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.