This in from Jacob S.
“I woke early that day, before the sun and before the town of Emporia.
After a quick snack and final gear check we made our way towards the starting line. Excited faces and enthusiastic greetings gave a cheerful feeling of well being. A light fog created a setting of calm as the throng made its way out of town and towards the gravel. The double line snaked its way over the smooth gravel without too much fuss. A dead carp in the middle of the road was an omen of the horror that awaited us.
Mile eleven was where the carnage started, a “road” with mud too deep for mere mortals to pedal through. Even walking was difficult with bikes high on frustrated shoulders. The greedy mud clung to shoes and tried to suck you in. Somehow it even clung to tires and clogged derailleurs even though your bike wasn’t touching the ground. Several people in a four wheeler made their way through our ranks with smug looks of pitty, no doubt questioning why anyone would not only do this willingly but pay for the opportunity. As I trudged onward a rattlesnake gave me a menacing glare which I defiantly returned knowing it could do no worse than this tyrannical mud already was.
Following the death-march was what some call gravel roads. I was delighted to be pedaling once again though. The roads ranged from gravel sized pebbles to fist and grapefruit sized rocks with chunks of underlying bedrock coming through the road surface in some areas. Smart riding would have taken it easy on the down hills, avoiding sharp rocks and picking a smart line through the water crossings. A trusty steed under me I let fly trying to make up as much time as I could. The views were fantastic, green pastures pocked with the occasional oil rig and cattle pen. Long steady climbs followed by sweeping rough down slopes. At water crossings other riders would stop in the middle of the line debating if they should walk or ride through the water. This angered me. I can only hope they were among the 572 that were unable to finish.
After only briefly stopping at the neutral water site I pressed on slowly as I snacked on a cliff bar and washed it down with perpeteum trying to feed the machine as much as it could digest. More sticky peanut butter mud followed. Thankfully the sections were shorter and shallower and most were rideable. In the first three miles following the waterstop I saw at least seven defeated souls making the slow march back to the neutral stop. The derailleur monster was hungry that day.
As I pressed on the climbs seemed bigger and the daunting task of keeping this up for 200 miles began to sink in. My shoes were full of water from the crossings and my feet grew cold. As I carried my bike through knee-deep water on the edge of a spillway I began to wonder. While trying to figure out why my gps mileage didn’t match the que cards I began to plan my escape. Surely on a day like today nobody would fault me for quitting right?
As I rolled into the first check point town the locals were out as excited and supportive as could be. When I rolled onto main street the cowbells and well wishes took my mind off quitting. Then I found my support crew from www.bikerags.co and it all started to turn around. Tony immediately grabbed my and took it to the carwash to rescue it from that greedy Kansas mud. They asked how I was feeling, I’m not sure if I meant it or if it was a reaction response, I said legs feel STRONG! I was hungry, Bike Rags fed me. My feet were cold and wet, Bike Rags gave me dry socks. My drivetrain was muddy and washed out, Bike Rags cleaned and lubed it. My spirits were low but they assured me I had what it took. As I waited for the bathroom at Casey’s I was asked how much further, when I said 123 miles it sounded so much more manageable than 200. At Casey’s I traded the demon that had been within me for the past forty miles for a slice of delicious pizza and on the walk back to the pit tent I began to think maybe I can do this?
Belly filled, bike serviced and spirits lifted I pedaled defiantly up the hill out of town. The villagers bid me well as I head out to face that treacherous Kansas North Wind. As I pedaled onward my confidence grew and became convinced that I was actually going to finish. My tale would not be one of defeat for a Gordon Lightfoot ballad. No, mine would be a tale of victory told to wide eyed young children around the campfire for ages to come.
Another section of peanut butter mud helped me relearn all of the curse words I had recently forgotten. Some noticeable hills reminded me to keep eating and drinking for the machine needs all it can get. Eventually the course brought me to mile 102 and a hill that made me smile at everyone that ever called Kansas flat. Aside from the four mile private ranch road the next fifty or so miles seemed to fly by. While I was no speed demon I had confidence in my legs and a smile on my face. That ranch road though, cows aren’t scary until there are a dozen of them running across your path a few feet in front of your line!
At the second checkpoint my faithful crew was again waiting for me with open arms and confident words. More fuel, more lube and most importantly another pair of dry socks. As I worked out the miles remaining and the amount of time until the checkpoint the stoke was high. One friend of the program remarked that I didn’t look like someone who had just pedaled 160 miles. As I set off again, this time in the dark, I was almost giddy at the thought of the finish line. Less than fifty miles remained, I got this!
The downhills that were sketchy in the daylight were even more so under the cover of night. A couple miles of peanut butter mud and puddles to make my way through. With no idea how deep the puddles are or what lay beneath the surface I had no choice but to bomb through them with whatever I had left. I wound my way along the course, saw tooth hills doing their best to slow my progress. I was going to finish my first DK attempt though, the hills had nothing on me. We wound through one last little ‘town’ that didn’t seem to have any life in it, though a brief stretch of pavement was a welcome respite for the undercarriage. My headlight blinked signaling low battery. I thought this thing was good for eight hours?!
About five miles out my light died. I was alone in the dark in Kansas. I navigated by moonlight with the attitude of ‘what could go wrong?’ After a while I caught a couple guys who’s tail lights had died but their headlights were strong. Since my tail lights worked fine we rode together. Fucking teamwork! As I pedaled down Commerce St the excitement was palpable. I wasn’t among the leaders who were there six hours earlier, but I was among the finishers! Cheers from everyone on the street, high fives coming down the coral and then that handshake from Kristi. I had done it, I finished my first DK200 attempt. 18:39 was slower than I hoped but it is better than a kick in the shorts.
My crew waiting with massive high fives and back pats. As I handed over my bike they asked if I was hungry? Hell no, I’m going to Mulready’s! The adrenaline and excitement couldn’t be helped by anything Jimmy John’s had to offer. The only thing to do was order a cold IPA in my brand new DK pint glass!
Cheers until my next ride!”