2016 Dirty Kanza - Brutally Amazing Day On The Bike

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by DBMX119, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. DBMX119

    DBMX119 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Rick McKee
    I've been MIA a bit more than usual lately, mostly due to all of the work getting ready for Dirty Kanza. As it turns out, working 50+ hours a week and trying to wedge in approximately 16 hours of riding a week along with bike maintenance doesn't leave much time for anything else.

    For those that don't know, the Dirty Kanza 200 is an unsupported race through the Flint Hills of Kansas, where riders leave Emporia at 6AM on a 200 mile race through two other towns before returning to Emporia. 95% of the race is on gravel roads (most with minimal maintenance) and the only support from teams is allowed in the 3 check points approximately 50 miles apart. Its typically hot and humid and most of the course is the definition of remote.

    For some reason this sounded like a fun time after reading all of the stories and blogs from the last few years. Two friends of mine were also stupid enough to think this was a good idea and signed up with me. One of them wised up and changed his entry to the 100 mile race a few days before the race (there’s always 1 in the group).

    Even better: At 3 AM on the morning of the race, a storm came through and it poured rain for 60 to 90 minutes. When we woke up the sky was clearing and there wasn’t any standing water, so we figured we were good to go. We may have underestimated that slightly.

    Below are a bunch of pictures I either took or downloaded off the internet from the 2016 DK200 to give you an idea of what its like to take part in this unique event.

    Granada Theater Sign- This is the old time theater on main street in Emporia and is where the riders meeting, start and finish happen.


    The view of the start. Just under 1000 started the race. We’re back alongside the Granada Theater.


    The neutral roll out started right at 6 and we were led down Commercial Street and by a few miles of people cheering everyone on from their front yards. Before long the police cars pulled over and the rhino lead the riders out onto the dirt and that when all hell broke loose. I hear a gasp in the crowd and look to see rooster tails of water coming off the back of the Rhino. The entire first straight was under water. What was even more impressive was when the leaders (including Ted King) hit the water and you couldn't even see then front group because they were going full gas through the water.

    I found this shot on the internet and is right after we turned off the highway. A few of us went to the right and passed a bunch of people through the water. That may be us in the group at the very top of the photo. The first 8 miles consisted of sections of this, or mud, or very wet gravel.


    6 miles in we made a left turn and all I could see along the side of the trail was people with broken bikes. I was with a group of guys who were going good and figured we would work together for a while, but that was short lived as one by one their rear derailleurs were getting ripped off in the mud.

    The mud section was maybe a mile, but everything was happening in slow motion. The dirt didn't look like it was sticky mud, just usual dirt with water on top, but everywhere I looked there was someone holding up the back of their bike with a cable in the air and a derailleur hanging from the chain. Some were fixing them for single speed. Others were walking and already on the phone saying things like "Don't bother leaving the hotel. My day is done". 5 people broke derailleurs directly in front of me. One of the cages even flew up and hit me in the arm and I remember joking with someone that derailleurs were flying off bikes like dollar bills at a gentlemen’s club.

    I would guess at least 50 (maybe more) were done for the day. By mile 9 the course was completely dry and, other than the stream crossings, we didn’t have any muddy sections the rest of the day. The damage was done however as we were muddy and soaking wet and our bikes looked like hell and our drive trains were already making noise.

    The rest of the first leg was fast with amazing scenery, lots of people, and a knee deep creek crossing. I made it to Madison in 3 hours and spent less than 5 minutes in the first pit thanks to the help of my parents and wife who had everything dialed. Dad lubed the chain and my mom and wife filled the camel back and traded me food packets.

    This is the lead pack at the first water crossing 35 miles into the race (notice they are running).



    This was my pace:


    The second leg is was where it started to hurt. This was the second longest leg at 54 miles, but had several long climbs. This was also where the wind started picking up. I struggled a bit on one climb and pulled over to regroup. I just told myself I had to take it easy, go slow and see how things shake out. That worked well and before I knew it I was feeling good and back to picking off riders and rolling into the second pit in Eureka.

    Some random shots that show how awesome the scenery was and that while Kansas is “flat”, there was A LOT of climbing (9500+ feet):







    This shot was early in (first 20 miles). Notice I still have a bit of a grin (and I am covered in mud) as I am cresting one of the early climbs.



    I have no idea when this one was taken, but it was later in the race. Full suffer mode at this point. Head is down, and if you look close there may be some drool. Or is that a tear? Maybe both? Notice how my legs are clean because the course crossed several streams. One of which I sat down in for a few because the cold water felt so good.


    This was where everything started to fall apart. Around mile 120 we turned directly into the wind and started heading back towards Madison. This was the longest leg (58 miles) and by now the temps were in the mid 80's with humidity and we dealt with a 20 mph headwind the entire way. At one point I was working pretty hard but was only moving at 9 mph on flat ground. About 45 minutes in I caught up to my buddy who had left the pits 5 minutes before me. It was clear he wasn’t doing well, so we exchanged pleasantries about how much things sucked and I rode on. We ended up going back and forth for the rest of the ride.

    I caught up to him about 10 miles from the third pit as he was sitting on the side of the road. We did the math and realized that with that stop, and as bad as we were both feeling, there was no way we would beat the sun. At this point, things just switched…. We struggled more, were more tired, and the wind was out of our sails. We were pretty sure (but not 100% ha ha) we’d finish, but the game had changed slightly.

    During the third leg I had consumed every drop in a 3L camelback and the majority of 2 large bottles , and still had 15 miles to the next pit. Thankfully, people were in their front yard cheering the race on and were offering to fill bottles for racers as they came by. They saved my race.

    After an extended stop (15 minutes or so) in the third pit, we started the final 44 miles towards Emporia. Luckily, someone flipped the switch while we were in the pits and the wind stopped and the temperatures began to drop as the sun dropped out of the sky. The final leg was the shortest of the day and should have been the easiest, but I was struggling to eat.

    I had been on the bike for about 12 hours and had consumed an unthinkable about of hydration, gu’s and honey stingers. I knew I had to eat and was low on energy, but would literally dry heave every time I thought about eating anything. The last 2 hours I resorted to breaking off a piece of Honey Stinger and swallowing it with water (like a pill). I would feel better within a few minutes, but would feel bad 20 minutes later and the whole process would start over again. My buddy and I continued to stop a lot that leg to to try to eat and/or regroup with eachother

    Just outside of Emporia, I was admiring the awesome sunset and some guys I had been riding with earlier in the day came by in a pace line with 6 other riders and yelled “Jump on dude! We’re almost there!!!!!” I clicked up a couple of gears and before I knew it we heading down gravel roads at 20 mph and flying by others who weren’t strong enough to jump on. I hung on for a while but after a few close calls, I sat up. I figured I had ridden 200 miles at this point and there was no way in hell I was going to crash out less than 6 miles from the finish!!!!

    Heading into Emporia was unlike anything I have ever experienced. We took a quick trip through the university and then dumped onto Commercial Street. This peaceful street we had been on all week and rolled out of town at 6 AM that morning was transformed into a total party. The last ¼ mile or so was lined with barricades and was completely jammed with people cheering waving cow bells.

    15 hours and 36 minutes after roll out I crossed the finish line completely gassed. Thanks to my stomach being such a mess, it took everything I had to eat part of a quesadilla at Casa Ramos after the race. Those who know me well know how bad I must have been feeling to not be able to finish my food. I couldn't even handle a post race beer! The next morning I ate 2 breakfasts at the local diner. Clearly I was feeling better.


    I can’t describe the feeling of relief I had as I crossed the line and shook hands with the promoter and took my pint glass and “200” sticker and then signed the giant banner behind the finish. I have to stay I’m still in a bit of shock I 1) rode that long 2) avoided any and all problems with the bike all day and 3) FINISHED THE DIRTY KANZA 200!!!!!!!

    Strava Data: https://www.strava.com/activities/598764247

    Of the 1000 riders that started, only 553 finished. I ended up 138th out of that group and missed “beating the sun” by just under an hour. At the riders meeting, they predicted this would be the fastest DK200 due to a course that was in really good condition and packed down, the leader would finish around 10 hours and there would be probably 200 riders that would beat the sun. In the end, Ted King won with a time of 12 hours, and only 91 riders beat the sun. The headwind had taken its toll.

    Finishers in the race get to sign the big DK banner. I realize look really intense in this pic. Its because I am focused on 2 things: 1) Holding my hand steady enough for people to be able to read what I wrote (it was shaking bad) and 2) Trying not to fall over backwards off the ladder….. like I ALMOST did before catching myself on the handrail as I climbed up. For an added bonus, you can see I’m hanging on to the scaffolding with my left hand for added support.



    I don't know what else to say other than the Dirty Kanza was the toughest, most grueling, demanding, exhausting, mentally challenging thing I have ever done. At the same time, this entire event is something special. Emporia, Madison and Eureka basically shut down for the duration of the event and everyone in all of the towns was out supporting the riders. The locals and local businesses are REALLY into this event and make all racers feel like super stars.

    To anyone who has considered or thought about riding/racing it: DO IT. Give it a shot. I’ve done all kinds of events, races, and rides and I will say this one hell of a special event. 3 towns basically shut down for the day and all day long people were sitting in their front yard cheering us on as we rode by. Euerka rescheduled their local fair and parade to coincide with the running of this race! My wife said as they got set up on the main street, they had a full parade, complete with a marching band and Shriners on 3 wheelers, about 20 minutes before the leaders arrived.

    That being said, it was really tough and I’m not sure its something I want to do again in the future. It was the toughest thing I have ever done and I endured several hours where I wondered if I should just give up instead of dealing with the heat, wind, pain, and fatigue.
     
  2. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Highball Al SS
    Sounds like a fun time......sort of.

    Congrats on toughing it out and finishing....those are the kind of days that show you just how much you can tolerate. Well done.



    ON A SIDE NOTE: I can't see the pics....

    Screenshot (330).png
     
  3. DBMX119

    DBMX119 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Rick McKee
    Sh!t. ha ha. I was wondering if they would work. I copied and pasted text and they showed up. I'll upload them now.

    EDIT- You should be able to see them now
     
    Tom the Bomb, Mikie and mtnbikej like this.
  4. bigringrider101

    bigringrider101 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Winnetka CA
    Name:
    Berni Avila
    Current Bike:
    Jones Space Frame Ti truss for
    BRAVO! I got the goosebumps reading your report. Thank you.
     
    Tom the Bomb and Mikie like this.
  5. Cougar

    Cougar MTB Addict

    Location:
    Laguna Niguel
    Name:
    Craig
    Current Bike:
    '14 Turner Burner
    Wow.

    So the real question is, are you glad or disappointed that you didn't lose a derailleur in those first 5 miles like some of the others more/less fortune?

    That's a hell of an accomplishment. Thanks for sharing :)
     
  6. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    Amazing and unfathomable...Great job man and thanks for the detailed report. Oh and the pics show up perfectly for me
     
    Tom the Bomb and Mikie like this.
  7. StrandLeper

    StrandLeper MTB Addict

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Timothy M. Ryan
    Current Bike:
    SC Bronson 1x/Pivot 429 1x xtr
  8. DBMX119

    DBMX119 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Rick McKee
    I remember thinking that it wouldn't be THAT bad if my derailleur fell off at that point. I was glad it didn't when the mud cleared though. Now, later in the ride is another story. I'll post a bike write up this weekend. I did some unconventional stuff to be ready for anything and as it turned my bike was awesome all day. No mechanicals and one flat that sealed itself before I could come to a stop!

    I'm not going to lie.... I strongly considered kicking in my rear wheel at one point and calling the crew to come get me. You're mind starts playing with you when you've been pedaling for 2.5 hours since the last checkpoint (9 on the day) and you do the math and realize you have another hour until the checkpoint and ANOTHER 44 miles after that.

    This event is every bit taxing mentally as it is physically.
     
    herzalot, Tom the Bomb, Mikie and 5 others like this.
  9. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve Macko
    Current Bike:
    Two Bikes, Two Cogs.
    Im pretty sure I went through the full range of emotions just reading your ride report. Very well done...

    Was the field 100% cross bikes, or were there any brave souls on lighter mountain bikes?
     
    Tom the Bomb and DBMX119 like this.
  10. DBMX119

    DBMX119 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Rick McKee
    The field was full of everything.... And that's part of what makes these gravel events so fun. No one has figured out the perfect set up, so you get a lot of off the wal set ups. It reminds me a bit of the late 90's when suspension was coming in to play for MTB. There were all kinds of theories on what worked, so you had some crazy set ups.

    There were quite a few hard tail MTB's, one of which was with me in the group at the end. There were a lot of fat bikes as well. A few went motoring by us on one of the early flat sections! I finally caught one of them a few miles outside of Emporia. There were even a few guys on road bikes that had frame clearance for 32C tires.

    Other bikes to note: Lots of hybrid mtb bikes with cross wheels and drop bars. A lot of people on gravel bikes run some funky bars where the drops come out to the side (not inline with the bike). I've never tried those so I don't get what the deal is.
    44-bikes-huntsman-gravel-road-bike2.jpg
     
    Mikie, Runs with Scissors and Faust29 like this.
  11. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J
    Current Bike:
    SC Highball Al SS
    http://salsacycles.com/components/category/road_handlebars/woodchipper

    Features
    The Woodchipper is our drop bar off-road handlebar. It delivers the most hand position options of any of our drop handlebars, and offers great control on challenging singletrack terrain. The non-conventional shape requires a more unique setup for optimal performance: the brake/shifter position should be canted downward with the drop portion of the bar angled in the 20–25° range. It will only take one long off-road bikepacking trip will convince you of the Woodchipper's amazing capabilities.

    • Multi-position, off-road drop bars
    • Bars bend along three planes to create extra-wide lowers while still maintaining a shallow drop
    • Ergonomic design works well with integrated road shift/brake levers
    • Bar-ends accept bar-end shifters
    • Front indentation for cable routing
    • 110mm drop, 80mm reach, 38° drop angle, 26° flare angle
    • 42, 44, and 46cm widths
     
    Mikie, DBMX119 and Faust29 like this.
  12. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve Macko
    Current Bike:
    Two Bikes, Two Cogs.
    You beat me to it... Bernie (@bigringrider101) runs drop bars on some of his adventures.

    I thought for the distance involved in this one, though, that the cross bikes would have been the only choice. I can't imagine 200 miles on a fat bike. That's right up there with the guy who did the Big Ring Century on an "Elliptigo". :sick:
     
  13. DBMX119

    DBMX119 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach
    Name:
    Rick McKee
    I thought so too, but the more we thought about it, they might be pretty good if they were geared correctly. You can bomb any mud/water/rough section, fly on all the downhills, and they would be pretty smooth all day. Plus since its all gravel road you can get some benefit if you get your momentum up. I was impressed with how fast they went and how well they performed.
     
    Mikie, Runs with Scissors and Faust29 like this.
  14. emejay

    emejay New Member

    Name:
    jay elliott
    Awesome report! I have heard of this event buy never had any first hand information. TY for taking the time to share.
     
    Mikie and DBMX119 like this.
  15. bigringrider101

    bigringrider101 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Winnetka CA
    Name:
    Berni Avila
    Current Bike:
    Jones Space Frame Ti truss for
    My Cutthroat came with Cowchipper bars that flare out but not as much as the Woodchippers. A while back I was playing around and I put the Woodchippers on my RLT, it didn't work. Too wide for the skinny tires, I guess.
    Again, awesome accomplishment.

    I follow a guy that did this and he had to call it quits at mile 160. He is a Salsa sponsored rider and the one that started the Racing the Sun.
    A guy that works at my LBS did DK on a fixie and today he started the Tour Divide on a SS. I'm just mentioning these facts 'cuz that's how I found out about this race and why it made my list.
    Your RR just made DK200 move way up.
     
    mtnbikej, Faust29 and DBMX119 like this.
  16. Luis

    Luis MTB Addict

    Location:
    Sylmar
    Name:
    Luis
    Current Bike:
    Big Black 29er
    WOW !! simply WOW, and congrats on completing it. :thumbsup:

    Thanks for posting up
     
    DBMX119 and Mikie like this.
  17. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist MTB Addict

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    This was fantastic to read @DBMX119 !!! Thanks for taking the time to put it together for our consumption!
     
    DBMX119 and Mikie like this.
  18. Ricekrispyota

    Ricekrispyota Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Dana Weinberg
    That is an awesome accomplishment, both mentally and physically. Good job stickin with it. A great RR also. Got me right in the feels.
     
    DBMX119 and Mikie like this.
  19. OTHRider

    OTHRider Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Duke
    Current Bike:
    '14 Giant TCX SLR2 Cross Bike
    Huge congratulations! I've read about 6 different blog reports on the ride and it's amazing how differently riders planned & suffered. Awesome job!
     
    DBMX119, Mikie and mtnbikej like this.
  20. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower
    @DBMX119
    Rick,
    That my friend was an excellent read. Great, great report! Just enough pics to expand the visual but the write up was top notch. At points I felt I was right there with you, well... accept for all the pain and all...:whistling:
    THANK YOU for posting this!!!
    Mikie
     
    DBMX119 likes this.
  21. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve Macko
    Current Bike:
    Two Bikes, Two Cogs.
    I just got my wife to look at the ride report... She said, "Go ahead and sign up now!" I'm not sure if she was entirely serious.
     
    Mikie and DBMX119 like this.
  22. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb MTB Addict

    Location:
    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Name:
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Crazyyyyyyyy! hats off to you!
     
    Mikie likes this.
  23. herzalot

    herzalot MTB Addict

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Incomprehensible to me, and congratulations... :eek: o_O :thumbsup:
     
    Mikie likes this.
Loading...