Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dirty Kanza Ramblings

Tomorrow morning we depart for Emporia, Kansas.  Why Kansas?  The Dirty Kanza is there, the Premiere Gravel Road Race!  Over 200 mile of graveliciousness.  I am thrilled and throwing up in my mouth at the same time.  It's time to "nut up and shut up".  It's time to find out if all this crazy training is going to pay off.  The official "can she do it" moment.  Place your bets ladies and gents....

If you have no idea what the hell I am talking about, educate yourself by reading the official 2013 DK magazine.  They were kind enough to let me write an article for them, it's on page 17.

Last year the DK was all about finishing under my own power, accepting no wheels to draft in and not helping anyone else.  This year I figure to hell with that. I want to ride with my friends, my husband, and find Dan (from last years DK and this years Cedar Cross).  I hope to settle into a group of like-minded 17 hr or so riders and enjoy the day.  I understand the importance of pacelining and working together to go faster.  I get it!  I will be more than happy to drag your ass if you will return the favor.  Let me help you help me. See how that works?

 If I don't find anyone to ride with I will channel this attitude.

I feel prepared mind-wise.  I know I am capable of this, I can see it, I can smell it, I can taste it. I got this!

My Kona is ready and willing to conquer the Kansas gravel again.  With the upgraded brakes and new crankset we expect to be awesome. Pure awesome.

My nutrition is as good as it has ever been.  I think I have finally found what works for me, hurray!

My support crew couldn't get any better.  Emma is ProAsFuck! If anyone can help me achieve this goal it's her.  She gets me and understands what I need usually before I need it.  She will have her hands full with myself and five fellas, I have zero worries.  Emma is not afraid to give me an extra push or slap on the ass to get me going.  She has permission to post updates on my FB PAGE too.  If you haven't liked my APabstSmear page yet get on it, please.


I have started to take my HTFU pills so I can make my dream a reality.
I have practiced yellin' "SHUT UP LEGS" like a pro, Jens would be proud.
I have made peace with whatever crazy weather Mother Nature would like to bestow upon me.
I have made peace with whatever the road/gravel/unmaintained farm roads will be like.

Where there is a will, there is a way

No matter what happens I am excited to see my girlfriends from Kansas, make new friends, and ride my bike ALL day and part of the evening.  I also would like to check out the new pub they have about a block from the finish line.  I heard that Mulready's Pub will be open until the very last DK rider crosses the finish line.  That is awesome!

If you are riding BEST OF LEGS to you!  If you see me out there please say hello.  If I am not pedaling fast enough yell at me.  Thanks.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dirty Kanza Plan

Borrowed from DK website

With less than two weeks to go..... Dirty Kanza is upon us.  Like it or not... you are where you are.  The bike riding for hours is all but over.  It's time to get your mind right, your nutrion plan nailed down, and your bike in tip top shape. There is nothing you can do, training on the bike wise, to make yourself stronger or faster.  This time before the big day can make or break you. Use it wisely!

This year I paid a pro to write a specific plan for me.  The plan was broken down into three phases.  I followed each phase as close as my life would allow and tweaked it when there was 14 inches of snow to shovel or massive amounts of yard work. (everything counts) Mother Nature did not make training easy this year.  Winter ran straight into Spring and then came Summer.  One morning it was 37 degrees and then 91 degrees the next afternoon.  Don't get me started on the wind.... AND rain!  I am sure she is getting all this out before June 1st so it can be a beautiful day to suffer.

My bike is almost ready to roll, by almost I mean all I need is a new chain put on and switch to some meatier tires. I have had the bottom bracket replaced, hopefully Cedar Cross didn't fug it up.  I really like my new crank set up, I hope it makes me faster and keeps my legs fresher in order to go faster.  My butt really enjoys the new lady specific saddle, riding the saddle that came with my Kona JTS last year was a really stupid idea.

Magnificent KONA

My nutrition is nailed down and I am confident that it will get me to the finish line.  I have also figured out how I am going to carry my fuel, water, and other supplies.  I have a mountain feed bag on my bike which holds a good amount of stuff, I also have a Backcountry Strap that will hold two tubes and a tire  lever.  I do NOT plan on having to use any of this stuff, last year I had zero flats and expect the same this year.  I will be using a 70 oz bladder in a camelbak and will have two 24oz bottles on the bike.  I will keep misc. fuel items in my jersey pockets and carry a couple extra emergency fuel options in the camelbak. ( I learned last year that I did not really care for the Tangle bag system. I was constantly rubbing the bag with my legs and had to change my pedal stroke to prevent it, not good. Plus, it made my bike heavy ) I will be breaking my ride into FOUR segments.  Carrying enough water and fuel for 50 miles at a time.  When I reach my wonderful support crew EMMA, I will have everything pre-packed and labeled so I can just grab and go.

My mind is in a very positive state of superior attitude. It usually is.  Having finished this long haul last year I know what it takes to make it to the end. I know I have what it takes. Hell, I have been working on it for 350 days!  I finished just after 1am, 19 hours of pedaling. If you have never been on a bike that long let me tell you.... its a LONG fuckin' time.  I have my mind made up that I will finish before 19 hours, I am shooting for 17 hours, around 11pm.  Honestly, I will be thrilled with just finishing but would like to knock some time off, a considerable amount!  Even 1 hour would be great.


Friday, May 10, 2013


Cedar Cross is a 114 mile monster cross ride that takes place on Jefferson County gravel, pavement, and single-track.  This ride is the creation of a very twisted individual, the one, the only, THE BOB JENKINS.  After completing this race last year I knew I would be back, even if there are dogs and/or crazy weather should show up.  The night before CC, my stomach was in knots.  Riders were bailing left and right because of the ridiculous state of the atmosphere.  Here in the Midwest we have had to deal with 85 degree days followed by 30 degree mornings. Mother Nature has been playing games with us.   The day before this ride it rained, ALL day. The creek crossings would be deep, the gravel wet, and the trail muddy.

Instead of being a pansy, I started packing.  I made a deal with the devil that if there was NO rain... I would H.T.F.U. , pedal as fast as I could and finish during the daylight. Please, no rain. I checked the weather, it was going to be about 35 at the start and possibly warm into the 50's.  Are you fucking kidding me??? It's May.  I was packing wool socks and looking for my arm warmers.  I can't believe I will be donning winter gear instead of working on my suntan.

Before going to bed I recieve this text... "looks like tomorrow will be reserved only for the hardest of the hard. wet.cold.straight up shitty. You're ready"  Zach knows me pretty well and if he thinks I've got this, then I've got this.  I couldn't/wouldn't let him down.  My mind races as I set a 430am alarm.

Jim and I pack the car quickly and we are off. On the drive I mentally checked things off my list.

Bike- check- My Kona JTS is ready to roll.  I have been dialing it in for DK.  I got a bike fit, a new saddle, along with a new crank set and bottom bracket.  Yeah, with the course conditions I was going to tear my shit up.  Not excited about that but what can I do?

Clothing-check- I have plenty of clothing choices and was prepared for any type of weather.  Bring it Mother Nature.

Fuel- check- I broke the ride into three separate races.  I estimated how many calories I would need to get to the half-way point, 50 miles, to my drop bag. The next leg was to the gas station, approx. 85 miles.  The last was how many calories to finish the last 40 miles.

Water- check- Normally I use my bottle cages however, the first section was filled with horse/cow manure, a Camelbak was a better choice.  As a test I attached one of those double bottle holders onto my saddle. I figured this was as good a time as any to see how it would hold up as a possible DK200 option.


Goal- check- I chose a finish time of 7pm which was totally doable. AND it would still be daylight.

Jim and I arrived at 7am to a full parking lot buzzing with crazy, happy, like-minded peeps.  Exiting the car I am approached by someone with their hand out saying, " Hi Wendy, remember me?  We finished Dirty Kanza together last year".  Well, of course I remembered Dan, you don't forget something like that. What's funny is Dan is from MO, we met in Kansas during the last leg of the DK.  We knew a lot of the same people but had never met.


While Jim socialized I concentrated on getting myself organized and dressed.  Long pants, tri shorts, long sleeve underarmour, arm warmers, wool socks, and my bright ass vest. My teammate Zoll gifted me a beautiful Kona jersey that day so I layed it on.  I added a Buff to keep my hair out of my face and cover my ears, and gloves. I usually don't wear gloves but was going to make an exception so my fingers did not fall off.  Brr.

Half of the group

Just before the start a teenage boy hopped onto a picnic table with a guitar and amp.  He kicked out a few "oldies but goodies" before jamming out the Star Spangled Banner.  Wow, that was a helluva way to start a race.  By 8am we were pedaling.

After a few miles I ended up settling in with Dan, Dave Beattie of TOG, Loreen of Off the Front, and Chuck from Rock Racing.  Riding with people is fun.  I do nearly all of my riding solo, not because I want to.  Time passes quick while we chit chat and catch up. I realize that my brake cables must have stretched because I have no brakes to speak of.  Instead of stopping to fix it I tell Dan I will fix it at the half way point. (STUPID)

The miles tick off and we make it to the infamous cow poo field. Dan told me to pick a good line since he was right behind me.  I bob and weave through the cow shit like a boss. I don't want any of that on my beautiful Kona. Just when I thought I made it through unscathed... I rolled through a huge group effort pile of cow shit.  I felt something wet hit my right cheek and nose, yuck.  There was a small spray of little dots across my glasses, ewwww.  Nice, I've been baptized but I do not stand alone.  If you were there, you got poo on you too.  Good thing I kept my mouth closed. Did you?

By the time we hit the bridge heading to the singletack, Dan and I were still together with Chuck and Lo in sight.  Dave decided not come with us to save his knee for another day. The singletrack was some of the nastiest stuff I have ever rode/walked.  The mud was ankle deep, deeper in some sections.  I rode what I could, cried for my bottom bracket and kissed a couple trees, not on purpose.  Finally we made it to the steep muddy uphill, the Jeff Yielding staircase. While pushing my bike up it,  I had the pleasure of watching a guy from Ethos ride down the small rock hill into the waist deep water.  He got wet, very wet.  The water was freezing and I had zero intentions of getting that wet.  I had witnessed another racer fall into a creek after picking a bad line. His whole left side was soaked.

There was small moments of sun and a little wind to deal with, luckily no rain.  The miles ticked off slowly through the singletrack.  We made it to a mile long, incredibly muddy ascent, the last of the mud.  Wahoo!  Bring on the gravel, we have some time to make up.  Dan fixed my back brake and we motored to the drop bags. In the distance we see a figure walking a bike.  It's my friend Don Daly, he has sheared off his derreullair and was out of the race.  As luck would have it, my husband is driving toward us and offers Don a ride.  We reach the bag drop where Dan eats a sandwhich.  I refuel and pee.  I see Chuck and Lo hop on their bikes, I will be about five minutes behind them.  Jim fixes my front brake and Don lubes my chain.  I feel pro as fuck.

I look at my Garmin to see I am about an hour off my projected time.  Staying positive, I tell myself I will make it up.  I will pedal faster.  I can still finish in the daylight. I have to!  I left my lights on purpose.  I told Jim I wouldn't need them.

I like uphills and downhills, uphills probably a bit more.  I made peace with downhills, I had to so I would not be afraid of them.  Fear gets me hurt.  I pedal down them, just straight bomb down them, no fear, no worries.  I was not scared once, I did not flinch, I did not close my eyes.  Yay for progress.

Dan and I can see Lo and Chuck just ahead of us. We are on our way to the Hams gas station which apparently has great Ham sandwhiches, this vegetarian wouldn't know.  We burn out of there relatively quick hot on the heels of Chuck and Lo.   We pass the Nuclear Reactor but decide not to stop for photos, I have one from last year.  We climb the bitch of a hill, that really wasn't so bad and soon we are rewarded with a magnificent downhill that made all that climbing worth it.  As we hit the Katy Trail it's me and three dudes with roughly 30 miles left to the finish.

Last year I had several encounters with dogs, the most painful was here on the Katy.  I hit a dog pedalling about 15 mph.  I bounced off him and landed hard while still clipped in.  I haven't had any issues with dogs today and pitied any dog who gets in my way.  I am a freight train and I cannot be stopped.  

As we pulled into Mokane I see Chuck and Lo mounting their steeds and leaving with the Ethos group.  Would you believe the three boys have to pee?? Really!?  I watch the group ride away.  By now the first female has already finished.  Congrats Emily, you are a gravel beast.

I pedal and pedal, and fight through the next 20 miles.  My legs feel good, my nutrition has been solid, and my bike has been excellent. My head is right!  I have zero complaints, not true, I have one... I would like to catch Chuck and Lo.  Try as I might, I do not succeed.   Dan and I cross the finish around 710pm.  Low and behold there are still racers milling about, there is food, and there is beer.  Hell, it's still daylight!!  Mission accomplished. I am a happy girl.

Needing some TLC

I see Lo, she still has her helmet on, it was close.  She thanked me for pushing her all day and told me that whenever she and Chuck would see my glo vest they would pedal harder.  That is the last flippin' time I wear that damn thing in a race.  Shortly after finishing, one of the fellas I rode with gave me props and shook my hand saying "thanks for dragging me through most of that".

What I learned...

1. Never wear the glo vest in a race
2. Finishing in the daylight kicks ass.  I should shoot for that more often.
3. The two bottles hanging off the saddle ejected only once.  I was advised to tie them together so when I found a white headband along the trail that is just what I did.  Not sure if I will use this at DK though, the Camelbak was perfect.
4. Don't be a pansy because of the weather

Thanks to my hubby for taking this shot.  The course was about 10 miles longer than last year and I beat last years time.  Take that!


Don't worry!  He cleaned up just fine.