The Bike Shop Gravel crew took on 200 miles in the flint hills of Kansas this year. AGAIN. 6 of our 8 in our crew crossed the finish line in downtown Emporia, Kansas. Everyone has their own story but I will start by telling mine...
3am wakeup call.
First, we take in calories, EAT. If you want to survive the ride you EAT. We get dressed & roll out at 5am to the race start. Our Airbnb was located a just shy of 3 miles from the start line. As we ride to the start Stewart says to me, "You ready, you have the route downloaded right". Panic mode hit. with all the hustle & bustle I never downloaded the route. I get to the start and try to frantically get it to download to my Garmin. The course is not marked, you are on your own to navigate. SHOOT. I say bye to Stew... "Don't worry about me, I'll figure it out." With 2 mins to go, a rider near me was able to transfer the route to my device. As the gun went off I felt relief. Then it hit me, I had to pee. What is wrong with me. I was so prepared, NOT. Within he first hour I had to stop & pee. Wow. Ok. Two stupid hurdles down, now let's get on with it, it's going to be a long day. Tara & I truck on to try and find group to ride with. As we are pedaling along we run into fellow teammate, Carbon Cowboy. We see him not far ahead and slowly start catching him. Until, BOOM he's on the ground, over his handlebars he goes, slamming the cowboy to his back. He gets up, shakes it off, fixes his bike and keeps pedaling. He's ok. We manage to make to checkpoint 1, 60 miles, in about 4.5 hours. To our surprise we find Webb. He was taking a little break applying some sunscreen.
Next goal, make to the water stop at mile 100. We hit mile 85 and I start feeling it bad. I tell everyone to keep going, I will be fine, leave me I'll just stop at 100 it's fine. Tara looks at me and says EAT. Webb tells me, you can do it just keep pedaling & the Carbon Cowboy gets serious. "If you're going to finish, you need to decide NOW. Decide NOW if your going to cross that finish line" I eat and drink & keep pedaling. I told myself to get to 100 then decide. I got a second wind. We made it to 100, at the EF water tent and I started to feel better. We got water and set off on the second century of the day. I decided then and there I was going to finish.
The next goal was to make to checkpoint 2 at mile 150. So we pedaled. Ashley our sag support was there with food water & everything we needed. It's getting late now but we are ahead of cut off time by 1 hour. We re-fuel and keep going. Just 50 miles left. Sunburned, hot, tired, sore, we keep going. The sun starts to set & I start to get chills. Then my headlight won't turn on. SHOOT! It's black there's nothing for miles, I can't see the ground. How was I supposed to ride let alone descend on gravel with no lights. Webb & Sam try to light the way for me but it's so dark. Until a man rides up to me and has a spare. I HAVE LIGHT.
The next goal. Make it to the Chaise lounge. I couldn't wait to take a photo on the famous chaise. 20 miles from the finish we stop for our photos. As we get back on the saddle, boom, my headlight dies. NO. Not, now. I have 20 miles left....we made it we made to the pavement that lead us back to Emporia, it's nearly 1 am and we roll through the line together. All four of us. What a day. I couldn't have made it with out my team. They pushed me to finish and stuck with me till the end.
A lot of lessoned learned. Pack extra lights, eat even when you aren't hungry. We have lists already going for next year!
As for the others....theres a lot more to their stories but here's the mini recap... Taylor ended his day around 100 with severe upset stomach. The worst. Sometimes your body just won't cooperate. Stew & Dale aka Tyknee Tim are trucking along making good time. At about mile 110 Dale takes a turn with loose gravel that slams him to the ground. He tries to get up and keep going but his body tells him no. He pedals for another 30 miles on one leg until his body ultimately quit. Stew waited for help, then tried to make up time. Bad idea. He went hard trying to make up the loss time & suffered heat stroke. He wanted to finish before the sun but didn't quite make it. Sub 14 hours of ride time, his stops added up and he finished after sunset. In the meantime Jonathan on a single speed trucks through the finish line with a sub 15 hrs of riding time. YES, a SINGLE SPEED. I can't imagine. I used every gear my bike would give me.
The people, the town, the riders, the course make this event so special. We made memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you emporia for welcoming us!
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The epic journey of DK200 is over...for this year that is!
We had all the right equipment, all the right plans & all the right mental vibes...the DK stories from Meg & Stew.
We woke up to 50mph gusts of wind tearing our camper awning down...at 4:30am, instead of heading to the start line we were scrambling to pack our camper away before it all blew away!!! OMG. Being 4 miles from the start we planned to ride to the start, so ride we did. In gusts of wind & lightning we rode. We went all this way we weren't bailing. We got there to a delay in the start, directors gave it 30 min. Our stomachs in knots we waited, with 2000 other people, we waited for the longest 30 minutes EVER. For those of you who don't know, DK is a mass start, all men & women in one big draft legal group, which is pretty awesome! There are no support crews, you are out there on your own to navigate the flint hills (by hills we mean 10,000 ft of climbing) of Kansas...
Meg's Day: I went into my prospective group, 16hr (finish time). That would give me an average of 13-14mph. My stomach was turning & they blew the whistle. I held on to a group for the first 30ish miles. I started to slow a little and latched on to a second group. I was doing the math in my head I needed to be above 10mph to make it before the cut off at 3am. I made it to the first checkpoint with an average of 13.1 mph. I grabbed my snack and kept going...15 miles in (57 miles now) my gears got harder...the mud and gunk on the bike somehow twisted my gear giving me only the hard gears. Everyone was super nice, a guy stopped to help me, (I have very little knowledge mechanically) after an hour of hesitation I decided to call it quits...I wish I had an epic story, but I don't. I didn't want to convert to single speed so I *sadly* threw in the towel...I decided right then and there, NEXT year is the year! I got my pick up and headed to see how Stew was doing, with 1 checkpoint left I was bound to see him...& his story is way more epic than mine!
Stew's Day: The best worst day of my life! I decided to line up in the 12 hr finisher position, hearing all the names called out was awesome! "Jens Voight" "Sven Nys" "Ted King" "Kaitlyn Keough" Umm! 6:30am...off we go, it was chaotic to say the least. A lot of fallen debris from the storm navigating through...
People popping off the pace with body or mechanical issues from the go, I was feeling pretty good and positioned in the chase group, it was a tough pace with plenty of climbing to take on 10,000 ft of elevation over the 200 miles with the majority of ups in the first 100 miles. At 40.94 miles, 2hrs 19mins in, I flatted. A flint arrow head had split my side wall that left me deflated in more ways than one!!! Once I stopped I realized a couple of my early mistakes, I had not eaten and already burned 1938 kJ pretty much the same as calories...BIG OOOOPS. Time to insert a tire boot and a tube, not so easy when your legs feel like there is a ninja acupuncture convention going on inside!!! Finally after wrestling the ninjas and the sealant that I no longer needed in the rear wheel I got peddling again...
I made it to the first check point, had a small nibble on a rice cake, filled up on some water, lubed my chain and carried on. Pretty much solo from this point, "only 150 miles to go I told myself". Oh yeah and the last 100 miles were into a block 25 MPH head wind, so much to still look forward to.
Along with the ups there are some pretty crazy down hill sections, with only a very narrow track to follow, because of the rocks and the loose flint with the occasional deep rut that required some fancy moves to navigate, luckily I survived these sections some how. Not all faired as well, I saw at least 3 ambulances heading that way! Some how I managed to take a tumble on the way UP a steep climb *insert embarrassed face* then helped to my feet by a fellow DK nutter!
After another bunch of climbing I finally made it to check point 2, feeling pretty awful at this point, nausea and gastric problems of a grand scale...I took a seat in the shade to get out of the sun, it felt so good...did I mention it was now 90 F plus! It took about an hour before I could even think about eating & walk to get nutrition. I finally managed a small sandwich and carried on my way, just 100 miles to go! Did I mention another flat!
Now to sector 3, it was by far the WORSE. Headwinds, sun, more elevation, another flat, a body that no longer wanted to play, made this to be a very challenging part of the day to say the least...so much misery!!! I'm sure check point three kept moving, haha, I finally made it, Meg met me & grabbed a seat for me to rest up. I finally managed to eat a banana, a bit of a hotdog (ewwwww) and also stashed a banana for later.
Probably feeling at my worst at this point. I departed in the dark for the final 50 miles, down but not out, as the light faded it cooled a little and that definitely helped with temperature, after about 20 miles of solo pedaling, I connected with a couple of guys and stayed with them for the final miles, sadly my lights lost charge with 20 miles or so to go. Dodging armadillos became a little tricky but helped out by my new found partners, on in the front and one covering tail. Dark but not my darkest moment has now passed and the thought of getting back to Emporia was not like having a magic tail wind. We stopped only to grab a Coke from a farmer and his son along with a cardboard cut out of Darth Vader! One of many awesome locals handling out love and refreshments along the way. Last stop was for a quick photo on the Chaise Lounge and homeward bound...
A grouling day taking much longer than I expected, the darkest moments are often the easiest to see even a glimmer of light! 18+ hours, 15 hours of pedaling & 206 miles...it was over!
If you are wondering about the chaise that Stew so proudly poses on...heres the story: Salsa Cycles Chase the Chaise
DK was an awesome event, put on by an awesome town! We can't wait to make it back to Emporia, KS next year!
Do you have an epic ride or adventure you want to tell us about? Submit it, we'd love to share it on our blog. Email us at: email@example.com
The cats outta the bag. Stew & Meg head to Kansas for the epic 200 mile gravel ride known as Dirty Kanza. We've had the chance to test some of our products from The Bike Shop in preparation. We haven't listed everything, but these are some of our favorite things...
All featured products are available at The Bike Shop!!! Some of the components are special order, but all accessories are in stock!
We are just a mere 4 days out from race day! The excitement is real. We'll catch back up with all the details post race!
"Passion. Precision. Performance." - Silca
SILCA was founded in 1917 by Felice Sacchi just outside of Milan, Italy. The company innovated and grew quickly by innovating as the first company to put gauges on pumps, the first company to produce a true 'high-pressure' frame pump, the first to work with the revolutionary lightweight material plastic after the end of WWII. More recently, the company was first with a value controlled CO2 inflator, and with some irony, the first to move away from plastics and back to wood handles. Along the way, the company ideals became deeply rooted in a combination of durable materials, traditional craftsmanship, and innovation. It is no accident that so many of the SILCA pumps of the 1960's and 70's are still in use today, nor is it accidental that we continue to sell replacement parts for those very pumps.
Below are a selection of our favorites available in store at The Bike Shop!
Now through June 16th take $100 OFF ALL watches in the fēnix family (includes all fenix 5s, 5 & 5x)! With Father's Day around the corner, its time to treat dad to the real deal. The fenix is a multisport GPS watch built for fitness, adventure & style. We have select products IN STOCK!!!
Regularly priced from $549.99-$799.99 on sale starting at $449.99!!! This is HUGE!!!
Cannondale Synapse Wins Bicycling Magazine 2018 Road Bike Editors' Choice Award