Saturday, June 06, 2015

Dirty Kanza 200: Epilogue

L-R: Tony, MG, and myself in Joe's driveway.
Epilogue: The Dirty Kanza 200 for 2015 will go down as probably one of the most memorable DK's ever. Certainly the weather was very unusual for this typically hot, dry, and windy event. The numbers weren't as bad as you may have thought for finishers. Just under half finished the 200 while just over half finished the 100. (Based upon numbers provided by the DK200 itself) So, a pretty good finishing rate if you consider the conditions that day with the dirt road at the beginning really taking its toll.

However; from my standpoint, it was a great ride. I did far more than I had expected. I was also surprised to find out that Ari and Phil dropped at 90 miles and Martin, (one of the Iowans I rode with for a spell), at Checkpoint #2. All three men who I figured as sure bets to finish. MG had a mechanical and had to drop after 15 miles. Tony, my traveling companion, was the only one out of any of us that actually finished. He did the 100 again this year. Tony also picked up a couple of sweet Revelate bags in the raffle at the (so-called) "Rock Star Breakfast and Awards Ceremony" held on Sunday morning. (If rock stars eat biscuits and gravy, I'd be mighty surprised, by the way.)

Then I have to mention MG, who received one of the first 1000 Mile Club Cups since he has finished six DK200's. (He's holding the cup in the image at the left.) Congrats Brother!

On the way the event was run: I know many may be wondering about the event from my perspective, since I also put on Trans Iowa. Well, I did have comments, but I shared those privately with the DK staff and I do not plan on making any of that public.

Personal Reflections: I will say that I am, of course, disappointed about the missing 43 miles I didn't get to cover. However; I am stoked that I rode 158 miles and with the way this year started out, that's a huge rebound for me. I want to continue to get finer tuned, and hopefully this will become a big stepping stone to better results at rides coming up yet this year. Let's face facts: I was not properly trained to ride even the 158 miles I did get in. Being sick for much of the first quarter of this year, lacking time to get out on longer rides due to Trans Iowa preparations, and family duties all made it so that I wasn't where I needed to be to go fast enough to make my issues with getting past Checkpoint Two on time a non-issue. I wasn't fast enough. Period. I get that, but as I said, I am not hanging my head. I did far better than I should have, far better than I ever have there, (despite having been in better shape in years past), and had a great day on the bike. I'll take that as a positive experience despite not finishing.

The conditions were very tough, yes, but not foreign to me at all. I've been in various events where walking the bike in mud has been required. I have ridden on softer roads than these. I have persevered in the face of stronger headwinds. The conditions were actually much to my liking. I mean, how often do I get to sploosh through mud puddles and grind through slop? Not often, so I embraced it and had fun with that.

The "Fat Fargo" was simply awesome.
A Word About Gear: First of all, my needs were not those of a potential race winner, or of those that had support dialed in to where one could use a minimally equipped bike. That's not how I roll anyway. From my viewpoint, the more I can rely on my own wits and tools the deeper the satisfaction at the end of the day. To that end, I chose the Fargo shod with Velocity Blunt 35 rims and WTB Trailblazer 2.8" tires in the 27.5" format. This wheel ends up being minimally smaller than a 29"er wheel and has huge volume and a big footprint for sure footed handling. On the DK200 course I could blow through water crossings whenever I wanted and take whatever line suited me. In the softer dirt, where you could see that narrower tires were cutting in, I floated right over the top. The tires gave me better stability and I didn't have to manhandle the bike through sketchy parts of the course like I witnessed others having to do. Of course, they were tubeless and I had zero issues with flat tires. The pressures were set at 20psi rear and 18psi front. Too high for mtb, but a good compromise for the DK course. The Trailblazer has a center ridge line which at that pressure was the main contact point on the harder sections of the course. I had no problems with rolling resistance on this rough course. Finally, these tires absorbed a ton of chatter, so I wasn't so beat up after the ride as I might have been on a smaller volume tire.

The bike, a Fargo version 2, was steel, of course, and features the bottle cage mounts on the fork, which I love for longer rides where you don't want to carry a hydration pack. I could have had five mounted, but I opted for four, since I had a sneaking suspicion that an under the down tube mounted bottle would have been a mess. I put my fifth bottle in my middle jersey pocket. Thinking back on this strategy, I would have added a sixth bottle had the temps been typical for the DK, but with cooler weather I was fine.

Bags were a mash up of Revelate, Topeak, J-Pak, and Bike Bag Dude offerings. The BBD bags were the Chaff Bag which are on the handle bars. This was purely for food. The J-Pak bag was a "Snak-Pak" style and was utilized for food as well. The Revelate bag was the venerable Tangle bag. In this bag I had a spare rain jacket, spare tubes, (2), and a roll of Gorilla Tape along with my DuMonde Tech lube and some extra gel packets, hydration powders, and a bottle of Ibuprofen. I also ended up stuffing my muddy gloves in there after the first mud road section. The Topeak bag was my Aero Wedge seat pack and handled my tool kit, spare derailleur cable, patch kit, mini pump, was where I stowed my windbreaker when not wearing it, had my money and ID in a zip-loc bag, and was the mount for my Bontrager tail light.

The front light was a Trelock LS 950 Control Ion model. I used a Bontrager Ion lamp for a helmet mounted light source. Cues were held in a Skratch Labs zip-loc and I put them either in the gas tank bag or a Chaff Bag when I wasn't looking at them. So, no fancy cue sheet holder, which I didn't have room for. My computer was a wired Cat Eye model from several years ago. The saddle was a WTB Pure V and the seat post was the awesome Salsa Cycles Regulator titanium post. Bars were older 25.4mm clamp diameter On One Midge Bars and the levers were a mix of Tektro and Tektro modded Gevenalle with a bar end shifter for the front and a Gevenalle GX for the rear.

Finally, a short word about my lube. The DuMonde tech lube was great. I had some reapplied by MG at CP#1, and then I reapplied some at about night fall later on. This course raised hell with chains and the rest of the drive train due to near constant water and mud crossings, so I was super pleased with the lube's performance in these very extreme conditions. I experienced zero drive train related issues, so that was a huge factor in my success at getting as far into this course as I did.

Thank You: 
Joe, our gracious and fun host for three days.
First off, I have to thank my gracious host, Joe, who took me in on the recommendation of MG, but had never met me before Thursday afternoon. It was a great time, Joe, but I owe ya for fouling your shower!!

Thanks to MG, my Brother. Thanks to Tony for the drive down and back and it was great to spend some quality time with ya. Thanks to Jim Cummins, the DK200 kingpin. Thanks to LeLan Dains, Kristi and Tim Mohn, and the rest of the DK200 staff and volunteers.

A Special Shout Out to Ari for making the trip and getting at least some riding time in with me. I wish that your physical issues would not have prevented you from getting a finish! We will ride again soon!

Thanks to the owner of Mulready's Pub for that killer bacon-fest! Also, thanks to the neighborhood "Man-law" gathering where we got a belly full o pasta. You folks were awesome. Basically, the entire town of Emporia seemed to be very welcoming and excited to see all of us.  

That's a wrap on my DK200 report. I hope everyone enjoyed it. Now on to the next adventure! 


Kate Geisen said...

Thanks for sharing your day! The conditions definitely made things interesting, but I stink cool and wet was much easier in me than really hot and dry, and after seeing Land Run and TI pictures and reading recaps I think I was better mentally prepared for a sloppy course. So thanks for your part in that too! :)

Guitar Ted said...

@Kate Geisen - Thanks Kate! I agree on the weather. The cool/wet was better for me as well. I've attempted the DK three times before and twice was killed by heat. (Once I started sick, so that one was doomed from the start.)

MG said...

It was a great time... I learned a lot. Thanks Brother!!


MG said...

... I'd like to echo your thanks to Jim, Kristi, Tim, LeLan, Joe and everyone I got the opportunity to meet after my race met its untimely end. It was fun to be able to help my friends and Brother achieve what they did at the DK200, even if it wasn't a finish. We all learned a lot out there.