The fifth go round at the Dirty Kanza 200 would prove to be one of those races where listening to my body over the last 12 weeks would pay off. If you don’t know me I’m one to burn the candle at both ends and never take the time to recover. It’s hard for type A peeps like me to lay low. Just ask number one fan how my attitude is on a “rest day.” Enough of that crap let’s get to the race….
Number one fan had got a call from her sis and asked if the kiddies wanted to come out and stay at her place for the weekend. They were kinda bummed about missing the support crew boat this year, but it was a super relaxing drive to Emporia! Wife and I got to enjoy some nice adult conversation our the 4 hr drive to the venue, instead of the same ol “she hit me”, “he smells bad” yada yada on the road.
We arrived to Emporia around 4 and trotted on down the rider sign in. While at sign in the ran into some of the Lincoln and Omaha brothers and sisters. Asked if we had supper plans. Nope. We all headed to the local Mexican joint and put the feed bag on!!
Race morning I awake to the weather channel saying it’s only 50 degrees!? Hmmmmm…… Arm warmers?, Knee Warmers?, and a section of the USA Today from the front desk recycling box. Yep. In past years if ya showed up to the start in your summer kit you were already over dressed. After 16 oz of Skratch cup o java a half a bagel with some peanut butter and a nanner, we rolled out the door for the start.
At the start in front of the Granada theater it was like old home week. I hadn’t seen some of the fellow gravel grinders for the better part of a year. It was good to catch up while waiting. I never once felt nervous or anxious at the start. Calm cool and ready. I had been self talking myself up the last couple of weeks on my commute to work in the morning. “It’s your race no one elses’ ” Steady, “Only so many matches”, Lead and never Follow.” Crazy dumb shit like that.
400 of us all took off into the Flint Hills of Kansas at 6am. I did what I came to do sit in, no unmeasured efforts,and don’t jump on a wheel that s blowing by at 20mph. As we rolled along around mile 30 something a big bunch of riders were coming toward us. They had missed a turn and left the course! Bummer! I knew from past races here that when people get lost or have bike trouble they pin it to make up for lost time. So as that group would start to come around us the pace would pick up. Or riders would jump on wheels. Me not a chance. 170 miles to go.
I would make it to CP 1 in good time. 3 fresh bottles of Skratch some food and out on the road for a 40 mile leg. I was in the cp for less than 5 mins. BOOM! As I was eating on the bike I saw a rider not more than a few hundred yards up the road. It was TK!! Sweetness a good bud and we could enjoy this next 40 miles together. Nearing the 100 mile mark the “hot foot” would start. If ya have had it ya know what it is. If ya haven’t well it sucks. Set your foot on fire and that’s what it feels like. Chatting with TK would help keep my mind off it and eating and drinking helped to. Not far from CP2 MG would join our little pack. It was super rad!!
CP2 would be over 100 miles into the 202 mile journey and we rocked it out in less than 7 hours. Four more fresh bottles restock the food, a can of coke, 4 pickles and out. about 10mins or less. MG and TK would leave the CP together. However our ride along side each other would end not for out-of-town. It bummed me out to ride away from them, but I was feeling it. And when it feels good keep it rolling. We had talked earlier in the day that we would not be hurt if we could not keep it together.
I rode the whole 60ish mile leg to CP3 alone. Just me. I had some bad and some good. I had to sit up and enjoy the beauty that I was blessed to ride in that day. I also got closure on the passing on my good friend Jim who the world lost to a brain tumor in late may. Last year I raced in his honor. He was battling thru all the shit and I mean UN HOLY SHIT one must go thru in treatment of this horrible disease. After the rain last year I had my phone out and was going to pull the plug. No way I can finish this bitch now it ain’t in the cards. And then as the rain stopped and the sun came out I slogged thru 10 miles of mud and cow shit to make it into the cp before the cut off. Why? Because Jim couldn’t quit. He was fighting a goddamn brain tumor and I was worried about suffering thru mud. Shit.
As I neared cp 3 about 8 miles out I took a good long pull off the water bottle and emptied it. I reached into my jersey pocket to grab a full one and that to was empty. checked them all and no dice. Your out bud. I backed off the pace and engaged survival mode. You might be thinking “Gammel it’s only eight miles?” And your right. However 8 miles out I could flat, break a chain, crash, ect. All things that stop you from moving. therefore your core temp rises dramatically. I’m sure the temp had climbed into the lower 90s by now. I made it into CP3 at 5:00pm. Poured 50 ozs of hydration into myself. Damage control. I wasn’t feeling bad at all. I was mentally preparing myself for the shit to hit the fan. After two guzzled cokes and 4 fresh bottles and restock on food I was off. The sun still in the sky and I only had 37 miles to go. Only 37 miles. A mid-week training ride. Hold the phone here… I left with out my light. What if it all goes bad? Flats, crash, break down? Crap. Hell I wasn’t worried one bit this was my race. I was going to do it! A daylight finish!! Just like the big guns. I rolled into the finish to the largest crowd of people I had ever finished a race to. It was magical. Riding in getting high fives from complete strangers, throwing beers on me and LOUD cheering. It was something pretty special.
Lets wrap this up already…. I’m sure I will forget some thank you’s, I must thank my wife first and foremost babe none of this crazy nonsense I do would ever work with out your support!!, second my team Cycleworks/Moose’s Tooth for my Giant TCX and the chance to race and be apart of the best shop in the 402. And Thanks to Jim Cummings for the DK200. With out the vision of Jim we could not be able to chase our dreams. Finally to any one and I mean anyone I have ridden or met within the cycling community. You all are a special part of my life and I could not imagine it without any of you.