Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Riding My Ass Off : The Dirty Kanza 2012


   My heart was already beating a mile a minute when I woke up at 4am on race day Saturday. I have waited patiently for 362 days to return to Kansas and exact my revenge on The Dirty Kanza 200 course.
 It's here.  It's finally here. What happened last year doesn't matter.   The training was complete, the nutrition figured out, and my weapon was chosen.  I can do this.  I believe.

My Magnificent Machine

I chose my Kona Jake the Snake -2011- to complete the task at hand.  I accessorized him with a set of white Velocity A23's - pro build-, and added a mountain feed bag and a tangle frame bag.  By putting those items on my bike, I would not have to carry anything on my back.  The longest ride we had seen was about 115 miles, Cedar Cross was an excellent training ride. I was rolling some CST servant tires, hoping they served me well since they cost about $15 online. No worries, changing a tire was probably going to be the least of my problems throughout the day anyway.

Thought for next year
Jim and I were in downtown Emporia by 530am.  The line up process had already started.  There was a team a of roller derby girls hold signs designating where you should stage yourself according to the time you would finish.  The last sign said 18hrs, I put myself right there. I was able to find some of Missouri's finest cyclists and wish them good luck.  One minute before the start, my husband Jim kissed me and said " Have fun".  We were on solo missions, we would not be riding together.  I said " See ya later, like in a day".  He rolled off as I closed my eyes to pray for safety and strength from Above, and picture Carrie Sona say " I am just going to do my best".  In that same moment I thought, " my best had better good enough or I am not leaving Kansas".

Leg 1  Emporia to Cassoday KS = 61.7 miles

It was quite odd starting a race in June with arm warmers and gloves on, it was only 52 degrees.  I like the feel of my Lizard Skins bar tape, and was glad to have warmed up quickly and be able to shed the gloves a couple miles in.  One by one, the miles ticked off while I tried to get comfortable with my surroundings.  It was going to be a long day in the saddle. I was on a mission, to finish.  This was going to be my ride, by my rules.  I was not going to draft off of anyone and they were not going to use me.  I was determined to complete this race entirely under my own power.

Mile ten was a turning point, a turning point into a sucky direction.  I felt like shit and with each pedal stroke a bit worse.  My stomach was not happy.  I needed to throw up, but I don't do that.  I kept on pedaling, trying to puke.  I thought that if I stayed moving I would surely get sick.  I could hurl and then just pedal away from it.  By mile 50, I caught up to my husband.  I still am holding on to my vomit though.  We rolled into CHP 1 about 11am.  An hour later than I would have liked.  Given the way I felt, it was time to put Plan B into effect.  H.T.F.U.  

Great shot from UltraRacePics. Must purchase!

Emma, my one woman support crew, refilled my bladder and bottles while I drank some Campbells chicken noodle soup straight from the can.  Good stuff, this will either make me all better OR give me something to throw up.  I changed out of my black jersey into my white one, as the temperature was on the rise to the high 80's.  With a new attitude, I left that checkpoint within 15 minutes.  Looking back, that pit time was perfect.

Leg 2  Cassoday to Florence KS = 44 miles

My plan was to make my pit stops quicker than last year, and recover on the bike.  I knew I was moving too slow to warrant a longer break.  I didn't mind, I work better if I stay consistent and just keep moving. It was unfortunate that I had to put on a hydrapack for this section, at least it was a short leg.    The tangle frame bag was not working for me.  My legs kept rubbing it and I had to pedal with my legs a bit wider, which caused some crazy knee pain.  The knee pain and this stomach nonsense would not stop me.  Can't Quit. Not Dead Yet.

That's me dropping Jim

I played my 'fake it 'til you make it' card, hoping that reverse psychology would trick me into feeling better.  This gravel leg went by fast, even though I was alone most of the ride.  I did not get to toss my cookies, but was feeling slightly better by mid afternoon.  I passed several riders repairing flats and one single-speeder with a broken chain.  I offered an extra link I had, which wasn't needed as a fella in an American flag jersey rolled up and took control.  I also passed a handful of cyclists waiting for their crew to pick them up. Despite their day being over, everyone was all smiles.  This is one tough race.

I arrived at CHP2 around 3pm.  Yes!  Last year, it was just after 4pm.  This improvement over my time from last year lifted my spirits greatly.  I was back on the bike in 13 minutes, thanks to Emma's speed and organization skills.  She was aware how important this day was to me and was going to make sure that nothing got in my way.  As I headed out on leg 3, I looked up into the clear blue sky, at the fluffy white clouds and asked Mother Nature to behave herself.  I have been stroking that bitches ego all year long.  You can thank me for the weather.

Awesome way to carry two tubes.  Backcountry Research  

Leg 3  Florence to Council Grove KS = 59.5 miles

 It was on this leg, mile 110, when all hell broke loose.  Crazy wind, rain, hail, and some funnel clouds.  Today, the weather was as calm as it could be.  As I reached the exact spot my race had ended last year, I treated myself to some music.  Queen's We Will Rock You blared into my ears.  Yes, it was a sign.  After an hour, I removed my Polk 100's headphones, preferring the sound of gravel again.  My music did not come out again.

I met a guy named Chad, 25, from Chicago Il on this section.  I begged him to talk to me.  He told me he had been wanting to do this race for three years. He missed registration, got married , and broke an arm.  All some great excuses, ha ha.  I shared my story with him, coming from 220lbs to today's endurance event.   He reminded me of my 23yr old son, a spark in his eyes and the energy to get it done.  He was stopping for food every hour, which explained why we kept seeing each other.  His pace was faster than mine, I had to let him go.

This leg of the course was the hardest, in my opinion.  There was some techy stuff, bigger rocks, and longer climbs.  Having a century on the legs before reaching this point made for some slow pedaling.  I came close to running out of water, about 15 miles from the next CHP.   When I get low on water I go into panic mode.  I start hyperventilating and picture myself shriveling into a raisin.  There were a few houses to get water at, and then there were NO houses.  Shit, I should have stopped at the yellow house.

Who gave me this?

At mile 155, a gravel angel appeared to me.  He was riding by when he saw the "I am low on H20" frantic look in my eyes.  He handed me a 24oz bottle of fresh water.  It was even cold.  If you are reading this... Thank You!  Your extra water saved my ass and I greatly appreciate it.  Your kindness enabled me to reach CHP 4 with one swallow left.

Gravel dust flavored

Leg 4  Council Grove to Emporia KS = 37 miles

New battle scars.  Well deserved.

It was about 8pm as I rolled in at Council Grove.  "This is the furthest I have ever ridden my bike",  I yelled at the volunteer who handed me my final map. He is just lucky I didn't hop off to hug and kiss him.  I was so happy to finally be there.   I was riding on sheer adrenaline now. Hell, I could walk 37 miles if I had to, right?  I appeared a little wild-eyed to Emma, telling her to spit in my mouth, slap me and give me a push back on course.  Luckily, Emma knew the code I was speaking in.  She took the tangle bag off and replaced it with two 24oz bottles in the cages.  This was a short leg, I was not taking a pack. Someone shoved some PayDay 's in my pockets and I was off.  I did not want to be alone in the dark, so I left behind a group of eight.  The last thing I wanted was to be alone and possibly lost on the dark gravel roads in Kansas.  Call me a puss, I dare you.

I had lost my ability to shift into my big 46 ring on the last leg.  In retrospect, I am glad to have been stuck in the smaller 36 ring, as the bigger ring would have probably ripped my legs off.  I had heard there were a few good sized hills left.   Hopefully, a few rippin' fast, mile long downhills too.

Chad reappeared a few miles in, and I met Dan from Columbia, MO.  Small world, with me in O'fallon, MO just 90 miles away.  Dan, Chad and I were riding the same pace and getting along nicely, so we decided to stay together until the bitter end. Those two were great company to have the last few hours of a very long day.  Great attitudes and good stories make pedaling much easier.

At mile 199, we were following another rider, who was unknowingly off course.  Realizing the mistake, we back tracked a mile plus to get back on the correct route to the finish line.  It was a bit bizarre to feel both elated to have this shit almost over, and at the same time never want to reach the finish line. All three of us crossed the finish line at 1:03am.  We had spent just over 19hours in the saddle.  It was awesome to ride in with a large group still cheering at the finish line.

 Kristi gave me a hug, Eric Benjamin, aka the Adventure Monkey, shook my hand and Jim Cummins handed me THE pint glass with a DK200 sticker inside.  Hellyeah, I did it!  Since my hubby finished 15 minutes later, I reached my other goal, by being the first member of Team Seagal to complete this ride.

Beer DOES taste better out of this glass

It was a helluva day on the bike.  I honestly feel like I owe Mr. Cummins some more money for all the painful fun I had.  This is a stellar event, put together by an awesome group of people.  Definitely put it on your calendar for next year.

ALL the maps

I completed my first recovery ride a few days ago. my legs felt good, my behind , not so good.  The saddle I used came with the Kona, and was certainly not made to be comfy for 200 miles.  I carefully disrobed, peeling the bibs off carefully.  What the hell is that in my chamois?  Upon closer inspection.... its skin.  My skin, off of my rear.  No kidding.  Little by little I removed excess skin.  Huh, I truly did ride my some off my ass off in Kansas.  Not nearly enough, I will be back.

Wild-eyed , Crazy and Done

****  Those tires were bomb proof.  No flats!


  1. AWESOME!! I will be doing the DK in 2014. I still have to do the Hospital Hill 1/2 Marathon 1 more time in 2013.

  2. Nice work Jerk! I also know the feeling and sometimes painful meaning of riding my ass off.
    Ps.. The water at the "Yellow House" saved me! Glad nobody was home...
    Next trip Single Speed? Considering it!

    Huge Props to Emma and the Orange boys! They along with Travis Hammons made my ride a blast!

    NEXT year ... You will have to watch my somewhat skinner butt ride off in to the finish first!

  3. Congratulations! Well done...and you worked hard for it!! I don't blame you a bit for not wanting to ride alone in the dark. I imagine it was much less un-fun with company.

  4. sweet post! that's funny, i think about carrie sona before/during my races too. what a badass. but guess what, you are a badass too, both of you are on my list of people to think about during ironman! rock on. i am inspired by your unrelenting attitude.

  5. @ John, you have plenty of time to prepare. Let me know if you have any questions.

    @Trail Monster, Bring your skinnier ass in 2013. If you are there, I will be.

    @Kate, thanks. You did quite well yourself. You will kill it next year.

    @Emily, great minds think alike. I will let you borrow my unrelenting attitude for your Ironman, if you need it. Wear your special socks, they have amazing powers. I am excited to see how you do. Win the steak dinner!

  6. Great Job Wendy, You did it, but I knew you would, you are one of my heros.