Monday, June 19, 2017

Dirty Kanza 2017


It has been a while since my last post...I like doing this but I guess I feel it's getting old for a lot of people...oh well...I like telling my story so here it is...my 2017 DK half.

Hmmm...I'm not sure where to begin...how about the week before. I'm sure I'm like most of the gravel riding loonies out there and watched the weather waaaay too close for peace of mind...as most of you know the weather wasn't being very cooperative right up into Thursday morning in Emporia...all I could think about was how long it was going to take to walk/run the now infamous mud march from 2015.


From the looks of the picture above I had good reason to worry! With that planted squarely in the front row of my brain I watched the forecast and the radar hoping it would change for the better. Thankfully the Gods of Gravel and Mother Nature had a meeting and the Gravel Gods convinced her to lift her foot of the Precipitation accelerator on Thursday afternoon. With nothing but a big blue sky, a little heat and wind on Friday to help dry things out, when I arrived on Friday about 12:30 and drove down to the first turn on to gravel I was optimistic that it was going to be dry on Saturday...barring a late night sneak attack ala 2016...

With the weather sort of behind me now it was time to sign in and head to the rider meeting. I was glad we went to the first meeting at 1:00, it was standing room only and I didn't want to go to the one at 7:00pm...I wanted to be ready and chillin in my hotel which is what I was doing!

Now with my bike ready, my clothes laid out and my breakfast set up and ready to be made it was time to chill and eventually sleep...does anyone ever get a good nights sleep before the Dirty Kanza??? I don't think I ever really sleep...but maybe I get about 4 hours of shut eye...not enough but it's been that way for me for the last 7 years....oh well.

4:00am...race day...I get up and grab some caffeine...love me some caffeine! As I sit there and drink I think about what is about to happen...everything is ready so I'm good. I put in the saddle time, worked out my nutrition and even bought gravel specific tires for 2017. I'm pretty sure I put more thought into this year than years past. The main reason was to finish...DNFs are for the birds and I ain't got no feathers!!!!

Coffee gone and breakfast ate I kit up and head to the start line at about 5:20am. Between the coffee and my nerves I did a pretty good interval for a warm up to the start. You know what they say...the longer the race the shorter the warm up. We stayed about 4 miles away and I drilled 3 of 'em.

Anyway...I'm not a fan of lining up behind people I don't know so I always get to the start with plenty of time to spare so I can nab a spot on the front row. The 200 finally rolls out and the 100 rolls to the line and I find my spot on the front as I have for the last 4 years. Most of the people that line up at the front are there to cross the line first...I suppose that includes me but I don't go in saying I'm going to win...I do my best because that's all I can do, if I happen to win right on if not I did my best.

GO!! We're off and rolling towards the first turn and I'm right where I want to be. As we turn onto the gravel I can't help but wonder about the mud march section at mile 9ish...it doesn't last long because I have to focus on the task at hand...racing on gravel. We were rolling 20+ mph for the majority of the time and with that speed we topped the last hill before the mud march quickly and much to my surprise and relief it was fast and DRY!!!

Now is where the "fun" begins...I ride a rigid carbon 29er MTB with a flat bar and bar ends. As we race onto this section of "B" road I allow a little distance between myself and the guy in front of me, the reason is simple, there are more things to cause chaos on these roads so a little extra room is a good thing. Racing along about a mile into the "mud march" section I'm in the left track and the guy in the right track wants to come over. He looks and I say take it, so he stands up to cross from right to left in front of me, with plenty of room I might add, as he crosses the middle I see his front wheel start to wash out. As dude is crossing, I have my hands on the bar ends no where near the brakes and no time to grab the brakes it happened so fast...as he is going down, I say aloud...very loud...HOLY SHIT!!!

Now I'm thinking...he's going down in front of me and I am gonna crash my brains out on gravel, dirt and rocks...for a brief moment I was mad, after all this is why I lined up on the front row to avoid such things. So as I'm rolling at this guy at speed, I start drifting towards the ditch and think I'm gonna flip into the ditch at speed. This seemed a little better than wadding myself up on gravel. As I get closer I see a spot in the ditch that has been scooped out, is round and rideable. With my hands still on the bar ends I pick a line and go for it. I Rambo through the ditch into the grass next to the fence and Rambo back again to the road unscathed and punch it to get back on the train I was with. As I was coming back on to the road I took a quick look back and a small pile up had occurred due to Mr. Wheel washer outter. I shook my head in disbelief and laughed for the next mile because I couldn't believe I pulled that off...I guess being a longtime MTBer pays off sometimes. From that point on the HOLY SHIT moments were done for the day...

Back on the back of the lead train the next10 miles fly by uneventfully...then we hit the first long climb over the highway. This is where I was dropped. At the time I was thinking no bid deal I will get back on in a mile or 2 but that never happened. Oh well time to settle into my race which is what I did. For the next hour and a half or so I picked my way through the 200 milers and occasionally would latch onto a group that was rolling as fast or even a little faster than me until they slowed for whatever reason and I would roll on.

The dry and crazy fast conditions had me roll into the checkpoint in 2:41:00. This is by far my fastest time to the checkpoint, by about 30 minutes. Flying!

Now at the checkpoint, I wasn't hungry at all so I survey what I might want or need and all I did was drink some Gatorade, water and grab 2 fresh mix bottles and blasted off. My shortest pit stop ever!!

Earlier this year while daydreaming about the DK and rooting around on the web I stumbled across someone who was talking about their nutrition plan for such things and said they were using "Infinitgofar" and went on to say they didn't have to carry solid food with this stuff...I was like yeah right. So I started doing some research and the Infinit web site says their formula allows endurance racers/riders to keep going without the need for solid food....hmmm...I think to myself, if this stuff works it would lighten the load on me and my bike so I bought some to give it a go out on the long 5-6 hour training rides.

For the century rides I did in prep for the DK, I purposely went out on an empty stomach with this stuff in my bottles to see if it would work as advertised. I didn't go out without any food, I took a Clif bar and a couple of gels and some money just in case. To my surprise the stuff actually worked. For the 104 mile ride I drank 4 bottles of InfinitGofar, 3 bottles of water, half a Clif bar and one gel pack which I didn't really need, and a can of Coke at 75 miles because it was hot and I wanted one! To make sure this wasn't a fluke I did the same route the following weekend with more or less the same results. At this point I decided I would do this for the Dirty Kanza. Here's the site if you wanna do a little research https://www.infinitnutrition.us/go-far.html okay so I have enough computer skill to write a blog...copy and paste the site because I am too tired to figure out how to make it a link...SHEESH!

Anyway...I roll out of the checkpoint in 9th place and feeling pretty good. About 5 miles into the second leg I was following a guy that was a couple hundred yards up the road and he blows past the right turn on the B road where it all fell apart last year...being the nice guy that I am I yell at the guy and point to the turn he missed and away I go. He stayed a ways behind me for about the next 10 miles but when he finally caught me he said thanks to which I responded, no worries. He's the guy in the pic below behind me.


Shortly after this another rider comes up to us and the 3 of us ride together for a while. After about 5 miles with these dudes I start to unravel and let them go. Alone again and I'm good with it. I can see a rider up the road a ways and I'm slowly but surely gaining on him. In the time that I saw this guy I came across a farmer lady who had just set up her cooler for some Emporia farmer neutral support. I asked her what she had and she said bottled water and some Gu bites...I think...and a few other things. I didn't really care about the other things because it was getting hot and it was already humid, so I asked for a bottle of water and she handed me one, I slammed about half and handed it back and she kindly poured the rest on my head...which hit the spot!!

Now refreshed...for about the next 5 minutes...I roll on and set out to catch the rider ahead of me. after about 5 miles I finally pass Brandon Beehner from Illinois, he had stopped for something and as I pass I asked if he was good and he said yes. A few miles later he caught up to me and I decided to make a deal with him. It was, we will work together to get this over with sooner rather than later and just do what you can without killing yourself and me and I will do the same. The deal was made and after that I said if you need water, he did, and see a farmer with a cooler we are stopping to which he responded RIGHT ON!

For the next 45 minutes or more we were looking hard at every house we passed and it was starting to get depressing! At about 21 miles to go we pass a rider that was laying in the grass on the side of the road, as we pass I ask if he was good and he said yes i'm cramping. About a mile later there was a Farm couple with a cooler full of iced down bottled water...WOOOHOOOOooo!! I didn't really need it but Brandon did so we stopped. I had about half a Camel Bak and 1 bottle left for liquid so I took the opportunity to fill my empty so I could have some cold water and poured another bottle on my head. All squared away we roll out again. As we are riding away the guy that was laying in the grass rolls up with another rider.

A mile or 2 down the road I see the 2 that we left are riding and I asked Brandon if he wanted to wait? He said no, so I was good with it and replied if they catch us right on, if not, no worries. About a mile later they came charging by and I said lets go and we jumped on the train. For the next 9 miles we were killing it again. We make a turn onto road R and I start to come unglued, fortunately there's a railroad crossing about a half mile up the road and as I'm crumbling a train comes and the group slows and I dig to catch back up and get recovered. We slow rolled the half mile and by the time we got to the crossing it was gone and the group mentality was on kill again. I was recovered and was taking pulls again. We managed to stay together for about 3 more miles before it took it's toll.

In that 3 miles we had picked up another rider, Dallas McCarter from Lawrence Kansas, and the 3 of us couldn't match the pace of the 2 strong men we had just let go. It was about this time we had noticed if we pull our heads out we could finish in under 6 hours. It was about this time we were on the last long flat road, about 3 miles before we go under the highway and hit pavement for the final stretch through the college. I knew Brandon was more or less toast, he's a big dude and Dallas had been telling me he was toast for the last 8 miles. So I took it upon myself to try and get us to the line in under 6 hours. I go to the front and pull along at 18 mph for about 2 miles before I needed a break. I pull off and tell them I need a break to which Brandon said I can't pull 18 and I said I just need a break and do what you can. So I sit on the back as we roll along at 14mph, which was killing me, after about a 30 second break I go back to the front and drive it to the tunnel.

Once on pavement we face one more hill...I said a few good words for this last hill, use your imagination! Anyway, Dallas, who is quite a bit smaller than Brandon or myself, goes ahead a little and gaps me on the hill, Brandon was done at this point. I'm thinkin, oh hell no! So I dig deep and punch it over the top to find a right turn to a downhill. This gets me right back to him, so now he's telling me "it's all you, you did all the work coming home so it's all you". All this is being said while the pace is increasing. As he and I come onto Commercial street, he puts his head down and drives the pace hoping it would be enough that I couldn't come by. As we get about halfway down the chute I grab 2 gears and drill it by him to which he responded "okay, you're good" and we crossed the line.

My computer said 5:58:48 but that's not the time that counts...officially the time was 6:01:50...close but not under...I guess stopping twice for water probably put us over the mark but that's okay...ice cold water at that time hit the freakin spot and I would totally do it again!!!!!

The next day I had the ridiculous urge to attempt the 200...I'm not sure if that will happen but right now I think I will give it a go...it's 6 months until I have to make a commitment to it and I may change my mind because I really want to do Leadville again but that's about as slim a possibility as it will be to get in the Dirty Kanza in 2018.


Here's to getting in to both in 2018!!

I love riding my bike!

E

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016...don't let the door hit ya!

Courtesy of Roger Harrison


So I planned on writing about my cross race season but obviously that didn't happen. I had an okay cx season, with a couple of good rides but no podiums. In hindsite I think I should have taken another week off after Leadville for the simple fact that I don't think I was fully recovered when I started doing work for a good cross season and I finally rear its ugly head when I went to Tulsa to race the Cyntergy Hurtland race.

I started that race but felt so terrible and felt like I was going so slow that I pulled the plug after a lap and a half...this is not typical for me, quitting that is, and as soon as I got back to my truck I fully regretted it...it's such a bitter pill to swallow...I hate it!


Courtesy of Roger Harrison


Once I got home I briefly thought about doing the 360 race in Lawrence but felt so beat down in general that I called it a season. I felt like shit for the next 3 weeks! If I happen to get in to Leadville again, I did put my name in again, I will take at least 2 weeks off, or at least one completely away from the bike and another week of recovery rides.

Moving on...as I stated I have thrown my name in for Leadville again. The reason is simple, I think I can go faster. Without any reference I more or less stayed within myself to ensure I would finish strong, which as I recall, once at the bottom of the last/first climb (St. Kevins) I went all in and was going flat out, it was nice to be able to do that after 10 hours of riding...I managed to blow by some riders and successfully ride the Boulevard, which is the last bit of technical riding before you get to town. By the way it's big loose rock with no real line to follow...momentum and skill will get you through dab free.

Hopefully I get in again, with that, I hope to get in the Dirty Kanza Half Pint again. 2016 was to be the last ride there but that fell apart and I DNF'd so I will go back in 2017 if I'm lucky enough to get in...


Courtesy of Doug Bolton



Anyway...2016 is in the rear view and I'm looking forward to riding and racing in 2017!

-E

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The 2016 Austin Rattler, Dirty Kanza Halfpint and The Leadville Trail 100.

From the shore of Twin lakes near Leadville.

It's been a while since the last post...the 2015 DK I believe. Since then I've had ups and downs on the bike...during CX last year I think it was more down then up. I beat myself into sports induced anemia and kept getting sick...which sucked ass...needless to say 2015 could've been better.

Moving on...during the 2015 CX season I was on the trainer to get some weekly work done due to bad weather and decided to watch "Race Across the Sky". This is the race in and around the town of Leadville CO. that LA won a few years ago...I know he's a cheatin bastard but whatever.

As I watched I started thinking I wanted to do this...so I told a couple friends of mine that we will enter this as a team so if only one of the 3 of us get picked we all get in...they were on board at the time...only myself and one other entered the lottery...zero invites came from that. At this point I really wanted to do this race and the next option was to travel to a qualifier race and my best option was in Austin Texas in April.

I tried to convince my long time riding buddy to go down there with me but to no avail...so it was me and my oh so hot girlie pit crew of one to make the trip. So basically from mid January til April 8th I busted my ass the best I could, outside when the weather cooperated and on the effin trainer more than I ever had since I started riding...no point in going to try and do something "sort of" prepared...so train I did.

Finally the time to head south was upon us...was I ready...as ready as I could be I think. So we head south and finally arrive in a town called Bastrop...it's about 15 minutes from the venue and about as close as you can stay without camping.

I guess the stars were aligned for me because 4 cars were broken into at the hotel we stayed at, ours was passed by, the weather leading up to the race was hell hot, it clouded over and was in the low 70s on race day and finally...I set my goal time at 5 hours or faster thinking this would be good enough to get in on performance...not to be...I beat my goal by 8 minutes or so but the 40-49 class was the biggest at the race with 240 racers. They had 25 slots for my group rolled down to 26th and his time was 4 and a half hours...I finished 75th at 4:52:00.

I was happy and bummed at the same time. At qualifiers the have 2 ways to get in...performance which I wasn't going to get and another lottery for that race which was my last shot. You've read about how I am with karma...well...the day I inspected the course there was a turtle in the trail so I stopped to move it and said "I need all the good karma I can get"...well I guess it was a good thing because my number was pulled from the hat after the race and I got in to the Leadville 100 that day!! Woooohoooo!!!

From that day going forward it was time to build for the DK again which I started after 4 or 5 days off the bike. The training was going well and all signs were pointing to a another good DK half race. The weather was being a bitch leading up to the race like last year but about a month out I took the annual pilgrimage to Emporia to ride the 2015 course with my longtime riding buddy who was racing the 2016 DK half also. That day the weather was warm towards the end and a Little wind but I felt good for the 102 miles we rode and was happy with where I was at in my fitness with a month to go...no only if the weather would cooperate...

Finally it's time to toe the line in Emporia...we head down on Friday to check in and decide to skip the riders meeting because the promoter said they would air the first one on their website...whether they did on not I'll never know but I looked for it to no avail...I wasn't worried at the time because I knew the time it started and where I needed to be so no worries...right?? By the way the gods of gravel bestowed upon us dry gravel for the race...or so we thought.

With my bike and gear squared away I check the weather channel one last time at 10pm and see a cold front coming...with a skinny line of storms associated with it...hmmm...the tail end might hit us...I kept it to myself and tried to get some sleep...at about 3am I hear a faint rumble of thunder...a few minutes later it was on top of us....KABOOM!! I just laughed and my riding buddy groans FUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE...only it wasn't fudge. It was the mother of all curse words...I got up and looked out the window only to laugh out loud because it was raining so hard...I told homie to come and take a look...his response was F***K THAT!! Oh well it is what it is at this point.

I get up about an hour later to get some food and coffee then we set off for the start line...fearing the impending death march that is potentially before us. The gun goes and we are lead out of town. At the first turn we are greeted with a lake across the road....in the middle of the road it was 6 inches deep...and the best part was there was another 100 yards beyond the first...after that...you guessed it mud...just like last year...and the carnage was immediate...there was ripped of derailleurs on both sides of the road...in the first mile...as luck would have it I was spared this demise only to be stopped later in the day by other issues.

As we get out of the mud the course conditions improve and I'm with the lead group of about 10. Life is good. We charge along and I finally have to ease a bit and settle in no big deal I keep the lead group in sight for the majority of the rest of the leg to the checkpoint...this is where my ride unraveled...I roll in in 9th and head to where my support was supposed to be and there was none...I freaked out a little and tried to call but the fine folks at Sprint decided that Kansas was not worth having cell towers so I had no service nor did my support who also uses Sprint...

There was some generous people from Chicago that got me squared away and I got rolling again...as I'm headed out my teammate is rolling in who was using the same support and I tell him there's no help here for us...I turn around and help get him squared away and we roll out together to just finish at this point.

We ride on and get to a minimum maintenance road which was soft from the storm...I decided the riding down the grass in the middle was the way to go because there was a little mud sticking to the tires but not enough to stop and walk...we ride on for a mile or 2 and my teammate decides as we are gaining some speed down a hill to drop into the double track because he didn't want to use his brakes to slow and his bike immediately loads up and he stops. I say to him scrape it of with your hand I will ride ahead slowly. I get about a half mile up the road and stop because I don't see him...so I wait a few minutes and finally see him walking so I start back towards him and before I got to him I thought he ripped his derailleur off...sure enough...his day was over. I asked him if he had a chain tool and he said no...I guess it was his lucky day because I had mine because I don't want to walk anywhere out there.

I make his bike a single speed like so many others that day and during that time my IT band decided to ball up and my knee felt like it had a knife in the side of it....game over....we limp back to the checkpoint and try to get in touch with out crew. That finally happens and we are headed home about an hour later...DNFs suck ass!! T

This was to be my last DK...but I will go back in 2017 because I don't want to end on a DNF.

And last but not least the Leadville Trail 100...

Up until the moment the shotgun went off I still couldn't believe I was in the race...but once going it was time to get after 100 miles of "guts, grit, and determination". The time I turned in at the Rattler landed me in the green (4th) corral from the front. This ended up being a good thin because everyone I talked to about the start said I would be walking up St. Kevins, the first climb of the day. This never materialized because I moved up as much as possible going out of town and never had to stop once on the climb. Did I mention we were flying out of town? 38 mph on the pavement! My bike has 3x10 on it and the big ring is a 46...so I able to pedal comfortably at any speed really...I briefly thought about doing a 1x10 but as I passed riders with 1x10,11,12 who were close to being spun out I'm glad I rolled with the 3x10...it's old school technology but it work flawlessly and I would totally use it again out there.

At the top of the first climb you end up on a paved descent of about 4 miles...I jammed the hammer into the big ring and let her eat! My max speed of the day was here at 44mph. As I bombed away I came upon the first of 2 paved switch backs...I'm not sure how fast I was going into the first one but I totally had to throw a leg out to get more lean angle and use the entire road to make that turn...That was the first holy shit moment of the day...I totally pulled it of and looked cool doing it...at least in my mind! :)

On the Haggerman climb I settle in and stay steady...people go by and I'm okay with it. After all I still have 75ish miles to go and have no real reference on pacing in the high country...so onward it is. A little while later the powerline descent is before me...sort of technical but not really at least to me. As the group I'm with descends this I'm thinking this is gonna suck ass coming back...and a few minutes later we are on a paved section.

As I spin along I bridge up to a decent sized group that A few riders know what a rotation is and I say I will work lets do this...so 3 or 4 of us are on the same page and I rotate through a couple of time only to look back and see our group has doubled in size so I pull the plug and roll to the back and chill until we get to the 1st neutral aid. I didn't need to stop but did to fill a water bottle...I had enough to the 17 miles ahead of me but would rather have too much than not enough.

Out of that station it was dirt road for a while and I motored along in the big ring not working too terribly hard...love the big ring! A short steep descent and a medium climb later we hit some single track on this sage brush covered hillside that weaves it's way down to the final dirt road to twin lakes. This singletrack was sweeeeeet, it flowed well and was generally fun!

Now on the dam headed to the Twin lakes sag...the mass of humanity here was beyond anything I had envisioned...My girlie and I had talked about it the day before and decided that the secondary sag which was about 2 miles later shortly before the Columbine climb was a better place to be. My initial goal was 9 hours or better which meant I had to be at the 40 mile sag by 2 hours and 50 minutes. I showed up at 3 hours 20 minutes...oh well I thought, not too far off, maybe I can make time on the dirt road portion of Columbine....HA...While I did pass some riders on this climb I knew that 9 hours was out the window and I was good with it.

As I climbed away...my energy was waning and my frame of mind was going with it...when I made the last switchback to the "goat trail" I just laughed...ahead of me was a climb that went straight up...and there was a death march of riders that was wheel to wheel...this was me shortly after I saw this. I think this would be rideable if there wasn't anyone in front of you...

I begin the march and it sucks ass....steep...off camber...no air. It was here that the mental struggle fro me began...at first I didn't listen but eventually the quit voice got me...I relented and decided to quit...but only after I make it to the top at 12,500 feet. Once on my bike again I was still going to quit, a photog captured that moment and I have a pissed off scowl on my mug...a perfect representation of how I felt at the time.

Once over the high spot it's about a half mile to the neutral sag...I rolled in there and all of the great volunteers were like, what do you want/need...I spied what turned out to be a cup of chicken ramen so a take it and toss it back. That was THE BEST RAMEN EVER!!! I think I drank a cup of coke and ate a cookie and set off. While the ramen was killer it did nothing for my moral and as I set of to climb back to the high spot I tell myself just get to there...between that thought and the high spot I got pissed off at myself for wanting to quit. I threw the quit voice off a cliff at 12000+ feet and from that point on I was good with everything going forward.

As I descended the goat trail I kinda laughed to myself because I could see how I was feeling in the face of everyone still ascending the patch of hell...I threw out encouragement because it was the right thing to do and continued down to my pit. Back on the dirt road on Columbine, there was 2 riders ahead of me that weren't going as fast as I wanted to so at the first opportunity I jammed it into the big ring and charged past at my second highest speed for the day 43mph on dirt/gravel...that was FUN!!!

Now at my pit again my pit again my girlie has everything ready including my camel-bak...I kind of hesitate to put it on but she insisted and I threw it on...I rode the Columbine climb with bottles ony to make life a little easier...by the way 2 bottles is enough to do the Columbine climb especially since there is aid at the top. Fully reloaded I head back towards the Twin lakes dam. On the way to the dam there's about a mile descent the isn't terrible rough but it has its moments. I'm not 100% sure but I chucked a bottle somewhere and I think it was on that descent...good thing I said yes to the camel-bak!!

From there until the powerline is pretty uneventful...the powerline climb never really left my thoughts and as I made the left onto that climb I was like FUUUUUUUUDGE....only I didn't say fudge... :)

As I begin another death march I never thought about quitting just getting up this bitch...finally passed the steep section the "rideable" portion is ahead of me. I remount and ride a lot more than I thought I would...I managed to pass a handful of riders in the last 2.5 miles of that climb which made me happy.

Finally to the top I start the Haggerman descent...this is as rocky a descent as you will ever find...I was on the hammer which is a hardtail and it beat the crap outta me. I made okay time down it and the few that did pass me were on suspension rigs.

Now on gravel/dirt roads heading towards the last big climb of the day I eat some of a ham and cheese roll up and set sail using my lovely 46 picking off a rider or two on occasion. Finally on the last big paved climb. I settle in and steadily work my way to the top...on the way to the top I passed a rider that said I would break the 10.5 hour mark...I totally would've but I stopped at the last neutral sag to make sure I was squared away til the end and that probably is what pushed me past that mark...oh well.

On the final descent I thought I was rolling pretty fast but a rider ahead of me disappeared...I thought he was on a suspension bike and didn't think about it again that is until I caught him on the road...he was on a hardtail and I gave him props for descending like a demon possessed! I then proceeded to ride away from him in the big ring!! The weather was epic for this event and as I was on the last handful of miles the wind had picked up and for about a mile it was headwind but as the course made a few right turns it turned into tailwind and I was on the gas flat out killing it!

On this section there was one rider that was going pretty fast ahead of me and I was slowly reeling him in, I could've closed it faster but I was close to the end and was good with the progress I was making...on the last dirt section it makes an abrupt left uphill turn onto big loose rocks/gravel. The gut I was chasing fumbles, I managed to get the hammer into granny and proceed to clean this section dab free and pass a few more riders for good measure. I'm spinning along and there's one more rider on the road ahead of me...I put forth a little effort and get to his wheel. I sit there for a few minutes and decide the right thing to do is to give the man a break...I pull by, look back and I was riding away from him...oh well...it's the thought, right??

Finally on the last effing paved climb...just gotta make it to the top and it's over. Once at the top, one more big ring blast down the hill with the finish line in site...as I approached there were people lining the road on both side cheering their brains out I even got a few high fives on the way to the line.

That was one of the greatest feelings I've ever had from racing...form the depths of quitting to sucking it up and doing what you worked your ass of for, is something I don't think I can describe. Will I do it again, if the stars align for me again I will be there one more time for sure!


It has been a long season for only 3 races...now I get to enjoy short training days for cyclocross and cowbell...I got a fever and there's only on prescription!!

MORE COWBELL!!!

E

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Dirty Kanza 2015 Half Pint



Where to begin...This will sound familiar. Once again the Dirty Kanza has come and gone. After last year I thought I was done with this race but my riding buddy who made it to Cottonwood Falls last year said he wanted to do the entire half in 2015 so I told him I would do it again...I did and here's my story.

This is my 5th trip to the DK and the morning ritual is pretty much down...up at 4:00 and rollin to the start by 5:10, this year was no different. I get to the half staging area and there's a handful of riders for the half already there, no big deal I was where I wanted to be...on the front row.

Courtesy of Robyn Burky

At the neutral roll out I'm close to the front but no hole shot this year...I think I was 5th or so.


Unlike last year, the race was on the minute we hit gravel...we were flying!! I get settled in the group of about 15-20 somewhere in the middle and roll along not working too hard. That changed a short time later. We were riding west and the howling NW wind was killing me. I was far enough back that I couldn't really get behind the guy in front of me to get out of the wind without riding in the really soft stuff...it was starting to suck!

At about 7 miles I had had enough and sat up...it's a long ride and I've done the blow up into a bazillion pieces and suffer horribly for hours...read my 2011 write up. Anyway, I get recovered and start rolling along again and come to the mud pit from HELL!

Courtesy of Brett Huber

When I get to this I decided I would ride it, after all the Hammer has tons of mud clearance, so I never gave it a second thought. As I started this mud section I slow but surely passed a small army's worth of people, I was calling out rider back and when people would turn to look they were shocked to see someone still riding, especially the further in I made it. This stretch was 3 miles...I made it at least halfway before my bike finally clogged up and wouldn't roll anymore. Was it worth it? Maybe...maybe not...it took me about 10 minutes to get it to roll again, but I would rather ride 3 mph than walk 3 mph and I only had to walk half or less of this mess!

Moving on...Once clear of the mud it was time to get riding again. This proved to be a little more of a challenge mainly because my drivetrain was totally clogged, my grip shifters were coated with mud and my gloves were coated with mud...a pain in the ass is what it ended up being. But forge on I did...about a mile after the mud ended, water was streaming onto the road and I stopped to clean my shifters, gloves and shoes, this worked well and seemed to be a good idea because slowly but surely other riders saw me and stopped for the same reason, one even said "good idea".

Courtesy of Brett Hubert

Now I can shift, sort of, and get rolling again. Another mile later I decided to stop and try to wipe as much mud of my chain as I can because it was skipping on the cogs and trying to wrap around the chain rings every 10 seconds. While doing so a guy from Colorado who was doing the mud march behind me offered some chain lube, I took him up on it, it seemed to help, so good karma to him, I hope he finished!!

From this point on I was taking a center line through every puddle I came to and by the time I reached the water stop my drivetrain was "clean". At the oasis, I refilled my bottles and grabbed a couple of Gu gel packs. I didn't really need them but I still had 28 miles to go to reach Cottonwood Falls and 19 miles were headwind...better to have too much than not enough.

So I take off solo from the oasis and can see a rider up the road about a mile and can tell I'm gaining on him and get to his wheel shortly before we make the turn north. We talked for a minute, I think his name was Brandon and decide that 2 is better than one and take turns doing work in the wind. A few miles later I can see David Neidinger is slowly catching us so I say to the B man we should slow down and make it 3, as soon as David reaches us he goes to the front and keeps driving his pace which was more than I could handle at that point so I let them go and settle in for a meeting of the voices in my head...

At this point the voice that says quit made a pretty good argument and for a brief moment I gave in and was going to do just that...after all I was starting to suffer pretty good and had 17 miles of head wind in front of me.

The next thing I heard were the words that Rebecca Rush said, she said don't listen to that voice, you can keep going you just have to want to...it was that moment that I decided that I would finish this race whether I was going 30mph or 3mph, from then on my energy came up and I was good to go again.

A few miles later the B man was up the with David and slowly but surely David rode him off his wheel. So for a while the B man and I were riding about the same pace and the gap never changed. Finally I think he eased up again and waited for me because 2 in the wind is waaaay better than one. Once again we were sharing the work and for a while it was okay. Then we turned onto Den Creek Road, this is where the B man started to falter. I would pull up a hill and there would be a gap so I would slow and wait for him to get back on until the next hill. He finally said "don't let me slow you down" and away I went.

Shortly before I set sail from the B man, another rider had passed us. As I rode along using my Etrex 30 for nav, I watch the new rider take what I thought was a wrong turn...so I zoom in on my nav and started to get worried...what the hell was going on? So I decided to take the same turn as dude in front of me, back my nav to menu and start the map again...this is where I found out why the track I was following was blue instead of purple...I was on the 2014 course...D'OH!!!!

I get it squared away and life was good the rest of the way into Cottonwood Falls, with an official ride time of 4 hours and 31 minutes.

Courtesy of Foto Matt Cunningham

I roll to the wagon and the only clothing change I wanted to make was socks and gloves...this added to the stop time but I didn't care my feet were cold!! So I grab two CLEAN bottles, fill the angry midgie (camel bak) grab 2 Hammer gel flasks, some more rice cakes and a ham and cheese roll up and get ready to roll, while I was refueling Foto Matt was cleaning and pouring lube like it was free on my chain, by the way, I told him to use that much. I was positive there would be, at the minimum, more water...which there was and mud too...imagine that.

As I roll out of the checkpoint I see the B man ahead of me, so I ride a bit harder and catch up to him and we decided to work together again. This didn't last long because I started to ride away from him on the hills so he told me to get after it and I did. I'm pretty sure he went back to the checkpoint because I never saw him again and I didn't see him cross the line. Back to solo into the head wind. Oh well, I punched the quit voice in the eye so it wasn't a problem.

Courtesy of Brett Huber

So I ride along for what felt like a month on this 12 mile section of headwind and manage to pass a rider, hooray!! Not long after that, I was passed by a new rider...awwww...oh well...I wasn't feeling bad but didn't want to burn my last match just yet, we still had about 31 miles to go and still a bit of headwind to face.

Courtesy of Brett Huber

At about mile 73 I make the turn to start the tailwind drive for home. For about the last 3 or 4 miles I can see another rider and he's keeping my pace and gaining a little from time to time, so when I get some tailwind I decide that it's time to race. That is until mile 76. There was a family there with water and soda and as I roll up I ask if they have a coke, yep, so I stop and pound a tasty beverage, mmmm mmmm, I do like a tasty beverage!

Anyway, I drink most of it, until my nemesis is about 30 feet away and I can tell he is going to stop, I hand the can back and take off. The gap was about the same when he was rolling again. That is until I rounded the bend and saw this behemoth!

Courtesy of Vincent Rodriguez

It was now that I was like WTF!! I am sick of these F***ING HILLS!!! It's supposed to be flat, where are the flat roads!!!! I put my head down and settle into a decent pace on this climb and drill it up the second step, once at the top I was pleased to see a long downhill to flat with a lovely tailwind. I was on the gas from the coke stop to Americus...dude chased me until I broke. I was all in for 15 miles and finally had to ease up and let him get by and go. Did I mention I had to pee for the last 20 miles?

Once he got by me I chased for about 5 miles and held him to about 150 feet ahead of me...until nature said it was time to take care of business, so I stopped and felt a bazillion times better and wondered why the hell I waited so long...

Once I got rolling again I couldn't see anyone behind me but kept the hammer down because these roads were FAST and if I ease up and "ride" in I would be passed again for sure. Sure enough, when I got about 1/4 mile from the pavement I could see a rider charging down the road after me, and just ahead of me was Jennifer Rhoades, who won the women's half pint, so we rode together and talked for a bit, I told her there was guy chasing me and as we turned into the campus she said "do you need to go"? I said yep! I drilled it to the intersection that has a signal which was green for me and according to Jeff Uhruh, the man that was chasing me, it was yellow as he and Jennifer were in the intersection. I had to sprint the majority of the way to the line to keep him behind me, which at the line was 3 seconds. My total ride time was 7:35:01 good for 12th overall in the Half Pint.


The build up to this epic adventure for 2015 was one for the ages...and not in a good way! The amount of negative things that tried to derail this train was almost enough to make me not go.

Here's a condensed version of the madness...

1. I booked my hotel online...in Emporia...VIRGINIA!!! I'm not sure who dropped the ball there but it was most likely me...When did I discover this? March 24th...At this point there's an ice cubes chance in hell I'm getting a room...F*&%#%&*&%#K!!!!!!! For the record, I'm not the only one who has done this. The next day, a Monday, I start searching for a room...I call the Flint Hills Inn and to my complete surprise they have a room available on the 30th!! Book it I tell the nice lady, she does and gives me a confirmation number...HOORAY DISASTER AVERTED!!!

2. The second nut knock came about 2 and a half weeks from the race...I caught some sort of stomach virus...I was hoping it would be short lived but I didn't feel "normal" again until 9 days later...I rode for an hour, easy, outside about 3 days after it started hoping it would help...it didn't...from then on riding the couch was the only riding I did...goodbye fitness...I was freaking out at this point!! I finally got back to normal and got some saddle time the week leading up to the race....talk about crappy timing!

3. On Memorial day I decide I should call the FLINT HILLS INN and confirm my reservation. Since I'm telling you this you can probably guess it wasn't going to be good...well...you're right. The lady on the phone proceeded to tell me "we don't have a reservation under your name"...I say I have a confirmation number...she looks it up and still NADA...WTF!!!!!!!!!! Less than a week out and I don't have a room...AGAIN! I'm so mad at this point I want to puke...so I sit on my couch thinking about all I've done to get ready for this race again...after about 20 minutes I pick up my phone and half heartedly search for a room that I know doesn't exist...when to my surprise the BEST WESTERN has a room...I had to take a double take of my phone because I couldn't believe what I was seeing! So I run to my laptop, pull it up and sure enough...A ROOM!!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOOoooo!!! I book it online and call directly after I receive the confirmation email to confirm that it really happened. Again, DISASTER AVERTED!!

4. Thursday night before travel Friday. I'm going over my bike and proceed to pull the threads out of the fork where the disc caliper mounts...karma...why do you hate me!! So I freak out a little an find a longer bolt that fixes the problem...life is good...again.

5. Same night a little later...I have my bike upside down doing something to it. When I went to pick it up I grab it by the stem and my computer mount takes a small chunk of flesh from my thumb...the gods of gravel and karma are now conspiring against me...not cool!

6. Last one...I needed some Hammer Gel so on Friday morning I wait til the bike shop opens and head out to get some. If you didn't know, it has been raining like it's a rain forest in these parts (Kansas City) for a while and Friday was no different. So I open the garage and back my truck out and just about the time I start to stop I hear a loud pop and my right front tire slides to a stop...What the hell was that?? I get out and look and I ran over a huge toad...At this point I said F**k it I'm not going to Emporia...I couldn't take all of the bad mojo anymore. I tell my girlie and she reassured me that everything would be fine and to get the Hammer gel.

There are a few more instances in the weeks and months before the DK but these are the good ones!!

To say this race was hard is an understatement! It was BRUTAL!!! Add in all the that crap above and I was sure I was gonna die in a mud puddle next to a meadow muffin in the middle of the Flint Hills! SHEESH!!!

I have said this before and will say it again. If you want to do the DK 200 and aren't sure you will make 200 miles...try the Half Pint, it has taken me to my limit every time and for the last 5 years I have said this is the last one...I will be back in 2016 for another 100 miles of gravel in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

I love riding my bike!

E

P.S. DO NOT BOOK A ROOM AT THE FLINT HILLS INN. They lost my reservation, as well as several others by the admission of the hotel, they will lose YOURS!!












Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random thoughts and rants...or something like that...



So again it's been a while since the last post...I guess I haven't had much to tell the 10s of you that read this lately.

Let's back this train up a bit...way back in January I decided to do the DK Half again but not go out and kill myself...after all...I set a goal in 2014 and I reached it. So the reason for doing it again is my long time riding buddy wanted to do it and complete the half for 2015. He rode to the checkpoint last year. So I told him I would ride with him but we are going to average at least 16 mph...That's about 7 hours of ride time, easily doable...to me at least...

So I start the march to Emporia about the middle of January and realize soon after that my motivation to train is non-existent. I thought about it and found that reaching my goal last year is the reason for not wanting to get on my bike and do the time. So I ride sparingly through the dark times (January-March). Then one day about 2 weeks before the weather was going to turn nice my give-a-damn came back to me. Since that day I've been pretty consistent with getting good saddle time and my fitness is on track to ride 16 all effing day!!

My buddy on the other hand has been riding but not enough...I was pestering him on a regular basis but as all of you know, you have to want to train. Sometimes that is a huge hurdle and I think it's pretty high for my riding buddy. Eventually I stopped pestering him about riding...we shall see in 35 days what kind of motor he built for the gravel roads of the Flint Hills. A side note...I think it will be windy and hell hot this year. Of course I have thought that every year I've gone to Emporia and the weather and wind has been different the last 4 years...prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Moving on...The pic at the top is of the Ten Mile Range looking east from Copper Mountain in Colorado. The aforementioned riding buddy and I went for a short ski trip (3 days skiing). I haven't been skiing in the mountains since I was a ski bum...18 years ago...great googily...that was a long time ago!!!

It was a good time and I can still ski like mad man...although...the day I broke out the bomb run skis there was 5ish inches of new snow so making 11s wasn't going to happen...oh well...I'll take freshies any day over bomb runs. But there's something to be said for going as fast as you dare...I like that too!!



Anyway....I could ramble on but I think I'm done for now...I will have a DK report...stay tuned.

E

Saturday, December 27, 2014

State CX and 2014.

As always, thanks Roger Harrison.


State CX

When the CX schedule finally appeared this year, this race wasn't on it and I was guessing that it would be in St. Louis or Jefferson city again. With that in mind I decided that I would let another year pass with no State race on the schedule. About a month later this race appeared and in KC!! GAME ON!!!

Before I knew about the state race I decided that Ruts-n-Guts would be my last race of the year. That went out the window with the state race being in KC...it added about 2 weeks to my training/race schedule...no big deal.

There's not much to write about that race...so this will be short. Since I never look at my license I reg'd for 40-44 after all, I'm 44...but my race age is 45...so I should've lined up in 45-49...oh well the outcome would've been the same...2nd. It would've been 3rd had John Machine Jones showed up, he's another reason I toed the 40-44 race...I can't get by the Machine so I decided to race lower!

Moving on...I rode the new machine because I finally got rid of one of the gremlins and I think it's a little faster...not to mention a pound lighter! I got a good start an settled in about 5th until we got to the barriers. Vince DeLaughder crashed at the foot of them and helped to create a gap. I went to the front and drilled it...this was a mistake and I would pay for it late in the race.

About 2 laps later Doug Stone finally gets to me and we ride together for about 2 laps before Paul Aldeguer joins us...with about 1 1/2 laps to go a rider from Nebraska joins us. Now 4 of us are racing along and I'm starting to come unglued...about a half a lap later I came off and that was it for my state race...I had an okay ride...I wasn't very smart about it but sometimes you just go for it and it pays off...this wasn't one of those days.

2014...

It's hard to believe that a year has rolled by...It feels like yesterday that I was getting myself in shape for the DK and that started on January 2nd this year!! I guess focus and having fun makes time fly!!

As I look back on 2014, I had a decent year on the bike. My big goal for the year was the DK Half. I wanted a top 10 and nailed down an 8th out of 300+ gravel grinding loonies!! After that was to be an easy month and then get after some CX work...the 10s of you that read this know the knee story so I won't go into that.

My cross season started a little slow and pretty low on fitness. I was good with it because I was going to some big races later in the season and I wanted to be going good for those...which I was but for various reasons I had less than stellar rides...oh well...I went for the experience and I will be going back in 2015!!

Kind of a boring year from a racing standpoint...until cross season that is. When I finally reach the end of the season, I always wonder for a little while whether I will get after it again. I guess the answer has been yes for a long time and I'm sure it will be yes again in 2015.

I have committed to doing the DK Half again and then there's cross season...why does it have to be at the end of the freakin year?!?! If there was one cross race a month until September I would be there racing 'em...I would bet there would be more than just me too!!

There's always next year and that's right around the corner!! Kick rocks 2014 cuz 2015 is comin and he heard what you said about his momma!!

E




Friday, December 12, 2014

Ruts n Guts


Another big event has come and gone and for me this was to be my last race of 2014 until the fine peeps at Boss Cross decided to have the state cx race in my back yard!! Anyway, we drive down the day before in the rain so I can get some recon laps in before I race, the weather was off and on rain the entire way down there so I'm thinking mud-a-thon here I come. Before I continue a bit of a rant...the toll system in Oklahoma is EFFING REDICULOUS!!!

Moving on...we get to the venue and it has stopped raining, so I quickly change and start riding laps. After one lap Mother Nature decided she wasn't done yet and let some more rain fly. Not a big deal, it was 61 degrees and crazy humid so I kept on keepin on. After I was good and soaked about 4 laps I decided it was time to head to the hotel. As I roll up to my truck it stops raining...oh well...I got what I needed.

Saturday


I arrive at the venue with tons of time to get ready, it was cloudy and about 45 degrees with a good breeze from the northeast. After The recon ride I decided to ride the Hammer due to course conditions which in the end weren't that bad...but my new bike has been pissing me off lately so one more reason to ride the Hammer!

At this race the call up was done by USAC points which got me a spot on the front row, I was thinking hell yes I get great starts on the Hammer so this is good!! Well...at the gun I had one of the all time crappy starts on that bike ever!! I missed the pedal about 5 times...this landed me in about 7th at the first turn...oh well...lets see how it goes.


To make a long story short...I slipped back to 10th for a couple of laps, then I managed to get back to 9th and with a little more than one to go I bobbled and dropped back to 10th. going into the last lap I was about 10 seconds adrift so I pulled out my last match and let 'er rip. I managed to close it down to 5 seconds before I blew up...there wasn't very much track left at that point so that's how it ended.

This is the race for 9th.

Sunday


Sunday I decided to ride the new bike, issues be damned! The course was still soft but it was time to ride the new bike. My less than stellar performance on Saturday got me a 2nd row spot on the grid...oh well better than 3rd or 4th row...anyway...at the gun I nailed my pedal and away I went...I'm not greedy at these events because there are some really fast racers with that said I slot into 7th at the end of the pain train...to say I was going blind is an understatement!! I was dangling about 3 seconds off the back and could NOT bridge up!!

The pic above is on the first lap...the tree hides the gap...

As we race on I keep the gap about the same until we hit the sand pit...it was not rideable on Sunday...so after I run it...I lost contact. Oh well...I keep going and one other racer who got a really bad start goes blowing by me like I was parked.

Moving on...so now rolling along in 8th, the guy I did battle with on Saturday is lurking about 10 seconds back. I was not gonna give him an inch and was going to go blind keeping it that way.


With about a lap and a half to go I still held a 10 second advantage until I made a slight bobble on a greasy uphill right. This allowed dude to close the gap to 5 seconds....GRRRRRRRR!!! At this point I sold out and went as hard as I could go. As we start the last lap we were still at about 5 seconds. At a half lap to go I was back to 10 seconds and I had broken him.


There ya go, now you know. Ruts n Guts...will I go back, probably. Next year will be huge! Based on what I've read it will be a race for the big dogs and the field sizes should increase.

E