Dirty Kanza 200

Cody and I left for Kansas on Friday at around noon. The always gracious Jim Cochran had let us borrow his Dodge Caravan and let me tell ya that is a comfy driving vehicle! We stopped in Des Moines to see Kim West and enjoyed a coffee with him at Zanzibars before continuing on with his blessing. A mostly uneventful drive but for the cost of gas. Cody and I do not buy gas as we have no place to put it so when we filled up the first time and it was $50.00(!) we almost shit the proverbial eggroll.

We arrived at the Emporia Travelodge at around 7:30 and checked in before picking up race packet stuff in the lobby. The race would start in the parking lot of the hotel. Smooth. The incredible organizers of this event had everything ready for us and even recommended the best mexican restaurant in town so off we went. Tasty grub and a beer to calm the nerves.

Back at the hotel I readied my things and Cody kindly helped me do a quick roll-out of my new tires to check my cyclo-puters calibration. I had not used that thing since Trans Iowa so I had to read the manual about how to use it, too. We slept in a king sized bed. So silly…

Up at 5 the next morning to be ready for the 6 am start. Lots of sunscreen! Cody went across the street to the Burger King (horrors!) to get me a couple of breakfast sandies and tater tots. I could only eat half but it felt good to have some solid food in me at the start. We had a pre race meeting in the parking lot and I saw a couple of people I have just met recently and we said hello and such. Lots of cross bikes, I thought, at least a couple of which had yet to be ridden! Confident mechanics to be sure. Cody and I had a smooch and off we went, about 6 am.

The ride out of town and onto the initial gravel sections was nerve wracking as there were so many bodies to contend with. I like to be able to see whats coming on gravel and also be able to move around but at first that was not an option. We hit some “gnarly” sections and things spread out a bit. I saw a crash all of 20 miles in – bad idea. The group was down to 10 or so after this and we rolled steady for a while. I was content to pull as I was confident I could maintain a 15 mph average. As long as I was not hammering I enjoyed being up front where I could keep an eye on those rogue large rocks that give pinch flats to the unobservant.

I met a few of the racers like Dan Hughes the defending champion who owns Sunflower Bike Shop in Lawrance, KS and Joel who is a co-promoter of this event and was out there with us on the first transiowa and was an all around witty guy. We had some good climbs and great views. The couple of single speeds still with us were pushing the climbs hard to keep their gears rolling but we lost them before the first checkpoint in Madison, KS at mile 50.

I needed to refill my bottles at the Caseys and I grabbed a hashbrown square and was ready to go right quick. Our group left together. I was super confused by the map at the start of this next section so I was glad to be in a group. We rode an awesome B-road with a deep water crossing. Between mile 58 or so and mile 76 was some of the best gravel riding I have ever done and this was also where our group whittled down to just 3 of us -me and Dan the defending champ and Matt from Emporia. There were some amazing climbs and descents, always with a stream to ride through at the bottom, and for a long while we were into the wind and climbing a long climb like we never ride in Iowa.

We turned north and with the wind at our backs we started rolling fast. 20 miles or so and we went really fast for some of it. At some point I noticed that my bike was shifting poorly and I figured on adjusting it at the mid race checkpoint but a few miles outside of Cottonwood Falls my derailleur dropped to the 12 and would not come out. I was stunned. I informed Dan and Matt of what had happened and Matt said that he had a spare cable and tools at his vehicle at the checkpoint. Lucky me!

We rolled in and got our next map sets and I went about replacing a cable. The one I pulled out of his truck was a bit short but it got the job done. Nothing like some mid ride stress! I rolled across the street to the Caseys for food and drink and to wash my greasy hands. Eating was tough but I managed to get in a couple of pieces of pizza. I thought that Dan and Matt had left me and was getting ready to roll when I saw Dan just rolling out from behind the building. We rolled together, Matt was indeed up the road now.

This was a rough stretch, 11 miles into the wind. Dan and I traded pulls and I was feeling pretty low. After a time we caught Matt and all shared the work. We rode some more crazy roads with big rocks and water crossings and more big rocks and more water crossings.

I was finding myself pushing to stay with my companions so after a time I told them I needed to ride my own pace for awhile and I let them roll on. A tough decision! There was another 20 mile tailwind section at least so I kept a steady and comfortable tempo and cranked out some miles.

It was not a hot day but it sure was warm and I found myself running low on fluids. I was also really sick of GU and unable to concieve of choking down a Clif bar so I resorted to my old friend the cheesey cracker valu pack! At around mile 140 or so the route turned but was still tail-windy and as an added bonus was paved. There were some large hills and at one point I found myself climbing one at all of 7 mph. Crud. I was really wanting some water as my Powerade was making me feel yucky and I started looking for “civilians” out in their yards that I could hit up for a bottle refill. I did not see any and did not want to take the time to knock on a door, explain what I was up to, decline the generous offer of ice and a place to sit and roll on an hour later with a meatloaf sandwich wrapped in tinfoil in my jersey pocket so I just kept on riding. Arriving in Elmdale I was suprised to see a store called Bummies and it appeared to be open! I went in and the nice woman sold me a bottle of water! LIFE WAS GOOD!

Five miles later and I was back in Cottonwood Falls at the same Caseys I had hung out at earlier. Matt was there, he could not eat, and Dan had already rolled on for the final leg. I was very happy with my postion in the race and wanted to be sure I had the energy to finish so I went in and bought some goodies. I filled my bottles and ate my pizza and had an iced coffee and felt recharged. One of Matts teammates rolled in a time later and he was not feeling too hot, either. We talked about the race and the cost of gasoline and I could have just stayed there all afternoon but I decided I should roll. Tim was ready to go and Matt asked for another minute but then he puked. I wished him luck, Tim said he would hang out for a bit, and I rolled.

We had earned ourselves some tailwind early in the race and I was looking forward to 30 miles or so of the helping hand before the final 9 miles right into the wind. I felt amazingly good and found myself rolling fast. There was one monster climb after going around a lake that was gravel and right into the wind and I was happy that I could keep that same 7 mph that I had previously only enjoyed on pavement with a tailwind! I knew I was riding fast but I also knew I had left the last check long after Dan had so my main focus was in holding off any chasers.

Passed through Americus and was almost done. I saw a truck coming with someone leaning out the window and it was Joel who yelled at me that I was looking good and I must say that I was feeling good, too! I turned into the wind for the final 9 mile stretch back to the hotel and I called Cody to let her know I was almost in. Three miles or so from the end I took a corner and I could actually see Dan ahead of me! He was far enough ahead and I was tired enough that I was not sure that I could catch him but I was happy to be so close anyway. I lost sight of him on a little riser and when I came over it he was gone, but he wasn’t. There was a stump or something near the side of the road (I was delusional at this point) and as I rode nearer I could see that it was Dan, he had suffered a flat tire! I rode up to him and could not stop, I just offered my condolences and rode it in.

There were happy Emporia people out for their evening walks and they smiled and waved and I got really hungry but I was back on pavement and then I could see the hotel and Cody! I rolled in and they had a big clock and tent and folks sitting around all over and it was great. Cody came running over for hugs and smooches and I was just happy-happy all over. It has been a couple of years since I won a race so it felt pretty good.

What a ride! Dan came in shortly after and we had a “Thats Bike Racing” moment and he cracked a beer while I went in for a shower that someone with a room was nice enough to let me use.

This is, hands down, one of the best events I have ever done. The organization was exemplary, the promoters are passionate and uber-capable and the course was incredible! Much thanks to them for all of their hard work and I wish them luck with this in the future. If you are thinking about riding this – do it!

My computer showed 202.18 at the end with an average “in-motion” speed of 15.5mph and a max of 33.5. Total time out there was 14 hours or so with about 1 hour of break time. Here is the bike I rode, I love it!

Here is Cody after driving us home last night (we got in at 4:30 in the am) and then working her first day back at houseworks today. Looks like Wayne had a rough day, too!

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9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Brian said,

    nice riding steve, i think you more than deserve a few beers this week. i’m up for riding down to burlington (perhaps some scouting for the burlington-decorah-burlington route?), but i’ll have to check with robin and other life things before i give you a definite yes.

  2. 2

    JayG said,

    Congrats on the race man! Sounds like it was a fun time. What kind of cycle is that you were riding btw?

  3. 3

    bikeiowa said,

    That thar is a steel LeMond Poprad with my own custom blend of components. I likes the feel of steel don’t ya know.

  4. 4

    ira ryan said,

    i love bikes!! when i got the call that you had one i was 140 miles into a ride on the coast and i just lost it. i started crying thinking about how good it felt to win the first tranny. way to go king kanza!! i am so proud.

  5. 5

    […] my Kanza bike.  I used a 39 tooth last year and while one tooth less is not much I have un-fond memories of climbing a paved hill 140 miles in with a tailwind at all of 7mph last year so any extra ease I […]

  6. 6

    […] may I never take that for granted, and before dark. Beyond that I was hoping for top 5 and yes, a repeat would have been grand. Long ago I knew the repeat was out. At the halfway point I still thought I […]

  7. 7

    […] we had great weather.  I had a good long conversation with JCCOG planner Kris Ackerson about the Dirty Kanza 200.  He was going to do it this year but has had some knee trouble so his brother is going to take […]

  8. 8

    […] have come by to read about the Dirty Kanza 200, which is tomorrow.  I am not there.  After my first ride there I said I would never do it again.  I said that after I puked, I think?  Then last year […]

  9. 9

    […] of this year’s exciting story, I suggest you first brush up on your history with a read of my first, second, and third DK ride reports.  Refreshed?  Let’s […]


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