The Dirty Kanza 200 event is a really special event. I respect everything about it and, of course, all the good folks behind it. So, I wanted to make something clear before I tell my story about the weekend I just experienced.
First off- no, I did not ride in the race. I will explain why that is as I go along here, but that needs to be understood up front. I think it could be a misunderstood point and I certainly don't want that to be the case.
Secondly- It might prove useful to reread the first paragraph. I did my own ride, but not because I am "against what the DK200 stands for". That also needs to be crystal clear. I heartily support anyone's efforts in this event. So, lest anyone try to misconstrue my intentions, here they are written out.......
My intentions are to go it alone in a self-supported effort and to see and experience the Flint Hills of Kansas without the overbearing weight of "doing a race". If I wanted to stop and take in the view, so be it. I had no checkpoint to make. If I needed to reroute myself, I was completely on my own to make the correct decisions, and I was willing to do that if the consequences were less than pleasant. I didn't have a bail out person. I needed to ride accordingly. Sure, it is a risk, but I wanted that experience. I don't expect anyone else would or will want to ride in the Flint Hills like that, but I am so grateful I did.
Another reason is that the Dirty Kanza 200 brings together many of the people I have gotten to know over a decade plus of being heavily involved in gravel road racing/riding/promotion. I rarely get to see many of these folks, and I get to also add new faces to my family everytime I go to an event. It is a wonderful treasure I have been allowed to experience.
Then there are the businesses that cater to all of the rider's needs, especially the restaurants and bars. I will not hide the fact that for a town of 24,000 or so, Emporia ranks at the top for dining and socializing experiences when the DK is happening. The restaurants I went to were on point. Service, food, and prices were so good it was crazy. Do yourself a favor and indulge in these places when you get to Emporia, (if ever you find yourself there), and you will be surprised. So, there is that aspect of doing things the way I do.
Finally, it is something I do out of a mutual convenience with my friend Tony. He enrolls in the event, buys the "support for hire" package, (I would strongly recommend that option if you are ever wondering about that), and really wants to share the ride down and back with someone. I get to do all of the above mentioned points and I wouldn't get to without Tony.
So, a big thank you to Tony.
The Dirty Kanza also was a record setter this year. Obviously, as with any long, extended time activity out of doors, the weather is a wild card. This year, the DK200 hit a jackpot of sorts. The weather was, for this event, spectacular. I've seen a heck of a lot worse there. The temperatures rose to the low 80's and the winds were mere breezes. A few drops of rain were seen here and there, but for the most part, it was about as good as you could ask for out there. This resulted in a reported 80%+ finishing rate for the 1150 starters of the 200 miler. A new women's race record was set, and more folks "beat the sun" than in any other year.
So, second of all, Congratulations to all who rode in the event, and Congratulations to the DK Promotions Team and all the volunteers.
Now with all of the above said, I will tell my tale starting tomorrow. Expect about five installments of "DK MY Way".