Thursday, January 14, 2016

Because Of YOU

It was October 2010.  I was sitting around a campfire with friends, acquaintances, and teammates. Very casually I brought up the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200 mile gravel ride through The Flint Hills in Kansas.  The mention of this  race/ride was met with several different reactions.... such as,  "what kind of person does that",  "I don't have the time to train for that", and  "now that's f****** crazy"!  Within minutes I said "I'm going to do the DK in 2011". I'm not sure if anyone took me seriously as I had been riding a bike for 2 years, mountain biking mostly.  My gravel experience was lacking but I was confident I could learn. Several minutes later the conversation switched gears and I left the camp site to go to the car.  On my return trip I overheard a conversation and stopped dead in my tracks to hear it.   They are talking about me.  

YOU:  "dude there's no f****** way"
Dude:  "maybe dude, maybe"
YOU:  "she could never ride 200 miles, she's trippin"

 Because of YOU, it's all because of YOU. YOU have fueled my fire. YOU have kept me going despite all the times I wanted to quit.  YOU must have delighted in my DidNotFinish in 2011. Mother Nature screwed a lot of us that year.  I bet YOU thought I would give up and not return to have another go at it.   YOU were wrong! 

Since my first initial failure I have tried to build myself up to become unstoppable. I put in time at the gym flipping tires and punching things, thinking of YOU and your remark as the days passed.  While out riding and climbing hills, I'd imagine YOU at the top and I would get to kick YOU in the face as I pass by, LOL.  

Redemption was mine in 2012, finishing around 1 a.m., over 19 hours of pedaling. Returning in 2013 I finished at 1:30 a.m., that was the year of the wind. (video here)  I returned in 2014 with a goal of 17 hours and crossed the finish line at 16:57.  I got to see the party! This past 2015 Dirty Kanza presented its own set of challenges, MUD!, enough said. Crossing the finish line at 1:15 a.m., another 19 hour finish,  exhausted, cold, and smothered in mud. Oops, forgot to mention smiling and satisfied.  

I would like YOU to eat your words. I want YOU to be wrong, again. YOU probably think my luck is going to run out, that I'm getting older, (47 this year) and there is "no way" I can finish. Well, YOU may be right or YOU may be wrong. All I will tell YOU, and the other six people reading this, is that I'm going to give it hell!  I am prepared to turn myself inside out in order to cross that finish line.  I will keep moving forward until I can't pedal another stroke.  My backup plan is to crawl and drag my bike behind me.  Unstoppable, just one more time.

In addition to experiencing another finish, which is amazing in itself, there is an opportunity for more.  Five Dirty Kanza 200's is over 1000 miles. Dan Hughes deemed that five 200 finishes were worthy of a gravel goblet, which is owned by only men. Because of YOU I have set my sights on this and will not rest until I accomplish it.  So,  thank you YOU. 

YOU are still an a$$hole. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Are You Dirty Kanza Dreaming?

I was doing some cleaning recently and found a ton of cat hair, a missing favorite sock, and my Dirty Kanza 200 fuel box.  I  opened it cautiously as I was not fully sure of its contents.  The last time I saw this box was June.  The insides revealed stale Extra gum, five Gu's, a FULL bottle of Endurolytes, rock hard fig newtons, and the mileage cheat sheet between the Checkpoints of the race.  The hair on the back of my neck began to stand up. It stood straight up!  My stomach immediately tied itself in knots and my breathing became erratic.   I thought I was going to get sick until the twisted smile appeared.  Was it too soon to think about this race/ride?  I say absolutely not!

The 2016 edition of the DK200 will take place on Sat. June 4th.  This day also happens to be my husbands 48th Birthday.  Our 17th Wedding Anniversary is the following day so we were thinking  we should plant ourselves on the couch all weekend, eat cake, drink beer and watch a "Real Housewives" marathon.   How can I ask him to give up "his day" ??  The lure of possibly snagging that Gravel Goblet is strong but... I've already asked enough over the years.   He spent his 43rd Birthday suffering in the Flint Hills in 2010, it was ridiculously hot and then a horrendous storm broke out. For the past five years  he has given up every weekend revolving around this event.  He has driven the 12 hour round trip every single time.   Dare I even ask?  Hell,  this past year he was my support crew.  He followed me around, waited on me at the checkpoints, and stayed awake until I finished at 1:16 in the morning.  I couldn't possibly ask him to do it again, let alone on his birthday.  He would surely laugh at the suggestion.   Well, enough about me.  Let's talk about you.

Don't worry.  You still have about two months to decide if you are going to hop on the crazy train with 1,000 other riders (for the 200) .   Sign up is on Sat. January 9th at 8am. Don't hesitate to register, this event will sell out.   Grab your spot and then book a room somewhere. Trust me.

Having completed this challenge four times I can assure:

 1. You will not be disappointed
 2. It will be hard but you can do it.
 3. You will learn a lot about yourself
 4. You will make friends for life
 5. When you finish EVERYTHING you went through will be totally worth it.

Once you sign up in January you have nearly six months to figure out what I refer to as  "The DK Puzzle".  The puzzle has six parts. Support Crew.  Bike. Nutrition. Training. Checkpoint plan. Gear. You have about six months to make mistakes and learn from them, go big!  You also have more than enough time to build your mind and your behind for this challenge.  This event is going to be a HUGE effort but you have what it takes within you to complete it, believe that.  Do the work, reap the benefits.

I have to be honest with you and tell you that I have been pulling your leg. A few days ago Chamois Butt'r asked the team who would be representing at the DK and I signed on.  My hubby is very supportive and is alright with " just one more"  trek to Kanza. (Angela, can we have the basement again?)  Jim  has offered to be my Support Crew again too!  Yes, I do know how lucky I am.

Sign up and I'll see you there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cuban Gravel Crisis 2015

What does it take to get you out of bed early, I mean even before the chickens wake up??  Over the years I have learned that occasionally you have to sacrifice precious sleep and wake up at 3:45am to do epic stuff.  I've also never been disappointed by waking up early.  No regrets, not ever.

The first annual Cuban Gravel Crisis  took place on Sat., Oct 17th.  This gravel ride is a pick your own poison type of thing.  You could choose a 20 mile option for $6 or pay $20 for the 50 miles version.  Those who want to get their moneys worth will pay $20 for the full boat, 102 miles of gravel goodness.  Considering the options it was a no-brainer.   Cuba MO is just 1 and 1/2 hours from my house. I had the legs, the time, $20 and a sitter.  I'm down.

My Warbird was brought into the house and given a good once over on Thursday.  "Viper" has been ridden a lot lately and has been well maintained, he needs to be since I depend on him for 500+ miles per month.   He has a new chain, bar tape and fresh meats.  All items necessary and well deserved.  In fact I wrestled the new tires, Sammy Slicks 35's,  on it that evening.  It took me a ridiculously long time to get them on, all the while I hoped I did a good job.  Jim was in Utah hiking and stuff so I couldn't ask a second opinion and use his eyes.   I'm confident that I had the rotation arrows correct, sometimes I get sloppy lining it up on the rim.  A Busch Wildlife gravel/off road ride was my test run.  Those 15 miles went fine.  I put in a little more air and crossed my fingers.

The drive to Cuba was dark and quiet. Damn, I wish I knew someone coming from my area to ride with.  I have no one to "discuss" my plan with, talk about CP's transitions, timing.... or work out my butterflies.  Am I prepared for this? Do I have enough food? Will I run out of water? Talking that out helps me see if my plan is actually a good one or if I need to make adjustments.  Helps my nerves too.    When I arrived my check in was quick and efficient and Josh Brown, race director, gave me the lo down and told me where I could park.

Number 227 reporting for duty

Within minutes I was naked in my car at the First Baptist Church changing for the ride.  Forgive me please. There weren't any other options from what I saw.  Dressing for the day was going to be a challenge, starting temp was 36 degrees and would reach only the mid 50's.  I knew I should start cold but the pansy inside of me was yelling "go for warm and just peel".  I settled on "almost warm" with leg warmers, arm warmers and a windproof Vaude jacket.  Before we take off I would slide a Hot Hands in each glove.  Brrrr. One thing I hate is cold hands.  I had on wool socks because I hate having cold feet too.

A few moments before 7am there was a short meeting.  Josh informed us that there was plenty of fresh gravel and to be mindful that some of it was laid on a few inches thick and may be a little on the chunky side.  My heart started racing when I heard that and I took a look at my wheels. Please let my tire set up be tight.   Josh said the course was marked with green arrows... certain spots were also marked with small flags and large yellow signs thanking motorists for sharing the roads.  We were also given cue sheets at registration so it was all good.

Be mindful of loose gravel  Borrowed from

My strategy was to do the best I could and be home by 7pm.  We rolled out as it was still a bit dark, I followed the red blinking lights down the road. Damn, those guys off the front are super fast. I could hold that pace for about a minute, maybe two.   Man I'm cold.  And hungry. My belly is growling, I hope no one can hear it.  Not a very good way to start a race/ride with two major obstacles in the way but it was the hand I was dealt.  I knew I would warm up once the sun came out, the hunger was different. I had plenty of fuel with me I just hoped my stomach would accept it.   My Camelbak was filled with a heavy CarboRocket mix.  I had pizza in a squeezie thing, a Snickers and Trail Nuggets.
Not me.  I'm in the background though.

The cooler temps meant that the snot rockets would be flying.  I have done my due diligence and practiced so I don't feel bad for those riding near me or behind me.  What I am worried about is dehydrating!  There was a lot of snot rockets laid out in that first forty miles.   Just when I thought I was done and I couldn't possibly make any more I would. I'm happy to report that I managed to snot myself twice and my fellow riders were unscathed.  Practice, practice, practice.

Within a few miles I hear "Hey, are you that Wendy Davis"?  I say, "Maybe, what has she done"?  He says his name is John Porter and he follows my stuff, blog and FB page, he finds me humorous... "you are being funny, right"?  I'll never tell. He is a member of the Dirty Dog Pack and seems nice so I let him stay.  Looking around I see 4 guys, (Giant, florescent jacket, maroon jacket, and John) and realize I need to stay with them or ahead of them for the next 98 miles.  We are the back of the pack.

 The sun starts to peek out within the hour.  I reach into my jersey pocket to grab my sunglasses and SNAP!!  They break in half and I immediately feel the bile rise in my throat.  My husband hated those glasses but I loved them.  I also needed them!  Having had surgery on both of my eyes makes it imperative to keep dust and the bright sunlight out.  Over the next hour I develop a smart headache and my eyes feel like sandpaper.  However,  no reason to feel sorry for me.  I'm still pedaling and have a twisted grin on my face. I'm warm, the sun is out, my legs feel good.  That is a lot of positives.  Patience is what is needed here. Thirty miles until the gas station.  That won't take very long will it?  At least I am in good company.

The scenery is beautiful.  If you are driving through this area you miss so much.  Plus you don't get the feelings of seeing gravel as far as you can see knowing you have to pedal it. You have to use your legs and lungs to get to the end.  You also don't get to feel the hills. They were impressive.  As the sun came out and the day unfolded we were treated to Fall leaves just starting to change, uninterested dogs, and rising temps.

Our first checkpoint is at mile 25.  Smiling volunteers take our number and offer food and water from their truck.   John and I are still riding together and sucking wind up the steep hills.  I remembered seeing the elevation listed near 7K but was told not to trust it as it was definitely more.  John mentioned that "this reminds me a lot of The Ogre".  I have not done the Ogre but heard it was an incredible leg shredder.  Too bad it's no longer an option to ride... One of y'all should pick that up, dontchathink?

Less than 3 and 1/2 hours later John and I roll into the gas station, CP2.  I tell him I need to buy glasses and use the john, I don't think he caught that, LOL  I also said "Are you going to leave me"?  He mumbled something I did not hear.  I purchased some glasses and used the john and was out in less than 3 minutes.  I look around and no John. Awww man, he left me.  This is when I meet his wife Betsy.  She says John just left "but you can catch him".  She offers me a fig newton, I love 'em, but not today.  It's like chewing a tire and tasted awful.  I pedaled out of her sight and spit it out.  Thank goodness for the liquid calories.  

Holy Hell!  there are some HILLS in Cuba MO.  Crazy steep!  I remember one specifically that I had to lean forward while in my granny gear.  I was afraid I was going to slide off my saddle and tumble down it, no kidding.  The amazing thing is that I was able to ride them, well most of them. (I want to thank Spinning classes)   I will admit to walking three hills and  do not feel the least bit hurt about it.   It felt good to stretch my calves that were screaming and my feet that were on the verge of going numb.  Walking is another gear, isn't it? 

So, now I'm chasing John down now.   How dare he leave me.  When I catch him..... He doesn't understand that when you are a woman you take advantage of indoor potties.  I'm completely alone for the next 18 miles.  I finally catch John at the C station that was not a CP.  I spot him on the side of the building, he looks in my direction and says "are you stopping"?  I say "NO, and I'm dropping you like a bad habit, just like you dropped me".  A huge smile was on my face as I turned my bike away from him and proceeded to turn myself inside out.  I want to put the hurt on John so he understands the error of his ways, LOL    I head out onto the gravel hoping the hills are less impressive for the next 22 miles.

It takes a while before John catches me, not sure on mileage since I didn't pack my Garmin. Whoops!  He rolls up next to me and I'm genuinely happy to see him. It can get very lonely out there.  John apologizes and I forgive him.  The next 15 miles gives some hellacious rolling hills and chunky gravel.  Mountain biking skills paid off  big time when I picked some bad lines and helped me confidently bomb the downhills.  It was in the section I caught air and scared/surprised John.  I told him that "I knew what I was doing".  I may be slow but I have some skills.

It was on this section that I decided I was on a ride and when I finished I finished.  John and I stopped twice on this section just to breath, take it all in and admire our views.  After several lungfuls of air we pedaled on. We continued to get along so we stayed together.

Checkpoint 3 is at Josh's house. What hospitality!  I was tickled when we arrived because there were pickles left and I got to meet the ill tempered cat, who turns out to be a sweetheart and came right to me for a pet.  John pulls out a smashed banana and I giggle saying "you need one of these", and I flash him my banana keeper.  He is totally jealous, I remove my banana and it is perfect.  Bananas and pickles lead to interesting burps, thought you should know.

We have 20 miles to the finish.  We feel good, we look good, and the lady at the CP said it was "all downhill from here".  We knew she was lying but we also knew the worst was behind us.  On this section we meet some horse riders, we slow down and pass very carefully.  It's turned out to be a beautiful day!  Several miles later we encounter a very unhappy cowboy at the reins of a horse and buggy.  We slow down, I smile and start to say "Good Afternoon" and then stop.  He is giving us one of those "if looks could kill" glares. We went by without incident, I hope his day got better.

Within two miles of the finish a young man comes flying by us. I'm like "Damn, who does he think he is pulling that crap two miles out"?  I want to go after him but want to finish with John.  I chose the latter.  Turns out that John knows him and he says something like "he can't let this old man beat him".   Well, I think he beat us by a minute. And next year he won't beat us, the old folks, giggle.

Race Results

When I arrived at the finish line Josh congratulated me for being 3rd Woman and handed me a sweet monogrammed towel.  We were offered beers, water, food, it was awesome.  Josh brought over a box of items saying "I saved some stuff for you guys", and we each grabbed water bottles.  How cool was that?  Before I left I was also handed a cool Public House Pint glass and a handful of chocolate.  Pedaling back to my car I was happy having made a new friend and satisfied with my effort for the day.

I dug into my backpack to retrieve my keys.  I had attached them many hours ago with a large green carabiner.  I pull out the jacket I carelessly shoved in there and the carabiner falls out, no keys.   I dig around in the pack and low and behold the keys were in there!!!  Not kidding. (John was there as my proof)  I guess that means that God isn't mad at me for changing in the First Baptist parking lot.  Good thing too, I was getting ready to do that again before driving home.


The date for next year has already been assigned. It's October 15, 2016.  Mark your calendars!  This race/ride was very well organized and had wonderful volunteers. The event was well attended and had some great sponsors.  The course was well marked and offered over 10K of climbing!  The views were incredible and the price was definitely right. This event also boasts a 100% finish rate for the 100 miler!   I can only see this getting bigger and better.  It's in the right hands to do just that.  

 Yup, that kind of shit happens when you are expending an effort.  And your body starts to hurt.  Tell it to shut up and keep going.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leadbelt 2015

It was Saturday evening, about 830pm, when my husband said, "Hey, you wanna do Leadbelt tomorrow"?  With absolutely no preparation I thought about it for ten seconds and said "Of course", and immediately went to the garage to see where my mountain bike was.  It's been hanging silently on a wall, yes, I am a bad dirty girl.  Honestly, since getting the Salsa Warbird I have been having gravel dreams and dirt has been at the back of my brain.

Setting my Kona Big Unit on the floor I gave him a quick once over.  Tires need air, clean and lube chain, check which gear is on (32x20), needs a quick scrub and tighten some things down.  Yup, it's now 9pm, race in 12 hours, LOL.  Either way, I will be ready to pedal for 3 hours, once I locate the rest of my stuff.

You never want to miss a Mark Grumke production.  He puts his heart and soul into the course, making it as shreddly perfect as possible. Having followed his many FB updates I knew this years trail would be just as awesome as last years.  I had gotten in four laps so that was my goal this year.  The course was 7.7 miles of twisty, rocky goodness.   Mark had been working on a small  rocky culvert for weeks,  I didn't think it would be an issue.

Love our new 1UP!!!

Sunday morning we were running late and made a wrong turn, it was a rough start kind of morning. We all kept our cool because we were going to ride bikes, being late wasn't going to ruin it. Fortunately,  I was able to change into my kit at a nearby gas station. We rolled into the park in true Trail Monster time at 8:50am   There was no time for socializing or warm-up, just enough time to sign up for the Marathon category and head to the start line. I looked around for my EE teammate Nathan, he said he could spare a couple of scoops of CarboRocket since I had only two scoops, 222 calories, for the entire race.  I stopped worrying about calories as I got in line and hoped my skillz would make an appearance.

Holy Crap! It was hot and humid, just as you would expect in the Midwest in July.  The trail being beautifully manicured had helped to take away from it's jungle-like feel. Even if you were standing still sweat was rolling off.   Midway through the 1st lap it felt like I was breathing in someone's armpit, not that I have ever done that.  Stopping to catch my breath and hyperventilate was not something I had envisioned doing today, but I was going to have to deal with.  Sweat was burning in my eyes adding to my misery. I seriously I felt like I was falling apart, one piece at a time..  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  Was I failing already? Geez, I just got started.

Thanks Jeff Henderson!

Negativity crept into my mind and gripped my brain and  I said some awful things to myself. Moments later I remembered that negative self talk never works and stopped.  I gave myself consent to walk and catch my breath and permission to melt later if necessary.  Then I hopped on my bike and pedaled. Damn, lap 1 was difficult.

photo by Jeff Henderson

Heading out on Lap#2 I felt much better.  Having cold water and a new attitude helped tremendously.  In the middle of my mind was the fact that pedaling was going to be a challenge soon, those 222 calories were long gone. I didn't see Nathan yet and reminded myself that I was not racing, I was just surviving.  I can survive on very limited calories.  Either way, I wasn't going to add worry to the day,  I was riding my bike in the woods and all was good. The Cat 1, 2, and 3 racers started to zip by me about half way through this lap.   It's very disconcerting to be passed by soooo many riders.  This is when I remind myself to "chill out" and just pedal.  Four laps is still the goal.  I did not bring my Garmin and had no idea what time it was.  (I didn't even look at the time clock when I passed each lap)  Having not been mountain biking much this year I did not want to beat myself up any further by looking at slow times.  Pedal and smile, four laps.

Sliding out on Lap#3 scored me a huge bruise, damn rocks!  Luckily, no one was around to see it.  I picked myself up and dusted myself off and hopped back on.  As I rode I thought maybe, just maybe, my Kona tossed me there, you know, as a payback for all the non-riding.... I patted the handlebars and asked not to be thrown again.  I've been riding just over 2 hours, legs burning, stomach churning, and sweating like a man, absolutely dreading another lap.  I know I should probably ingest some calories but the thought of food nauseates me.  Damn, I still don't see Nathan.

Thank goodness for muscles or that might hurt

The last mile of Lap 3 all I can think of is stopping and pouring an adult beverage down my gullet.  In about 4 minutes it will all be over.  As I roll up to the Finish I hear Mark say, "It's only 2:47 on the clock, you got another one in ya" ?  I mumble loudly, "Shit"!  and I know I will keep pushing on. Dan Bressler hooks me up with some ice cold water and I am out on Lap 4.  I know I need to hurry so I don't miss the kids race. I'm running on empty but know that food would be a bad thing to introduce.  I feel drained but weightless as I pedal, it's hard to explain.  Lap 1 was ridiculously hard yet somehow I made it to Lap 4.  Pedaling through the rocky, wet culvert for the fourth time I pat myself on the back.  Unscathed! Save for the slide out in the rocks.

Finishing Lap 4 was awesome!  As I pedaled in I hear riders yelling my name and cheering for me.  All their noise made me feel like I had won, which couldn't be further from the truth.  I was DFL, dead freaking last.  The results page would not show my victories.... I knew.  Not quitting, being able to calm myself to continue, staying upright, riding each lap smoother than the last and completing four laps were my victories.  For not being prepared, I am quite happy with my efforts.

Chocolate Milk!!!

The Kona set up at 32x20 ran flawlessly.  Tubeless tire pressure was roughly 25psi.  Calorie intake was about 300 calories for the day, not recommended.

On yer mark, get set....

I finished just in time to see the Kids Race.  I love seeing their "game faces" and pushing them selves to their limits.  This year I have two kiddos in the race and they are riding brand new Trek's, thanks Momentum! The kids trail was separate from the race course.  It was 1/3 mile long and was open all day for the kiddos to ride. Their race would be 5 laps.

The race started at 1:15pm, the hottest, muggiest time of the day.  The boys and girls lined up did not let it phase them. They had been waiting for this All day.

Go girl!

Leading out the first lap is my 9yr old daughter, followed closely by my 9yr old nephew.  The next lap I see my nephew out in front, grinning from ear to ear. The kids are having a great time pedaling in circles.  I heard it wasn't all fun when one of the girls slid out coming around a turn.  It turns out that one of the older boys, in a different race, stopped to help her get up and back on her bike. He may have lost 1st place due to his chivalry.....
Isaiah (in red) in the lead

The race comes to it's last lap and the kids are pulling out everything they have.  Sydney crosses the line first and my nephew, Isaiah, is right behind her.  They are covered in sweat and laughing. Yay for bikes!

Out of earshot, my daughter tells me that she let Isaiah pass her on one of the laps.  I asked her why and she said "because I wanted him to see what it felt like to be in 1st place".  Awwww.  What a sweet kid!

What an awesome way to spend a Sunday!  Thanks Mark and volunteers!  The Davis' will be back in 2016!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Meet The Newest Trail Nugget Ambassador

Recently I was chosen to be in the Rodeo Adventure Labs Trail Nugget Ambassador Program.   So exciting and quite a game changer to have a fuel sponsor!  Proper fueling means I can ride faster and for longer periods.  As an endurance athlete that means a lot.  I am very eager to get to know this company better and be a formidable ambassador for them.

  My husband was waiting for me at a Checkpoint at the DK200 and handed a few samples, which were full size nuggets. After we got home I was cleaning up my gear and came across them.  Intrigued and still starving from riding over 19 hours I opened the Peanut CoCo Apocalypse   flavor. In a word it was scrumptious!  I scoured my gear box for another, no luck but there were other flavors.

I took the remaining bars/nuggets on recovery rides and longer endurance pedals.  The Lemon Almond Hot Date bar was with me on a recent 60 miler.  It was an incredibly humid day, mid 90's, and I was sweating more than I was breathing.  I was  nervous pulling it from my jersey, the nugget probably melted like most do.  The packing was still perfect and the nugget was exactly the same as it was three hours ago.  I broke it into four pieces and ate as I pedaled.  I was very surprised I liked it because I am not a huge lemon bar fan, obviously I hadn't found the right lemon bar yet.  Returning to my Jeep I wished I had another Peanut Coco Apocalypse nugget to snack on while I drove home.  I bet those are awesome paired with a glass of ice cold milk.

I did not get to try the Just Beet It Trail Nugget yet.  I love beets so I expect I will like this flavor as well.  The fact that the bars are made with ingredients I can pronounce and understand is important because there is a lot of junk out there.  They are also natural, vegan, raw, kosher, and gluten free.

You can go here to see how Trail Nuggets started and go here to purchase some nuggets for yourself.  You are going to love 'em!  Like their FaceBook page to stay in the loop.  If you see me out and about ask me about Trail Nuggets, I may even have some to share.