I haven’t put my thoughts on “paper” in awhile. Helps clear the head. Helps to reflect.
I have changed a lot since I started riding bikes 8 years ago. I have changed how I ride my bike, why I ride my bike and where I ride my bike. I am from Emporia Kansas. Yep. That Emporia Kansas. Land of the famed Flint Hills gravel and the behemoth of gravel events, The Dirty Kanza. You can’t live in Emporia and not at least heard ever so slightly of the bike event. Range of interest in the event locally peaks at zealotry and bottoms at “that bike race thing”…but everyone from the area has at least heard of it. It goes without saying then that for me to think about what I want out of cycling in 2019…I have to first come to terms with what I want out of my 2019 Dirty Kanza experience.
2010. I picked up the bike 8 years ago after having lost it for about 25. I got off my chair in front of the basement PC. I turned off whatever game I was playing at the time (World of Warcraft) and decided to create my own real life adventures. I bought my first 30 lb Trek Mtn Bike, hoisted my 190 lb 5’9” body onto the saddle. Turned the cranks for 6 miles, parked the bike in the garage and thought “Well…wasted that money.”
2012. A year and a half later I rolled through the Finish Line of the Dirty Kanza 200 on top of the world. Honestly. Freaking amazing. I couldn’t stop grinning. I had my Star Wars cycling jersey and my Adventure Monkey bibs on. Very not matchie matchie. My admiration for all things Matchie came a few years later. I don’t think I sat for a week from saddle and muscle pain. My calf and thigh muscles were so bruised from constant cramping even getting out of bed was painful for a week. I finished though.
2013. I assumed finishing the Dirty Kanza was a given. I had already done it. I’d just do THAT again. I failed. You see, the weather was pretty dang good in 2012. The wind was pretty dang strong in 2013. I was not. I was not physically strong enough to Finish in the time I thought I should. I was not mentally strong enough to accept this fact. I quit. Halfway. I smiled for my finishing friends but I beat myself up internally. I had to face my co-workers the next day. I had to face my friends and family knowing inside that I quit. I hated knowing that feeling.
2014. I trained inside during the winter. Kind of. I randomly hopped from spin bike to spin bike and pedaled until my knees hurt. Cause you know…no pain no gain!!! Dumb. I developed chronic ITB issues in both legs. What the heck was an ITB?? I became an expert. I could pedal 5 miles, go home and have to painfully crawl up my stairs. Seriously. Actually crawl. I do okay with pain but this was constant and consistent and mind numbing. I remember one ride was 8 miles. Flat. Pavement. I threw my bike at my garage. Early April and I couldn’t ride 8 EFFING miles. I didn’t ride agin until early May. I rode easy. I was going to Finish. The plan? Four Ibuprofen every 4 hours. Alternating Four Tylenol every 4 hours in between. Strict. Keep on the pills. Spin. Don’t push. Keep the knees in tight. We had good weather. I had a bag of pills. I could spin my legs on the bike. I couldn’t walk off the bike. The pain brought near tears at Checkpoints. Took my breathe away. I finished. My legs got me there…then they quit. I literally could not bend either knee. No after party for me. My wife virtually carried me to the car. I didn’t ride again consistently that year. Just a little here and there until October when I shut it down until 2015. btw…issue was solved with a very slow and precise self bike fit on my own trainer…cleats adjustment and rest. Who knew?
2015. I hired a trainer. I was scared of ITB issues resurfacing from poor habits. Cam Chambers. He won’t claim me. I was a horrible client, haha. He was actually more of a guide for a few month’s. Taught me how to get stronger with consistency. Taught me what spinning can do for you over constantly mashing. Taught me that complaining and excuses doesn’t change what you need to do to move forward. DK came. The mud came. I moved forward with each step and turn of the crank. In truth, I was stubborn and stronger but…I got lucky. I didn’t know what a derailleur hanger even was. Honestly. No idea. A snap would have ended my day. I rode by feel. My instinct was to shift to easy gears before water and mud and to walk if I had to over mash. I kept repeating “baby steps” from Nemo. DK gave out these little 10 Year Anniversary red Headset Cap’s. I wanted that damn cap. I finished. I got the cap.
Peace. Love. Bikes.