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TEG

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Welcome from the Editor... The Allure of Gravel Road Riding, By The Adventure Monkey Eric Benjamin................. Page 4 Out on a Plain, By Eric Gustafson..................................................................................................... Page 8 Dirty Kanza Trading Cards....................................................................................................Page 14 Embracing The Dirty Kansas 200, By Casey Woods.....................................................Page 16 The British Invasion, By Rob Gilligan........................................................................................Page 19 Girl Power, By Wendy Davis (aka Sasha).............................................................................................Page 22 Adventure Monkey and the Pablove Foundation, By Eric Benjamin........................... Page 28 P ublisher

Chris Walker

A rt D irector

C opy E ditors

Jim Cummins • Ben Fitch Contributing Writers

Crystal Williams

Eric Benjamin • Eric Gustafson Rob Gilligan Wendy Davis Casey Woods

D esigners

C ontributing P hotographers

Justin Ogleby

A dvertising M anager

Scott Bolley • Dan Ferrell Tracy Holroyd • Shawn Honea Jennie Loucks • Margie McHaley

Shawn Honea Eric Benjamin Matthew Fowler

For more information, please contact: 517 Merchant Street Emporia, KS 66801 620.342.4800

Dirty Kanza

is a publication of

TEG

Chris Walker Editor & Publisher The Emporia Gazette

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As this great event continues to get bigger and better, we felt that the Emporia Gazette should try to do the same with its coverage and support. This is why you will notice a significantly higher quality magazine for this year’s special edition. When the Emporia Gazette produced its first Emporia Living magazine in January, we knew almost immediately that we needed to give the same quality of product to one of the premier gravel road events in the world. This year’s issue is packed with more stories, more photos, and a ton of great businesses that are excited to see how this event will continue to grow each and every year. As you read through the magazine you will get some different perspectives of last year’s race, as well as a preview of some unique story lines for 2012. For those of you that find this 200 mile race a bit crazy, Eric Benjamin’s article may shed some light on the draw that gravel riding in the Flint Hills has. Be sure to check out the photos and story about the Pablove foundation and their efforts to fight childhood cancer. Last but not least, the 2012 edition of Dirty Kanza trading cards are out and available for collection. Stop by the businesses listed in the center section to collect all 36 cards this year. While you are there spend some time checking out the business, their support of the magazine and trading cards allows us to produce this at no cost to you. Be sure to thank them for their support whether it be with your words or your wallet, they appreciate the recognition. 6 a.m. June 2nd will be here before we know it, good luck to all of this years racers, we will see you at the finish line!


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“T

wo Hundred miles of gravel and low maintenance roads in the Flint Hills?� people ask as they shake their heads and say things about me being crazy, a glutton for punishment or a masochist. So why do I so thoroughly enjoy riding the gravel roads of the Flint Hills?


The Allure of Gravel Road Riding By The Adventure Monkey Eric Benjamin

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I’ll admit the first time I heard of the Dirty Kanza 200 from Matt Brown at High Gear Cyclery I shook my head and said the same thing. At the time I was riding gravel but usually only up to about 30 miles at a time. Two hundred miles in a day sounded insane. But the more I rode, the stronger I became and the farther I wanted to explore by bike. I ride a bike for the simple enjoyment of cycling. There is something about being outside, empowering myself to move on two wheels that I love. I love it so much, I ride outside all year. The long rides I take on the weekends have powerful antidepressant affects that make the things of the cubicle life I live during the week seem very insignificant. But why gravel? Let me see if I can break this down for you. I like a challenge. Riding on gravel is not only tougher than riding on pavement, it is much more interesting. Gravel roads take you on the big hills and lead you through beautiful areas you will never see from pavement. As you can imagine, riding on a flat paved road that looks the same as far as the eye can see can be a little boring. The gravel roads of the Flint Hills add bumpy rocks, low water crossings and hills, a lot more hills. That makes for a challenging and fun ride. Another fact about the Flint Hills is the beauty of the vast expanse of one of the last untouched grasslands of the world. Gravel roads take you straight into the middle of nowhere where you will be surrounded on every side by grassy rolling hills as far as the eye can see. After the ranchers burn the fields, the hills become a vibrant green as the new grasses begin to grow again. In the spring and fall the wildflowers bloom and carpet the hills with color. In the heat of summer the roads are lined with sunflowers. You can look around and not see anything

of human civilization (besides the gravel road) in any direction. It is complete solitude. Being complete solitude means you will hardly ever see a motorized vehicle out in the Flint Hills. One of the things about riding on the highways that I dislike is the cars. Every now and then I will see a car or more than likely a farm truck out in the Flint Hills. But most of the time I don’t have to worry about cars at all. No one “gets it” until they have been out there in the middle of the

Flint Hills. I have heard people say they have seen the Flint Hills on the drive to Wichita on the Kansas Turnpike, but driving in a car at 75 miles per hour gives you but a glimpse of what it’s like to be surrounded by nothing but rolling hills and natural grasses that have been there almost forever. Then there are hills to ride. When I was a newbie rider, I will admit that I despised the hills. I despised the burning in my legs, the hot air filling my lungs

leaving me with the feeling that I needed an oxygen tank bolted to my bicycle frame to make it to the top of another steep, but short hill. I hated having to shift gears continually in order to make it over the rolling hills that continued without mercy. But then I got stronger. I began to look forward to the hilliest roads. I began to power up the hills and bomb as fast as I could down the other side. I loved the feeling of being clipped into my pedals and holding on to the handlebars for dear life as I screamed down the hills at over 30 mph knowing that one bad move would lead to one bad wreck. I became a 10-year old kid again screaming down “Texaco Hill” or “Twin Towers Road” as fast as my wheels would turn. No we don’t have big, beautiful mountains, instead we have rolling hills and screaming winds. Riding in the Flint Hills makes one a stronger rider. When I did head out to ride in the mountains, my legs were ready. The other great thing about the rolling hills and miles and miles of roads in the Flint Hills is that we can ride as far as we want. Part of the adventure is mapping out a 100 or 200 mile course and riding it. We can do that in the Flint Hills. And we can do those miles in one day. Part of the adventure is going far. I love the challenge of the Flint Hills. There are sharp rocks waiting to puncture tires. The wind can be overpowering. The heat can be draining. The hills are rolling. But the feeling of making it 100 or more miles on a bicycle gives me such a feeling of accomplishment that I get from nothing else. These days, I try to find the hilliest, most low maintenance roads I can to ride on. I love planning out all my food and drink, course, stops and heading out with my camera for an adventure. There’s just nothing like it. And the great thing is I can be in the Flint Hills in a few minutes by bike.


Patrick Werly Shirley Eubanks Kristi Mohn Angie Blankley Tracy Herrick Beth Henrikson Jamie Sauder Bobby Thompson

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n i a l P a n o t u O What if Paris-Roubaix was all cobbles? What if the Giro was all dirt? Unimaginable? For those competing in the Dirty Kanza 200, a lack of pavement is the new road-racing reality.

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By Eric Gustafson

After finishing second in the 2010 running of the Dirty Kanza 200, Lance Andre, 41, missed the podium celebration in Emporia because he was at the hospital getting three bags of IV fluid pumped into his thoroughly dehydrated body. This year, with the aid of slightly less extreme temperatures (97 degrees Fahrenheit, not 104) a second pair of legs (he shared a tandem bike with Barbie Miller, 46), he won the 200-mile gravel road race outright. Though an overheated core resulted in a post-finish puke, a rapid deployment of ice prevented another ER visit. So the 2011 event represented improvements on both fronts for the Tampa Bay, Fla. resident: He won the race and incurred no medical expenses in the process. The Dirty Kanza 200 is a

brutally hard race. Held in the first week of June, heat usually presents the biggest challenge to competitors, with humidity coming a close second. Then there is the wind, which, without fail, blows with increasing conviction as the long race day progresses into night. Varying slightly each year, the single-loop course takes the riders out into the remote Flint Hills region of Kansas. For the most part, the road surface is composed of sharp chunks of flint rock and limestone. Flats are a common occurrence. Though some sections are fast and smooth, other are bone-jarringly rough, provoking a large percentage of entrants to use mountain bikes as their steed of choice. All of the top competitors, however, are on cross bikes, with 35 millimeters being the tire width of choice; it’s hard

to get away with much less rubber than that on these punishing roads. Under 10 percent of the course is paved—usually just the transitions that take riders into the towns where the three check-in stops are located. As if the above challenges aren’t enough, riders also face the possibility of sudden hail storms. It happened this year. At first, the storm clouds were welcomed, as they brought down the ambient air temperature to near tolerable levels. However, as the frozen bomblets started falling from the sky, most racers began cursing the heavens—and seeking immediate shelter. Some were lucky enough to find a hay barn, others had no choice but to dive into ravines for cover (see YouTube video of Soulcraft rider). Though brief, the cloudburst was heavy enough

to make the unpaved roads nearly impassable. In a futile attempt to keep their drivetrains from mucking up, some cyclists attempted to ride in the hay fields, only to find the going just as labored. With 10 hours in the saddle and still 70 miles to the end, it was at this point that Nebraskan Mark Faloon, 51, a multi-time DK200 finisher and Leadville 100 veteran, abandoned the race. His Steve Potts rigid 29er had ceased functioning, its titanium frame entombed in mud. I had ridden with Faloon from just past the start in Emporia to the second stop at the 100-mile mark. That was the end of my race, which had been my plan. I had sustained two hairline fractures of my tibia three months prior (warning: don’t mess with concrete benches), so halving the


distance seemed sensible—as if there is anything sensible about offroad endurance racing. One hundred miles is the goal that I’d set with my doctor; it’s also what I’d told my wife. With my recovery having proceeded more quickly than expected in the last weeks prior to the event, my overriding concern come race day was that I’d be tempted to ride past my pledge, then suffer some terrible consequence as a result. This, after all, is an unsupported race. Riders can assist each other out on the course and aid from outside crews can be received at the rest stops, but the Dirty Kanza 200 is a sag wagon-free experience. By the time I reached the first check-in stop at mile 58, this worry had evaporated in the mind-numbing heat. My leg felt fine, but I was already fairly well cooked. Nearly 20 years of living in San Francisco has eroded any heat resistance I may have gained as a youth in Southern California. Humidity, what’s that? But my time in the Bay Area has made me a better climber. After dispatching with the first few of the course’s hills in my big chain ring, I thought: This isn’t so hard. My face devoid of grimace, I was able to enjoy the beauty of the Flint Hills region—its verdant grass fields stretching to the horizon, its oddly shaped rock formations, its tree-shrouded creek bottoms, its lack of humanity. Then the wind started to blow, and my reverie quickly changed to resolve. Before long, climbing into the wind required all the gearing my bike had to offer, and the flats weren’t much easier. Even though the course twisted and turned, a headwind seemed to be our nearconstant companion. When the wind did finally hit our backs, we stood tall to catch as much of it as we could—pitching our sails like jubilant pirates escaping the doldrums. But the wind offered no reprieve from the heat, which bore down on us with increasing weight as midday oozed into afternoon. The surroundings became increasingly less idyllic, the colors more washed out and sepia toned. I spotted my first dead cow, its awful stench a visceral reminder of the harshness of this place. I would see more. A silly notion starting swimming

around in my poached noggin: drawn to the “incredible remoteness Toto…we’re not in San Francisco of the area” and humbled by its historical significance. “When you anymore. The Dirty Kanza 200 is an ride through the Flint Hills, you outgrowth of an ad hoc event called get to see the land as it was when the Flint Hills Death Ride. Back in covered wagons were crossing the late 1980s, a bunch of Kansas the country,” he says. One of the mountain bikers got together things that has ensured the region’s and decided completing a metric remoteness is its exceedingly century on the region’s gravel road rocky soil, which makes farming difficult. “The would be a good only thing it’s challenge—actually, “I spotted good for is cattle,” an insurmountable my first dead says Cummins. “It one. “We thought has the best grass 70 miles was not cow, its in the world for doable,” remembers awful stench grazing.” Humans Emporia native find the Flint Jim Cummins, a a visceral less enticing, participant who reminder of the Hills which explains had only recently harshness of the fact that even made the switch today houses are from motorcycles this place.” spaced, on average, to mountain bikes. 10 miles apart. It The birth of offroad endurance racing was still decades also explains why carrying a lot of away. Heck, the notion of riding water is so crucial in the race. As the years passed, the Flint a mountain bike uphill was still Hills Death Ride became more fairly novel at the time. Not only was the Death Ride organized and gained popularity. doable, but it turned out to be Then, in the early 2000s, the addictive. Cummins says he was gravel road-racing scene started

to take off. Cummins and DK200 co-founder Joel Dyke were particularly inspired by the Trans-Iowa, the grand daddy of all gravel-grind races. “We said to ourselves, ‘Somebody otta do something like that in Kansas,’” remembers Cummins. They didn’t copy that event’s gargantuan 300mile length, though, deciding that 200 would provide enough pain. The inaugural DK200 was held in 2006, with just 36 racers taking part. In its second year, the entry list was capped at 50; it took two months to fill the available slots. Since then, interest in the DK200, and gravel racing in general, has skyrocketed. Even though organizers increased the number of solo slots to 300 for 2011—slots for 25 two-person relay teams and 25 tandem teams were also added—they were filled within two days. The deeper roots of the DK200 stretch back to the very dawn of bicycle racing. In the 1890s, when the bicycle enjoyed its first big boom, paved roads were rare. Cities had their cobblestone- and


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brick-lined streets, but the roads that connected them—where the first bike races were contested— were largely dirt and gravel affairs. Wide tires were the norm, as were stout frames and even stouter riders. Part of the appeal of today’s gravel-road racing is this connection to cycling’s past. Back in the day, however, cyclists had no such romantic affinity for bumpy roads; they wanted them paved. Bike clubs were vociferous in their lobbying for “macadam highways,” and successfully ushered in the first wave of road paving in the United States. Little did cyclists know these roads would soon be overrun with automobiles, forcing them out to the shoulder—where they’ve been stuck ever since. Gravel grinding is empowering in the sense that it allows cyclists to take back the road. “People are riding on gravel roads mainly to get away from traffic,” says Eric Peterson, owner of Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, Nebraska, which sponsors several elite gravel racers. Peterson adds that one of the reasons that the gravel scene is particularly big in the Midwest is that most of the paved roads in the region are heavily graded and laid out in a grid pattern, making them both flat and boring; the unpaved stuff is simply a lot more interesting and challenging. “I like the freedom gravel affords,” says Peterson. Implicit in the act of getting away

from cars and seeking a more capturing the rainbow jersey in adventurous path, is the desire to 2011; Gravel World racers must commune with nature. Road rides do so to prove they have completed can get you “out there,” too, but the 130-mile course. Godfrey’s strategy for defending not with the same intimacy as a gravel one. Inhaling dust makes his 2010 DK200 victory was the natural bond all the more simple: Get out ahead of the crowd at the start, and stay there. With as palpable. The top racers entered in many as 350 competitors amassing the DK200 are not out for a in Emporia for the 6 a.m. sendsoul-soothing ride in the Kansas off, this was absolutely imperative. countryside; they come to The rest of Godfrey’s strategy for success was equally Emporia to win a straightforward: bike race. For the “People are consume vast small but growing coterie of committed riding on gravel quantities of Gatorade utilize ice gravel-road racers, roads mainly and whenever possible— the DK200 is the to get away both externally and biggest race of the year. “It’s our Paris- from traffic.” internally. There are no less Roubaix,” says than four water-bottle Corey Godfrey, 35, cages on Godfrey’s Independent who won the event in 2010. Godfrey hails from Lincoln, Fabrication titanium cross bike, Nebraska, home of some of the so tanking up on the green fluid most ardent gravel grinders in is not a problem. The ice comes the nation and site of the Gravel into play at each of the DK200’s Worlds, an ironically titled and three required check-in stops. He entirely grassroots send-up of the puts a bag of ice around his neck, ProCycling’s World Championship straddles a bag of ice with his legs organized by Godfrey and his band and eats plenty of ice-cream bars. of merry men, the Pirate Cycling As a trained exercise physiologist, League. Mark Cavendish didn’t Godfrey knows that controlling have to stop at convenience stores core body temperature is key to buy lottery tickets on the way to when competing in extreme heat. As an American consumer, he knows that any convenience store worth its salty snacks has a good supply of Gatorade, ice and ice-

cream bars. Godfrey’s 2011 race did not go according to plan. Just a few miles in—with the sun barely up over the prairie and the course having just transitioned from pavement to gravel—he got a flat. I rode past him, part of the large, dustproducing peloton of amateurs he was so desperate to stay ahead of. A few minutes later, he stormed past us, head down, his face a mask of pure determination. With the aid of Dennis Grelk, the winner of this year’s TransIowa, Godfrey made it back up to the leaders, but he paid a price. “I burned all my candles,” he says of his all-out effort. Feeling sick to his stomach, Godfrey found himself unable to take in enough calories. Soon he didn’t have the energy to stay with the lead group. Godfrey was far from alone in his suffering. Pushing the pace hard from the outset, the tandem crew of Andre and Miller experienced leg cramps. This was partly due to bike fit. The two had ridden together for the first time the day before the race—Miller had responded to Andre’s online posting—and were still adjusting seat heights and handle bar angles on Andre’s five-year-old mountain bike. The winning crew also had two flats over the course of the day. There’s no such thing as a textbook perfect ride at the DK200.


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BBQ and More: Salads, Wraps & Beer. We have everything a rider needs to recover! Evening Specials Served after 5 pm Steak Night Every Night 620-342-1990 607 Merchant St. • Emporia, KS 66801 Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-9pm

Dirty Kanza 200 | 11


One lucky break Andre and Miller did have was that they, along with as a handful of other leading riders, were able to outrun the hail storm. Actually, the pair were able to benefit from it. Thanks to a strong tailwind, they had their rig pegged at 30 mph for four miles, which greatly consolidated their lead. Navigational errors were the cause of plenty of unnecessary suffering. Because the tiny map supplied by the organizers at the start and each successive check point was hard to read, riders were forced to rely largely on course markers when making course changes. The problem is, these small red streamers can be easy to miss, or are missing altogether. Soon after Godfrey turned himself inside out to catch up to the breakaway, he found out they had missed a turn and would have to backtrack, a realization that only dumped more air from his rapidly deflating balloon. When Kevin Thomas, 41, crossed the finish line at 7:39 p.m., his computer read 213

miles. He had lost his way near the end, and was forced to expend precious energy reserves getting back on track. “I took the scenic route,” says the Salida, Colorado resident. Despite the extra miles, Thomas came in third overall, impressive for a first-time DK200 entrant. Though pleased with the result, Thomas says he has no plans to defend his podium finish. “It’s a cool race, but I’m not gonna come back,” he declares. “We have wind in Colorado, but this is a little too hot for my blood. My brain is swelling.” The top 10 finishers all returned to Emporia by 9 p.m., cheered by the townsfolk, embraced by loved ones and enveloped by the boisterous beer garden that had taken over a downtown intersection. The party had long since ended when, six-and-a-half hours later, the last of the 71 official finishers rode up a deserted Commercial Street and completed his DK200. Twenty-one-and-a half hours in the saddle. A gravel grind indeed.

Welcome Dirty Kanza!

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Dine-In or Carry-Out Available 2640 W. 18th, Emporia, KS. 620- 342-1223 • www.bruffs.com


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Pick up your Dirty Kanza 200 Trading Cards at these sponsors locations.

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Andrew Keffer

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Caribbean Sun Sweet Granada KVOE Gambino’s Pizza Amanda’s Bakery Verona Grill High Gear Cyclery & Fitness Studio 11 The Granada Theatre Flint Hills Music JavaCat-5

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Brad Skillicorn

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Embracing The Dirty Kanza 200 By Casey Woods

T

he sight of several hundred bikers simultaneously rolling through downtown Emporia at 6 a.m. on Saturday, June 2, can only be eclipsed by the excitement of hundreds (if not thousands this year) of fans clanging cow bells and cheering wildly. Exhausted riders dig deep for the energy to sprint the last four blocks down Commercial Street through the finish line. As friendly locals swarm and congratulate these athletes that have endured a super human test of will, everyone takes part in the pride of their personal accomplishment, and helps to make them feel like a champion whether they are the first or 91st rider across that line.

Unique local restaurants and “mom and pop” retailers ensure that visitors will discover something new on each block. Two Regents Institutions, a wonderfully restored historic theatre and a modern arts facility provide cultural amenities unusual for a community of our size. A myriad of parks, family-friendly events and a small town feel create an instant connection for visitors. Yes, Dirty Kanza 200 participants flood High Gear Cyclery with requests for the newest durable equipment, but they also patronize downtown gift shops, clothing stores and grocery outlets in between “picking” antiques and ogling over local artwork. They argue whether our barbeque or Mexican cuisine is better as others chime in “don’t forget the bakery” and “the Chinese is fantastic.” It re-energizes one’s soul to see our community through the eyes of those experiencing Emporia for the first time, and when we mention the insane amount of wonderful events riders “miss out on” by going home, (Live in the Lot, Brown Bag, The Symphony in the Flint Hills, Shrine Bowl, Great American Market, Back to School Activities, etc.) you hear people verbalize “I wish our community was like this…” A small group of volunteers work unbelievably hard to promote an event that many said would never work, should be confined to a parking lot, and would never draw anyone other than locals. Why do they do it? Why do they work with the Farmer’s Market for a pasta feed on Friday, June 1, when

“A small group of volunteers work unbelievably hard to promote an event that many said would never work...” Emporia is perfectly located near a natural wonder that remains an enigma for most of the world, the Flint Hills. The prairie provides a tourism paradox: too many people and too much development would devalue this uniquely beautiful area, while hording the splendor of this awe inspiring scenery would simply be selfish. While some of the most beautiful vistas of the Flint Hills have been affected by urban sprawl, the majority of the Flint Hills surrounding Emporia retains its beauty, due to the vigilance and foresight of local land owners. Through low impact forms of tourism (like the Dirty Kanza 200), we can expose the world to the Flint Hills without damaging them. While athletes visit the area for its raw, untamed remoteness, we expose them to a unique community setting full of amenities that cause riders to almost universally exclaim “I love it here.” They love the Flint Hills because they get to actually experience the Flint Hills, not some homogenized semblance of the great outdoors represented in a climate controlled atmosphere, the real thing.

“Velo News Magazine rated the Dirty Kanza 200 as one of the best 15 rides in the world” they could simply tell people “show up on Saturday morning?” Why do they have a start in the middle of the 800 Block of Commercial Street at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning when they

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Upcoming Local Rides Thursday Night Group Rides Hosted by The Human Power Company Every Thursday night through October www.facebook.com/humanpowerco

Olpe Down Home Ride July 7th, 2012 Community Fun Ride with Olpe Down Home Days

Freedom Fest Bike Ride November 4th, 2012 30 Mile fun ride for Veteran's Week


could have people meet at some nondescript parking lot? Why go through the trouble to bring local residents and booths downtown for a Finish Line Party from 5 p.m. until Midnight instead of just having a timing booth set on a side access road? Why create a course that purposely intersects with many small towns in the Flint Hills when it would be just as easy to bypass them? It’s simple: the organizers of the Dirty Kanza 200 continue to see Emporia and the Flint Hills area with the same wide eyed wonder that our visitors do. Instead of lamenting what’s wrong, they work tirelessly to emphasize what’s right with our community. They aren’t looking for a better community; they are working to make Emporia better. You can get involved in this expanding event. Come downtown and see the cyclist off at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 2. Come back for the finish line party from 5 p.m. until midnight on Saturday. Participate in the Dirty Kanza “Lite” 20 or 50 mile ride. You can even have a booth promoting your business, selling food or area merchandise at the Finish Line Party (simply contact Emporia Main Street for more information). The Dirty Kanza requires community participation to achieve success, and we want everyone to join in the excitement! When Dirty Kanza 200 expanded three years ago to incorporate a lot of the elements we now take for granted, a local media person asked: “do you really think this will work?” Maybe the best way to measure this is by looking at the impacts this event has already had on our community. We have people marveling over our Flint Hills and battling for the right to ride them. We have hundreds of hotel rooms booked and hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into our local economy. And recently, Velo News Magazine rated the Dirty Kanza 200 as one of the best 15 rides in the world. We will never be Las Vegas, but we figured out our own unique way to bring tourists to Emporia, Kansas. The Dirty Kanza works now, and if you all make the commitment to come out to Dirty Kanza events, support the riders and show your appreciation, it will continue to work in the future.

Emporia Main Street’s Four-Point Approach® Join a hands-on team building a vibrant community.

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PROMOTION [events]

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Become a Main Street member, supporter, or volunteer. We’re making visible and sustainable impacts everyday!

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ORGANIZATION [fundraising & partnership building] 12 E 5th Ave • 620-340-6430 • emporiamainstreet.com

Welcome Dk200 participants anD fans!

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Dirty Kanza 200 | 17

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that Jason did after the 2010 Dirty Kanza. To him the list of recommendations was short, and he remembers it like this: “Paul had emailed me saying he might have the chance to come over to the U.S. this summer and asked what big ultra-events were going down. He seemed particularly interested in gravel racing and Trans Iowa was not possible given his time frame. So I suggested the Dirty Kanza 200, I mean it’s a legendary race in the gravel scene. If you’re going to fly a few thousand miles to race gravel, you might as well race one of the most popular gravel grinders in the world.” With a race selected and a trip to plan, Paul was ready to book his flight to Kansas, if only it was just that easy. That desire to tackle a gravel race only gets you so far, the logistics and expense of traveling overseas is not something you can just jump into. With his newest challenge, Paul decided to reach out to a new friend he had never even met, fellow riding enthusiast Rick Perry. “Yeah me and Rick have known each other for at least three or four months [though] we have actually never met. We got to know each other through the bikepacking.net forum [it] seems we have a lot in common... I

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t may not have the feel of Beatlemania, but the fact that the Dirty Kanza 200 registered its first two international riders* in 2012 has organizers and community members buzzing. A punishing battle against the elements and landscape of East Central Kansas has gone from a small group of racing friends in 2006 to a truly international competition thanks to Paul Errington and Rick Perry. These two British nationals are going to travel over 4,300 miles so they can tackle one of the toughest “Gravel Grinders” in the world. The idea to travel “across the pond” for the race started when Paul decided he wanted to experience a true gravel road race. “Since starting to take my riding seriously again around six to seven years ago, I try to fit at least one big event a year into my schedule, I try to vary the style of the event whether long one day races or multiple day stage races... A gravel-based event is something that really doesn’t exist anywhere outside of the US... I’ve wanted to do one for a number of years and the time was right.” Now was the time for Paul to do some homework, to help him decide which race would be just right. That’s when he reached out to a trusted friend that could answer his question with authority, Jason Mahokey, the founder of XXC Magazine. Those who have been following the Dirty Kanza for a few years may remember seeing the great special edition XXC Mag


wanted to do a gravel race and Rick was all up for doing one too.” Rick felt that it was kismet to make the plans, “I had been looking at the DK for a few years and it has been on the to do list…. Paul and I were just talking about plans for the year and we both came out with “I’ve been looking at the DK 200 “at the same time…” Rick had gone through a similar process of looking at races to do in the U.S., “...The race appealed to me as I wanted to do something challenging in the US but didn’t have time for an Epic like the Tour Divide or CTR and also didn’t know if I would be up for such a massive multi dayer and DK seemed big but possible from this side of the water…we made contact with Jim and from then on we got tons of advice and help from the DK community and we just had to come...” So with a race determined and a riding partnership cemented they were ready to figure out the remaining piece, finding a way to make it happen financially. This is where Rick became a great new partner. Paul said this is where Rick really stepped in and took over. “Rick has done a ton of work securing some good sponsors for us to ease the burden...” Rick looked at it more like a team effort, “We had the idea of doing an article for a UK magazine called Cycling Plus as they sometimes feature races a little outside the norm of the standard UK race or Mountain bike scene…after we got the ok to do an article we had to think of as theme…we wanted to use as many British products as possible to showcase what we have over here and managed to get Brooks Saddles and Halo wheels and Tyres on board..” he continued “We struggled to get a UK bike maker to help but as luck would have it Salsa UK stepped in and gave us the Vaya to race…so big thanks to Pat at Ison distribution who sorted that out for us... We also had help from “Eat Natural “who are a UK based energy bar maker and “ Bounce “ who also make Protein balls for recovery post trainin….” With a plan in place and support from a variety of businesses Paul and Rick are ready to make things happen. So the plan is to fly in to Wichita the Thursday before the race and

Welcome Dirty Kanza Fans and Participants!

Lyon Co. Micro Brew Leader Stop in to collect Paul Errington’s Trading card. 20 | Dirty Kanza 200

He’s from Newcastle & we have their beer.

Flint Hills Low Price Leader

spend a long weekend in Emporia before heading out to other adventures. But as can be imagined, it’s one thing to travel across the U.S. to take part in a race, it’s another thing entirely to travel to another continent. As the magazine was getting ready to head to press, Rick was still hoping that everything would work out, but he couldn’t guarantee it. He explained it pretty simply, “Motor racing for a job makes things a little difficult sometimes.” I assured him that the riders and fans would still be interested in his story and we would understand if something threw a kink into his plans. Hopefully as you sit there and read this, you can look across the Granada Theatre and see Rick with Paul, ready to give it their best to become part of a select group of riders that can claim to be finishers of the Dirty Kanza! *The DK200 has had riders from Canada compete before, but this will be the first International competitors from outside of North America.


Dirty Kanza 200 | 21


Girl Power By Wendy Davis (aka Sasha)

22 | Dirty Kanza 200

I was robbed in Florence, Kansas last year. Well, not of any personal belongings, but robbed of my pride and sweet victory. A ten percent chance was all Mother Nature needed to throw her weight around and ruin my day. Corey Case, of Team Red Wheel, and I had just left checkpoint two with high hopes of

getting to checkpoint three well under the cutoff. Out of nowhere it starts to sprinkle. Are you kidding me? This was one factor I had not planned on. Damn, you were right honey, I should have grabbed the rain jacket. After a few minutes, our bike tires began taking on the clay-like mud, making it impossible to pedal. Cleaning the ick was unproductive, as we were on an eight mile road of this ridiculous sludge. The sun is still shining as it begins to rain much harder and what was a beautiful day unfolds into something scary. There are no trees to take cover, no ditches to lay down in, absolutely nowhere to hide as Mother Nature is flexing her muscles. The rain is accompanied by loud thunder and

lightning. The hail is also noteworthy, as it left behind several marks. As quickly as the storm came in, it cleared out. The sun came out as if nothing happened while we waited for the Red Wheel crew to collect us. They were having difficulty maneuvering the car because of the deteriorating road conditions. Corey and I were disappointed, but would live to bike another day. An ending like this is hard to swallow. The seventh pedaling of the Dirty Kanza will be held on Saturday, June 2nd 2012. This one-day event, also known as the DK200, begins and ends right in front of the historic Granada Theatre located in downtown Emporia, Kansas. The course will take cyclists through the beautiful Flint Hills area, via gravel and other minimally maintained farm roads. Adding to the adventure, the race is entirely self-supported, however, the riders are allowed to accept help from their support crews at the designated checkpoints. There are three checkpoints located roughly 60 miles apart. If you make the cut-off times, you are free to proceed to the next point. This 200 mile endurance race has gained tremendous popularity since its birth in 2006. What began with 38 fearless fellas, has exploded to 485 registered riders. Can you believe that? The DK Lite is offered to those who want to experience a smaller taste of Kansas gravel, giving the rider a 20 or 50 mile option. If you combine the participants of these two events, over 600 butts will be on bikes for the day. The DK Lite has 150 participants registered, with the possibility of more since you can sign up the day of. It takes a brave soul to sign up for a race of this magnitude. A high level of commitment is essential for race day success. It almost becomes a job, figuring out how to complete this superhuman feat. This race is not only about pedaling a bike. The Dirty Kanza is a


be riding gravel behind you, next to you, and past you. There are 27 female riders registered to take a crack at the DK200. These women wear several hats in their lives as wives, mothers, bread winners, college students, professional mountain bikers, and writers. Jim Cummins, the races cofounder, must have been impressed with the number women entered, and offered us a women specific shirt. How cool is that? In 2007 the Dirty Kanza retained its first woman, Leslie Hiemenz-Holton. Leslie pedaled just over 22 hours to her victory. By 2010, four more women had added this race to their resume. In 2011, four women rode the storm out to complete the DK200. To date, only nine solo women have seen the DK finish line. This year there are four returning finishers. Yup, these four female athletes are coming back for more. “Why” you ask? Keep reading. I had the pleasure of finding that out and more. This will be Barbie Millers third year in attendance at the Dirty Kanza. Her first attempt in 2010 resulted in a DNF, (did not finish) when her only light broke. Last year, she was co-pilot on a tandem with Lance Andre. She did not have any knowledge of tandem riding until the day before the race. Is it hard to ride a tandem? Apparently it is not as easy as it looks. Barbie and Lance, who had just met, had to plan their attack in a short period of time. She was quickly fitted to the bike and able to experience a 30 minute cruise. Race day they had to fight through body cramps, the heat and fierce wind just like everyone else. The duo came in first overall in just under 13 hours! They had even managed to finish before the storm hit. This year, Barbie is riding solo for Mesa Cycles in St. Louis MO. Her training is taking place while she carries a full boat of college classes,

“When I told my Mom I was doing this race, she said something like “Do they even let girls sign up?” Well, of course they do. This is an ‘equal opportunity’ day of suffering.”

Dirty Kanza 200 | 23

like a puzzle with many pieces, and training on the bike is only one small piece. The number of training miles will vary; however, whether you are at the front or the back of the pack, there are similar variables everyone needs to figure out. Throughout your training you will select your weapon (bike) of choice, a set of bomb proof tires, and the fuel/food combo that will power you to the finish. How you will carry the required gear, as much water as possible, and food, also needs to be researched. Beyond prepping your body for battle, you must also prepare your mind. The mind tells your body what to do, and therefore, has to be stronger than the body. Not only that, you need to condition both mind and body for the weather. Kansas has a reputation of being incredibly windy, hot and humid, especially in June. In 2011, the temp reached 103 degrees, complete with 40mph wind gusts. At times, it was hard to keep a positive attitude. These gravel roads are not lined with trees. In fact, there is virtually no shade to relax in. I watched several scorched riders fighting for shade under a lone tree about fifty miles in. It was quite a sight. The last, but equally important piece of the puzzle is picking your support crew. In fact, you will be disqualified if you show up without one. These special volunteers need to be at the checkpoints before you and able to give you the fuel, gear, and attitude necessary to reach the next checkpoint. With all these pieces in place, you just need to show up with your game face. When I told my Mom I was doing this race, she said something like “Do they even let girls sign up?” Well, of course they do. This is an ‘equal opportunity’ day of suffering. So, watch out fellas. Here come the girls. Not just any girls, but fiercely strong, highly capable women will


24 | Dirty Kanza 200

as she has plans to graduate in December. I asked her why she keeps coming back to the DK, she simply said “Jim Cummins”. In 2011, Betsy Shogren, from Morgantown WV, finally convinced her husband Gunnar (Nars) that they should give the DK a try. For the last few years, they were participating in the NUE series races and getting ready for the Tandumb Nationals. They would be riding this event solo, even though Betsy told me that winning the 2009 Tandumb Nationals was ” way more fun than winning anything by myself ”. They arrived in Kansas, with Gunners’ 79 year old mother as their support. Race day arrived and her day was pretty uneventful until she found her husband struggling, severely dehydrated as he walked along the gravel. It took him 15 minutes to convince her that he would be fine. She proceeded to checkpoint three. Behaving as any worried wife would, she waited 45 minutes at the checkpoint and then stopped her race to go find him. Amazingly, Nars managed to make it to checkpoint three under his own power. He encouraged Betsy to keep moving and finish. After all, he was safe in his mothers’ hands, right? As she pedaled away, she looked over her shoulder to see him “spread-eagled in the parking lot.” Betsy, representing Team Path Finder WV, finished 9th overall in just under 15 hours. She also received the David Pals Sportsmanship award, a beautiful work of art by Eric Benjamin, for her actions during the race. Becky is unsure

what this race holds for her since quitting her job and returning to school has impacted her training. She is returning for “the sheer vastness of the views and the sky…I feel lucky to be alive and experiencing it”. Annie Fox, a dental hygienist, residing in Evergreen CO, was the second woman to finish in 2011. This was her first time at the DK. She is no stranger to endurance events and competes in 12 and 24 hour mountain bike races, 100 milers, and has done 7 Ironman’s. She finished the race alongside her husband Andy with a time of 16:15. She is both “nervous and excited” to return solo this year. Her husband is facing his second back surgery and will serve as her support crew. She

plans to keep her support stops short, that was a key to her previous finish. Her training has been compromised, whereas, Andy was also her riding partner. Annie loves the grass roots feel of this race as the community comes together to support all of the racers and their families. She is also in awe of the fireflies that come out at night. “We just don’t get that in CO”. Rebecca Rusch, pro mountain biker/firefighter, from Ketchum ID will be on the DK start line too. She bears the nickname “The Queen of Pain” for competing in and winning many endurance cycling races. She has been crowned a world champion mountain biker six times and won the Leadville 100 three times, which she holds the women course record. Rebecca has not competed in a race similar to the DK. She has experience in many 12-24 hour mountain bike races, so the length of time on the bike will not be a problem for her. She was goaded into this race by Dan Hughes. As payback, she plans to ride his wheel as much as possible and steal his water. Well, that sounds fair to me. She races for Specialized and has chosen her Specialized Crux to take on the gravel. Even though she has traveled all over the globe and filled three passports, this will be her first visit to Kansas, what a memorable one it will be. Emily Brock, a 2010 finisher, from Asheville NC, was also caught in the wicked weather of DK2011. She waited the storm out with the


Adventure Monkey himself, Eric Benjamin, and a guy named Malcolm. They indulged in a box of fried chicken by the road after the storm blew over. “Racing is always about the adventure and the memories”’ she said. Emily has had her nose to the grindstone finishing her book. Her focus has been on work and she is unsure if she will be in attendance for DK2012. Don’t count her out as I know she wants to be there. The outcome of this race is not determined by who is the strongest or the fastest. A lot can happen on a bike in 200 miles. Come out and cheer the men and women riding gravel around Kansas on Saturday, June 2nd. It will be an exciting day of riding, watching everyone working toward the same goal, experiencing the same struggles. To finish the DK200 is HUGE and you can brag about it forever. My trusty Kona JTS and I will be returning to the scene of the crime. Having been robbed in 2011, I am coming back to get what is mine, revenge on the DK course. I have honed my fighting skills and will not go quietly. I have made friends with Mother Nature and am confident it will be a wonderfully hot and humid, windy day. I have no doubts that we will roll across the finish line together. And, just in case Mother Nature has something up her sleeves, I will pack extra” Superior Attitude and State of Mind”. Can someone have a Delicious Ice Cold Pabst ready for me at the finish line?

Dirty Kanza 200 | 25


26 | Dirty Kanza 200

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ERIC BENJAMIN

Proud Sponsor of the 2012 Dirty Kanza

Good Luck!

702 Commercial • 620-340-0620

Dirty Kanza 200 | 27

Welcomes all the DK Riders!


Adventure Monkey and the Pablove Foundation team up to do the Dirty Kanza 200 — By Eric Benjamin

28 | Dirty Kanza 200

Adventure Monkey is all about gravel grinding and photography. Over the past few years we have been searching for a cause we believe in and can get behind. The Pablove Foundation is a perfect fit. I first learned of The Pablove Foundation on a bike-packing trip through the Central California Mountains in 2010. After our 300+ beautiful miles of bike-packing through the mountains (and some time to clean up) we met at the Pablove Foundation for a benefit ceremony. After meeting the people and seeing what the Pablove Foundation was all about, I knew it was something I wanted to support. The mission of The Pablove Foundation is to fund pediatric cancer research and advances in treatment, educate and empower cancer families, and improve the quality of life for children living with cancer through hospital play, music and arts programs. The Pablove Foundation is named after Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz, the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. Pablo was 6-years old when he lost his valiant year long battle with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a rare form of childhood cancer. Imbued with his spirit and inspired by his strength, Pablove is dedicated to the daily, global fight against childhood cancer and the suffering that comes in its wake.

The Pablove Foundation fights on in order to amplify one simple message: kids get cancer too Pablove Across America, their signature long-distance bike ride, raises awareness of childhood cancer in cities nationwide every October. Along the way, riders visit local children’s hospitals and communities participate in fund-raising and awareness events. Their 2011 ride traveled from Milwaukee to New Orleans. In 2010, cyclists rode over 1,400 miles from Seattle to Los Angeles. The Pablove peloton joins their Team Pablove runners, triathletes, mountain bikers and others


committed to using healthy living and athletic activity as a means to fight childhood cancer with The Pablove Foundation. Their Pedaling for Pablove kids’ bike rides, True Pablove Valentine’s Family Celebration, and fundraisers like golf tournaments, benefit concerts, and unique grassroots efforts round out The Pablove Foundation’s annual events. But there is another activity that The Pablove Foundation hosts that really caught my attention and touched my heart. That program is called Pablove Shutterbugs. Pablove Shutterbugs teaches children living with cancer to develop their creative voice through the art of photography. Each child receives hands-on experience through a mix of one-on-one weekly instruction and group classes in an educational setting. The children also receive their own camera equipment, which is theirs to keep upon completion of the program. Once a year they celebrate the students’ photographic achievements and raise awareness of childhood cancer with a Pablove Shutterbugs group show at an art gallery. For some parents the images their children capture in this program help them understand how their child sees life during this difficult time. For other parents these are the last images that they will treasure after cancer takes their children from them. Cancer is a terrible disease and puts children through things children shouldn’t have to go through. This program gives them an outlet to express what they are feeling. This outlet is photography and is something near and dear to my own heart. To help out, Adventure Monkey and The Pablove Foundation have teamed up to do two things to help raise money for the Shutterbugs program. First, we put together a team of riders that will ride the Dirty Kanza 200 this year.

Dirty Kanza 200 | 29


Adrian Lewis Solano

30 | Dirty Kanza 200

Each rider has a donation page to raise money for the Pablove Shutterbugs program. I had to undergo unexpected open heart surgery to repair a damaged mitral valve but I am still raising money at adventuremonkey. stayclassy.org. This money will go to help keep The Pablove Shutterbugs program going. Secondly, we put together a program called Pablove Grub especially for the riders of this year’s Dirty Kanza 200. There are riders that wanted to attempt the DK200, but didn’t have a crew to support them at the checkpoints of the race. For a fee, Pablove Grub becomes the support crew for these riders. Pablove Grub will either carry the riders’ gear or they will provide all the food and water for the rider. This service has made the DK200 possible to out of town (and this year out of the country) riders. All the money raised will once again go to supporting the Pablove Shutterbugs program. Adventure Monkey’s core is built on photography and cycling. I believe photography helps people see the world through others eyes. It is a form of self expression that anyone can practice. And it is a form of art that can brings awareness to the world. This can be awareness of the beauty of the natural world or it can be awareness of the difficult world of childhood cancer. Photography brings what other people see and feel to people that would never be aware of these things any other way. We will be riding and raising money in remembrance of one of Emporia’s own that was taken from us. Adrian Lewis Solano was 13-years old when cancer took his life in February of last year. Adrian’s mother Sandy and father David will be helping out with Pablove Grub at this year’s Dirty Kanza 200 along with some members of Emporia’s own roller derby girls from the Veteran City Rollers.

Newman Express Care Convenient After-Hours Care Without an Appointment Care provided includes: • Treatment of minor medical conditions • Sore throats • Earaches • Lacerations • Sprains/strains • Minor on-the-job injuries • Physicals • Colds/congestion/flu

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Welcome Riders!

Dirty Kanza 200 | 31

Emporia’s Hit Music Station


32 | Dirty Kanza 200

DK 200 Magazine 2012  

The official Magazine of the Dirty Kanza 200. The 200 mile bike race is North America's premier ultra distance gravel grinder.

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