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.