Monday, June 2, 2008

The texture of victory

Is pretty gritty.

First I want to say thanks to all the folks that I got to ride with throughout the race. I suck at names but I remember everybody and maybe I will get names and faces straight. I think this is sorta humorous cuz the race promoters seemed to know everybody there except me, which is understandable as I really have never done any of their events since I moved to KS a year ago. Anyhow much fun and many thanks to all the heartland crew and the supporters that were out there. I really did not know any of the other SS'ers as most of them were from Nebraska and had those purveyors of anarchy jerseys on. I was a little intimidated. I also think I saw Dustin Burghart (sp?) a fellow SS'er from out near Great Bend. We rode together for a lap at cruise the blues last year. However I failed to say hello, I am a scumbag when it comes to making acquaintances. back to the matter at hand.

Ok, first Dirty Kanza is an example of a well organized and challenging event that showcases parts of Kansas that most people will never see. My race bike was my IRO Rob Roy that I geared 42:18 and was rolling on IRC Mythos 35’s. I was a little bit intimidated when I saw how wide of tires everyone else was rolling. Most folks were rolling 42c up to 2.0 mtn bike tires. Pinch flatting would later play a large role for me cuz I was sloppy in minding my pressure. The race started at 6 am Saturday morning, with a prerace riders meeting at 5:45 am. The organizers were considering pushing back the start cuz of a large thunderstorm with large hail. Our first leg was supposed to be southerly so we were not sure if we would hit it. The directors decided to go ahead and start us, and we rolled out to a neutral start until we hit the gravel. Once we hit the gravel Dan Hughes and the crew from High Gear started leading us south toward Madison. After about 10 miles it readily became apperent that this was gonna be a race between Dan Hughes and Cameron Chambers. Several other Cycle City riders hung out at the front until they developed flats. Joe and I were riding together and Joe said that it was decision time, you could either try to hang on to the front pack or start pacing. I knew that there was no keepin up with the pace that was being set at the front (I spin out 42:18 at 21.5 mph), so I started riding with a few guys that came off the front.

They were all geared and kept up a pretty decent pace. One was a math teacher from Iowa, a guy on a Orbea 29er who was from SW Kansas, and the other was Dwayne Goskioski(sp?) from KC. My biggest mistake of the day was not drinking enough early, and I think that this affected a lot of folks other than myself. I hung with these geared guys until we got to Madison 50 miles later. Up till Madison I had been averaging about 17.5 mph according to my computer. From Madison we headed west across the flint ridges (as I call them) through the oil fields. It really is mind boggling how big Kansas is, and how Kansas is most definitely NOT flat. Once you got up onto of these ridges you could see for miles. This section from mile 50-100 was, in my mind, the most technically demanding due to the extremely coarse surface and terrain. I had a series of pinch flats that used up all my extra tubes. So on my last tube I got the pressure up as high as I could stand (about 65 psi) and this proved to work well. By the time I hit Cottonwood springs I was felling pretty rough. I had ran out of water at about mile 90 and had to stop and ask a lady if I could use her water hose. So I laid down and had a sandwich and tried to camel up as much as I could. I had Alison work on my legs for about 10 minutes and contemplated not leaving.

While I was the first single speeder to come into cottonwood fall, two other single speeders had already gone out ahead of me (the guy on the soul craft was in and out really quickly). But I packed my camelback full of ice and refilled my bottles with half strength Gatorade and started rolling south and west. Miles 100-150 was a loop that started and ended in cottonwood falls. The going south sections really sucked as this meant that you were bucking the wind. The westward sections sucked cuz you knew that soon you would be into the wind again. I ended up catching the SS’er on the soulcraft at about mile 120. I said hello and kept trucking up a hill, and about 2 miles later a rancher and his wife came up behind me and asked if I was going in the right direction. Apperently the Soulcraft rider had turned around and headed back. This meant (or so I thought) that there was only one SS’er still out in front of me. It was also right about here that to course turned and started heading north so that the wind was at my back. This did wonders for my spirits. I managed to chase down a couple of more geared riders before I turned back east towards Cottonwood falls. Ata the 150 mile mark I stopped at Casey’s General store to eat some greasy pizza, have a coke and advil, and buy ice to re pack my camelback. My teammates John Waller and Andrew Slater had called it quits at 100, and Brandon Bundy had a mechanical at 113 so they were all hangin out with Big Al when I picked up my map for the last section. I was also informed that I was the first place SS’er. It turns out that the other SS’er that I thought was in front of me after my long break at the half way point had taken an even longer break at Casey’s. As I rolled out to finish the last 50 miles I have to admit that I felt really good! Probably better mentally than at any other point in the race, but I still had intermittent cramps in my inner thigh from using that muscle to power through return (or upward) pedal strokes when climbing. As a result I walked a couple big hills. I also saw the guy from SW KS that I had ridden with earlier, at the dam of kahola lake. I stopped and inflated his tires with some of my CO2 as he was trying to pump up a 29er tire. He admitted that he was feeling pretty wasted and was having cramping problems. After I crossed the dam and went over that big “dam” hill I saw Dennis Grelk of Badger cycles patching a tube for like the 4th time. I still had two extra tubes so I offered him one and got him aired up. One thing that I learned is that no matter what hand pumps suck, and that air cartridges are where its at. Dennis and I had leapfrogged earlier in the race with flat tires, and he led for me for the next 15 miles. After we got through Americus and made the turn to go south we both took the wrong road. Dennis was out of site before I realized what had happened, so I turned around and back tracked. Dennis would finish almost an hour later than I did after what he described as a scenic but frustrating tour Americus….again. He really had some rotten luck. I finished the last 10 miles at a pretty good clip and managed to catch one rider that had gotten off coarse earlier with a couple miles to go. I managed to finish in 14:45, fifteen minutes under my finishing time goal, and win the SS class. After having something to drink and eat I rejoined my Cycle City compatriots outside to rings cowbells for the finishers. We were pretty proud of how we did as a team. Joe Fox finished in about 15:15, and seemed really pleased with that. The big gun for Cycle City Racing though, was Kristen High.

Kristen is only the second woman ever to finish this race and set the new women’s record, beating the old record by several hours. We were all really impressed by her positive attitude no matter what the circumstances. Way to Go Kristen! Cody Mathias and his dad, John, would finish next. They did this race as a “training” ride for the Leadville 100 race. The Mathias family was always ready to offer assistance and encouragement throughout the race. What a great group!

I really enjoyed this race and the challenges that it presented. I got to meet some really awesome people and see some great country with all the flora and fauna. I was especially perplexed by the dung beetles that I would see rolling little balls of poo across the road. I saw a nature show about dung beetles when I was a kid but never imagined that I would encounter one. I thought that they were confined to Africa or something.

Q: Why did the dung beetle cross the road?

A: To get his ball of poo to the other side…..stupid. This is what happens to your mind after 170 miles.

All in all the Cycle City team made a great showing and we definitely had a blast! Looking forward to DK version 4.0!


gpickle said...

Very nice ride sir! I was sitting in a chair at the last check with a half eaten piece of pizza in my lap and watched you roll out thinking, I should go now! But I didn't. Congrats on a fine ride and thanks for the good read.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Enjoyed your story and photos of the ride!

I really enjoy my Google Alert for Blogs on “Kansas Flint Hills!”
Yours came up today!
Our 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. promotes visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – the website is:
Hard to believe it has been over a year now since the 22 page color photo spread in National Geographic’s April 2007 Issue on the Kansas Flint Hills, as a distinctive landscape. We are now working to get the Kansas Flint Hills designated as a National Heritage Area.
We would appreciate a link from your site, to ours, if you are willing to do so. THANKS!
Best wishes!
Dr. Bill ;-)
Personal Blog:

Josh said...

Great Job!

MG said...

Hey Josh -- Great job in the race. You killed it on the SS, and I enjoyed your write-up -- thank you!

I believe we got to ride together for a while in the early going of the race. I was in a Salsa team jersey on an orange La Cruz 'cross bike. (I was 5th overall.) I stayed Cameron, Dan and Cornbread for about 65 or 70 miles before finally backing it off and pacing it down to something a little more sustainable for me... because I was clearly in a little over my head riding with those guys up front. I should have known, but it was pretty fun nonetheless.

Thanks again,