Marieke & Megan Tackle Dirty Kanza!

Dirty Kanza 2018



Welcome to the Flint Hills!

What makes someone ride 200 miles on dirt roads in the tire chewing Flint Hills of eastern Kansas? I actually don’t know, but it is rewarding! Soon after I got my Niner RLT gravel bike in the Spring of 2015, I learned about the Dirty Kanza and could not let go of the thought of one day riding this race. It seemed like an intriguing challenge to be skilled and strong enough to manage the dirt terrain and able to deal with mechanical issues and weather changes during the race. I rode a few local gravel grinders to test things out and I only got more and more determined and my rides got gradually longer. The cool thing about gravel grinding is that it expands your horizons. I explored so many new roads and new places, even though I have lived in the same area for about 20 years it has opened a whole new world. 2017 was my first year and things went very well. The conditions were optimal then and course records were set. Of course, I had to sign up again.


My trusted bike, patiently waiting in the rain before the start of the DK200

This year I was nervous to get in the lottery, but I made it in. After a stressful start of 2018 when I picked up the flu, lost my job for a while, and dug myself a deep physical and mental hole, I could barely even ride my bike. I did get help and had a training schedule made that very gradually built up. I was impatient and only slowly started to feel better on and also off my bike. Training for the Kanza does take a lot of time: in the weekends towards race day I would usually ride both days for many hours and did shorter rides during the week. Sorry to everyone in my life whom I neglected. Riding in the Flint Hills sometimes feels like an interval training with short calf-biting climbs out of the plenty river crossings, many rollers, and a few real hills that are all longer than you think. Yes, better prepare for it as Kansas is not flat!

Running down 6 flights of stairs before the start as the elevators backed up in the dorms was a good warmup before we learned the start was delayed by 30 minutes (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Running down 6 flights of stairs before the start as the elevators backed up in the dorms was a good warmup before we learned the start was delayed by 30 minutes (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Seeking shelter before the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Seeking shelter before the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Predictions for the race this year were hot, windy, but no rain. What do you know. We got up and a big thunderstorm was nearing Emporia. The radar looked ominous. While pedaling to the start at 5:30am it started to rain and the winds were howling. I found some shelter with many other riders under a garage-type structure near the start line when the real storm hit with lightning and more rain. The start was now postponed by half an hour. Miraculously everything dried up by 6:30 and only the roads were a bit muddy for the first part of the ride, although nothing too bad. There was an unannounced detour around the mud massacre stretch of two years ago, which caused some confusion for all who were riding on their GPS, like myself. I stopped, but turning around in the massive stream of riders coming behind me was obviously not an option, and on we went…

Counting down at the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

Counting down at the start (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

My sister, Francien, was my crew and mechanic this year and since she rode the Kanza last year she knew exactly what her job was: lube my chain, check tires, change out camel bags and hand me food. Oh, and point me to the bathroom, which is not always obvious. She was great and I was very happy to see her in Madison and every stop after.

The second leg flew by with some tailwinds here and there and was good for the spirits. I enjoyed the waiving grasses and felt like I was flying at times. Maybe I felt a little too good in hindsight, I was only halfway in Eureka.

When we turned into the strong northern headwinds at about mile 110 between stop 2 and 3 it did not take long before I burned through my diminishing reserves in my legs quickly and tiredness crept in. I tried to trade of pulls in the wind with some other riders but these groups never lasted for too long. Nearing Madison I was often alone. The optimism from before Eureka had faded. I now had started to worry about beating the Sun and reverted to the thought that just finishing would be good enough, avoiding truly bonking with everything I could.

Disillusioned riders waiting for a parked train blocking the course, while the sun set! After 50 minutes of waiting a detour was authorized to get around it.

Disillusioned riders waiting for a parked train blocking the course, while the sun set! After 50 minutes of waiting a detour was authorized to get around it.

In Madison, Francien told me that I still had a chance to make the sun cutoff and on we went. I found a little group to battle the still strong headwinds and we traded places for a long time. However, just a few miles after the Salsa Chaise it was clear that there were a bunch of people gathered at the train crossing. We slowed down and learned that some of them been there for 20 minutes already waiting for a parked train at mile 199 of the race. Oh oh….  And in the distance the sun set. Disillusioned riders were scattered all over now and the pack was growing. Another train passed, but no movement on the parked train. Finally, a car arrived to inform us that a 3.5-mile detour had been authorized to the finish. A bit confused we all started riding. The energy in the peloton was jittery. Enough wheels to grab for the last 8 + detour miles and there was not much thinking. We just went fast in the dark, still trying to beat the Sun (which had long set) straight through unannounced potholes, up the last hill and then the finish was there. I was blinded by all the lights, overwhelmed by all the cheering people and just so happy. I did it, I had finished again! I will just have to come back next year to take revenge on that train.

 Overwhelming happiness at the finish after battling headwinds and trains (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

 Overwhelming happiness at the finish after battling headwinds and trains (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

We did it! (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

We did it! (Photo: Francien Dechesne).

I found my sister, a happy reunion, and we waited for Bike Ambassador teammate Megan who was riding single speed, a heroic accomplishment in these winds.

The best thing about the Kanza is that the entire town of Emporia goes all out for biking. It gets flooded with cyclists from all over the world and people are very welcoming. The feel of that entire community is the most amazing part of the Kanza experience and it is so great to be part of that! I am also proud to be one of the 200 women on the 200 miles.




-Why you decided to participate in DK: After the DK100 in 2015 (the "mud year"), and a failed attempt in 2016 (bailed at mile 165), and being too injured in 2017 to race, I had some serious unfinished business this year!  Not only that though, this event is magical.  Jim and LeLan have done an amazing job with this event, as has the town of Emporia.  You've never seen anything like it.  I couldn't wait to get back -to see friends from KS and MO and NE that I don't get to see often, and to take another stab at finishing my first DK200.  

-What kind of bike you rode: I went all in and dropped all the gears but one. That's right- I went singlespeed.  I figured it was the best way to force myself to slow down and focus on the finish first, and the race second.  The one gear forces me to put one foot in front of the other, to coast quite often, and to sit up and look around.  It was everything I hoped for, and more.  

How you prepared for the race - tips and advice to share with people considering doing the race next year: I did lots of miles this spring (overall targeting the 10,000 miles this year helps!), and the AZ Gravel Chino Grinder 105 mile gravel race back in early May.  That was perfect tune-up.  I also did the math on number of calories I needed to each (approx 100-150/hour), how many bottles of fluid I needed to be successful (about 1/hour, or around 18-19 for the day), and mentally, things I could think about and focus on during the really awful solo, headwind stretches (I literally called my therapist on the drive to DK and we talked about "homework" I could work on in my head during the race.  And it totally worked).

Highlights and challenges during the race: Highlights- talking to other riders, meeting new people, riding next to a guy on a FIXIE! (yes!), seeing the cows, flint hills, thanking my lucky stars I didn't have any flat tires or mechanicals... seeing the sun set out there, riding in the dark with a few other riders, all with our headlights on, over the crunchy gravel ... 

Lowlights: the thunderstorm that rolled through that morning delaying the start made me nervous about the conditions (they were fine) and I was thankful we weren't riding off into the thunderstorm.  And -miles 105-165 - all into a strong steep headwind -road rarely changing, just gutting it out with some low moments...  

Your impressions/thoughts before, during and after the race: everything I'd hoped it would be and more.  We began with a sponsors VIP event Thursday night, Friday morning I set up our tent in the expo and embarked on the group shake-out ride, made my way back to the expo, then cleaned up and helped co-moderate the women's panel, back to the expo, we packed up, I rested up and then it was race morning! 

Any message that you would like to share to inspire/motivate people to participate next year: Add this to your race list, your bucket list, your life list. This is a truly special event -one you must experience to understand.  Whether you do the DK100 or DK200 (or 350 XL!) you must must must race this event at least once.  You've got till 3am to finish.  And you'll learn so much about yourself out there.  


Your Struggles Develop Your Strengths: a Personal Story

On May 23, 2017, I went down in a bad bike crash.  While I've raced my bike for many years, (and therefore suffered my fair share of bike-race-related crashes), this was by far, the worst. I was on a group ride, and it was a complete fluke -someone rode over a stick and it shot under my front wheel, taking me out in a split second.  I suffered a concussion, a fractured sacrum (pelvis) a torn labrum in my right hip, and ample road rash.  My bike broke in 9 places-including the saddle.  Initially, I didn't fully appreciate (or understand) the extent of my injuries. 

I did what we cyclists do -I brushed myself off, and tried to push through.

Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that was not a smart move.  I kept trying to ride, and train.  I kept pushing hard at work and at home.  I didn't ask for the help I needed.  I kept coming unraveled emotionally and then beating myself up for being weak and soft.

The crash happened at the end of a strong, disciplined spring of training and my season was looking promising.  I was registered to race the first-ever women's singlespeed category at DK200, I was registered to race numerous triathlons including Boulder 70.3, in an attempt to try and qualify as an elite triathlete.  I was registered for my third Ironman AZ in November with a lofty goal of trying to earn a spot to Kona.  2017 was to be my year of big audacious goals.

In May, I felt those goals all slipping away.  I had to let everything go and just focus on being whole again- on being healthy, mentally and physically.  And 6 months later, well... I'll let the video show you: 

I love Arnold's quote at the beginning of this video we made, because he's right - Your Struggles Develop Your Strengths.  We don't ask for adversity or setbacks, but we will ALL experience them.  And sometimes the struggle makes the ultimate journey -and accomplishment- that much sweeter.  And sometimes, we learn we were stronger than we knew. 

Huge thanks to our friends over at HayMaker Media for their work on this project, and in capturing the essence of the struggle, the emotions, the gratitude, and the finish at Ironman Arizona.  What a journey, indeed.  

(Let me just acknowledge that many of our clients suffer injuries far more serious, and endure recoveries that take much longer.  Some clients can never resume their favorite activities and some never fully recover.  That reality is not lost on me, and I fully realize and appreciate that my injuries did and/or will eventually heal- and that my recovery will be pretty short in the scheme of things.  But let me also say this- I read somewhere recently that when we compare our pain, or our joy, to others' ... we diminish our pain or our joy; death by comparison.  We feel what we feel and that's what.  Personally, I wanted to share a video about my experience, not to compare it to anything else but simply to document it and share it).

Cheryl's Story: Conquering fears and inspiring others!

We first met Cheryl in 2012. She was hit by a car while riding her bike, and she hired our firm to represent her.  Following the close of her case, she joined our cycling team, and began racing road races and criteriums.  Unfortunately, she suffered a bad crash last season during a race, and her injuries prompted surgery and a lengthy recovery.

Cheryl is the consummate ambassador, teammate, friend, and source of inspiration.  She reminds us that we can let setbacks keep us down, or we can fight back and turn them into sources of motivation and fuel for our fire- in whatever endeavor we pursue.  Please - enjoy her story!

*With huge thanks to Cheryl, Justin Balog, and the Dirty Kanza! (Click on the image below to enjoy the video!).

Cheryl was hit by a car and injured. Then she healed, tackled bike races, and was injured again. Dirty Kanza provided her the perfect come-back story and goal- watch this, and be inspired.

#200women200miles: Megan Hottman

Megan is a lawyer. She is a cycling advocate and team leader. She is a finisher of the Dirty Kanza 100!

Tell us about your biking: I ride ALLLLLL the bikes  My stable includes MTB, CX (one is a SS), Road bike, TT bike, Track bike and fat bike. All Cannondales except for my track bike and Spot CX belt drive. Plus my 1995 Bridgestone commuter (first “real” bike I got – bought it when I was 15!). I started road racing around 2002-2003 and raced road and then track through 2011. I began switching to more CX and gravel races in 2012-2013 and am firmly hooked on the long distance stuff now. Long gravel races like Kanza and also Ironman triathlons – I just completed my second IM a few weeks ago. Beyond riding for fitness and fun, I also began using my bikes for transportation in earnest in 2012… I ride to work, for groceries, to the bank, library, hair salon, you name it … I LOVE the days my car never leaves the garage. I enjoy riding bikes in a kit but also in jeans and a dress coat too. I think it’s good for motorists to see us in all forms of cycling.

Read more here

Podcast: FattyCast and The Cyclist-Lawyer

Enjoyed very much speaking with Elden Nelson, otherwise known as Fat Cyclist, about bikes, crashes, laws and more.  Click the story link above to give it a listen! 


Also - the podcast references a blog post I wrote a few years back about insurance needs for cyclists... You can access that article here:

Interbike Recap

I have not been to Interbike since 2011- when I was there in a somewhat-official-capacity as a rider for the new Primal/MapMyRide women's pro team.  While that was a fun experience, I distincly recall telling myself I didn't want to return for awhile -all the standing, cement, lack of sunshine, and cigarette smoke, really detracted from the event for me.  It was fun to network, but it was an uncomfortable way of doing it.  (Seriously -why do we bring such a healthy industry together in such an unhealthy place?!).

Fast forward 4 years and I found myself back at Interbike (click here if you don't know what it is).  This year I was there to re-connect with friends in the industry and to share some bike advocacy ideas I have with some folks and of course, to meet new people and spread the bike law gospel!  I was only there 2 days/2 nights, but it was a packed trip which included 2 highlight events for me: Hearing Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper announce his plan to spend $100 million on biking in Colorado LIVE at the industry breakfast, and watching Cross Vegas (this year -it was also a World Cup!).  

Here is my trip recap in photos: 

In case you missed it, #SOCKGATE was a thing at IB this year.  Luckily I found an amazing sock store where I bought my own fancy socks (perfect for cooler CX races this fall!).  Can't go wrong with unicorns and rainbows:

Joined my good friend Jay Thomas, one of the original teams/directors who got me into cycling, for an industry dinner at the Four Seasons -which was capped off by GIANT pieces of carrot cake (my favorite).  We rationalized by saying we needed to eat our vegetables... 


I'm a bit Colorado-proud here, but it was ao amazing to hear People for Bikes (based in Boulder!) speak and update us, and then introduce our Colorado Gov as the keynote speaker at the industry breakfast.  And to hear the good news - the Gov is promising $100 million for biking in CO!  I think every Coloradoan in the room (myself included) was beaming. 


People for Bikes hosted the breakfast and as always, killed it with the clever graphics and design (and bacon).


I met a great group of guys from Chain Reaction bicycles in Georgia. They are a large Cannondale dealer so I was in good company! 

This is the Cooker booth - the brand of the fatbike that I own (owned by the Cannondale corporate family).  I thought their design, setup and colors was one of the coolest, cleanest booths there. 

Brendan Lyons with Look Save a Life (I love their mantra: safety is everyone's responsiblity) with Lisa and Nick from PrimalWear.  Three amazing people all in one place.  Love that they are working together on Brendan's cycling apparel for his events this year.  Primal had an AMAZING booth setup there.

Lisa Hudson, friend and fellow Golden business owner of Feedback Sports, models their newest hottest product, the Omnium -a packable roller system that solves ALL of our bike race/travel warmup problems!  

Friend Katie Macarelli, Marketing Guru for Feedback Sports, racing Wheelers & Dealers 

I swear that looked like part of the old Boulder Velodrome... 

Blue Shark in the sand pit... because, why not? 

Katie F'n Compton warms up for the women's pro race on one of the new Omnium Trainers.

Watching the race on the big screen and live, from the VIP hill.  Truly an amazing experience watching the ladies tear up the FIRST CYCLOCROSS WORLD CUP ever on american soil!!! 

LUNA ladies put together amazing teamwork and took the win with Katarina Nash riding away solo and her teammate placing in the top 5.  Incredible. 

Kate Powlinson, friend/fellow racer/People for Bikes Goddess, shows off their awesome photo booth to a visitor:

I love these bikes dressed up like cars.  They are all setup to protect the rider from the elements, they make hauling a heavier load- like several bags of groceries much easier -and they have headlights, taillights and turn signals... so cool.

Got to see our friends from HandleBar Mustache too -their booth was rocking! 

To sum up: I realized just how many amazing companies and advocacy groups in cycling are Colorado-based... it felt in a way like we had all traveled to Vegas to see each other when we could have just hosted an event here in Colorado ;)  But all in all Interbike was how i remembered it to be, but with so much momentum growing for bike advocacy, I left refreshed and excited to see where Colorado biking -and biking nationwide -goes from here! 

Golden Will Host First-Ever Women's Race At USPCC

"Local cyclist Megan Hottman is counting on the Golden community to roll out the red carpet for the pro women cyclists riding into town for the inaugural women’s race in the upcoming USA Pro Challenge.

“They get to come here and race hard,” said Hottman, a racer and former competitive pro, “but also be recipients of Golden hospitality.”

Click link to read entire story in the Golden Transcript!

Women on Bikes!!!

On February 10-11, I attended the Colorado Bike Summit.  This was my third year attending, but my first year involved in a role beyond just that of participant.  This year I was asked to serve as a moderator of a small group during the Women in Cycling break-out session. We were asked to discuss the barriers (real and perceived) that keep women from riding bikes, and also how best to put the FUN back into riding for women! 

My group was amazinginly diverse, with male and female representatives from New Belgium, PrimalWear, Gates,, communication and real estate companies, Campus Cycles, and more.  We had great discussions related to these topics and my biggest takeaway was that women like to be asked.  They prefer to be invited.  Rare are the women who go barging in unhindered; more commonly, women wait to be welcomed in -often by another woman.  This is perhaps based on the sentiment that women do not want to seem presumpuous or overbearing (or want to avoid rejection by waiting until they are affirmatively asked to come in, to be a part of the cycling environment).  I also realized that women respond best on a one-on-one basis, i.e. one woman sees another ride her bike in to work and strikes up a conversation at the office about how she packs her clothes, what route she takes, where she stores her bike, how she showers or gets dressed, and more.  Bringing women into cycling is going to happen one new female cyclist at a time, they aren't going to come by droves.  I think as bike industry folks, marketers and so on, people need to change their approach.  

We women already on bikes need to own more responsibility -we especially need to extend the invite to women at work, in our neighborhoods, church groups and elsewhere, one future-cyclist-at-a-time.  

We women already on bikes need to own more responsibility -we especially need to extend the invite to women at work, in our neighborhoods, church groups and elsewhere, one future-cyclist-at-a-time.  

Another fascinating element to this session was the discovery of amazing Women-Bike-Oriented resources on the League of American Bicyclists website. Check out this AMAZING link!!  And even cooler, check out this publication called WOMEN ON A ROLL -WomenBikeReport(web).pdf - chock full of awesome stats and infographics.  I encourage everyone who is interested in getting more women on bikes to review this!  

So what are we going to do about it??  How do we invite more women in -not to race, but simply to ride?  Here's what I'm doing: 

#1-Let's put our $$ where our mouths are and invest in this concept.  I'm thrilled to announce that my law office will now sponsor (in addition to our racing team), a Women's Commuter Team.  Geared towards women who have not ridden, or who have ridden for recreation but never as a form of transportation, this team aims to equip ladies with the gear, knowledge and know-how, so they can turn their bike into a way of getting to work or grabbing some groceries.  

#2-Host fun, no clacky shoes, no chamois allowed ride events! Get rid of the fancy bikes and fancy outfits.  Make riding welcoming.  Our law firm is going to start hosting "spandexless" rides (and clinics) where ladies will be invited to wear their "normal" clothes and regular shoes to pedal around the town of Golden socializing and networking.  Please join us for these events, whether you are a regular rider or maybe you haven't ridden a bike since you were a child!

I hope you'll join me and make it your personal mission to get at least one new female rider on a bike in the very near future!