b2ap3_thumbnail_P5300671.JPGI vowed not to look at the mileage on my gps until I reached the next corner of what seemed to be an endless gravel road meandering somewhere through the state of Kansas. My vision was blurred; I had no moisture remaining in my mouth despite 3 nearly full water bottles on board my bike. I marveled at the surreal sight of my calf muscles dancing to their own music under my skin. Straining to keep moving forward I stole a glance against my own rule to see the mileage had not changed; I was forever stuck on the 199th mile of the 202 mile long Dirty Kanza gravel road race. There was no way to move forward any longer. My stomach repeatedly revolted at simple thoughts of food or water. It had been some 50 miles since any real nutrition or fluids had made it into my body, systems had begun the painful process of shutting down hours ago, I had past desperate some time back and I now lived in complete survival mode. "Just make it to the finish line so you can get to the ambulance", was the last coherent thought I recall. 

great post to read My 5th running of the Dirty Kanza 200 came on the heels of a short documentary made by Salsa Cycles called "Racing The Sun" about my experience with this event located in Emporia, Kansas. The film connected with many people as they set their own personal goals within the most popular gravel road race on the planet, for this I was flattered. I too had set some goals for this year's race. First and foremost, I wanted to finish before sunset in order to obtain the award inspired by my previous experiences on these dusty, rugged roads. Second, I was bent on completing the distance in less than 14 hours. Weather conditions have been so extreme in previous years that finishing within the 14 hour mark had always eluded me, but this year the forecast spelled out the perfect scenario for a fast day. Once we were settled into our host home my wife Amy and I headed down town to see how things were shaping up as well as to attend the pre-race meeting. I spotted some old friends from Emporia as well as my friends from Salsa Cycles. It was great seeing everyone again, but the 6 a.m. start would come early, so we headed back to our temporary home for some last minute preparations and a good night of sleep. 

24 heures annonces rencontre The start line was filled with an energy so strong that if bottled it would have powered all of Emporia. I squeezed in among some familiar faces, one of which was Joe Meiser. Joe and I have logged more miles together than most guys and we've suffered together more than two guys ever should. I've seen him take the pain and he's watched me get up after being knocked down time and time again, I was in good company to be sure. 

my company The countdown ended and race director Jim Cummins set us free. I wriggled out of Emporia's grasp as Commercial Street passed under my wheels. The increasing light made me aware of the rising sun as I refused to think of what the Kansas heat had done to me in the past. Like an image that should not be looked at I allowed myself to make eye contact with the only competitor I had on the course. I held my stare as my eyes strained against its burning light. It wouldn't be the last time I checked its position in the hours to come. b2ap3_thumbnail_P5300678.JPG

moved here Joe scurried toward the front in search of safety as almost 800 riders tried to do the same. I promised to ride my own race so I watched him until I was overtaken in a cloud of dust. It was as if I were riding behind a semi truck on the driest of dirt roads. Choking on the dirt, I forced myself to breath through my nose, but the effort of the pace made that difficult. Soon after accepting my world of dust I encountered the first incline of the race. While spinning up that climb I felt the awful feeling of a bouncing rear tire. Was I already getting a flat? I was certain that I was as I craned my neck to get a look at the tire I heard "Tim, what's wrong, you o.k.?" it was Mike Johnson, another gravel junkie of which I’ve shared hundreds of miles. "I think I'm getting a flat." I said. "You can't get flats with these tires", he joked as he was running the same tire set up as I. "You're FINE, it looks FINE!", he said in a tone that seemed to scold me for even worrying about it. He was right, everything was fine and it was just the message I needed at the time. I told myself to "calm down and settle in". That's exactly what I did. 

site de rencontres kundalini The pace was high, but manageable. I wished I was further toward the front of the race, but attempting to move up at this point would be too risky as the crowd of riders around me was thick. I chose to hold my pace and keep my head on a swivel as riders made moves around me that kept me on my toes. I longed for things to string out and for people to settle into their own pace, I knew it would come soon. "Just get through the first hour and a half without incident", I told myself. The first 35 miles went by in a flash and soon the space I longed for was around me. Although other riders were always within talking or yelling distance things were eerily quiet. The big business of riding 200 miles of rugged, dusty gravel was at hand and things were being taken very seriously. I was fine with sticking to the task at hand and found myself concentrating hard on the road in front of me. In fact, my eyes were glued to the road, searching for any rock or obstacle that might give me trouble. I was too focused, wasting valuable energy by riding tense, I needed to relax! 

namoro santo página The D.K. was doing what it does, eating tires for breakfast. I passed rider after rider as they worked to change their maimed tubes as quickly as they could. Sometimes there'd be 4 riders working on tires within a two block distance. Typically, these rashes of flats would occur at low spots in the road where wash outs existed. It seemed to be that these areas would be approached at high speeds without the rider "lightening" the bike before entering the rough spot and as the bike "G'd out", pinch flats were the result. I made a mental note and tried my best to turn my 165 lbs. into 130 lbs. every time I saw these sections approaching, it seemed to be working. It wasn't much longer after I had adopted this strategy that I saw my good friend, Joe on the side of a Minimum Maintenance Road working on his tire. I quickly pulled over, "Joe, everything o.k.? I'll wait for you!" I yelled. He replied, "I just need to add a little more air, let's ride together for a while." Joe and I ride well together, we stay positive and have a knack for picking each other up when things get bleak. I rode slowly ahead, looking back for the colors of his kit as often as I could. I started to become anxious over wasting precious minutes when suddenly, I picked out his riding style from a group of about a dozen. He was moving through them quickly and soon he'd be on my wheel. I slipped into his draft as he rolled past and within minutes things were as they have always been, me trying to keep up. Joe has a lot of horse power and when he's determined he's capable of putting the hurt on some of the best gravel riders in the state of Minnesota, so one can imagine my concern as he started throwing gas on his own fire. I told myself to hold on. I’d held his wheel many times before, but this time things seemed different. He was riding well, often surging with power then backing off some. I became concerned with these surges as they were hurting me, so I came forward and stated that I was very close to my limit and didn't want to ride much harder than I was. Joe surprised me by admitting that he didn't mind slowing a bit as he felt he needed to ride "smoother". As we approached the first check point I glanced at the time of day on my gps. I was a HALF HOUR ahead of schedule in regard to my goal time! "Am I riding over my head?" I thought. Only time would tell.b2ap3_thumbnail_P5300669.JPG

A fast pit stop at the first check point had me rolling down the road in quick fashion. Joe handed me the last third of his Coke and we were on our way. It was a little past noon, but the real heat of the day was yet to come. The early morning overcast had given way to puffy white clouds backed by a Kansas sky that was so blue you didn't dare stare too long for fear that you may not be able to ever look away. The day had evolved into one that I dreamed about during the winter months while pedaling through slush and snow. Joe and I joked, laughed, and goofed around on our bikes like kids riding circles around our elementary school. We inadvertently took turns passing each other, making the other laugh with stupid jokes. I looked up beyond the remote two track to see my friend ahead of me singing out loud to whatever obscure music was blasting into his ears while ahead of him lay the vastness of the open range. The ribbon of gravel swirled off into the distance, we were the kings of our universe, and we were doing what we loved to do. It was a moment to behold. 

Ten mile chunks of distance were no longer passing as easily as they had before. Joe was beginning to lift the pace and I was feeling it. I was 80 miles into a 200 mile event when I realized the pain of holding my friend’s wheel was becoming too much. I examined his face and his position on the bike, he was in total control. I told him that I was impressed with his effort and encouraged him to keep it up, while the gap between my front wheel and his rear steadily grew. In my mind I told him to "Go, Go!" as he moved from one small group of riders to the next out ahead of me. I laughed to myself as I rationalized that it was time for me to "let him spread his wings and fly." The reality was that Joe was doing what he can do and that is flat out deliver power when he wants to, now he was chasing his own race. 85 miles into the event and I watched my friend ride out of my sight. Although he never heard me I thanked him for giving me a fast first 100, pushing me way ahead of my goal time. I was in great shape in regard to my race against the sun as well as my race to beat 14 hours.


Part II coming soon...