Friday, June 05, 2015

Dirty Kanza 200 Report: Running On Empty

Barns For Jason: You didn't think I wouldn't get a barn pic, did ya?
Second Water Oasis, 127.4 Miles on the DK200 course, 7:00pm: I am rolling.......finally! A white Toyota Tundra came into the checkpoint with precious cargo only moments before. I topped off my bottles and put my windbreaker back on, as the temperatures were dipping again from the day's high, which was about 68°F. The wind was still blowing, and the Sun was westering above the thick blanket of grey which had shielded us from Her all day. I wasn't too happy just then, but I was busy enough in my mind, ticking off supplies, that I wasn't focused on the snafu that had just occurred. It didn't help when I found out it was the second time that they ran out of water that afternoon!

Anyway, my seat bag had.......oh crap! I slammed on the brakes and jumped off my Fargo. I had left the seat bag open at the oasis when I had fetched out my windbreaker. Fortunately, nothing had fallen out! Crisis averted, but that wouldn't be the first one in this last leg of my DK200 ride.

After a few big climbs, the route went through a ranch one more time before it came down to the turnpike. This was a really rough patch for me and I was seriously in a bad way. I started to yawn at first, deeply, which is my sign that I am low on fuel. I started to eat, despite the time, whenever I could, but I started wanting to fall asleep, which meant I was in full-on bonk mode by that time. Not good! I kept chewing and having a drink when I could to get back, hopefully, on my feet again, but this was slowing me down, which was bad.

Many passed me as I kept having the urge to urinate.
Then I woke up. The food worked, but then it was an urge to urinate about every three miles, and each time it was not productive. Maybe I was dehydrated now. I was really concerned, but I knew that Checkpoint #2 was in Cottonwood Falls, and that they had sources of water that I could avail myself of. Plus, MG said he'd see me there, so there was at least some back-up for me to count on.

Between the three quick stops, my bonk, and the time lost at the oasis due to the water shortage, I was seeing a serious shortage of time. I knew I had to cover about 33 miles in three hours. At this rate, I was cutting it very close. Well, there was nothing else I could do but pedal, so that's what I did.

I tried to take my mind off my increasingly dire situation throughout this by coming up with a song about Joel Dyke, the co-founder of the Dirty Kanza 200 that died last December 28th in a tragic accident. I called it "Turn That Sh!t Into A Big Grin", and I actually had a tune and everything figured out as I was riding. I think I may have actually been singing it softly to myself as I tried to keep up my speed. Anyway, it sure helped me get through that bit of a tight spot. Still, I wasn't as fast as I would have liked, but with my body rebelling and all, what could I do?

Is that a Flint Hills Duster, or a Flint Hills Demon? Either way, it looked mostly there!
One last time to frolic with the cows before the Sun went down.
Then it started to get dark, but before it did that, I started to recognize the course coming into Cottonwood Falls. I'd done that almost 12 mile stretch of road before, and I was quickly remembering roadside visual cues and that helped me tick off the miles as the clock was winding down to 10:00pm. I flicked on my lights, which had been mounted and ready to go since the start, and when I couldn't see signs any longer, I stopped to mount my helmet mounted lamp, which became a real chore after almost 16 hours of riding.

Now it was on to the final miles to Cottonwood Falls in the dark. I was completely alone, and only one faintly glowing tail light could be seen far ahead, until that disappeared as well. It was odd, but after I lost Ari, no one would talk to me for very long other than saying hello. No one wanted to ride with me, and now there was no one. Look- I ain't complaining, because I typically almost always end up alone on these ultra-distance gravel events, so I am used to that, but it might be nice sometime to have a riding partner for more than 45 miles, is all I was thinking then. At any rate, It wasn't like I couldn't get there, but I have heard that when you have a partner, or a small group of riders in these events, it works better. Maybe that might have helped.

About five miles from Cottonwood Falls. 
I saw that the Moon was riding high in the sky. It was the only celestial body I had seen all day. So, I stopped to admire that, since my math was showing me that by this time there was no way I was getting to Cottonwood Falls by 10:00pm. I took a quick snapshot, remounted, and took a nice, leisurely pace into town. Why push it if I wasn't going to make it? I had a lot to be proud of anyway. I had almost done, and would when I pulled into town, my equal for my longest ride ever. It would be the longest time I had been out on my bike in one crack- 16 plus hours, and it would be the furthest I had ever made it into a Dirty Kanza course. I got to come and have an awesome adventure, meet great people, and be on a bicycle all day and into a night. How can you beat that? Well, I could have made the checkpoint and finished, yeah....there is that. But really, I was satisfied with what I had pulled off that day so far. I wasn't going to hang my head, and I haven't.

Well, I rolled into Cottonwood Falls well after 10:00pm, and a few stragglers from the volunteer corps pointed me along the way. Suddenly I heard MG say, "It really is him!" He said he would see me downtown. I pulled into the timing area just as MG ran up to greet me. I heard a beep, and MG looked up at the scoring monitor, and he said dejectedly, "Awww! Two minutes past the closing!". I looked up and the monitor said "10:17" and some change in seconds. "What? I'm waaaay late, it's way past ten, Matt!", I said. Then I found out that they had extended the cutoff there by fifteen minutes.

Great. Just great............

Next: Epilogue


Iowagriz said...

Ahhhh, mannnnn (said in a Bart Simpson voice)

Good writing Mark. Nice of you to take us along for the ride.

Kate Geisen said...

If it makes you feel better, my notes from the rider meeting said the CP2 cutoff was 10:15, so that wasn't something that changed during the day. I believe only the half-pint had any change to the cutoff.

Guitar Ted said...

@Kate Geisen: Yeah, I don't know why I had 10:00pm stuck in my brain and I do not recall that the Checkpoint times were mentioned at the meeting- I do remember a bunch of peripheral stuff being talked about that had nothing at all to do with the actual race. Whatever...

MG told me just after I finished that they had moved the cutoff time from 10 to 10:30 then back to 10:15 , but I saw in the Rider's Bible just now it was 10:15pm. I was also told that at Madison the checkpoint time was extended and I talked to a guy later that said he benefited from that. Obviously, there was some confusion regarding the cut off times.

No matter, I wasn't fast enough and that's that.

TinyRVLife said...

Dude....just....dude. My pedal-driven heart was hurting for you at the end of this one!

MG said...

It was a strangely fitting end to the day...

Mike said...

Sir Ted,
As one of your compatriots, I was really moved by your account of our captured a lot of what most/all of us experienced, and your photos reminded me of the parts I think my brain wanted to forget.

Thank you for posting such a detailed report, it brought back all of my memories and also showed how we shared so much even though riding as individuals. I pulled at that second water stop, unable to go on with a busted gps and huge blisters from the bike carry. Legs felt fine, sadly.

Keep up the great writing!! All the best.

Guitar Ted said...

@Lunar Lander - Thanks! I am sorry to read of your travails, but as another friend of mine told me, "Congrats on the experience!" I think that is a great way to take the time you had and help put it into a positive light.

I really appreciate your comments, thank you.