Stories From The Saddle

Dirty Kanza 100

DirtyKanza15_1358-(ZF-0203-02363-1-002)

Kansas is not flat.

DK100 RACE REPORT:

Mud.

I was on the fence the day before the Dirty Kanza 100 as to whether I’d even start. We were in town for the sponsor expo on Friday and it poured most of the day.

Race organizers were debating switching the course, or even calling the race. Reports coming in from recon jeeps out on course were very bad. Lots of high water and long stretches of potentially impassable roads. None of this did very much for the confidence,

Wet expo the day before the race.

Wet expo the day before the race.

particularly for a bike mechanic as inept as myself. The predicted conditions would be very hard on drivetrains and mechanicals would be inevitable. Potential for long hours stuck on the side of the road were high – this was of very high concern for me. Last year I suffered 11 flats and the 200 took me over 17 hrs, so I was a little sensitive about the mechanical side of things. I love riding. I don’t love walking or being stranded.

When we woke up at 4am on race day, it was raining. Ugh. At this point I made the decision that I just needed to commit to one step at a time. I did not look any further beyond the decision right in front of me. Get up. Get dressed. Go to breakfast. Kit up. Etc. I figured I’d get to the line and make a final call.

Deciding what to pack. In the end I took it all.

Deciding what to pack. In the end I took it all.

As a result of the impending doom on course I packed a very full camelbak. Full chain, chain tool, 4 tubes, 4 co2’s, hand pump, multitool, deralieur cables, 2 bottles of chain lube and a ton of food (I didn’t have support at the sag stop). I was NOT going to get stranded out there. As a result I started with probably an extra 20-25 pounds on my back. I didn’t care about racing (at the time), I just wanted to be prepared for anything.

The first 32 miles were hell. The first 12 miles were at road race pace through dirt, large puddles and a light rain. At mile 12 or 13 we hit the mud. I think it was 3 or 4 miles of walking and carrying the bike. From mile 16 or 17 to mile 32 it was a greasy mess. I was running 38c

The beginning of the mud.

The beginning of the mud.

vittoria voyagers which are perfect for dry conditions, but a  disaster for wet. I couldn’t keep my front wheel underneath me and every time a foot hit the ground I had to stop, get off the bike and undo all the muck from my cleat to be able to clip back in to the pedals. People on mountain bikes were flying by me. It was disheartening to say the least.

Finally at mile 32 (3hrs in!! The first 56 miles took over 5 hours!!) we got to dryer roads with fewer water crossings and mud puddles. All of a sudden I was riding again. Sometime between mile 32 and the sag stop at mile 56 I started thinking about a “result” again. I knew I was out of contention for a top 10 from all the messing around in the mud, but I didn’t have anything better to do with the rest of the day than to try and pass as many folks as possible and that’s when it got fun. By mile 90 I was passing people I remembered from the front group that morning. This did wonders for my bruised and muddy ego.

In the end, like with most things, I was glad I did it. Participating in the 10th Anniversary of the event was definitely special, but it was imagining my friend Joel giving me hell for wimping out that forced me to get it done. He would not have stood for such wimpiness.

 

A couple miles into the mud slog.

A couple miles into the mud slog.

Water crossing.

Water crossing.

Train crossing.

Train crossing.

North wind crossing.

North wind crossing.

 

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