If you’re not jazzed up for this year’s Dirty Kanza, you have 18 weeks to get with the program. Here are three reasons why I’m already in a tizzy to head to Emporia in June.
For one, it’s my chance for a little redemption.
Last year’s course slashed my tire at mile 34, then plucked off my derailleur like a dandelion at mile 34.1. I failed to recognize the severity of the slash, and didn’t boot it, a mistake that cost me all my CO2. And I botched my attempt to convert to single speed. While my teammates Beat the Sun in 2017, I notched an inglorious DNF. This year’s my opportunity to come better equipped to handle mechanical mayhem.
Number two is the race roster.
I can’t believe no one’s promoting the heck out of this fact, but this year’s DK is the first ever to feature the best man at my wedding, one Peter Benjamin Welsch of St. Louis Park, Minn. (This is a tremendous boon, and race organizers are being altogether too modest in keeping quiet about it.) Add a pair of Killeens to the list, and my fun dials up to roughly LEVEL MAGMA.
Free gun show, Emporia, KS, June 2.
And number three is straight-up Lincoln Pride.
The nerdiest among us are aware that DK upped the ante this year from its usual 100- and 200-mile courses. Too many folks were being deprived of the opportunity to race in the darkness of a moonless prairie night. So this year, organizers are test-driving an invitation-only 350-mile “DKXL” course. The XLs depart Friday afternoon, with the aim of overlapping their finish with the 200s Saturday evening.
Only 34 riders received invites. And two of them are Lincolnites. Fifty nerd points if you could’ve named them before they were announced.
They’re the gravel-famous Matt Gersib and Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey.
Gersib, left (Photo, Fat-Bike.com), Godfrey, right (Photo, Eric Benjamin)
I’m proud of Lincoln’s prominent place in gravel cycling. And I’m grateful for the roles they’ve played in that. I didn’t meet them until after I started racing, but it’s fair to assume I may never have started without their influence. If gravel, mountain and road cycling are siblings, gravel is the most approachable and least pretentious. Matt and Corey have helped make it that way. Cheers on them.
I’m eager to watch them roll out Friday afternoon. And if I’m fast enough on Saturday to reach Emporia before they do, it’ll be something special to see them finish.