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: firstname.lastname@example.org