Mile 0-50: Police escort out of town to gravel. Then, I rode with the front group in two pacelines for about 5 miles until the top guys went off the front and we started into hills. We splintered into lots of smaller groups and I yo-yo'd between different packs. At about 20 we started into the meandering roads you see from the turnpike. I hooked up with a rider named Randy at about mile 40 and we rode to mile 65 together - enjoyed his company, and he kept me sane over the roughest terrain of the ride. We had cool, grey skies, and very little breeze. Checkpoint at Casey's in Madison, Kansas at about 9:15.
Mile 50-100: Took off with a group of 5. Randy and I stayed together for the next 16, or so, the other riders fell back. It was in this area that I wrecked twice. Only one fall really hurt. Really rough stuff, and the dirt in my Look pedals meant that I just couldn't unclip fast enough to get a foot down. We passed several water crossings up to the crankset, and I even bashed my large chainring on a rock through this area. Randy started fading and encouraged me to keep going. About the same time another rider named Warren and I rode together. We took turns pulling on what was likely the longest and hardest climb of the entire route. We went about 3 miles to the top of long ridge in the middle of the flint hills, into a now 15 mph southerly headwind. It was good to go tandem. Warren really had it for hills, and finished a good 150 yards ahead of me at the top. We cruised together for a couple of miles recooping, then we caught a tailwind. He was on a single speed, and was geared low enough that I just eased ahead. I probably overworked the last 25 or so into Cottonwood Falls, but the tailwind made riding flow. Made the 100 mile mark at about 1:30 pm.
Pit Stop: My awesome family was there with a terrific variety of food. Clara, the 4 year-old, cleaned up a scratch on my elbow, while Elliot, 11, and Naomi, 9, made sure the Camelback and water bottles were full. Cindy even had a camping mat out so I could lay down briefly. It was as refreshing to see them as it was to refuel.
Miles 100-150: Almost called it quits. I'd taken a longish break and Warren had caught me. We left C.F. together, and we'd talked about working together into the wind until mile 119 when we'd have another push from the tailwind. That worked well, until he dropped me at 106. I just didn't have the power to push hills. I was looking at 13 miles of windy rollers and my family was probably still in Cottonwood Falls, able to take me home and off my aching "contact point". I felt completely empty. I told myself that if I still felt like crap at 119, I'd bag it and head back. Lunch kicked in, and I started riding very conservatively. I refused to pedal if I was going 17 mph or faster, and I wouldn't go under my own power over 15 mph. I felt pretty shaky and my confidence was gone, but I kept pedaling. I met a guy named Chris at about 135 who was walking with his bike, after he'd had a blow out and cut his tire. Stopped for a while, helped him repair and gave him my last spare tube. This turned out to bite me in the rear later. He's a good guy and I'm glad to have met him. Other riders saved me later in the race, so it all comes around. Shortly thereafter we got on pavement for about 12 miles back into C.F. for the last rest-stop. No idea what time I was there. Maybe 7:30 pm.
Miles 150-200: Left C.F. by myself, but there were several cyclists there. I had fueled heavily and refilled everything. I was still riding carefully, but feeling stronger. Beautiful sunset. I rode by myself for the first 25 miles, when I missed a turn and got an additional 5 miles in. As I backtracked I got to the turn with 3 other riders, and we rode together into the dusk. My light just sucked, so I stopped to fix it and lost them. The farther I rode, the faster I got, though, and by mile 185 had caught them again. We picked up 6 additional riders in the next 3 miles and as a group rode 10 strong for a few miles. Two of us came off the front and we were really cruising. I couldn't believe how good I felt, and we were rolling smoothly, efficiently, and getting faster. I was ready for a fast 5 miles and a sprint finish. By 195 we had at least 90 seconds on the pack behind us. I know, because I had time to check it out when I got my FLAT TIRE. It was a complete blow-out pinch flat. And as I mentioned earlier, I had given away my last spare tube. Plus, I didn't know that Slime filled tubes don't hold patches well because cleaning them in the dark doesn't get that Slime off, so the glue won't stick and you have to fix another flat at mile 196!!!!!!
Two really nice guys stopped, took pity on me, gave me a tube, filled it with their CO2 and took off. I put the wheel back on the bike, and hammered in at well over 20 mph, 20 min. down, and at least 10 places less than I might otherwise have finished. My son said I pulled in at 17 hrs, 27 min.
The "contact point" was hamburger. I was filthy and smelly and elated. The goal really was to finish, and we got that done. I'm still buzzing on the experience. My lower back and shoulders are a little stiff, but I'm not sore anywhere except the saddle area.
I could type for pages about this experience. I'm eager to see results on the DK web page, and to see the photos of the event. More on this over the next couple of days. I'm headed off to work and back into the real world.