Friday, June 12, 2015

Girl Age 11 Crushes the Dirty Kanza 100

I was just pedaling along, minding my own business, focusing on the task at hand when I saw her.  I wasn't sure if she was a mirage or my eyes were playing tricks on me.  I have been to the Dirty Kanza five times now and have never seen anything like this.  Immediately I am awe struck by the young lady pedaling just ahead of  me. I am at a loss for words but I have to say something, I have to know who she is and how she got to this gravel road.

  It turns out she was real and not a figment of my imagination.  I met her Dad, who was pedaling at the head of their tandem. We exchanged pleasantries, wished each other good luck and we parted ways. I thought of that little girl all day long. When I mentioned seeing her to my husband at the first CP he said "hmmm, what else did you see out there", in a non-believing tone. I couldn't blame him though, it was a bit much to comprehend.  I saw her, I saw her mud encrusted ponytail and the smile she wore was genuine.  She was having the time of her life.  Who is she?

Josie Andre is an 11 yr old girl from Dubuque Iowa.  She will be attending Middle School in the Fall. Her Dad signed them up to ride a tandem in the Dirty Kanza 100, the Half Pint,  this past March. It didn't sound like he had to twist her arm, Josie likes to ride bikes.  She told me that her Mom, Traci Andre, was signed up to the 100 as well. She giggled while telling me that it was her and Dad racing Mom.  Even at her young age her feistiness and independence came through on our phone call.

Below are some thoughts from Josie's day.  She crossed the line at 9:20:51.  She was ranked 7th female out of fifty-two.  Quite impressive!

A special thank you to Josie's parents for letting me interview her and share her story.

Josie mentioned that she had been riding tandem "for a while" and the race was totally her Dad's idea. However, she wanted to do it.

 She had told her class mates she was riding the DK100 before school let out. When I spoke with her she had not told any of her friends of her accomplishment. I wonder what kind of reactions she received. Would they be able to grasp what she actually did?

Josie rocked a Free Flight jersey which was covered in mud most of the day. She assured me that she did not mind wearing the mud.

Josie ate lots of energy chews and guzzled Gatorade while riding co-pilot . At the half way point she ate half of peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chips.

I asked Josie what she thought about the mud.  She let out an exasperated OhMyGosh and said "that was reeeaaaalllllyyyy tough, really hard".  She didn't mind being muddy. " It was one of the few times I wouldn't get in trouble for being dirty", she said.  Spoken like a true gravel rockstar!

 However, she did  admit that the mud slop was her least favorite part of the race.  She mentioned how difficult it was to walk in mud caked shoes and push the bike. She was delighted when her Dad told her to hop on the bike as they were going to ride parts of it. She was not intimidated by the mud at all. I can't imagine how heavy their tandem was to push/drag/pull, can you?  

Josie's favorite part of the ride was being within one mile from the finish.  I can only guess how she felt completing an event a lot of adults would not even enter much less finish today.  She was part of 676 cyclists that lined up that morning, only 354 saw the finish line.  What a tremendous accomplishment for an 11 yr old girl!

Josie would like to ride the DK100 again, but under her own power with her own two wheels.  Yes, she wants a solo effort under her belt before she attempts the full 200.  After speaking with her I know she has the guts to go after it and the family support to be successful.

One more thought:  As I was putting this piece together my daughter was watching.  She was aware I had talked to Josie and she was interested in what Josie had to say.  Sydney read over my shoulder as I typed and then said "Mom, can I ride the Dirty Kanza with you some day"?  All I could do was smile and say "yes, if you want to".

Thank you Josie for inspiring myself and countless others to go after BIG things!

Go Josie GO! I will see you in 2016!

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