A series of (un?) fortunate events

Back in January of 2011, when I had just recently discovered Team Virtus and commenced reading through their archives like the crazed groupie I was, Bob Jenkins posted a race report from his summer attempt at the Dirty Kanza 200.  His account of the bicycle journey across 102 miles of Kansas in 100+ degree heat was a great read, which is typical of the Virtus blog, but unlike most of their posts, I was perfectly content to live this one vicariously:

That’s a great report and the first race report you guys have posted that made me think hell no (oops, second, bc I read about Leadville, too, and almost peed my pants at the thought of that downhill to beat the time cut-off). What’s scary is how quickly “hell no” turns into “hmmm…could I?” I think for the time being I’ll just look forward to reading your 2011 race report. (Jan. 8, 2011)
Fast forward a year, and now not only Bob, but Luke, Robby, Travis, WendyJim, Derrick, and Kyle were all going to Kansas for the race.  I wished them well...sort of...I think my good luck message went something like "I hope you have a great time and kick butt, but that the race is just grueling enough that I still have no desire to do it."

The 2011 Dirty Kanza featured the normal heat and wind, then torrential storms and hail, and then ridiculously (unridably) muddy roads.  Heck, Luke's report was titled "Ride Together, Die Alone".  Good times, right?  And yet, as awful as it sounded, I wanted to do it.  As I commented then, "I am not looking forward to next years report…bc this one was even worse than Bob’s last year and yet I feel myself being sucked into the madness. I’m afraid one more report might have me packing for Kansas."

By this past winter I had decided to do it.  But when registration rolled around, I owed a friend some money and had long ago committed to LBL and just didn't feel right about signing up for another race without having repaid her.  So when I woke up at 5 a.m. in the guest bedroom of Luke's grandmas's house the morning that registration opened, I laid in bed gritting my teeth and being fiscally conservative while the guys signed up for the race in the other room.  And then we went and had one of the best group rides ever and the pain subsided.

The race sold out in just a few hours, but I didn't stop thinking about it.  Man, I wished I was going.  I hate missing out.  Bob's suggestion that I sign up as both riders in the two-person relay didn't work out since it too was sold out, so I settled on riding in the DK Lite, a 50-mile option, and then helping crew for my friends who were riding the full thing.  I was even looking forward to it.  I'd be finished and relaxing (drinking) while they were riding an extra 150 miles in the summer heat.  Plus, hanging around with the guys' wives and girlfriends was a guaranteed good time and gave me the additional bonus of hearing some new stories.  I definitely had the better end of the deal.

And then, just a few days ago, Luke emailed me.  Casey was having trouble with leg cramps again and might not be able to do the race.  If he couldn't go, did I want to buy his entry?  I started to reply maybe, and deleted it. Team Virtus's Kage is not a "maybe" kind of girl.  Yes, I was interested.  Actually, I was terrified, but I knew I'd regret it if I passed on the opportunity to do the full thing.  After all, where's the excitement in doing something you know you can do?  I can ride 50 miles, but to attempt 200?  What an adventure!

Let's briefly review all the reasons that, in this case, "adventure" is code for "crazy":
  • The last time I rode 100 miles was in 2010.
  • My longest ride this year was February's Super (metric)Century
  • I only have one other ride this year over 50 miles.
  • If I've ridden 200 miles in all of 2012, it's just barely.
  • While you can ride whatever bike on this course, a cross bike (which I don't have) seems to be the best option.
  • Literally every weekend until the race is filled with at least one BIG family event (First Communion, wedding/Mother's Day, our 10th anniversary, Nathan's (hopeful) high school graduation, leaving me little time to fit in long rides on the weekends.
I knew all this when I agreed to buy Casey's entry if he couldn't use it.  I was a little excited but mostly hoping for his sake that I'd be relegated to the Lite.  It stinks to train for something and not be able to do it when all of your friends are there; I'd have hated that for him.  Plus, if I "couldn't" do the big race, well, I'd "tried" to get in.  No regrets necessary.

The day before the transfer deadline, I heard that Casey had a good 110 mile ride and was going to keep his entry.  The disappointment and relief hadn't sunk in before I read the next sentence: "If you still want to do the full 200, there are transfers available on the DK facebook page.  You still have a decision to make, don't you?"

Crap. These boys know I can't resist a gauntlet.

By lunchtime, I was emailing the couple people who were offering transfers.  I'd let the fates decide: if I was "supposed" to go, I'd be able to; if not, I wouldn't be able to get an entry.  And I realize that's a little akin to saying "I'm just going to jump off this ledge, and if I'm supposed to fall I will," but that's how my brain works.

Unfortunately (or was that fortunately?) I struck out with the first person, and the second person wanted $75 for her entry.  Knowing that the race only cost $50*, I emailed back saying I'd be willing to spend $50 and if that wasn't OK I totally understood and good luck.  I never heard anything back.  Bummer.  I tried one more offer and got no response.  Obviously fate was stepping in to make up for my absentee sense of self preservation.

And then I guess fate decided to throw me to the wolves after all, because when I got home I had an email from the $75 girl accepting my offer.  I was in!! I was in!!  

Holy shit...I was in for it...

So.  The race is exactly a month from yesterday and I have virtually no training.  At this point, 29 days out, it's not even worth stressing about.  I'll do what I can and focus on getting my food/hydration needs figured out.  Since it's a very remote area and you're only allowed support from your support crew at widely (50+ miles) spaced checkpoints, making sure you can carry enough fluid and nutrition are super important.

Yeah, I know it's stupid to jump into a race like this at virtually the last moment and with very little preparation.  My goal is to ride farther than 105 miles (my previous longest ride); anything after that is gravy.  I have no expectations of finishing the race.  It's pretty freeing, really.  With absolutely nothing to live up to, anything I accomplish will be a happy surprise.

And lest you think that I'm truly certifiable, here are some reasons "crazy" isn't necessarily "wrong":
  • I get to attempt something big
  • With some of my favorite people
  • And not be stuck at home reading the race reports and wishing I'd been there
  • A gravel road race (or "race" for me) is probably much better suited to my strengths than a mountain bike race; I have more endurance (or stubbornness, whatever) than speed or courage.
  • And no matter how I do I'm pretty much guaranteed a good story.
Kansas gravel...here I come.

Photo credit (and registration blame): Luke Lamb

*reading the Dirty Kanza information page after agreeing to buy the entry, I saw that race registration was actually $75. I have no idea where that $50 price I had in my head came from, but I probably wouldn't have done it for more, so the misunderstanding was one more fortunate/unfortunate event leading me to the gravel.


  1. Woohoo, SuperKate off the high dive!

  2. I heart you. You have WAY more guts than I could ever dream of mustering up. It's seriously one of your BEST qualities :)

  3. Awesome. Just awesome.
    Can't wait for the report.


  4. you are brave!
    braver than me!
    I admire that! a true sense of adventure. me it does not go pass going to HTC!!!!

  5. You do have an unlimitless (not a word?) amount of guts! No question! I think you will attempt anything that is hard and challenging. You seem to love it though so keep going for it!

  6. Girl, are we related?

    Love, the Pumpkin looking up marathon time limits when she's forced to walk one she wants to run in 16 days. if I can walk a half in half the time limit, I should register, right? LOL

  7. Kage, none of us are ready yet. There is still time to get some good training in. I know you'd regret it if you didn't go for the full 200. And mark my words... One of your readers is thinking and saying how crazy this is, but next year they're gonna be riding at the Dirty Kanza. :)

  8. Watch out, Dirty Kanza this year, Trans Iowa next year!
    -the guy who won't do DK but signed up for a race 20 miles shorter.

  9. TransIowa? Pshah!

    She'll be ready for Race the Divide by 2013. 2700 Miles from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. I have no doubts.

  10. You boys are talking crazy. Don't give me any ideas.

    Race the Divide sounds pretty freaking cool, though. :)

  11. So does this mean Leadville is next? If so, let me know and I'll be your crew. 'Cause I'm never riding OR running the whole thing, but I want to be a witness. :^)

  12. Love it too much Kate! Way to go! I've done similar things before and know it is the only way I would have done the adventure in the first place. I strongly believe this is the way to get into really crazy races. Enjoy the prep and planning!

  13. I saw a documentary and met someone who did Race the Divide. It is pretty freaking cool. I'd offer to start getting your support crew together, but you can't have one.

  14. You know how awesome I think this is. I'm glad you got a bargain on the registration even if by accident. Best wishes as you squeeze in some Time in the Saddle!

  15. I have to say that I am jelous. I have been thinking that I want in when I read last years report too, but I was to chicken to pull the trigger. Good luck and I am looking forward to reports, and I guess the envy that comes with reading them!?!

  16. Will you buy my Pikes Peak Marathon entry? I'll give it to you for $50!!

  17. Way to go Kate! I can't wait to read this race report.
    Oh, and in the #SMALLWORLD department, a friend of mine accompanied her daughter's first grade class to Cahokia Mounds on Wednesday this week. She talked about climbing up the 90 steps in the humidity, worrying that one of the teachers who is older and overweight, might have a heart attack, and talked about the picnic area, more specifically, the bees that were swarming around. This was a class trip for Pawnee Elementary School.

  18. Let me know when the over/under betting begins. I call 200 miles and have little doubt you won't finish.

    FYI. I use Aquaphor (the baby bottom stuff) for lube because it lasts longer than any other lube I tried. Get a big thing from Walmart.

    I would have fresh shorts, shirt, and socks at each aid station too.

  19. I am SO excited for you, you fabulous, crazy lady!!!

  20. You are an inspiration, you have no limits!
    SuperKate = SuperAthlete.

  21. Ah! Love it! Saw the facebook post but excited to read the details :)


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