I woke up Friday morning with a lump in my throat and my heart beating erratically. I am waking up from a terrible dream. One of the most horrible dreams I could have before THE BIG SHOW. I have never had a dream like this, I don't even think this way. My dream unfolded innocently enough as I was riding the Dirty Kanza 200 2014 edition. It ended abruptly with me DNF'ing. I couldn't believe I had this in my head especially the day before the event I have been busting my hump for the last year to do well in.
It was hard to go through the motions with that crazy dream taking up all the space in my head. My focus needed to be on packing the car, putting my 8 yr old on the bus, and finally leaving at 830am to pick up my brother. This would be Jeff's first DK. He figured "if she can do it, I can do it" He set a goal of 14 hrs or less. Shheeit! Jim was hoping for a finish but a bit skeptical since he hurt his shoulder and received a steroid shot the week before. I had my own plan of action. My goal was by midnight, 18 hours or less. I really wanted to see the party and finish in the same day. The husband could tell I wasn't my usual self and asked what was wrong. I explained the dream/nightmare I had and said "I saw ALL my friends finish but I didn't". I began to doubt all my hard work. The entire Winter in the gym meant nothing, the healthy eating meant nothing, the countless miles for naught.
I don't think this way, something is very wrong. That is when I decided I would race in brand new socks. It was obvious my others had lost their Superior Attitude and Superior State Of Mind. I would rather be safe than sorry. I tossed a pair, tags attached, into my bag.
|How many jerks does it take, two.|
Cool dude and mega fast. We chat him up a while and see Rob Ballou walk out of the same hotel. Rob moved to CO two years ago so it was nice to see him. Jim leaves us chatting to secure our room. He comes out several minutes later with his head hanging low, very low. Turns out we do NOT have a room here. Our room is in Emporia, Virginia. WhatTheHell? While my husband tears into the customer service agent I calmly put up a new status on FaceBook. It read "Arriving in Emporia Kansas to find out our room was moved to Emporia Virginia. Thank for nothing Holiday Inn Express. No worries though.... I have friends in Kansas." Within three minutes I had two phone calls , several texts, and a handful of FB messages. If you have never been to Emporia you are missing out. Some of the nicest folks live there and are willing to go out of their way to help you. It's almost like being in another country. Jim gets in the car and tells me to phone a friend. I tell him it's already taken care of and give him an address.
My good friend and Chamois Butt'r teammate Angela put all three of us up at her home just minutes from the start line. Her Dad Ron was just a sweetheart. The second sentence he said was "What do you all want for breakfast" Ron even made a special trip to the store for bananas when mine suffered from heatstroke. I began to finally feel at ease and the knots in my stomach were relaxing. Untying them would be an entirely different matter though. See, everything is going to be alright....except I still have a slight lump in my throat and a horrible feeling I am not going to finish.
A quick visit to the Dirty Kanza store to score a few fab DK jersey's. I picked one for myself, one for the hubby and I had to buy one for my awesome support crew too. Rock it Emma!
|Kansas Bike Police|
|Myself and Salty the Yeti|
We head to register after dropping our bikes and belongings at Angela's. The Granada Theatre is a great place to put an event like this, it's magnificent. Two meetings had to be scheduled to accommodate the 1300 riders. While in the parking lot I hear "shouldn't you be wearing a purple shirt". Steve Weiser catches me off guard as he parks right next to us. Within minutes he hands me some fresh eggs from his chickens. Hot damn! A nice place to stay and fresh eggs for breakfast. I love Emporia.
The energy in the air is absolutely amazing. If it could be bottled and sold I would be a millionaire. Registration is a breeze. I signed the waiver and hopped into a short line. There are friendly volunteers everywhere, every direction you turn is a volunteer in a glo green shirt. I am handed number 638. We also get to sample GU's, Chamois Butt'r, and a protein drink. I can't wait to tear in to the DK Magazine. I am very fortunate to have an article in it. Check it out!
I ran into Kristi Mohn on the sidewalk outside the Granada. She wanted to make sure I was taken care of and offered me a place to stay. See, I tell ya, the people are awesome.
I took a few moments and ducked into Eric Benjamin, The Adventure Monkey, special Art Show. His photos always inspire me. Beautiful shots of the pain and beauty in the Flint Hills. Eric captures both nicely.
The meeting starts at 4pm and THE Jim Cummings takes the stage. Jim puts his heart and soul into this event, I am very grateful. The slide show as usual is awesome. My legs start shaking uncontrollably as photos of gravel roads are posted on the big screen. Jim reminds us to be aware of our surroundings. We are playing in a farmers front yard. He encourages us to keep it clean and take our trash out with us A quick review of some of the most important rules and we are let go for dinner.
|Emma and I|
I spy Rebecca Rusch and Dan Hughes talking and decide to approach them and steal some mojo. In fact I didn't have to steal it , they gave it freely. Both of them shook my hand and wished me luck as I rubbed their mojo on my legs and arms. I told them I wanted to finish and make the party. Rebecca blew on my back and wished me well saying "may the wind be at your back" My thoughts exactly since last year was so painfully windy.
|Chamois Butt'r riders and support crew|
Emma, my support crew, and I head off to the Chamois Butt'r dinner at Gambinos Pizza. In a sea of 60 purple shirts we enjoy salad and pizza while talking nervously about tomorrows challenge. The owner of the place made a special veggie pizza and veggie calzone, perfect since I don't eat meat. He even brought it to the table. Food was delicious and the company was even better. There were 25 members of the CB Team riding. Huge team presence for the DK.
Before I know it it's 8 pm and time to make sure I have everything read to give to Emma for the big day. I still feel a bit nauseous when I think of the dream so I try not to think of it but it's still there. I have the best support person anyone could ask for. I give Emma a bag of extra clothes and my fuel choices for the day. We quickly discussed my strategy.... Only 5 minute pit stops, refill water bladder, lube chain, fill top tube bag with new fuel, sunscreen me and push me back out no matter what. I told her of a story I read about Navy Seals in training. In order to quit their boot camp they have to ring the bell. My mantra for the duration will be "Don't ring the bell"
Trying to sleep the night before is next to impossible. Trying to relax was nearly impossible. My heart was still beating out of control but somehow I managed to drift off. I awoke and sat right up at 4 am. My alarm had not even gone off yet. I did not dream at all or did I? Was this a good or a bad sign?
We quickly load our bikes and head to the start to get a good parking spot. When we arrive it's still dark and a bit foggy. Things quickly start to take shape as riders show up and take their places in the start line.
Heading to line up I see Sheldon, racing for the sun, Derrick, wanting a finish, Jim D (who saved my ass last year by pulling me for five miles), Jay tackling his first and John rockin' the single speed. I place myself carefully in the 16 hr spot on the outside. I know that is not where I will finish but it's the best place for a claustrophobic rider since it's the least crowded.
As we start to take off the pace is high... 22-25 mph rolling out of town. There is no way I can hang on to this pace by myself. Good thing I am rolling in the middle of a group and they are pulling me along. We hit the gravel a few miles out of town. I passed three broken down and several flats. Already? Man this is going to be a long day.
Hang on.... there is more to come.