter wants to beat everyone on the bike path until she sees a cool leaf or something else on the ground, then we have to stop and inspect it. Those rides are priceless.

FIVE QUICK SHOTS

Love it bud! Okay we’ll see you in a few days in Emporia Kansas for 2017 Dirty Kanza. Let’s wrap this up with 5 quick questions.

1. How many times have you watched the movie Frozen?

NEIL:  Too many times to count, seriously. And then if I add in the hours I’ve spent listening to “Let it go”, well, let’s just say if I had a nickel for every hour I’d be a very rich man.

2. Four star hotels or roadside Bates style motels on cycling trips?

NEIL:  I’m not entirely sure what a 4-star hotel would even be. Probably like a Super 8? Motel 6 is my go-to resort.

3. Favorite after ride craving if the food truck menu was your choice?

NEIL:  Mexican food is really tough to beat. When I lived in San Diego there was a Sun Taco next to my house that would always fix me up after a big training day. A carne asada burrito with a horchata to wash it down is the bees knees.

4. Sprint to the City Limit sign…you, Dan Hughes or Yuri?

NEIL:  Well, I’ve seen the destruction that Dan can do (to himself) in a city limits sprint, so I’d say once safely navigating around that I would use my wheel sucking roadie prowess to execute a perfectly timed bike throw to beat Yuri on the line.

5. Family vaca bucket list. Theme parks or national parks?

NEIL:  I hear Disney is making a National Park theme park. That should be amazing. But as much as I do love cotton candy and corn dogs, I’d say we’re more the National Park types. After Crusher in the Tushar last year we spent two days hiking in Zion, and this August we’re going to Yellowstone for a week. Can’t wait for that trip!

Neil thanks again for taking the time to chat with me.  Always great seeing you in Emporia for the Dirty Kanza.  Can’t wait!

Please read other Casual Conversations

Casual Conversations – John Wilmeth – Cantu Cycling Wheels