I’m in Emporia, Kansas.
Cyclists who specialize in either road or mountain might wonder why. However, for those who do adventure rides, gravel events and the like, there’s little question why. I’m in Emporia to ride Dirty Kanza, which, due to its length, rolling terrain and reputation for destroying bikes and dreams alike has become the grand dame for the unpaved set.
I’m here to do the 100 and, hopefully, shower, grab a bite and make it back to the finish before the winners cross the line for the 200. And to see what this event is all about.
One of the things I’m interested to do is to talk to people who have come from out of state to do the event. I see in mixed-surface events a parallel to triathlon, a pursuit that causes a great many people to make annual pilgrimages to places like the island of Hawaii.
You can be a roadie or a mountain biker for your entire life and never pin on a number. Never. But you’re not really a triathlete until someone inks a number on your arms. It’s not enough to swim, ride and run all in the same day. And yet with triathlon, it’s perfectly fine to race for no reason other than to find out what lies deep within. You needn’t be faster than anyone else to define your day as a success.
Sure, you can ride dirt roads all you want and have a great experience, but going to a place like Emporia is so that you can ride a course you’d never lay out on your own. That has certainly been my experience with events like Old Caz and the Rock Cobbler. I’d wind up lost, bonking and the sun going down as I sat at the base of some tree.
GU Energy athlete and employee Yuri Hauswald, the 2015 winner of Dirty Kanza, and I will be hosting a friendly coffee ride on Friday morning. For the GU Stroopwafel & Coffee Ride we’re meeting at the Emporia Arts Center at 815 Commercial Street, here in Emporia. We’re rolling at 9:00, and when we get back, I’ll be giving a reading of my work.
If you’re here for the event, no matter which distance you’re riding or whether you’re here to ride or support someone else, I hope you’ll join us Friday morning. I’d love to here what brought you here.
And if you’re not here, as always, I love hearing from you. That’s what the comments section is for.