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!