Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Dirty Kanza 200 - 4 - Bringing it home....

This may be shocking, but the final leg is mostly a black blur to me. Dave and I made good progress, pedaling as fast as we could stand. We climbed when the road tilted up, and descended as the road tilted down. There were far fewer turns in this segment; so long straight lines were leading us north, around the top of Emporia. We picked up some other riders, and rode in a group for a while.  Somewhere in the middle the group began to slow, savoring the company and what had become a fantastic night. I on the other hand had places to be. I wanted my pint glass, hopefully full, and was not going to slow down. My butt had checked out, sitting and pedaling wasn’t fun anymore. The inside of my knee would complain if I stopped pedaling and stood to relieve the pressure on my butt. I found myself not quite knowing how to relieve the pain, but pedaling without stop seemed to help. The glow of Emporia beckoned me. Seeing the lights of the town grow helped my spirits. I checked the map as often as I could, ticking the miles down. Due to minor turns to find checkpoints, I had a couple extra miles on my computer, forcing me to do a bit of extra math at every turn. It was a welcome diversion to keep my occupied. I was catching riders, even if it was by surprise. I knew where I was going and didn't need to stop to consult my map. I quickly passed through Americus, marked nearly as badly as Cottonwood Falls, but hoping the blinking lights in the distance were right I passed on. I did see the bar in town open, the sole business still operating, and I almost stopped for a pint. An open bar meant I wasn’t out of time yet, but it was time to go as fast as I could. I had settled into a solitary dance, standing pedaling, sitting, swearing, and pedaling some more. I was ready to be off the bike for sure. After what seemed like hours I finally found my last right turn. Hitting mile 201 was a sweet right turn, and a straight uphill through the ESU campus and into downtown. I’d like to apologize to everyone in Emporia, I ran all of your red lights and stop signs in a sprint (or what was left of one) into downtown. There were some people in front of me, and I was determined to catch at least one of them sleeping. After 20 hours of racing, it was totally worth it. I crossed the line at 2:45 AM, Sunday after riding 206 miles in 20 hours, 45 minutes. I wasn’t the last man; I collected my pint glass; and promptly handed my bike and glass to L. She handed me back a Jimmy John’s sandwich, which was amazing. The same people who had met me at stop three had stayed until the wee hours to see me in. It was the best finish I could have hoped for. After some sleepy conversation, everyone filtered off showers and sleep.

Later that day…

L and I slept long into the morning, unfortunately missing the awards ceremony and breakfast. I had really looked forward to that, but the sleep was so marvelous that I didn’t care. I am still-hunting for a shirt for L, it is her prize for providing me the best support anyone could have asked for. My Salsa el Mariachi performed flawlessly. No mechanicals, and a smooth steel ride for 20 some odd hours. I had been riding the Geax Saguaro’s for months beforehand, and they were tough enough to not flat once. I have already decided to ride the Dirty Kanza again, now I just have to decide if I want the half-pint or another full pint. I may lighten the bike or experiment with the setup over the next year, or I may just go full expedition again and ride it the way it is.

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