|After three miles of this, it was time to clean off the mire and ride!|
It was immediately after this section where we witnessed dozens, (literally, I am not exaggerating), of rear derailleurs sheared off bikes. We began to take note of the type of derailleurs that we saw and it seemed to us that the cyclo cross bikes with road long cage derailleurs were the ones we were seeing having issues. The sticky clay was wreaking havoc amongst the DK riders. This lasted for about five miles and then became less of a sight to see, but I saw broken derailleurs happening most of the rest of the day. Ari chuckled and crowed that we should open a derailleur shop and make a killing. We probably would have that morning. The carnage was simply astounding. Riders were seen standing roadside, cell phones to ears, calling for rescue more times than we could count. I felt sorry for them. They didn't even get 20 miles into the course and their days were done.
|Me bombing a long downhill on the Fat Fargo. Image courtesy of A. Andonopoulous|
At the bottom of this down hill, a fat biker couldn't negotiate the 90° left hand corner and yard saled it into the tall grass. There was also another rider being consoled by a volunteer with a blanket thrown over their shoulder. It looked like a serious injury. Sure enough, not five minutes later an ambulance came screaming down the primitive road to fetch him. That siren sound and the site of that big, boxy truck seemed incongruous to me in these environs. Still, it was good to know that rider was going to be in good hands soon.
|Ari puts the hammer down as I follow.|
We were obliged to stop at one point, again, I cannot recall why, but Phil looked at his Garmin and announced that we had gone about 26 miles in four hours. "Whoa!", I thought to myself, as I realized that from that point we had approximately 50 miles to cover in four more hours. I assumed right then and there that Ari was pushing the pace to make the checkpoint cutoff time, so I didn't complain too much about it after that. The other thing I noted was that we had about six more miles to go to reach the neutral water stop. I knew we'd have to resupply on fluids there. It was going to be touch and go on whether I would even get to the checkpoint on time now!
Ari took off and we were right back to our 20 mile per hour pace, and only slowing slightly for climbs. I was feeling okay at this point, and strong, but I knew that with my lack of training miles that it was going to be a short-lived output from my engine. I just didn't get a chance to tune up properly for such high horsepower efforts for as long a time as it would take to achieve the goal of checkpoint 1. Still, we had to make up time, so I dug down deeper and tried to sustain the pace.
The water crossing we were coming up upon looked suspiciously familiar, and I think we were at Texaco Hill's base. If I was right, there would be a long climb with a winding road near the top to finish out that rounded up near a large tower. Yep! I could see it in the distance. I was a bit concerned how that would go after a long, hard effort such as what we were putting in.
|Hey! This looks familiar! I've been here before.|
|Phil, (L), and I at the water oasis. Image courtesy of A Andonopoulous|
The oasis was where the DK100 and DK 200 routes split up. When we all left, it became apparent that we were in a lot less traffic. The road went to a dirt two track, and we were obliged to hike-a-bike again for a bit. It wasn't nearly as tough as the morning, but anytime you are walking, it is costing you precious time. I was concerned about that, and as mentioned, Ari must have been as well, because as soon as the roads became ride-able again, he went back to that higher pace. I tried to hang on, but Phil and Ari rode away from me eventually. After a while I figured they were gone, but then, about 30 minutes later, here they were waiting. Once they decided to take off again, I saw that they weren't going to slow down so I bid them a quiet adieu, and basically accepted the fact that now I was on my own at about 40-45 miles into the day.
I slogged on, and now I was aware of my nutritional needs a bit more than I had been. I was drinking and eating regularly, and with the mileage being off on the computer due to hike-a-bikes, I solely relied upon my cues and time to navigate and set goals. Interestingly, I never used the cues until this point in the event! I only went off course once due to following two guys ahead of me and not relying on my own judgment. But it only cost me a half a mile, so it wasn't critical.
|The vastness of the Flint Hills makes the rider feel insignificant and small at times.|
I decided to take on a challenge to beat a fellow into the checkpoint which was three miles or so ahead, and I cranked it back up to 20 miles per hour, held it there, and went for it time trial style. I looked to beat the 2:00pm cutoff by a few minutes, maybe more, so this served a dual purpose. As I came into Madison, Kansas, I saw people on the corners clapping and redirecting me toward the timing station. I rounded a corner, and there to my wondering eyes was MG cheering me on. Was I dreaming! What the heck........
Next: Methodical Miles