Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Have A Secret




There.  Now you know.  It's time I fessed up anyway, it might help someone else suffering from the same condition. So I am going to give it to you straight, I am going to be honest with you. I am not right around this time of year.   This is not my first rodeo with it.  It has started already started, sneaking into my life.  Every year has been different and by different I mean the timing and the duration of dealing with it.  By ‘it" I are referring to the Dirty Kanza 200 crazies.  One thing has been constant.  The crazy has been about the same.   When you put a lot of time, thoughts and energy into something it is highly possible it will spill over into other areas of your life.  For instance, you may have to plan your rides around packed schedules, graduations, weddings, soccer games, family time and vacations.  All of those obstacles will make it hard to get in the long rides and keep any type of consistent schedule.  Not getting the miles will also make you crazy. 


By It I also mean the obsessing about things DK related.  My pulse actually rises when I receive a Dirty Kanza email.  There have been moments I have gotten goosebumps too. Maybe I should see my doctor, he would get a kick out of what I am doing.  You can see that this gravel ride means a lot to me.  I have spent countless hours writing my own blogs and have spent countless more  reading blogs offering advice from those sharing their own DK experiences. I enjoy reading every story, the good, bad, and the ugly.  In addition,  I have spent many more hours researching how to fuel myself, which bike to ride, which tires to run, new foods to try, and have read several  new athlete specific cook books.   I have calculated and re-calculated how many calories I will need to fuel myself for the 200 mile ride and then recalculated again. Hell, I am not even sure how long it is going to take me.  I usually prepare for the worst, the longest amount of time, and hope for the best.  I have started making lists. Lists of items to buy.  Lists of items to try.  Race day list of gear.  Possible list of fuel choices.   I will most likely have several floating around until I narrow it down to one.  A notebook is key in this case.  Keep all the lists together. 




The dreams /nightmares began a few months ago.  Not sure what to make of them.  I usually have some type of weird dream moment before any race.  The Dirty Kanza is a different animal though, it takes months and months of preparation so there is potential for many of these “nervous nellie” type stuff.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I have noticed the dreams have varying degrees of crazy, they seem to get more extreme as the DK gets closer. For instance… one of the tamer ones involves  Kristi Mohn trying to sell me a house, she constantly emails me with EVERY listing she can find and taking deep discounts on them.  She even found me a job at the local bike shop and paid for my first two months of yoga.  My friend Gretchen shows up occasionally with bottle of wine, Wheat State Pizza, and promises of a job at Subway.  My friend Angela makes appearances also, she filled out two applications for me and I received both jobs.  One was at the school as a PE teacher and the other was a gravel grinder instructor on the backroads of Kansas.  I take people on gravel tours and get paid!  Dream job!  In another dream I received a phone call from Rob Gillian, the mayor, that the Emporia Gazette was offering me a freelance position writing my own weekly column with opportunity to submit feature stories.  He wanted to invite me personally to live there and give me the key to the city.  While speaking to him a huge basket of Pabst and an IPad were delivered. Now those are examples of happy dreams. They were not all like that, some would qualify as nightmares.  In one nightmare I forgot my cycling shoes and was trying to talk other cyclists out of their shoes at the start line. Not one person would take me up on that offer so I rode behind them until they quit and made them turn over their shoes.  I have had several nightmares of being late or sleeping through the start and starting an hour behind everyone.  I have showed up to the start line in my underwear with my kit hanging dripping wet from my handlebars, who knows.  The best one so far deserves its own blog.  I recently had a bridge put in my mouth, front and center on the bottom.  In this particular dream I was about half way into the ride, 100 miles, bit into a Payday bar and my bridge popped out.  I was able to backtrack and find it laying in the gravel with rocks attached by the nougat.  I shoved it in my jersey and started practicing my toothless smile for the finishing line. If you think about it my dreams are not that far fetched. Any one of those could come true. I will keep you posted.





Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of the year, crazy or not.  I look forward to the Dirty Kanza every year and wouldn’t change any of this.  It’s just part of the crazy journey to get to another crazy journey. In the end I realize I am just like everyone else, I put my straight jacket on one buckle at a time.  Don’t you? 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Elusive Tour Of Hermann






Last years TOH was quite a challenge.  I knew it was exactly what I needed as prep for the Dirty Kanza 200.  I was only available to make Saturday but gave it hell.  I learned a lot and vowed to come back in 2014. As luck would have it...  I played a FB game and won an entire weekend entry into the Tour of Hermann.  It was unfortunate that the Saturday date conflicted with a 1.2 mile run my daughter was doing to celebrate six months of doing the Read, Right and Run.  I wasn't going to miss that so I only signed up for Sunday.

Turns out my brother received a kitchen pass for the day and would be joining us.  Jim loaded his FAT bike, put my Kona on the roof, which made me very nervous, and we were off.  I can't believe I am only 1 hour away from Hermann.  Approximately 66 miles via the Katy Trail. My husband and I rode from our house one day, slept on picnic tables and headed back home the next day.  I will never forget that day as we were caught in a torrential downpour and had to take shelter by climbing the  rocks and hiding in the trees. 

Since last years TOH did not go down as planned I hoped to redeeem myself and do better this time.  I don't put a lot of pressure on myself for this race because its still so early in the game. I use this ride as a learning process to figure out what works and what doesn't.  The hills are challenging, the gravel is tough and quite comparable to Dirty Kanza.  I would almost say TOH is harder but I have yet to complete all five stages.  Maybe 2015 will work out.  This gravel ride will help me to figure out how to carry water, gauge about how much I will need, what works for nutrition, and see how my bike is rolling.



My bike was in tip top shape and Ifelt I had everything I needed.  Let's get this party started!  The weather was a bit chilly, I opted for pants and a thin underarmour under my jersey.  Gloves for sure.  Whatever, I don't enjoy being cold.  My plan was to complete both loops, approximately 103 miles. I had to be in by 2:30pm in order to start the next loop. My goal for the first loop was 4 hours.  I am familiar with the hills, I will walk them if necessary especially early in the day.



Aaro!


We bombed down the steep hill at Stone Hill Winery at promptly 9 am.  Save for one very rude driver we all safely made it out of town for the 15 miles of FLAT Katy.  I picked a group of about ten to hang with,  I didn't know any of them at first and then realized I was FB friends with a few.  We all stuck together for the most part, which was difficult stopping and going through all those gates and crossing the street. Around mile 20 all that changed and the group broke up in to many small groups.  I spent the next ten miles alone, losing myself in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the day.  While I make everything sound dandy... nothing could be further from the truth.

 I was not having a good day, quite the opposite.  I was having an awful day.  My legs felt strong. My mind felt strong. What was arong you ask?  My belly was not happy. My "mental" threw out threats and hoped the belly would just harden the fuck up. The cramps weren't so bad, I could deal with them. It was the fact that every time I stood up to climb or exerted force I felt like my uterus was going to fall out, or I was going to shit myself.  I have never felt this way before. I had no idea what to do for it. Mild gut cramps and feeling like all my guts were going to fall out made for an interesting ride on gravel.   I was alright if I just stayed seated and pedaled. This was going to be a long day.

Dan Singer Photography


I wish I could have just thrown up and been done with it.  It's much easier to puke and keep riding than it is to undress and squat.  It's not like there were a lot of potty opportunities along the route.  Sometimes it just doesn't matter if the situation is ideal or not, this was one of them.
 It wasn't going to happen and that is when 'smart' took over.  I definitely did not want to be known as the chick who shit herself.  But there are some things you just can't overcome.  I was having severe belly issues, the cramps weren't so bad, it was the fact that every time I stood up to climb or exert some force I felt like my uterus was going to fall out or I was going to shit myself. I have never felt this way before.


  Around mile 30 I had to stop, drop and go. I couldn't hold it anymore, hell why would I?  I was a little disappointed because I was moving at a descent pace and stopping was going to throw that off, but maybe I would feel better. I spun my head in all directions and saw no one. It wouldn't have mattered if I did. This was going to happen.  I knew I had to get out of my clothing quick.  I had to get through long pants, next my jersey, and then my bibs, that's a lot of clothing to deal with when you feel like you are going to explode from the inside out. Timing is crucial and can greatly affect the rest of your day. I didn't want to get caught or end up covered in poo either. I siezed the moment,  hopped behind some sparse trees looked for leaves and hoped for the best.  The gravel gods smiled on me and I was not caught and did not end up in a messy situation.  Note to self...always carry baby wipes in a baggie. I resumed my spot upon my saddle and motored on.  I drank my Ignition and munched on a nugget of a Payday bar. Fuck, I did not feel good. Correction, my belly didn't feel good.

Dan Singer Photography


  I didn't know what was going on.  My legs felt strong and my mind was telling my body to Fuck off like usual.  Only this time I wasn't coming around.  Around mile 40 a gold colored Audi passed by me so fast and so close I felt it whoosh right by me.  I could feel the wind and the hairs on the back of my neck went straight up.  WTF? Was that really necessary?  It startled me since there were no other cars around and I was over as far as I could, there was no shoulder.  I watched as the car gunned its motor further and raced to the top of the hill as another woman cyclist climbed.  It sped straight for her and at the last moment veered away.  I came close to throwing up in my mouth.  What the hell was that for, what did that prove?  About five miles later, just on the outskirts of town I had one last altercation.  I was pedaling alone and looked up to see a red truck crossing the highway yellow lines and heading straight for me. There was really nowhere for me to go as I started processing my fate. Could he see the fear in my eyes?  I have kids, a husband, people who love me and here is some douchebag I've never seen before who can take my life away in an instant. The young man laughed as he jumped back over the line a short distance ahead of me. Ridiculous! Fucking ridiculous!  I was old enough to have been his mother.

 I take a big sigh of relief as I rolled back on to the safety of the Katy trail.  As I head back to Hermann, I take the LONG way back because I follow someone else who didn't look at the map, I totally deserve the extra miles. As I climb the hill into the Winery I hear the most familiar yell... GO biscuit!!  What? Jim is there?  Turns out he flatted out around 20 miles, lucked into landing near a bar, at opening time!! and started drinking. The bartender let him flip the OPEN switch.  I crossed the line around 4:15, just shy of goal time. ( official time 4:18)
I told Jim of my crappy issue and he popped two Pepto Bismol tablets into my mouth and told me to harden the fuck up. Thanks babe.  Then I french kissed a dinosaur and was off.  Yea, it's all kind of a blur.  Especially the dinosaur thing, but here are pics so it did happen.




The gravel seemed a bit thicker and I had to pedal like I meant it. The wind had been making itself known all day but wasn't too crazy.  As I climbed the first hill I prayed the Pepto would kick in at any time.  It never did.  My "mental" brought up the fact that I did not want to be remembered as the girl who finished and was also covered in shit.  Good point! I made it about an hour and called in to be picked up.  The feeling just would not pass.  I could not take 40 more miles, maybe ten or twenty but definitely not forty  I was saved by Dennis, who also picked up my husband.


Thanks for the rescue Dennis

Taking the ride back was smart in many ways.  This second loop was harder than the first, the hills were longer and steeper.  Even though I left early enough to finish in daylight there was no guarantee how I was feeling. Coming in early meant I got to see the hardcore gravel guys finish.  Plus I got to hang out with some fabulous peeps.
Mickey rode ALL FIVE loops!


My brother fared very well and finished both loops.
Even had a wheelie, showoff. 


SPECIAL THANKS to Jeff Yielding for putting on a stellar event, Dan Singer for taking your awesome photos, and Aaro for sharing your toys, especially the dinosaur.  Until next year.... 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Angela And The Land Run 100

The following is a story written by my good friend Angela who rides gravel and loves it.  She lives in Emporia Kansas, home of THE Dirty Kanza 200.  She recently participated in the Land 100 in Stillwater Oklahoma and here is her account.....

Looks fun huh?


I don’t normally do races out of town; I am about having fun riding my bike kind of

girl. I thought it would be good training to do this 107 mile race which turned out

to be 109 for me.

I went down with my friend Shane and Emmy. Emmy was our sag in case we needed

a ride back at the sag. We got to Stillwater after many eating stops for Shane. Ha!

I don’t know where he puts all the food I only wish I could get by with it. We went

to District Bike Shop to check it out. We had a good time seeing so many people

and so many Emporia people. I had heard there were about 20 Emporia people

coming to the race. It was time to check in and more and more people were getting

to town. Bobby Wintle gave us his warm welcome and was excited to see everyone.

Little did I know what the hills were like. I was told that there was nothing worse

than hill D in the DK 200. Wow; someone didn’t tell me the truth. (Shane Heiman)!

We went back to the hotel and got checked in and it was full of bikes. It was

fun to see what everyone was riding. We went to dinner and after we returned I

was ready to get everything prepared. The others went out that evening (I’m old

enough to be their Mom’s) but I was perfectly happy making sure all my bottles and

everything was lined out for Saturday.




It’s time to ride! Bikes loaded everyone in the street. It was a little chilly that

morning and if you know me I come prepared. I hate being cold. It was suppose to

rain that afternoon. I believe it was 40 % then the next hour 50% all the way up

to 100%. It didn’t look good for me. Now the fast people they probably would be

ok but I knew I was going to get wet. So as a prepared person I had a rain jacket

packed in my camelbak. I didn’t want to be cold and wet out there waiting for a

ride. The race took off and they were fast I was about ¾ of the way back. I am not

fast but I have endurance. I was next to several of my friends. Steve Wiser was

there and we got a chuckle out of his matching kit. Ryan Dudley was next to me and

the poor guy forgot all his warm clothes. He was freezing and even admitted he

lost the feelings in his fingers. I offered a jacket but he said he was ok.

After we left town we thought we saw a big fog cloud but it wasn’t, it was when

all the riders hit the gravel it was a big dust cloud. It was now on and time to get

serious. I was having trouble with my clips and the first big hill my foot slipped out

and I lost all my power. I had to walk up the hill. Everyone was so nice and asked if

I was ok. I was just going to have to be ready for it the next 100 miles. At the top

of the hill was Jim Belford and he was kind of enough to check on me. He saw me

at the bike shop working on my shoes before we left Emporia. If you have been to

Emporia you have to visit High Gear, the best bike shop around with the best group

of people! I let him know I was ok when he heard me say, “already Bobby”! That’s

right Bobby Thompson already had his first flat at mile 5. Jim asked if he was ok

and we went on. I caught back up to Ryan when his phone rang at mile 15 I said I

would meet him at the top of the hill. Ryan told me it was his wife Denise. I said

what is she doing calling you in the middle of the race? Ryan told me he had been

checked out by an ambulance 2 nights before for high blood pressure. I was then

very worried about my friend. My race mind changed and decided to ride with Ryan.

At least I knew what was going on with him if something happened. Ryan is a friend

of mine and from that point it wasn’t about finishing fast it was about staying with

my friend and making sure he was ok. If the table was turned I know he would do

the same for me. That is what kind of person Ryan is. At the top of one hill Ryan

said be careful of this hill, (I thought what are you talking about?) no one told me

about the scariest hill I have ever seen in my life!!! Well I rode down it and kept

saying this sucks. I had my right break on as tight as I could get it. I then said to

myself I hope the left break works because I have never tried it before. At one

point I was sliding sideways. I was still going over 13 mph and I didn’t want to go

that fast on all that loose stuff. They guy at the bottom of the hill was laughing.

When I looked over to my left it wasn’t Ryan I was talking to all the way down the

hill. The guy said to me I agree that sucked! Ryan and I got a good chuckle out of

that.

 Ryan was having leg cramp issues. I was the cheerleader and kept cheering him on.

I feed him some of my Shot blocks with salt trying to help. We picked up another

rider from Stillwater who was doing his first century. We thought the check point

was at mile 54. Ryan pulled over at mile 53 and said to go on he was looking for a

tree. I rode on and there wasn’t a town in sight. I ran into Keith Reed several times

that day. He is like the Welcome committee at Stillwater. He was taking pictures

and having a great time. He told me the town was just over the hill. Well there was

a town but over the next 5 miles of hills. We laughed and I was thankful when the

check point came at mile 59.

I pulled in and got my map and they were cheering at the check point. I thought

that was funny. I couldn’t see very well because it was misting and a truck went by

me then my glasses were muddy so for about 4 miles before the check point my

vision wasn’t very good. I saw Emmy and said I was going to the gas station to get

water. Gary Sadowski and his daughter were there. They offered me some water

and were kind enough to fill my bottles. I ate a Snickers because I might have been

turning into a Diva. I was there for about 5-8 minutes. I can’t stop long and sit

down or I am done. I’m also not fast enough to take a long break. Ryan decided to

take a long break so I went on.




I rolled out about 1:30. I had only ridden about 5 miles when I saw a guy having

issues with his tire and tube. I asked if I could help and he said only if you can

patch my tire. I said I sure can I carry a purse on my back and have everything a

girl needs I pulled out a rubber boot and he was happy. Didn’t get his name but he

was from Springfield, Missouri. I never saw him again that day, I hope he finished.

Well it wasn’t long before the dreaded leg cramps showed up. I was walking up a hill

and a jeep pulled up. That jeep crew was everywhere and so friendly. They thought

I needed a ride and I told them no. I normally carry pickle juice with me which I

despise!!! Note to self I need to carry it at all times. Came upon a town I think, I

never saw anyone but a guy walking towards me. I was once again walking because

of the leg cramps. It was Jim who was part of the race. He told me about a change

in the road markers and I rode off again. Then at about mile 90 ish there was a

tent serving drinks and candy bars out in the middle of nowhere. I got a drink with

electrolytes to help with leg cramps and I was off again. Jim informed me you

got this not much further and you can do it. I have now discovered that Jim was

probably laughing on the inside because there were more and more hills to come

and they were hard. At mile 95 there was a row of port a potties. I was so excited!

I looked through 5 of them until I found one with toilet paper. It took me a while

because I was stomping one foot in there to make sure there was no mice, snakes

or spiders, finally it was safe to go in. Keith Reed pulled up on the road when I was

going in. I figured he was taking pictures of my bike outside the port potties and

laughing. I later learned they were saying how long I was taking. They didn’t know I

was checking for critters and had many layers on.


Mile 99 I get a text from my friend Troy Ochs, it said, “Are you ok”? I knew he

would be worried about me so I pulled over to text him back. I can’t see without my

glasses so I put on my dollar pair I carry on my bike. Since I was stopped I decided

to take a picture of the hills coming up. They were not stopping. My text was short

and sweet and said mile 99. Troy is a very kind person who would do anything for

you. He told everyone where I was at so they were expecting me. I pulled into town

and pulled out my map. A nice person from Stillwater told me to go 2 stop lights

up and take a left. That is when I saw the markings on the road. Then the guys

from the tent drove past me all excited and said I was almost there. I then had

to pull out my map again because there was a lot of traffic so I couldn’t see the

marking on the road. I was at the corner of Duck street, my cue sheet said to turn

on Duck street. That is when I saw the marking and I was just a few blocks from

the finish line. I made another turn and that is when I saw the finish line.




 Here is the best part of the day, everyone was screaming and so excited to see me you

would have thought I was the winner. I was smiling ear to ear and was so glad to be

back in town. What a great welcome for a slow but steady rider.




 Now those were the toughest hills I have ever seen in my life! I didn’t blast down the hills because

at the bottom was sand and I was fish tailing in them. I have a rule that I don’t like

to break. I don’t go down hills over 25 mph because I believe at my age I can break

something or bleed very badly. I did break my rule and hit 33 mph one time. It took

me longer then I had hopped but it is all about finishing it. I can say I did it. I was

scared to death but I DID IT!!!



 On a good note, Ryan has been checked out and no

more high blood pressure one might think he remembered the hills from last year

and that spiked his blood pressure!

Photos courtesy of 241 Photography, Troy Ochs and myself.


Congrats Angela!  Thanks for sharing your story. See you at the end of May!