Thursday, June 9, 2011
Dirty Kanza 200
This picture makes me laugh so hard....the bald eagle.....getting salty
My men....the eagle, Ari, me
The morning starte with Jill and I packing up the Alero and getting on the road by 4 a.m. on friday morning. The drive was almost straight to the west.
We saw interesting billboards and scenery
I injected EPO before the race to give me that little edge....
I knew Steve was a drug dealer
This was the final bike set up. Went with the Chris King R45 wheels, Specialized Borough tires, revelate bag with 2L bladder inside, 2-22oz polar bottles, and the usual Gunnar set up.
Another view of the set up
Granada theater....welcome to the riders. The whole town gets into this event and its very cool how much hype there is to this small gravel endurance scene. Thanks again to everyone who put on this event and the city of Emporia, KS.
The mass start at 6 a.m. I believe that 290 riders started this event. The nervous energy was in the air...the humidity was already causing us to sweat and we were ready to roll. I looked over and saw Jason from Salsa who was grinning ear to ear and he gave me the quick nod before we rolled out. I lined up with Ari and Mark B (the bald eagle) and we were ready to roll. At this point of training I had 4000 miles for the year and I knew the legs were feeling fast today. The race began and we started together with a roll out through town. As soon as the police car pulled off the pace sky rocketed. I had been making my was up front within the first 75 people. I saw cornbread instantly flat and felt bad as he was here to defend his title....I knew he would pass me again at some point in the day.
I jumped in with a group of about 25 riders and we were straight hauling ass. The pace every time I would check my computer was over 22 mph. We were flying! I wanted to have an average of the day of about 15 mph and I knew that this was going to be tough with the heat, so I thought of getting some good speeds and miles in early to avoid problems with heat and wind later in the day. The first hills started rolling in around mile 25 and the group had split up and everyone was starting to get settled. I felt that this was a comfortable pace for me and felt strong to start.
The first big hills....were BIG hills, steep grades, long climbs...everyone had broken up and were going at their own pace. I knew that there was 160-something miles to go and that it was good to get comfortable at my own pace. Some of the downhills were extremely rocky and more technical than any mountain bike course I had ever been on. I felt comfortable but still sketchy on some of those downhills. I continued to see flat tire after flat tire and after riding the rocky terrain I knew why and why it was so important to ride the thick tires. I cruised with Mike from Iowa who had finished T.I. earlier the year and a guy named Wade from Salida, CO. We had a good pace going and talked for a few miles. I made it to CP #1 and was in good shape and feeling good. The heat was increasing and the sun baking our salty bodies. Jill hooked me up with some more Cytomax and some treats, I gave her a kiss and was on my way. I wondered how Ari and Mark were feeling and how far back they were.
The second leg started at mile 58 and instantly we had a 25 mph tailwind, I was alone with a big gap behind me and a big gap in front of me. I enjoyed the scenery and was taking in the whole ride. I came to a group of riders after battling a strong hill and headwind for 2 miles. They were stopped. We had taken a wrong turn and headed 2 miles back onto the course. Here I met up with my buddy Wade again (above in the green and blue) and we cruised together again. The remainder of the second leg was with a headwind and hit some very large hills. We passed some water crossings that kicked mud all over our bikes and legs but the cool liquid was welcome none the less. I was nearly out of water as I rolled into CP #2 totally exhausted from the headwind and hills. The legs were beginning to feel it....cramp up, get tight. I tried to eat as much as I could but my digestive system had shut down to keep pushing the legs forward. I didn't talk much....I was in a lot of pain (as Ari would say). I chilled at the checkpoint much longer knowing that section 3 was 60 miles long with a tailwind so it was going to be the hottest of the course. I packed an extra bottle in my jersey and was on my way. I met with two guys from Missouri and we headed out on course.
We were riding slower than my average speed of 15 mph and the hills kept coming. I was beginning to cramp and this was the hottest section of the course since we had a tailwind. I was going through water faster than I had in the first two legs of the race. We stopped at a farm house and a young lad helped us fill our bottles with a hose at his house. The ride was painfully hot and we kept pushing. Off in the distance we saw dark clouds and rain falling. This was very strange since there was 0% of rain all day. As we headed into mile 125 the storm caught us and we got drenched. The rain felt so good since there was no shade or escape from the heat on the course. A strong tailwind gave us a push as we headed north. The storm seemed to pass and we made our way on course as Joe Meiser from Salsa passed us. We came to a section of dirt roads on course (clover rd heading to DD) and the storm hit us again, winds kicked up to 40-50 mph and lightening was striking to our left and right, the rain was near blinding at times it was so hard. The road instantly turned to mud and we were forced off of the bikes to walk. There were six of us now walking together.
After what seemed like walking for hours and probably ended up being 4-5 miles, we were all bummed. One of the guys said he was upset because we were so well placed in the race. I said that I guessed we were 50-75 back from the leaders....Joe Meiser chimed in and said he thought we were probably 30 people back from the leader. That was encouraging news. Our legs were trashed and I was cramping just pushing my bike. We finally came to our turn DD and cleaned our bikes off and decided what to do. If we cut the course we were finished because we were not following the direct route. A rancher pulled up and we showed him our map and the course we were supposed to be on. He said that he came from the route and the roads were not rideable. He said the roads were worse than the ones we were just on. We decided to call the race then and there. No one at that point had came from the race to tell us if the race was cancelled or if we could go a different route.
We got a ride to Burdick which was a couple miles away. We chatted about what happened and how weird the storm was and how upset we all were.
The bikes were trashed and more riders showed up and began to be picked up. I met up with Dave who I had been emailing earlier in the week and was a friend of the Gravemakers. Beers were drank, smiles were had, and we went our separate ways. Jill picked me up and I was devestated to not have finished.
The group who walked Clover Rd together
Troy Krause crossing the finish line.
Jill and I headed to checkpoint 3, where I met with some guys I had been riding with earlier in the day. They were all getting ready to head out and were dissappointed that I couldn't join them. I was extremely bummed out. I spoke with Jim and learned that Mark and Ari had been 2 hours back from me at the second checkpoint. I called Mark to see what he was doing and he said he was off of the course and heading to checkpoint 3. He texted me later and I learned they were allowed to continue on the course. I was EXTREMELY broken, how were we not allowed on, why did no one from the race find us and tell us to go on? This is something that I am still dealing with and having a hard time with.
Lastly, The Dirty Kanza was an amazing time and race. A big thanks to my wonderful girlfriend for putting up with me and helping me out with support. Thanks to Ari and Mark for keeping me motivated and riding with me all of the time. A HUGE congrats to Ari and Mark for finishing, bravo men, bravo. Thanks to everyone that helped out including Salsa Cycles. Ari's family and Mark's father in law Jim for doing their support. I guess I haven't had the best luck this year with weather and circumstances on my endurance races...I will keep my head up and keep training hard.
A great quote from Joe Meiser as we were walking Clover road soaking in mud:
"Sometimes its butter.....sometimes its peanut butter"