Bonner Springs cyclists compete in grueling Dirty Kanza race
On the dirt gravel roads of the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas, hundreds of cyclists participated in the annual Dirty Kanza race, a solo self-supported course in which riders can choose to ride a variety of distances.
The 100 mile half-pint race began and finished in Emporia on June 1 and is intended for riders beginning endurance cycling. The event has all of the same features as the Dirty Kanza 200-mile ride, but is a shorter distance.
The race dates back to 2006 when 38 riders rode through the notorious Flint Hills.
This year, the race drew nearly 1,000 participants. Typically, a participants’ average finishing time is roughly more than 11 hours, with the final group of cyclists crossing the finish line after 22 hours.
Bonner Springs residents Steve Brack and Forrest Brandt participated in the 100-mile half-pint race. Brack finished in 66th place with a time of 9 hours, 55 minutes. Brandt did not finish the race.
“I rode with a friend and went at a fairly slow pace because he had a knee injury,” Brack said. “The gravel roads can make it tougher for the riders to avoid crashes, so it can be a bit of a different challenge.”
Support crews and checkpoints were made available to the riders. However, each participant was required to bring their own support crew. The crews could not follow them throughout the event, and could only help if people abandoned the course.
Each checkpoint also provided a detailed map leading to later sections of the course. Brack said the maps were helpful, and the checkpoints had plenty of replenishment for everyone.
“They provided almost everything you needed,” Brack said. “We carried most of our food, but some people chose to have others carry it for them. Support crews also help a lot if you have someone at all of the checkpoints. A lot of people I rode with were mentally fried after the second checkpoint.”
Brack also said the race is a big mental challenge rather than physical. He said he had only done occasional 50-mile rides beforehand, but it did not affect his overall stamina.
Riders should also be cautious of what kinds of tires they choose to ride with, as it is a key aspect to surviving the event. The razor sharp flint can easily blow out tires, especially lightweight ones.
Brack said he started at 6 a.m., and it took him 10 hours to finish. He also said most people leave the event later on to attend other festivities taking place.
“Some people showed up later when there wasn’t a lot of people at the finish line. It can be a lonely place then.” Brack said. “I was definitely relieved when I finished.”
The Dirty Kanza will return to Emporia on May 31, 2014.