Dirty Kanza 200 Race Report Well I survived the rocky roads of Kansas this weekend. What a race. The course was unbelievable, the weather was perfect and the "Trans-Iowa Slayer" became the "Dirty Kanza Crusher" : ) Rick and I left for Kansas at 6:00am on Friday morning. At about the South Dakota border I remembered that I forgot my rain jacket at home. Luckily there was big yellow store in Sioux Falls. After a quick pit stop for gas and a jacket we were off again. As we passed through a town on the Kansas border, we were shocked at the temperature on the bank clock. 100 degrees! We arrived at Emporia, KS and checked in at the Travelodge where the race headquarters were at. The race organizers were busy getting everything ready for registration. So, we went to our room and started to get our bikes and gear ready for the big day ahead of us. We registered and I seen a few familiar faces. Patrick Humenny, Guitar Ted, Dave Pals, Matt Maxwell and Paul Jaconson had all made the long voyage to Kansas as well. It was getting late by this time and I needed to get some sleep. I set three different alarms for 4:30am, and dosed off to thoughts of gravely goodness. The alarms rang, buzzed and beeped and we hopped out of bed to get ready. It was warm enough that I could wear shorts, a base layer t-shirt, a Ski and Bike Shop issued jersey, thin wool socks and full finger gloves. 34 brave racers gathered for the pre-race meeting at 5:45am. Then it was a cowbell start at 6:00am. The group pretty much stayed together for the short ride out of town. As soon as we hit the gravel things started to pick up. I had told myself that I didn't want to try and stay with the lead group. I didn't want to blow up like at Trans-Iowa. But, I found myself right in there flying down the gravel at around 20 mph. Amazingly I felt good, and continued to as guys were getting flats or dropping off the back of the pack. Pretty soon it was down to about 10 guys. Then two of them flew off the front never to be seen again till the end. Paddy H, Joe Partridge, and I were riding along. I got brave and put in a hard effort to pull away from them. They were on single speeds, so they were spinning out on the flats and down hills. They kept close with all the hills though. I am not a climber! I hit the first pass through town at 40 miles in, and stopped to refill my camelback, water bottles and relieve myself. I came out of the store and a few guys had gone by, deciding not to stop and refuel. The course up to this point was nice gravel with a lot of hills. They don't call it the Flint Hills region for nothing. I pressed on to the halfway point in Cottonwood Falls. The course got a little tougher at this point. There was a shallow stream crossing, more hills and a river valley that had the worst road up to this point. It was probably a good mile of rocky road. And I mean rocky. Popcan sized rocks from one side to the other. I thought I would get a flat for sure. I didn't and was glad when that section was over. Along the way a couple of nice locals had set out water at the ends of their driveways for us. That was very much appreciated. Almost to Cottonwood Falls I see this monster of a hill. I put it in the easiest gear I had and started to pedal away at it. As I crested it there was another one just as big waiting. Son of a B***H! That hurt. It was getting pretty warm at that point so it felt good to get to Cottonwood Falls and rest a little. I checked in at the halfway point at about 11:30am. 16mph average for the first half. I wasn't expecting that. Again I filled up my water reserves and grabbed a couple of turkey and cheese sandwiches. I went and sat down at the chekpoint and chatted with a couple guys. One was single speed legend DJ Birtch. He had just done the Kokopelli trail race last weekend, and here he was doing the Dirty Kanza this weekend. WOW! Anyway, Matt Maxwell and I headed out of the checkpoint for the next section of the course. It was rumored to be the toughest stretch, and it didn't disappoint. 50+ miles till the next pass through town of Eureka, KS. Matt and I stuck together for a while then we yo-yoed back and forth a few times. We were riding through open cattle range on the rockiest roads I have ever seen. Even worse than the one before Cottonwood Falls. It was weird riding along with cows right along the road with nothing in between you and them. A few darted in front of us. I've never seen a cow run before, but they sure can make the ground rumble. On a long up hill section a we saw a rider coming up behind us. I did a double take as I seen it was Patrick Humenny. I guess he thought the course was too easy, so he went and got lost for 45 minutes : ) Simply amazing! He gets lost for that amount of time, and comes flying up to us like its nothing. Crazy Canadians : ) After that we hit the mother of all downhills. It was a rock road littered with even bigger rocks and there was a good sized ditch down the left side. Paddy went flying down it on his Giant XTC. Not to be out done, I went full speed ahead after him on my 32mm cyclocross tires. That was the scariest ride of my life. It was steep and fast. I couldn't hit the brakes at all or I would have wiped out for sure. I made it unscathed, and had a good adrenaline rush for the rest of the ride to Eureka. I rolled into Eureka and Joel, one of the race directors, said that I was in third place. Shortly after me, Paddy and Matt both came flying in. Same routine. Fill the bottles and get some food. My feet were really bothering me at this point. I had to take off my shoes and rub em down a bit. Paddy and Matt took off ahead of me. I put my shoes back on and gave chase. There was about 60 miles to go to the finish in Emporia. About 30 miles to the next pass through town of Madison, KS. I caught Matt, but never saw Paddy. This part of the course was somewhat hilly, but not as bad as the open range section. I took it pretty easy until Madison. I stopped and topped off the water and had a slice of pizza. While I was sitting on the curb a rancher pulls up in a farm truck, gives me a funny look, and then says in his Kansas accent, "You need a shower!" I agreed, then he asked, "What the hell I was doing?" I told him that there was a 200 mile race going on, and I had about 25 miles to go and pointed at my map on the bike. He looks it over and yells at another guy sitting in his pickup truck, "Bob, you gotta see this f**kin' map!" I laughed out loud almost choking on my pizza. He wished me luck, and I was off. The last 25 or so miles I felt awesome. I had a slight tailwind and was cruising along at around 18-20mph. Contrary to the G-Ted's audioblog I didn't pass anyone on this section. But one of the guys that was watching the final stretch back to town saw that I was flying and said, post race, that I must have passed 5 or 6 guys. Not true, but it sounds impressive. So, just go ahead and pretend that it happened anyway : ) The sun set a few miles outside of town, and I switched on my lights for the last few miles. There was a few fireflys that lit my way as well. That was surreal after 200 miles of gravel and rocky roads. I came into the finish area to applause and cowbells. What a great feeling. I finally finished one of these long gravel endurance races. A 4th place finish none the less. Official time was 15 hours and 26 minutes. 12.96mph average. I got a nice cowbell for finishing, along with some other goodies from the sponsors. I went and showered all of the salt and dirt off of me. Then came out to watch all the other finishers come in. Out of 15 finishers, there was still one out on the course, and it was starting to rain. Then it started to downpour and lightning. The winds picked up and everyone ran inside the hotel. David Pals was still out there riding in the storm just miles from the finish. I can't imagine the ride he was having in that storm. Then just a few blocks from the finish. Some idiot in a car ran into him! I guess he slid on the wet pavement and got back up okay. Crazy ending to a great race. Maybe he'll start a blog and give us all the whole story. This was one of the best races I've ever been to. It was well worth the 12 hour drive. The race promoters were great. They had the course marked well, great maps to follow and really just made it a fun atmosphere to race in. Thanks guys! I look forward to coming back next year. Hopefully I can talk a few more North Dakotans into coming down. Brian, Sears, Greg? Anyone up for it? As for Mr. Mangan. He had a great race as well. He made it all the way to the midway checkpoint. 88 miles on the course. He decided to call it quits there, but then proceeded to ride/walk back to Emporia. For a grand total of 113 miles. Very impressive! For his next trick he's going to try and finish the 300+ mile EnduroSnob Epic. Anyone else going to join us for this one? That's all for the long race report. Here are a few pictures to mull over. Later : ) Lots of gear. Not all of it was used though. I really liked the modern bedspreads : )
Rick's steed and fanny pack. I can't say enough about those comforters.
The Dirty Kanza Crusher! Those skinny 32mm tires never got a flat. Unbelievably none of the cyclocross bikes had a flat! Hmmm?
The starting line-up. From left to right. Paul Jacobson in the blue jersey, Eventual winner Dan Hughes in the distance, Matt Maxwell in the green camelbak, the madman singlespeeder Patrick Humenny in the blue/orange jersey, Dave "I like to dent cars" Pals #605, Rick Mangan for team Ski and Bike Shop, and last but not least "the audio blogger" himself Guitar Ted in the white and red jersey behind Rick.
A nice shot of the grassy Kansas plains.
Mugshot of yours truly all covered in dirt and salt. Apparently I'm now balding as well : )
They don't call it the Dirty Kanza for nothing.
200 miles of Dirt Lovin' Good Times!
Top speed 37.8mph Weeee! The maps were perfect.
Make sure to check out the Dirty Kanza site for other reports and pictures. Also, G-Ted had some great audio blogs on his site. Check them out if you get a chance. He should start a satellite radio show like Lance Armstrong, but for off-road racing : )