The kindness of strangers

When I signed up for Dirty Kanza, I knew that I didn't have the proper training for the race, but that's kind of what I do...jump headlong into things that are way bigger than I am, regardless of my ability to actually do said things. Of course, in addition to lacking the bike miles that might give me a chance of completing a 200-mile endurance gravel bike race, I also come up way short in the gear department, as well as the money-to-buy-the-gear department.
Granted, these aren't small problems, but I've always held that if I waited until I had all the "right" stuff to do something cool, I might never get around to the doing part. Kind of like waiting til you lose weight before you go to the gym. Or worrying about what other people think. I figured I had things that would do, and I'd just do the best I could with what I had and live with the results. One suggestion was that I beg, borrow, or steal a cross bike, but there were a couple problems with that (besides the obvious legal ones).

It's a pretty big thing to ask someone if you can take their beloved bike and ride it 200 miles around Kansas. Also, I wanted to be able to train on what I was going to ride; it's a really big thing to ask if you can borrow someone's bike for a few weeks. Finally, it's hard for me to ask people for things (unless I'm asking for a place to stay. I'm pretty good at inviting myself to stay with friends. :D). I reached out in one direction that I thought was a possiblity for a borrowed cross bike, and when I didn't get a response I accepted that I was going to ride my mountain bike.

Even making use of what I already have was going to require some expense. My mountain bike tires are way more aggressive than necessary for the race and a cross-style tire would be better. Other suggestions were to run bigger wheels and switch out my front suspension fork with a rigid front fork to save some weight and energy loss. Potentially riding 200 miles is epic enough without adding on another level of effort, so the tire thing was definitely going to happen, but I didn't want to have to fork out (see what I did there?) the money for the other stuff if I could avoid it. I turned, as usual, to Facebook.

And then the strangers stepped in. Well, let me back up on that term "strangers". The most I've met any of them in person is maybe 5 times. Two of them I've never met, and two I've met on one occasion; however, thanks primarily to facebook and also through common interests, friends, and blogging, I've formed very real friendships with these people who I likely never would have met without the ability to connect that the internet affords us.

Almost immediately after I registered for the race, Wendy-Living Out Loud stepped in to be a sponsor. I first met Wendy through the Team Virtus website, and have followed her blog and facebook page since. Though we've only met in person a handful of times, she's been a huge supporter of my mountain bike dreams, having travelled a similar path herself. She raced Dirty Kanza 2011 (and will be back again this year for revenge), so she has a much better idea than I of what it will require. I can't tell you how cool it is to have someone believe in me and support me like that.

And she wasn't alone.

I met Kube at the crit last August, and besides being FB friends we've been part of the same rides/races another 4-5 times. And she was volunteering to let me use her bike! This was actually a great solution to my problems until we realized that there was a conflict between my race date and hers. Still, it was so awesome that she was willing to let me take her bike for 200 miles of Kansas gravel.

And it didn't end there.

Though we were at the same race and they met the Team Virtus guys there, I've never actually met Bethany OR her husband (granted, judging from our mountain bike feelings, Bethany and I might just be the same person, but my husband would consider us strangers), yet again they were offering his bike if it would make my race better. Too cool.

I met Sarah's husband at the Berryman ride, and she and I rode together at Middlefork. That is, she rode circles around me at Middlefork. And while she probably knows me well enough to know I wouldn't be jumping at any bike that's a single speed, the offer was still on the table. After we'd met once in person.

Um, people are completely awesome! But wait, there's more!

I knew that Jim owns Monster Bicycle Co., which specializes in custom titanium frames. Having already checked out the website and Monster facebook page, and knowing that titanium = light, something my mountain bike is NOT, I was very interested. Things worked out, and look what I got to bring home today:

Pretty sweet, huh?
 Titanium is super strong, and light, and those qualities don't come at Wal-Mart prices. Despite that, Jim was willing to let me use a bike that's vastly better than anything I have to use...even though he's met me once. And in return? I'll wear this sweet jersey.

Pretty sure I'm getting the better end of the deal.

The bike and I (I'm trying not to name it so I don't get too attached :D) went out for a 50-mile shakedown cruise today, and I'm in love. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to ride something that'll make my race that much better.

All of this is in addition to the people who've offered me spots in their hotel rooms in Kansas, advice/encouragement about the race, and who are letting me sponge off of their support crews. I'm truly humbled by the generosity of my friends, and while I've spent little enough time with most of them that we could almost be considered strangers, I count all of them as friends.

Friends, and an integral part of whatever Dirty Kanza holds for me. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm ridiculously undertrained for this race and that I fully expect to DNF; however, I'll let you in on something that is a bit of a secret: I would really, really like to finish. And whatever I do accomplish, well, all these people will be a part of it.

Thanks for believing in me...or for supporting me even if you don't believe in me, which is pretty cool, too.


  1. What a serendipitous turn of events, just by putting it out there - that is too awesome!

  2. Been following this turn of events on FB - so happy for you and know you are going to do awesome at DK.

  3. Kindness always does a 360...too bad more people don't realize that.

    You will make it, I have no doubt at all!

  4. so cool. STL/MO rocks. you rock. bikes rock!

  5. Kate, people love you because you are COOL! So awesome that your friends are equally cool :)

    I am so excited to cheer you on for 200 miles of gravel, albeit virtually. You will kick ass, as always!

  6. Sooooo cool! Jim is a helluva good guy, and that bike is ridiculously sweet. You're going to love it.

    And just remember... DK is sort of only a 160 mile race. Once you make it to that final cutoff, the rest is easy. Okay, so it obviously won't be easy, but you know what I mean.

    I'll say it again. I think you're going to surprise yourself... especially on that Monster bike.

  7. I love this and I'm really happy it worked out so well for you. We all know so many good people via our running, biking, blogging. It is awesome.

  8. WHOA! That is super amazing. You are super amazing. Two great tastes that taste great together! LOL

    Your posts are so awesome they make me look at the beach cruiser sitting in my garage and at least consider taking it out. Which should astound you.

  9. Remember that run yesterday? I was nervous going into it because I knew Chuck had been doing his ironman training and thought I was going to be struggling big time since I haven't been training at all. My run mileage for the past 2weeks was 7miles combined. One of my last thoughts before we started running was that I had no business running 8miles at Lewis and Clark. You know how it turned out. Don't worry so much about being undertrained because every now and then you just might suprise yourself and leave evryone in the dust.

  10. Awesome! Riders wearing sponsors jerseys don't DNF, though, so woman up!


    (I believe in you.)

  11. Awesome people know awesome people.
    You know awesome people.
    You are awesome.

  12. this is fantastic
    I agree with Shawn...

    you put good stuff out there it will come back to you somehow.
    I believe that.

    I am happy for you SK!!!

  13. I am so impressed with all the offers you had! That is fantastic. I can not wait to follow you doing this! You continue to amaze and impress me. I love your comment about not waiting to lose weight to go to the gym. I think many many people do that or just never go because of how they look. I am so glad I have gotten over that for the most part! GEt out there and live!

  14. You SO deserve this. And I'm so glad you told the whole story because I saw some bits and pieces on FB but couldn't piece it all together. I think you will fare much better in this race than you expect! Meanwhile, enjoy the bike!

  15. I love your "no excuses" outlook to everything you sign up for! Instead of waiting for everything to line up, you just go get it done.

    Very cool you got hooked up with a sweet ride through online friendships.

  16. You ROCK! You're also very AWESOME! You're enthusism is contagious-although not contagious enough for me to want to ride 200 miles on a bike-LOL but I will offer a hotel room for the Des Moines Half marathon Oct 21st!!

    Good luck...although you don't really need it!

  17. I love stories like this. Another reminder of the greatness of the endurance sport community.


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