Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dirty Kanza 200 - the crew perspective

Fear Rothar announced back in the winter that one of his big targets for the year was to be Dirty Kanza, a 200 mile gravel road race, based in the Flint Hills of Kansas. This was to be the premiere event for the Ride Studio Cafe Endurance team, with their new Seven Cycles bikes, with SRAM gear,  Clement tires and Rapha clothes.

DK was on my calendar too, but only marked as a weekend where I'd be on my own at home and outnumbered by demanding cats. Matt, David and John would be off racing and Mo would be crewing. But then Matt finally finished off his eight years of work on his PhD this spring, and decided it might be nice to actually attend his graduation. And after all the sacrifices one must make when a partner takes eight years in pursuit of a PhD, Mo wanted to be there too. So this is how I found myself crewing at DK200.

To be honest, it did get me out of riding a brutally hot 300km in Massachusetts that weekend, so it turned out not to be such a great sacrifice afterall- that is until I saw all the glorious photos of the scenery from the pro photographers out on the course, and decided I may want to ride it next time.

Fear Rothar has absolutely committed to getting his post up this weekend about riding the event, as well as the post about his awesome new Seven Cycles bike. I will leave him chained to a computer, while I go out riding on Saturday to ensure this!

We got home from DROVES late Monday night, and it almost felt like going to work when I had to set an alarm to get up and out the door for my Tuesday ride. At least the weather was nice, and we had a great ride, since that would be my last ride for almost a week. Wednesday was non-stop, with errands, concluding with a massive bike packing party at Matt and Mo's. Mo loaned us her double bike case and wheel case, allowing Matt to very efficiently pack John's 5 day old bike and David's brand spanking new bike- built less than 24 hours before - with one set of wheels into the single case - for one $75 baggage charge. The 4 wheel case was within the baggage size limits - and would go for free - Southwest still lets two bags go for free! This allowed us also to take a third (Matt's) set of wheels.  We shoehorned this and two more suitcases into the back of the Tardis - uh I mean Honda Fit - which we planned to take to the airport the next morning.

I hope the rental car has more room.
And just in case you are wondering, we did get a rental car just large enough for three people and all this gear.

Anyway, this post is from the crew perspective - and it's going to be a bit stream of conscious style, as I've compiled tweets, texts and various photos I took along the way. If you followed @fixie_pixie on twitter over the weekend, you'll already have seen most of this.

sevencycles coming back together for endurance team at

The next morning, we tried to find breakfast. It was surprisingly difficult to find anything remotely healthy..

Slim or maybe more to the point, not so slimming choices for breakfast in Emporia 

before we headed over to registration where we spied quite a few interesting bikes

A few bikes at checkin

Knitted bike at
We wandered around downtown Emporia and found the bike shop, and the most amazingly calm shop cat...

Don't tell Cocoa and Izzi .
Next up, the lads headed out for a shakedown ride, while the crew chief got down to business, filling the gas tank... Well once I found the latch there in the door to open the gas door!

Rental cars! Where is the latch for the gas door?
Then it was off to Walmart for supplies...

I bought a large cheap cooler, which I left by the ice machine at the hotel after the event, marked with the word FREE, in hopes it wouldn't completely go to waste. I also got cereal, yogurt, milk and juice for breakfast, as well as water, a few salty things like chips and v-8, bananas, some caffeinated drinks, water, peanut butter, bread, and some beefy jerky for me. The boys had brought out various ProBars and Bonk Breaker Bars, Scratch Labs mix, and Perpetuem mix. But my experience crewing over the years, is that the rider will grow tired of what they've got and ask for a sandwich, or when it's hot they just want salt. And of course the crew needs munchies. Whatever was left at the end would be eaten over the next day. I've watched @the_wilcox eat. I had no worries about throwing stuff out!

Anyway, while I was shopping, the boys were busy saving a turtle...

I headed back downtown, where I saw this jeep returning from doing some course marking...

An indication of course conditions?
 I found more crew supplies...

Now I'm ready to crew.

And as I walked through town, it became obvious that the whole town welcomes DK!

Emporia, KS welcomes

RSC Endurance@RSC_endurance:
Just in time for , welcome to the RSC Endurance team Twitter page. We are , &

Follow along with the team at the with LIVE satellite tracking:

Matt and Mo's spot tracker was very helpful for me to have an idea of when to be on alert at the checkpoints, as well as letting friends and family and fans watch their progress throughout the day. Definitely recommended for events like this where crew meets riders at designated points, rather than following.

Start of . team looking sharp in kit


doing some tweeting of their own!

team rolling at . Thx

Then it was off to the coffee shop for me - a few moments to relax, before driving down to Madison

pamela blalock@fixie_pixie:
Loitering over coffee before heading of to see team at ckpt 1.

The first checkpoint in Madison.

Collin, extraordinary crew for Dan Hughes and Rebecca Rusch, with a prime spot at the corner by check-in. Experience shows!

Hurry up and wait! Crew At checkpoint 1. Come on boys

Follow today, she's crewing for team at Dirty Kanza in Kansas today & sending updates. Good luck team!

halfway to first ck at . Rolling on tires

in with the first group. looking strong. making sad noises. But in and out quickly

Less than 10 seconds at checkpoint 1, as the boys rolled up, tossed out bottles, got fresh ones and more bars, and picked up the map for the next leg. Fear Rothar said he felt awful and The Wilcox should feel free to roll on. A few texts back and forth between me and MM Racing and we both knew that Fear Rothar would get his mojo in the coming miles and the lads would work together as a team. No worries! 

Next up was the long drive to Checkpoint 2. This involved heading back to Emporia and taking the interstate down to Cassoday. Somehow when I created the GPS track, I doubled back on myself, so as I was driving down, the GPS told me to exit at Cattle Pens - what an interesting name for a town, I thought. When I got to the exit, it was a dirt road off to actual cattle pens! And then the gps route headed back to Emporia. A quick check of the map showed I should keep heading south! Good thing I didn't just blindly follow the GPS!

The wind was pretty strong driving down, and the SUV was putting up a fight. Poor lads. Unlike New England, there is no shelter from the wind here!

Yippee. I got to the ck before them! According to spot, the team are about 75 miles in. It was v windy on the highway.

riding may not be easier, but it's got to be less stressful than crewing.

The drive was long and after they made such good time to the first control, I was a bit stressed about getting to the second control in time. Once there, I checked the Spot Tracker and realized I had plenty of time. They were fighting the headwind, and some hills now, giving me lots of time to mix up bottles and prepare their musettes for the next leg.  I was all set and hanging out by the check-in tent with the two bags.  Now I could just tweet and check the spot, and take photos and tweet some more until they came in...

The lads are easy to spot in their red jerseys from . . Keeping them cool.

The hot off the torch being ridden by the team are scorching up the road.

team on with hydraulic disk brakes and 11 speed on tires at . Soon at ck 2

Too many devices. Touching the screen on the macbook air only results in fingerprints!

Air for maps, iPad for internet, music and spot tracker, phone for GPS, photos, tweeting, texting and phoning!
Yes, I did have loads of devices to both keep me entertained and in touch with the outside world. Somehow I thought I might have time to work on the blog, but I had too much nervous energy to do that. Obviously I did a lot of tweeting from this checkpoint. I also talked with lots of other crews and some local folks who had come out to cheer on the riders.

66F and 22mph wind in Cassoday.

1 Jun
Essential crew supplies
I even got a retweet from Jelly Belly Cycling on that one. I wonder if I can get some help with my addiction - not a cure, just a bulk supply of cinnamon jelly beans!

Positive thoughts to and at , nearing Cassoday

1 Jun
Wispy clouds at . A mild breeze.
Mild breeze wasn't quite the truth. It was pretty brutal - and either a headwind or crosswind for about 75% of the time. At least they's pick up a few minutes of relief right after this checkpoint before turning back into it.

Dan wastes no time getting through Checkpoint #2
There was a wee bit of confusion after the first three came in. Someone asked one of the checkpoint folks if everyone would come there, and she said only red and yellow that green and orange would go up the road. What? They don't all use the same checkpoint? Musettes in hand I ran up to the other parking lot, but saw no red tent, so I ran back down. The gal then said, they check-in here, but we send them up there to see their crews. Arrg.  Here was where red and yellow had an advantage over others, since the orange and green lot was about 1/4 mile away off route. I was just planning to swap bottles at the check-in tent. If they needed more, they could go to the car, but this was to be quick. Fortunately I hadn't missed them while running back and forth. 

team rockin the kit at

However, as we were swapping out bottles, we saw the train crossing the route up ahead. It was a long one, so they spent a wee bit more time, drinking from the extra bottles and took a few seconds to apply some more chain lube. Then they rolled out as they saw the end of the train. Fear Rothar reported he was feeling much better (as we had predicted). But he had harsh words for the wind!

about 5 minutes behind 3 lads out front. Thru ck 2

feeling better. Wicked windy. will pull next leg!

Wicked windy at . Cool and cloudy now too

guys say please and thank you. So easy to crew for and

I kid you not. While I heard other stressed out riders bark at their crew, these guys are gracious and polite - an absolute pleasure to crew for them!

Next up, the drive to the third checkpoint. This was short, easy and not at all stressful. I pulled in and found a parking spot right across from the tent. I washed bottles, and refilled the musettes. Next time I must remember extra water to wash bottles, as well as paper towels to help clean them off before putting them back in the cooler. I continued tracking their progress with the spot tracker. I also noticed the temperature had dropped, and it was getting overcast. The winds just seemed to get stronger though.

spot tracker says are halfway through this leg

3:09 first rider in ck 3 at
Dan Hughes wastes no time, as he is in and out of the third control in a few seconds.

2nd rider 3:23 at ck 3
Jay Petevary comes through checkpoint 2 in 2nd - also without wasting any time.

3:29 thru ck 3 in 3rd

Next up was my boys in 3rd, after another delay with a long train crossing and a puncture. Apparently a few folks got lost on this leg due to a missing course marker. The approach to the control was a bit confusing as well. 

3:54 group with Rebecca

Send tailwinds to and for final 50 miles. Rolling on with and

Guess what direction the team are going right now?

crew can relax now. It's up to the lads who are looking mighty fine in their lightweight red jerseys...

Red jerseys match the red components. Go and on those fast tires

And let's not forget those awesome frames. Thx

Hang on lads. The tailwind is coming up soon.

Of course the wind is dying down now. . rockin' round Kansas gravel roads
Doctor . The force behind team. Thanks for giving me this great opportunity today

Doctor attended his graduation... Priorities... Thanks for all the tips today.

More cowbell.... More tailwinds

Send and all the energy you can. In the home stretch.

C'mon more cowbell

and in Americus. Flat and tailwind. Gogogogogogo

6:03 Dan Hughes wins again. Looks too fresh

Less than 3 miles for

Crossing I-35

6:22 second place - Jay Petevary

And one minute later the lads came across in 3rd

declares intent to ride tandem next year!

V. grateful thanks to@fixie_pixie for crewing!

a pleasure to crew for such gracious riders. And thanks for the short day.

Endurance tweeting... A new sport

Congrats Team 3rd at Dirty Kanza ! (David Wilcox) & (John Bayley) flew with Clement MSO 40s

well represented at

Happy to be done

Kansas rocked their world

: Brothers in arms. and cross the finish line together (tied for third overall) at

in the books. & I finished tied for 3rd place overall. Help me raise $5,000 for

And again, thank you to all the sponsors
Ride Studio Cafe
Seven Cycles


  1. Endurance tweeting. Love it! Your guys were lucky to have such a good crew in you!

  2. Wonderful post. Thank you!

  3. Wonderful post...Thank you!

  4. Fun read. Quick read.

    But chaining someone to his chair does not seem to have worked ... or did you "falling over" interfere on that front?


    1. Yes, the new titanium hardware that I had installed in my shoulder led me to free John from his chair. But have no worries, he's back in front of the keyboard!

  5. just reading that was exhausting. great write up!