Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Pilot's Perspective - 2019 Para-Cycling Road National Championships Time Trial

Thursday, June 27, 2019 
2019 Para-Cycling Road National Championships
Time Trial
Start Time: 9:22:00
Bib: 45
We allowed a little extra time as we headed out this morning.  Access to the course was from a different location today due to road closures.  Fortunately, we pre-drove the route yesterday as the information provided was missing a few details…(ie - it was wrong)  We arrived in the parking area as planned about 7:15 and squeezed the big truck up next to Adam’s camper.  
Our first stop after restrooms was to bike pre-check which we passed with no issue.  We then returned to the truck. We sat in the truck for a bit and ate breakfast while looking out over the Cinch River which had a low layer of fog over it and ducks and geese paddling in the water.  We prepped the bike and ourselves and headed out for our warm-up. We opted to take the bike path as we had the first day we rode to get a nice stretch in and get away from the congestion of cars, trucks, bikes, hand cycles and trikes in the parking area.  We had a nice ride, traveling along the river, passing many out for their morning walks and winding through the thick green trees.  
We returned back to the truck, dropped our extra items and made one last stop at the restroom before heading to the start.  Our bike was checked again and we were ordered for the start. We had two holders in the start gate as the clock ticked down and signaled our start.  And we’re off. The course consisted of 3 laps in the shape of a T. We started out to the right - made a 180 degree turn about 0.8 miles out, passed back by the start continued straight to a right turn that served as the trunk of the T, climbed a short punchy hill (6 pedal strokes out of the saddle) followed almost immediately by a tight 180 degree turn.  The turn had a lip on the pavement to the right so no play on that side and dirt and gravel on the left. We did get into the dirt and gravel a bit but were able to turn pretty well. The return down the trunk is fast and goes into a sweeping right and almost immediately into a decent climb. The 180 degree turn around point was a bit closer than we had practiced and  right off of a very high speed downhill. We learned after the first time that we needed different gearing coming into it for the next two. Coming off the turn the course goes right back up the hill we had descended and by down the other side - we passed the trunk of the T at a pretty good clip, continued onto the start/finish where our split showed 19:06 (there was a digital board above the course showing our race number and time) and started lap two. 

Our goals for laps two and three were to increase intensity with each lap. My personal goal was to fix the turns at each point to make them smoother than the last.  The first turn was definitely better the second time through. We had a police moto that was right ahead of us from the start of the race. He slowed as we climbed and found he had to speed up when we descended as we would catch back up to him quickly where it caused enough question in my head whether he would move on time or not.  The turn onto the tree trunk the second time went a bit better than the first time but I still had to coast. I heard Wendy tell me in my head that we needed to pedal through that so set the goal for lap three. Our 180 went better the second time and we made a quick descent back down the trunk and back out to the climb. This time after catching up to the moto our 180 went much better with gears in the right place.  Split did not read on the screen as we came through. I shouted out what my computer said and knew we had gained a little time.  

Lap three brought our best turns of the race!  I was able to pedal through the turn onto the trunk and the effort felt solid all the way through the finish.  Our time 58:09. Our effort placed us in third. We made our way off the course, through the crowded parking lot and were able to spin around the circle at the end of the parking lot for a few minutes to settle our legs down.  
We then went to awards and visited with friends. 

Home after the awards, we unloaded the truck and settled in.  My shower and food was delayed by laying on the couch which felt pretty good at that moment.  A recovery afternoon, dinner out with a group of friends who are here and shift gears tomorrow to focus on the road race.  

TT Complete.  

With my athletes, any time they race I request a race report to share 5 celebrations, 5 challenges and 5 goals/learning opportunities to carry forward to the next race and beyond.  Here are my 5s.

5 Celebrations:
1.180s improved each time through
2. Pedaled through the turn at the trunk on Lap 3
3. Finished under an hour
4. Hill climbs were strong
5. Able to push hard to finish for last 1K

5 Challenges:
1. Turns - keeping momentum through constant accelerations and decelerations 
2. Pedaling through turns (tuck the fear)
3. Electronic shifting - muscle memory caused a few misshifts when focus switched to race mode
4. Speed suit contact point
5. Helmet sticker

5 Goals/Learning Opportunities:
1. Keep practicing turns with accelerations off the back
2. Tandem handling to pedal through tighter turns
3. Aero helmet with sticker securely fastened (I had a road helmet and a very flappy sticker)
4. Warm up may be best on a trainer - lots of congestion due to so much equipment
5. Consider equipment changes that could provide fine tune changes (TT Bars, helmet)

The Pilot's Perspective - Race Prep

Watching a spectacular sunrise over the Tennessee mountains as we prep for our first race this morning.  Bottles filled, kit items on and packed and food ready to go. It is go time.  

The last two days have been full but controlled as we prepared for today.  Tuesday morning, after “sleeping in” (times changes help with that) we researched where the TT course was in relation to our AirBnB farmhouse as well as the store, the Starbucks and the necessities.  I did my best to write down turn by turn directions of the course as the information provided in the online maps only touched on the highlights. We then headed out to drive the course. After a couple of loops and flipping the mental picture of the course in my head we nailed the course and drove it one last time to feel it as it is.  The course lines the Cinch River - with rowers and cool fog sitting on the surface of the water.  

From the course, we drove to the store.  Grocery shopping with two hungry and one visually impaired cyclist makes for entertainment to say the least.  I think it was the longest shopping trip I have had in a long time and required back tracking a few times to find the missing phone, reclaim our cart from the shopper that took it and hunting around for the “healthy” items on the low lying shelves.  We returned home to find our deli turkey, intended for lunch, was not with us and still at the store. We improvised lunch with other items purchased and then the bike build commenced.  

I was once again amazed by Wendy’s ability to feel her way through the bike build.  Her process and system is definitely fine tuned and is a good example for the rest of us.  After finding a home for the missing bolt, and making last minute adjustments we were ready to roll.  The RAM 1500 rental truck turned out to be a great pick. The bike slides right in the bed. All of our gear in the back seat and we were rolling.  
We headed back to the course with plans to ride on the bike path alongside the road.  We found the bike path to have many obstacles (big poles in the middle to keep cars off - that are not placed well for tandems) and opted onto the road as other cyclists were out there.  We were able to ride the course several times minus the 180 degree turns in the middle of traffic and to strategies a bit about different sections. We then rode the bike path along the river as a final shake out.  Things were feeling good.

We returned home.  Cooked up a good, healthy dinner and headed to bed - a bit earlier than the first night, but still late.  
Wednesday, we woke with plans to head back out to the course at 10.  We spent a quiet morning and prepared to ride. Arriving at the course, there was much more activity than the day before.  USA Cycling Trucks and Trailers, pro team vans and support vehicles and many other para athletes with their support. They were building the barriers on the course, had lane closures and many people both on and off the course.  We were very glad to have had our peaceful recon yesterday as today appeared to be a situation of making the best of what we could get in. We rode for about an hour and a half, returned home for lunch and showers and headed to athlete check-in, dinner and athlete meeting.  We had hopes of many questions answered but left with little more information than we already had.  
When we arrived back to the house, we gathered things for the morning and headed to bed.  One more sleep til race day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Pilot's Perspective - Para Road Nationals 2019 - Knoxville, TN

It started with a message.  A touch from a contact reaching out to gauge interest in participating in an event.  In this case, Para Road Nationals in Knoxville, TN - my involvement as the pilot to a tandem and beyond that very little information available.  

My initial response - excitement.  Excited to have a stoker reach out to me to have me play the important role of pilot for her big event of 2019.  My initial response - fear - am I in good enough shape to support her goals? Will I be able to perform to the level I expect of myself and my commitment to her?  Am I capable of this? My initial response - logistics. Can I take the time away from family, life, jobs, and responsibilities to pursue this opportunity? My response - say “yes” - figure it out later - thanks to prior coaching in my life that mentality stands strong.  So, I said yes.  

I took time after saying yes to run a self evaluation.  Where does my cycling fitness stand? What changes do I need to make to better focus on the outcomes of these races (yes, there are 4 that we will participate in)?  What are my controllables that I can manage now to show up as prepared as possible? The good news at this point was being in a pretty good place with my cycling training.  Thanks to a snowy winter, I had spent a lot of time in the Inspired Training Center Computrainer Studio and had gained fitness, power and refined skills.  

I then made the connection with my stoker knowing she had an amazing coach working with her and gained access to her training data so I could monitor to ensure I was hitting similar landmarks as she was.  This was a very valuable tool with us being in different states and minimal opportunity to train together prior to race week.  

There were times during the past few months when I wondered if the trip was going to happen, if the races were going to publish information and whether I was still holding the position as pilot.  There were times I questioned and still am questioning what I am getting myself into. There were times I questioned my why and if my why was strong enough for me to deliver at the event.  

We were able to schedule a training camp in early June.  We had three days in Colorado - learning the process of transporting and assembling/disassembling the tandem, getting ride ready and riding together in varying (ok windy) conditions to get used to each other and how the bike handles together.  I was truly amazed at the things I learnedf from her as she assembled the bike by feel and dialed in the proper fit for me. This provided a great connection for us and a good confidence builder but also reinforced the fears knowing as I dropped her at the airport to return home that we were two weeks out from the event.  This is real. We are doing it!

The last minute preparations were made.  Packing lists checked and re-checked. Gathered necessary tools, supplies and equipment needed and made every preparation possible for the family while I was gone so as to not interrupt the routine too badly.  A huge thank you to my family for supporting me in saying “yes.”    

Now, I sit on the plane - headed to Nashville.  We will meet in the airport a few hours apart, get our rental truck (the tandem transportation vehicle) and head to our AirBnb in Knoxville about 2 1/2 hours away.  Then after a good night’s sleep, the race preparations will begin.  

It’s go time.  Enjoy the ride!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Colorado Cyclists Headed to 2018 Masters Track Cycling World Championships

2018 Masters Track Cycling World Championships will be hosted at the VELO Sports Center  in Carson, California October 6th through October 13th.  The indoor velodrome features a 250M track circumference, 7M track width and a max 45 degree inclination.  The eight days of events will include sprint, pursuit, time trial, scratch race, points race, team sprint, team pursuit and open.  

SPRINT:  The sprint race format involves two to four riders on the track at one time.  Riders typically start next to each other and strategize throughout the distance to best situate the final push to the finish line.  There are no lane boundaries between riders - only track boundaries of the area that the cyclists must stay above.

PURSUIT:  Two cyclists race beginning from stationary position on opposite sides of the track.  The event is 4K for MEN and 3K for WOMEN. The two riders start at the same time and set off to complete the race distance in the fastest time. They will ride on the pursuit line at the bottom of the track in order to find the fastest line. The two riders pursue each other attempting to catch the other rider who started on the other side of the track. If the catch is achieved, then the successful pursuer is declared the winner. The race can continue past the catch to establish a time for each rider.

TIME TRIAL: Individual cyclists compete against the clock to record the fastest time over the specified distance from a standing start.

SCRATCH RACE: All cyclists start together and the objective is to be the first over the finish line after a certain number of laps.

POINTS RACE: A mass start race involving large numbers of cyclists riding simultaneously over 40K MEN/25K WOMEN. A sprint is held every ten laps, with 5, 3, 2, and 1 point(s) awarded to the top four finishers in each sprint. The winner of the race is the one with the most points at the end of the race. Cyclists who lap the main field are awarded 20 extra points.

TEAM SPRINT:  The team sprint is a short distance (3 laps MEN/2 laps WOMEN) three person MEN/two person WOMEN team pursuit.  Teams start on the opposite side of the track. At the end of the first lap, the leading rider in each team drops out of the race by riding up the banking leaving the second rider to lead. The second rider then drops leaving the third rider to finish.

TEAM PURSUIT: Two teams with up to four people starting on opposite sides of the track following similar format as the individual pursuit.

practice Team Pursuit starts
Colorado will be well represented at the 2018 event sending more than twenty athletes who train at the Boulder Valley Velodrome in Erie and the USOTC Velodrome in Colorado Springs.  Athletes traveling to LA will be participating in both team and individual events. The athletes have participated in racing events throughout the season as well as the State Championships.  
The following Boulder Valley Velodrome Athletes will race:

Among the USOC Velodrome Athletes:

Rebecca Lawrence

Jim Lawrence

Eric Swaidner

Brian Abers

Jonathan Cavner

Interested in Track Cycling?  Both tracks offer track certification programs and encourage cyclists to give it a try.  Visit Boulder Valley Velodrome and USOTC Velodrome for additional information.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Time to Reflect

As the 2018 race season comes to a close, it is time to reflect upon all things training and racing.  Reflection defined means “serious thought or consideration.” Whether you are an age group athlete or a pro, a middle of the packer or you’re just happy to finish, reflection will provide great insight into the next steps of your journey.  

Designate a time on your calendar to sit down for 45 minutes and allow yourself time to reflect.  If you are like many athletes, you may need that appointment to be listed on your training plan to add the accountability.  Protect the time and deem it to be as important as any of the training segments that you completed. Take the 5/5/5 approach.  Focus your reflection on 5 celebrations, 5 challenges and 5 goals from your past year.

Celebrations.  If you are not a professional athlete and racing is not your livelihood, mostly likely you race for the fun and the challenge.  Did your celebrations involve crossing a specific finish, achieving a new personal record, traveling a new distance that used to seem out of reach, or a connecting with a new friend or community?  Did your celebrations support your why? Pat yourself on the back! You have achieved great things this year and you deserve to celebrate!

Challenges.  As an athlete, you know that things do not always go as planned.  I truly believe that the unexpecteds are the greatest contribution to our growth and development.  Reflect on your 5 biggest challenges that you faced throughout the year. Was it an injury, an equipment issue, time to train or life balance?  Were the challenges things that were in your control or things that you are unable to control? Are you able to make changes or adjustments going forward that will avoid these challenges in the future?  We all face bumps in the road. Did the bumps support or hinder your overall journey? Most importantly, did you learn from the challenge?

Goals.  After looking at your celebrations and challenges, what is next?  Do you want another shot to address and overcome one of the challenges?  Is there a bigger finish? Is there a greater why? The journey in racing is a continuous project.  Each step that you take training and racing is adding another brick to a foundation that will continue to grow as you continue to grow.   

Take time to share this reflection with your accountability team.  Whether you share with your spouse, your friend, your family or your coach, we cannot travel these journeys without some type of support.  Be vulnerable - share your challenges, fears and Big Hairy Audacious Goals! Build a support crew who will support you in achieving your goals and will also be able provide feedback when they see you stray off course.  Continue to reflect along the way. Evaluate if you are on track and if the decisions you make are supporting your overall why. Know that your why may change and know that the adjustments will cause growth whether expected or not.  Embrace the opportunities that the growth presents and “never ever give up!”


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Buffalo Bike Classic Buff Epic 100

September 9, 2018

With bikes loaded and gear packed, we headed to Boulder on a cold, dark Sunday morning.  Ahead, 100 miles of cycling with the Buffalo Bicycle Classic.  In our usual fashion we opted with go big or don’t go and signed up for the 100 mile Epic to Estes ride.  In reviewing the course prior to our arrival we knew we had a decent amount of climbing ahead in the first 60ish miles followed by a familiar ride back to Boulder via Hygiene and Longmont.  

Pulling into Boulder, we checked in, made our last minute preparations and rolled up to the start.  We had received notice via email that our start was delayed until 7:15 but when 7:15 came there were only three of us remaining that were there to start the 100 mile adventure.  We quickly learned that most of the riders had started in the earlier waves as the volunteers were already moving to their next location before we arrived.  

After winding through Boulder we arrived on Canyon.  A left turn and the climbing began.  The canyon was cool.  The sun had not cleared the sides as of yet.  Perfect climbing conditions. As we progressed up the canyon, we started to catch up to other riders.  It was good to have others around and nice to have the ability to climb mostly side by side due to the closure of Canyon westbound.  Approximately 5 miles into the climb, we had an unexpected surprise/reward when a black bear crossed the canyon about 10 yards in front of us!  My immediate response was “holy sh*t - that’s a bear!” Followed seconds later by Mike saying “holy sh*t - that’s a bear!”  The bear came from our right side and crossed the road directly in front of us before disappearing into the shrubs on the left side.  I don’t think it even glanced our way but based on the fact that my highest heart rate of the day occurred right around this spot it could be because I was startled!

Reflecting on the bear - which according to Mike continued to get bigger as I talked about it throughout the day - took our minds off the climb for a bit.  I also reflected on college adventures in Boulder Canyon which is likely the last time that I had been up the canyon!  We eventually reached the peak of the climb just above Nederland and crossed the timing mat at 1:34:39.  We rolled into the aid station, refilled bottles with the help of an energetic young volunteer, grabbed a quick bite to eat and a restroom stop and were on our way again.  20 Miles down.  

The next segment of the ride took us across the Peak to Peak Highway.  I have heard many cyclists talk about riding Peak to Peak so I was excited for my maiden voyage.  This once again was a road I had driven before - definitely not recently - and also not as a cyclist.  I look at roads a lot differently now!  The sun was now out, crystal clear blue Colorado skies and the beginning colors of fall.  It was spectacular!  The climbs up typically provided a nice descend but what we quickly learned is when you go down you have to get back up to where you were!  Fast descends and slow climbs.  We settled into a group riding about the same pace as us and continued to make our way towards Ward.  We regrouped at the next aid station, enjoyed a pickle and some snacks and talked a bit with a volunteer about what was ahead and headed back out.  

The courses split at the Highway 7 intersection.  Left to Estes, Right to Lyons.  We definitely contemplated the right turn, but opted to continue left based on the information provided by the volunteer.  Turning left, we were on our own.  An occasional bike but it seemed that most people had opted for right.  We plugged on rewarded with spectacular views on a perfect fall Colorado day as we climbed to Allenpark and continued towards Estes Park.  With each summit we thought surely it is time to descend but the course provided additional challenge.  The final two miles into Estes were the much desired down hill we had been waiting for.  Even with freshly chip sealed roads we were able to speed along!
Arriving at the Estes aid station - mile 60, we were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Coke!  The bike mechanic provided some chain lube.  We rested, got the next segment of intel on the course from a volunteer - 2 mile climb out of Estes, 10 mile fast downhill, 1/2 mile climb, 12 mile descent.  We’ve got this!  The conversation with the volunteer was a huge help as he was spot on.  As we passed the mile marker we said “wow-he was spot on!”  We arrived into Lyons visited with the volunteers there to refill and headed out.  80 miles down, 20 miles to go.  

The next section was familiar territory overlapping segment from the Ironman Boulder and Ironman Boulder 70.3 courses.  With known expectations we pushed the pace some and enjoyed a fast spin through Hygiene and back into Boulder.  We stopped at the final aid station on 63rd only to be greeted by a familiar face volunteering.  We enjoyed a quick visit, a few photos and headed off for the last 7ish miles back into campus.  

The ride through Boulder was fast and we even had most lights to our advantage.  The last climb up Folsom and into campus reminded us that we had done a lot of climbing today!!  One last punch before crossing the finish.  A fist pump for the finish line photographer and we were done!!  100 miles complete!!  Looking to the west from campus we reflected on the fact that we had just ridden to the highest peak that we could see from here nestled in the back of the mountains.  Pretty rewarding!  

I am glad to say that I have checked some epic ride segments off of my list.  I am not sure if they are ones I would run out to repeat again or not but at this moment I can say they are done!    Until the next ride…

Monday, June 18, 2018

The DK100 - 2018

Welcome to Kansas sign on Eastbound I70
How do we get into these things?  What were we thinking? This time it was late fall 2017.  A friend that had fallen in love with cyclocross season started to look into gravel riding and decided we needed to do this too.  I borrowed a bike from her and we went for a ride. It was fun, it was different. Let’s give it a try. The Dirty Kanza Events are lottery driven and no guaranteed entries.  We put together teams so that we could all go or not go and not leave anyone behind. We registered when the lottery opened and waited for lottery day in January.

When lottery day arrived, a slow trickle of entries started and by the end of the day almost everyone that we had planned to go with had gotten in.  Then the reality set it. Guess it is time to buy a bike, guess it is time to figure this gravel thing out, guess we’d better get training. Holy cow!

Emporia City Limit Sign
Home of William Allen White
Mike and I pulled the trigger on bikes after a weekend in Colorado Springs.  Adventure Cycling was awesome and got us set-up and ready to roll. Then it was up to us.  We purchased the DK official training plan to use as a guideline and worked on increasing saddle time although not always on gravel.  

As the race approached, many people that we knew started to drop out.  Conflicts in schedules, graduations and more. We wondered if we were ready.  For me the controlling Type A personality was completely scared of the unknowns.  What would the road surface really be like, what was the terrain, was I in good enough shape to do this?  As more and more people dropped out it was down to Mike and Me. We had planned on a friend coming from Texas to provide our support.  We called him and advised that we didn’t think he should take the time off or the time to drive to and from as we didn’t know how this would go.  We then had a long conversation as to whether or not we were going and in the last few days decided what did we have to lose.

Sunrise looking East from
the dash of the car on C470
So June 1st, bright and early we were loaded up and headed to Kansas.  We had gathered the supplies that we thought would be needed and were as prepared as we could be at that point.  The wind blew like crazy the entire way. As I attempted to hold the car on the road, I worried what chance I would have with a bike in wind like this.  Fear was at a new high. We arrived in Emporia, checked into our hotel and into the race. We asked questions, were deciding on using neutral support and making last minute adjustments and tweaking.  We went to bed with an alarm set and the unknown looming just hours ahead.

June 2, 2018
Emporia, KS

My bike with gear strapped to it
and clothing laid out next to it.
Mike and I woke on race morning in our America’s Best Inn & Suites room in Emporia.  It was just before 5. It was pitch dark outside and the only sound we heard was the wind howling against our exterior door.  The thoughts that went through my head - “Please don’t let us have wind like we drove through to get here yesterday.” “Hopefully it gets light soon as I don’t have a light for my bike.”  “Please let these winds stop!” We went about our morning routine, making last minute preparations and gathering our nutrition for the day. I had spent a fair amount of time on Friday night laying everything out, making sure my bike was ready and gear needed properly strapped or packed and clothing out and ready to go.  I did not want to forget anything - control the controllables. So many unexpecteds ahead that I had to know that I had what I think I needed.

Our bike's on the rack with race
numbers waiting out the storm
We had decided to head to the start at 5:30.  Our event start was at 6:20 but the 200M riders were headed out at 6 and I wanted to see them go.  We walked out of the hotel into the wind to load the bikes. It was still dark. There was lightning all over the sky flashing constantly and it looked like rain was looming.  The weather report has said morning thunderstorms that were supposed to move through by 7 or 8. And it appeared that the forecast was right on. As we loaded the bikes onto the car, the heavens opened up and it was now pouring rain.  We grabbed the rest of our gear from the room and rolled out into the dark, rain and wind towards the start. The fear and panic was a bit higher as we approached. We looked at each other and I gave Mike the look of what have we gotten ourselves into.  I could hear my Mom in my head - this is crazy - why do you want to do this. And at that point the only answer I had was I don’t know. We pulled into a parking place pretty close to the start. We made the decision to sit in the car for a bit before soaking ourselves.  A knock on Mike’s window - we rolled down the window and the guy said “did you get the message that the event start is delayed 30 minutes?” We had not - well we had but our phones were still on silent from overnight so we hadn’t seen it come in. We hunkered down in the car for a while.  As the 30 minutes of delay passed, so did the storm. The rain slowed and eventually stopped. The roads were still very wet but at least it had moved on and it appeared we would not be riding through rain.

DK200 Riders passing on Commercial St.
We unloaded the bikes and headed towards Commercial Street.  We stopped at the restroom and positioned ourselves along the street with many other spectators and riders to watch the beginning of the DK200 - once more thankful that we had made the decision to go for the 100 instead of the 200 because at that moment 200 seemed crazy!  They have 21 hours to finish and the finish time was now 3:30 a.m. with the delay. Lots of cheers, fist pumps and excitement as the riders rolled through town. And now, it is our turn.

Mike & Kim standing with bike
in Team W Coaching kits
Mike and I moved with our bikes through the crowds of people to the start.  We found a spot and spoke to some people surrounding us. The race announcer provided some last minute updates.  He spoke to us from the top of the marquee sign that read “Welcome Dirty Kanza Riders.” He informed us that due to the recent rain, there was a re-route on the course to avoid what was 5 miles of hike-a-bike in 2015 that was sure to be the same this year after the rain.  Cheers from the riders who had experienced that before. We were also told to watch as we approached turns from pavement to gravel to avoid sliding out. The Kansas City Jeep Club would be on course to direct. With that it was go time. We were completely surrounded in bikes and we all rolled out as one big peleton.  As we moved through the streets of Emporia, the community was gathered along the curbs waving and cheering. The speed of the peleton increased and we were rolling along around 20 mph. It was fun! Mike and I looked at each other and smiled. Here we go!

Marquee lit up -
2018 Welcome Riders - Dirty Kanza
We approached the first turn onto gravel.  As we had been warned, the peleton slowed and cautiously turned.  Everyone appeared to stay upright which was good. The pack settled into two single file lines in the tire tracks on the road.  The areas between the tracks were rocky and the gravel/mud very wet so your choice was to get in line, hold onto the wheel in front and keep up.  Mud was splashing up, occasional rocks kicking up and most of the riders in good spirits talking back and forth. People peeled off occasionally to relieve themselves or check tires or equipment that was presenting problems.  Mike and I were able to hold onto the group pretty well and for the most part stayed together with some maneuvering.

We were riding along, enjoying the ride, the weather was cool due to the rain and clouds still covered keeping the sun exposure down and the wind for the most part was gone.  The Flint Hills were beautiful - lush, green and rolling. We encountered some climbs but nothing that was too challenging and we were able to move along at a decent pass and our gps on the computers was right on course!!  We reached the jeep and what was the beginning of the detour. We had been told it would occur just after mile 9 and it was right as expected. We had also been told that it would be about 5 miles so we watched the odometer to know as the gps now showed off course.  There were some hills through this section but all very rideable and we had the opportunity to spread out some as we were not held to the two tire tracks.

We linked back into the original course at about 5 miles on the button.  We crossed over a highway bridge (I believe I35), the first paved surface we had seen in a while.  We were about 18 miles in. After crossing the bridge, we turned and headed up a hill and crossed a cattle gate onto a rancher’s land.  It was absolutely beautiful - rolling, no signs of civilization just pasture. There were some ups and downs and they included a few stream/drainage crossings which were fun.  I hooked onto a group that were from England - they all had matching red kits - and they were singing Bohemian Rhapsody as we crested a hill and took off on the down hill. I couldn’t help but jump on!  Turned out we spent the rest of the day cat and mousing with them.

Kim & Mike in front of a cattle fence
- mile 25
At mile 25 we exited the ranch, crossing another cattle grade and coming up to some cars that had come off the highway to cheer on riders.  It was nice to see people. Mike and I stopped near a fence. Had a bite to eat, checked in with ourselves and headed back out. We were still in farm country so several more cattle guards, a farmer on a 4x4 keeping his cattle contained and off the bike route and many more stream crossings.  I remember saying to Mike - “this is great! I am so glad that we came! What fun!” We were speckled in mud - we both had our white arm coolers on and as he said they looked like chocolate chip ice cream! Our bikes were dirty, we were dirty and we were having a ball!
On Course

We approached the Madison check-point.  As we rolled into town the community was out in force cheering us in and directing us where to go.  We crossed a timing mat as we arrived in Madison and pulled off to the side where the aid waited. Mike and I had made the decision to do the race unsupported.  We had learned there would be water to refill in Madison so we opted to rely on that and hoped for the best. The aid station was way more that we had expected. A volunteer grabbed our bikes, took them to a hose, washed them off, dried the chain and re-lubed it!  Another volunteer took our empty water bottles and returned with them full of ice and water and then took off and returned with a plate of food for each of us! We felt supported and extremely well cared for!! We finished our snacks, completed our restock and rode through town to find a restroom.  We stopped on the way back at another volunteer table to grab additional sunscreen. All of the volunteers and people in town were so nice and supportive. We rolled back out of town with total race time of under 4 hours. We were thrilled!! 50 miles to go, to our knowledge most of the climbing behind us and nothing but smooth sailing ahead.  

Volunteers cleaning my bike/chain
As we rolled back out of Madison we talked with some other riders.  I rode with a guy for a while that was from Witchita. He had come in and met up with everyone in Madison and was riding with his friends the rest of the way into Emporia.  He was very familiar with the area and the roads and an avid gravel biker. I enjoyed learning his perspective on the area and on other events in the gravel world.

Welcome Riders sign in Madison
We started getting into some climbing.  The roads were wet and a bit muddy due to the canopy of trees over the road but we were moving.  Then we reached a pack of riders that had really slowed and suddenly we were all off of our bikes.  The mud in the tire tracks was impassable riding and the wheels were no longer spinning to push the bike because of all of the mud packed on them.  So we loaded our bikes on our shoulders and started walking with everyone else. There were a few that tried to push through and the mechanicals started to rear their heads.  Definitely wasn’t worth a broken derailer to try to press on. We reached the end of the muddy section. There was a large group of people and bikes all doing their best to clean the mud out of cleats on shoes and out of the components of the bike.  I remembered at that moment that Wesley had said to carry a paint stir stick for this purpose. Note to self for next would have been very useful. I removed both of my shoes and stood in the driest spot I could find while I clapped my shoes together trying to find my cleats.  We were off again. More hills and climbing, wet roads that made traction on the climbs challenging and some hills that required walking due to lack of traction to keep going. We hit two more sections of hike-a-bike. Carrying the bike until enough had fallen off
Mike approaching the mud
that would allow the tires to move and then stopping and removing shoes to find the cleats.  It was hard and tiring. We did our best to stay hydrated and fueled but our mindset was definitely shifting. Mike had talked to someone that told him that this section was the hardest and that it ended at mile 72. We were somewhere in the 50s to early 60s at this point so probably 15 miles of this to go.
We pressed on and continued to look forward to mile 72.  After several more hills, muddy roads and water crossings we arrived at an oasis right near 72.   We arrived at a farmhouse on the left side of the road. The owners of the house as well as several owners from surrounding farms were all at the end of the driveway.  They had matching beef shirts and tables with food, water, and more. They were awesome! They refilled our water which was greatly depleted after the last section, provided fruit and beef jerky, a much needed Coke and even washed our bikes some.  We visited with them for a few minutes and told them thank you as many times as we could.

The Oasis!
Right around the corner from the farm was mile 72.  We had made it and everyone had promised smooth sailing from here.  The elevation mostly done and smooth sailing on good gravel roads back to Emporia.  This is what we had waited for. And then, like a light switch the head winds started.  Our course from here to Emporia was North with a few small East and West turns but mostly North.  And the winds were blowing from the North. Looking at the grade on the computer when it said we were going down and I was now pedaling harder than I had all day.  We pushed through each North section and would stop to regroup at the next turn. Then the stops started to be during the North section as our legs just couldn’t push any further.  We stopped anytime that there was a farmer or race supporter offering to the riders and refilled our bottles as we just didn’t know how long we would be or where we would encounter more food/water.  We enjoyed talking to the people and they were so eager to support us!

Another muddy road
There were many hard conversations and challenges to mindset in the last 28 miles.  We talked a lot about how we had gotten into this in the first place and what were we thinking.  I spoke with one of the homeowners who mentioned 13 miles to go. My gps told me 13.1. I said a half marathon.  I could probably run this faster. Mike and I got off the bike with 4 miles to go and talked seriously about how we were going to make it and revisited the same conversation with 2 miles to go.  2 miles has never been a discussion point on a bike for me. Crazy! We pressed on. One final hill as we approached town. It was paved but it was steep. A final punch from the course. There were spectators with a bull horn cheering every crank of my pedals.  Made it to the top! My only thought was don’t walk now in front of them and we both did it still clipped in.

We turned the corner into Emporia University.  We rode through the campus directed by a police officer and turned the final corner onto Commercial Street.  We were on paved roads at this point and it was flat between us and the finish. We were gaining speed as we came into the streets lined with spectators and supporters.  We rode side by side and even grabbed hands and rode that way for a short bit. We had done it!! We celebrated our finish and heard our names announced together which was really fun!!  The last 50 miles had taken us nearly 6 ½ hours. Almost double what the first 50 had.

Dirty Kanza 100 Finisher Lanyard
We received our finisher lanyard and headed to the car to drop our bikes off.  We were all a muddy, dirty mess. We walked back to the finisher area. Gathered our finisher items and headed back to the hotel.  We couldn’t wait to lay down! Mike rinsed the bikes off with the hose outside our hotel room before bringing them in for the night and we rotated through the shower and out to find dinner.  We were back at the hotel and turned in for the night early after a very long day.

June 3, 2018
We had planned to get up just before 5 to head out but our attempt to set the alarm had failed.  We woke on our own closer to six. Loaded our gear and bikes and headed back out. It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed seeing some of the hills we had rolled through as we drove.  The winds picked up towards the later end of our drive and the windmills were cranking. We arrived home
Recovery at Complete Cryospa
before 1:00, unloaded, went for some cryo recovery and settled in early.

As a coach and an athlete, I always revisit an event by visiting on 5 celebrations, 5 challenges and 5 goals.  I had lots of time in the last 50 miles to think not only about my race report but about each of these items. In fact if I could dictate while I was riding, this would have been done a few weeks ago!  Here they are:

5 Celebrations:
*We finished!
*No Mechanicals or Flats!!
*We finished at our goal time.  10 hours was our initial thought.  9:58 and change.
*We didn’t quit in the times before the race and during the race where the opportunity was easy to bail out.  
*The Community and area were absolutely amazing
*Our GPS worked perfectly.

5 Challenges:
*Carrying enough fluid for unexpected - without the farmers along the way, we would have been out of fluid completely on the second half.
*Best way to pack gear needed on bike and in hydration pack.  I had tubes and tires ziptied to my frame and a lot of gear in my hydration pack and pockets.  
*The Wind
*The Mud

5 Goals:
*Carry chain lube.  It is possible to go through every spec of grease on a chain in under 20 miles!
*Figure out horizontal bar bag that will help with fluid and equipment
*Embrace the training rides and take them in the condition of the day.  Don’t avoid wind or elements as they will happen.
*Figure out how to make repairs that may be needed.  Stranded in the middle of the Flint Hills even with support you may not be accessible.  

*Participate in other events and continue to gather information (we learned a lot at the DK200 forum in Golden the week after the race)

Here is a link to our ride: