Quick race report from the Dirty Kanza 200. It was sobering how tough this ride was! I was happy to complete the course in 16 hours and 08 minutes and receive 2nd Place in the Tandem Division. We improved on our previous best time by about one hour (although there were drastic weather differences).
The start was delayed by 30 minutes because of thunderstorm activity and active lightning in all directions. By the time the race started, the rain was done, but it left a wonderful greasy mud on most of the roads for the first 20 miles which played games with chains and derailleurs.
The first 50 miles went great with wide open vistas and good energy. At the halfway point, mile 103, we were feeling the heat and wind. The rest of the day we battled headwinds and increasing fatigue. The hardest part of the race was from 103-160 miles and the final rest stop. This part of the course had steep terrain with lots of up and downs. We were fortunate to have no mechanical troubles or flat tires. We believe in running the biggest possible tire, tubeless, and a relatively low 26 psi but it worked for us. We had no idea, but we were the first tandem on the road until about mile 130 when this young couple came blasting by us on an uphill stretch. Side note: ALL other tandem teams were at least a decade or two younger than us! There was no way we could keep their pace, and they finished about 30 minutes ahead of us.
From the last checkpoint, the terrain was a lot less hilly and we opened it up and joined a paceline with 5 other guys for about 25 miles. With about 10 miles to go, we were feeling good, left the group, and motored ahead thinking they would jump on our wheel but when we looked back nobody came with so we soloed in. What an amazing finish line in Emporia with thousands of people welcoming the riders back!
This race was tough. It was encouraging to see some of the comments on social media from top riders, professionals, and retired pros doing the race for the first time – also attesting to how tough the race was.
We are grateful for good health and safety and now it is time to rest!