Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rocks, Dust, and Fun!: Part IV

Podium Kiss: Lacking any sleek Italian women, (since they were all at the Giro busy kissing Basso) The Dirty Kanza volunteers stepped up to the plate, sacrificing any dignity for the sake of proper podium procedure.

Post Race Hanging Out: The atmousphere of Dirty Kanza was really great. Almost everyone that finished and a few of us that didn't chose to hang out, eat pizza, drink beers, and generally have a great time until the skies opened up on us!

Mid Race Checkpoint Hi-jinx: After I and Cory Hientz decided to pull the plug, all we had to do was get back to Emporia. Doug at the check point told us that they had room to haul both of us back, so we stayed and hung around the check point for about an hour. There was another racer on a Niner bike hanging out when we got there. He was into the beer pretty heavily and was regaling everyone with these outlandish tales peppered with obscenities and laughter. I didn't know it at the time, but this guy was D.J. Bertch, a well known racer. I'd heard of him, but I had no idea what he looked like, so I was clueless as to his identity at the time. I just thought he was some yay-hoo on a cool proto-type AIR 9 Niner. It was fun listening to his stories and watching him fake out his Cocker Spaniel by playing fetch with him. I talked with him quite a bit while we waited for the check point to close up shop, and had a tall boy with the gang working the tent. After everything got packed away, Cory and I jumped in and got our ride back to the Travel lodge. No one else came through while we were there. Only one other rider was behind us, and he didn't reach Cottonwood Falls until past 3pm.

The Finish Line: After I got back, I showered, grabbed some Taco Bell, and went into reporter mode. (Check out the audio blogs by scrolling down) I won't get into the details of the race finish, as that's been covered already. I just want to say here that the vibe and the quality of the post-race hang out was stellar. The volunteers threw up two pop up tents in the Travel Lodge's parking lot and put out a cooler of beer. The rest, as they say, is history. As more finishers came in, Scott Capstack would ring the cowbell, we would clap, and Doug would congratulate them on an awesome ride. Then, typically, those finishers would sit down and join us. Soon, someone had pizza delivered to the parking lot, and then everyone else must have decided that was a good idea, because that pizza delivery guy was back at least five times throughout the evening! Then, at about 11:30 or so, lightining appeared in the skies to the south. Not much later the rains came, and whoa! It came down hard! Cold drops of rain slammed down on the pop ups and everyone scattered and then huddled underneath the tents for a while. Not long after that, the intensity of the wind and rain increased to the point where the party was over. The down drafts were hard. By this time, only one guy was left out on course. It was the man I drove down to Dirty Kanza with, David Pals. We were getting quite concerned for him.

The Final Chapter: Just like any good story, the final chapter should be the climax of the story, and Dirty Kanza didn't disappoint. While the torrential rain came down and time passed by, we all became more and more concerned for David's safety. Scott and Craig decided to drive the course backwards to find him. They weren't gone long before Joel got a call from them saying that David was just coming into town! That was great news. He was going to finish! Well within the time limit, and in epic fashion, having gone through that storm at the end. Then, Craig and Scott came walking up and they were obviously very agitated. It seemed that David had been struck by a car only three blocks from the finish! A young motorist, not watching very well, made a turn into the street that David was riding on and knocked him completely off his bike. Thank God the pavement was wet, as David slid across it without much damage. He remounted his bike, which was fine, and finished to a hearty round of applause and back slapping.

So, that was how it all ended at about 1:00 am. Sunday morning. Everyone went to a much deserved nights rest. The first Dirty Kanza 200 was in the books!

Tomorrow I'll give my final thoughts and commentary on the Dirty Kanza 200, and then, it's back to your regularly scheduled blog!

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