The Dirty Kanza


Cruising into Cottonwood Falls

I just finished riding 60 miles of beautiful, hilly terrain as one of a couple thousand bike riders participating in the Dirty Kanza 200. Almost all of the ride was done on gravel roads in the lush, green Kansas countryside.

We rode in the 110 mile version, derisively called the “Half Pint.” You will note that 60 miles is just slightly less than 110. At Cottonwood Falls, I called, “No mas.”

I learned a few things.

1. I do not look good in bicycle shorts.
2. When the route guide says we are riding through the Flint Hills, there is a good possibility that we might encounter hills.
3. It annoys other bikers when you whimper. Constantly. For 60 miles.
4. Defying all laws of physics, 90% of all Kansas roads are uphill. Maybe 98%.
5. World Class athlete Rebecca Rusch is pretty cool. She even talked to me for a while (she finished first in the women’s division for the third straight year).
6. You know you are going slow when people walking their bikes are passing you.
7. Gravel riders are nice people. Many of them will ask if you are OK if it looks like you are in distress.
8. A LOT of people asked if I was OK.

I also learned that endurance riding is as addicting as it is painful. It is fascinating to witness the internal struggle between your body and mind as they both encounter difficulties along the way. If you can overcome the challenges, you can finish. If not, you stop at Cottonwood Falls.

I’ll be there again next year, and this time I intend to finish. And who knows? Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll bypass the Flint Hills and cruise the Great Plains instead.


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