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Watching the hole

The short woman in front of me sporting short blonde hair and a blue plaid shirt, dug a hole in the wood chips. She spread her legs wide and wiggled side to side to get her feet dug in just so.

As the music started, she raised her beverages, one in each hand. After a few songs she turned to me and said, “Would you watch my hole?”

“What?” I said.

“Could you just watch my hole so that no one trips in it,” she said.

“Oh, ok.” I said as she wanders off.

I tried a few times as people walked by. “Watch out,” or “be careful for the hole,” but no one seemed to listen and no one tripped in the hole. So I kinda quit paying attention and just got into the music.

The band plays on. Singing songs about love, loneliness, activism, earth, life. I am moved, feeling camaraderie with my fellow concert goers. This is my hole in the wood chips. My place for tonight with peace, love, harmony. My feeling of wholeness.

The concert was over and with our hearts full of peace and harmony, we walked to the parking lot. The line out of the parking lot, a black SUV cut in line, took a left turn and floored it. Maybe it was the fast way. Peace, love, and harmony goes away when in out cars and real life comes back into focus.

I don’t want to go back yet. I want to stay a little longer, so I wait patiently in line.

Dirty Kanza report

The sun rose quietly in an overcast sky in Emporia on the morning of June 3rd. The final stage of my Dirty Kanza experience was beginning.

The morning and I woke up with a warm up ride from the camping spot at the Lyon County Fair grounds to the start of the ride on Commercial street. Arriving just as the count down was starting for the 200 mile riders, I was surprised at the large number of spectators lining the road to send off the riders.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, go,” Jim Cummings started us on our way. I was finally peddling my bike at the Dirty Kanza.

We started out with a slow roll down commercial street. People lined the way all the way to the edge of town and beyond. We got on gravel and people started settling into their speeds. Some passed, some got passed. I met a woman from Minnesota. We commented on the wheat and the beautiful view. We started our first climb.

I got to the top. Didn’t have to walk, but I thought I could use a gasp of air and take a couple of pictures. As I turned to take a picture of those still coming up the hill, I noticed that someone had fallen. Someone said he’s seizing. I walked back as people were starting chest compressions and people were calling 911 and our ride support.

Those who knew CPR continued chest compressions and breathing until the ambulance arrived. At that point, I decided there was else nothing I could do and decided to continue my ride.
Shaken with what I had seen, I rode slowly and tried to be careful to control my bike over the rocks. The ride continued up the hills and into open range. The roads got more technical and the scenery more beautiful.

“This is why I did this,” I thought. “This view, this connection to the hills, is the reason.”


I continued on and grabbed on the wheel of someone going about my speed. It felt good to kind of follow a line for a while. We got to the sag stop and I realized the person I was following was actually a friend of mine from Lawrence Mountain Bike Club. Natalia and her friend Gwen were riding together and let me tag along for the rest of the ride.

We stopped at a gas station at Olpe and my brother Brian all of a sudden walked up. He had been hanging out hoping to find me. We talked a bit and then headed off down the road.

The last 20 miles were more flat and fast. It would have been smooth sailing, but my legs were starting to hurt. It was long enough for me this year. We talked of doing the 100 next year, but then I thought maybe not. Next year will be decided later.

We turned and came into commercial street down the chute that all the other 25, 50, 100 and 200 finishers came in on. What an experience!

Man was I tired. Mom, Dad and Brian were at the finish. We hung up my bike and went to eat at Casa Ramos. I had been waiting for that Burrito Relleno for 51.4 miles. 🙂

The next few hours were some of the most fun for me. I got cleaned up and then hung out downtown watching my friends come in. All in all I stayed up until 2 a.m. and then went to sleep in my car.

The experience was great! I’m tired and sore and ready to NOT ride my gravel bike for a while. But I’m glad I tried it.

My Dirty Kanza

There is a little less than one month until the Dirty Kanza race. I have been saving my story thinking I would write about it after the event. I will do that too, but decided that it would be interesting to write about the journey so far.

Every Dirty Kanza journey starts on January 17 when you get up early, log on to your computer and get signed up. This year the 100 and 200 sold out in 8 minutes. My friend Tara texted me and some others and was asking if anyone was signing up. I happened to have my computer by my bed, so I opened it up and logged on to see the action. She texted that she signed up for the 50. That was the one I had been considering since last year when I watched the race in Emporia. So I thought, “that would be fun to ride with her,” and I signed up. I guess I was one of the last people to get in, because not a few minutes later I saw on facebook that the 50 was sold out too.

Then I said to myself, “Oh no, what did I do?” I wasn’t for sure if I even had a bike that could ride this course. If I could find one, I had to get in shape. Wow I had my work cut out for me.

single speed at Mullet Ride

single speed at Mullet Ride

My first thought was to ride my single speed on the course. I have an old steel mountain bike that I had put drop bars on it and it is a fun bike to ride. That might work, I thought. There was a gravel ride near here called the mullet ride so I tried it out on that ride. It did really good until we got to a pretty good sized hill. Then I really struggled. My knee from an old injury was very sore too. I decided maybe a geared bike would be better. I started looking and found a cyclocross bike that fit me and was the right price.

The bike has done the DK twice, so the next step was to figure out what I needed to do and build a plan for training and get my body in shape for this ride.

New Canondale Bike

New Canondale Bike

In February there was a training clinic at Family Bicycles in Waldo. Jim Cummins, director of the Dirty Kanza was there and gave information for those of us doing the shorter routes. He did a lot to describe what the route would be like and how important it is to read the Riders Bible.

Riding my bike and riding my bike has become my training plan. I tried out Black River app, Strava and my old stand by Map My Ride to discover routes. Last weekend I rode 33.8 miles on pavement and gravel. It had 1400 ft. of climbing. My legs hurt. But I’m going to try to do it again this weekend. Maybe it will be easier. Its 3/4 of the way to 50 miles. So I should be trained enough as I’m going to be for it.

Beautiful vista

Beautiful vista

Flowing creek

Flowing creek

End of pavement

End of pavement

Murder bridge training ride

Murder bridge training ride

Tonight I got the information on the camping location at the fairgrounds. If we get there early enough, we can hopefully get a spot in the cow barn. That would be fun. 🙂

Watch here for the post ride account.