I’ve finished rides and races in a number of circumstances—everything from beyond anonymous to in front of a crowd of cheering people. With 30 years of experience to look back on, I can say that the bigger the crowd, the more flash and production at the line, the more satisfying the finish. Don’t get me wrong; I was plenty satisfied winning a race in front of four people, but finishing in front of a crowd with a big finish line and an announcer calling your name out to the crowd helps instill a sense of accomplishment. Yeah, I really loved hearing someone say, “And next is Patrick Brady from Santa Rosa, California!”
RKP reader Don Buttram.
How could I not? Was it not Dale Carnegie who said no sound is sweeter to a person than their own name?
I’m still utterly gobsmacked that Jim Cummins was there at the finish to shake my hand. To say I was elated is to discount how impressed I was. Jim, Lelan and several other members of Dirty Kanza’s inner circle stood there at the end of the finishing chute that entire day, until the 3:00 a.m. cutoff, greeting each and every rider after rolling across the line. You couldn’t get away without a handshake—sometimes a hug—and your obligatory finisher’s glass. They were going to make sure you’d been welcomed home.
The Cyclist’s Menu’s Heidi Rentz being welcomed home by Jim Cummins.
One of the most powerful human experiences, and an ingredient crucial to connecting with others comes when another person validates our experience. It’s confirmation that what we experienced was real and lets us know that someone else has connected with us. And if you doubt that, just live a week with someone who can’t or won’t validate the most basic moments of a day. That’s why it’s nice to have a store clerk say, “I keep hearing how hard that ride is,” but having another finisher alongside you say, “Dooooood, what a day!” means so much more.
Her face says it all.
My new buddy Daniel and I stood alongside the finish chute and watched finishers of the 100 arrive to the biggest cheers they might ever have experienced. The announcer gave us intermittent updates on how close the leaders of the 200 were and it made me realize that a moto with a two-way radio to keep the announcer and assembled crowd apprised of who the leaders were and what the gaps were made sense. I’d have loved to know when the final attack went, and where, and of course, who launched.
Sarah Swallow, of Swallow Bicycle Works, in recovery mode.
Another thought that occurred to me was that it would be fun to give a special award to the last finisher of the 100 who arrives before the winner of the 200, a la the lanterne rouge in the Tour de France.
The difference between the first men finishing the 200 and the remaining 100 finishers was apparent from the moment they came into view. The 200 finishers were flying. But as they largely came in solo, there wasn’t much drama. However, when Alison Tetrick and Amanda Nauman came down the chute the sprint was ferocious. What I didn’t know until Tetrick explained later was that she’d gone off course at the last turn and Nauman got a jump on her. What I saw as a Tetrick unleashing her sprint was actually a sprint she’d started more than 100 meters earlier in a bid just to catch her. Fortunately for Tetrick, she caught Nauman and powered right past her and into the win.
Coach Janel Holcomb as bright and cheery as when she started. Neat trick.
As Daniel and I leaned on the railing I said, “I’ve never seen an event with such a broad spectrum of ability.” On one end you have Ted King, Tour de France finisher. At the other extreme there were people crossing the line for the 100 well into the night, people who I would not have expected would be cyclists. What I hope to accomplish here is the opposite of fat-shaming. I was so impressed to see people who might not describe themselves as athletes finishing the 100. It was an awesome thing to behold. I think about what such an accomplishment can mean in someone’s personal narrative, how they tell their story, how it can shape who they think they are. If there’s a harder event with a more varied collection of cyclists riding it, I need to see it. This was inspiring in a way I’ve never before witnessed.
Big stoke for Alison Tetrick.
There were times when people crossed the line and upon seeing Jim or LeLan they went teary. Heck, I got choked up watching it. There were so many victory salutes that you’d think the event had had 250 different categories. In those victory salutes and tears I see the thing we’re all after, that external experience that takes us somewhere fresh inside.
Almost 1:00 a.m. and riders were utterly elated to finish.
I expected a great event. What I didn’t expect was an experience unlike any other I’ve had. I didn’t expect to look at these images four days later and get choked up. I didn’t expect to feel so much accomplishment at finishing the 100, nor did I expect to register such an intense need to go back for the 200. I’ve got reasons upon reasons for not undertaking a 200-mile ride of any sort. Compressed nerves in my neck are my first dozen. And as much as I tell myself I have nothing to prove, there are still things I want to find out, and I’d like to find out if I can finish the full Dirty Kanza 200 before nightfall, or in awful conditions, before midnight. I’m not sure when, but I’ll be back. I need to.
Postscript: Never have I gone to an event and met so many readers and listeners. To each and every one of you who came up to me and said hi, thanks so much. Thanks for listening, thanks for reading and thanks for being a friend.