Surely as the registration window opened - and, as it turns out, quickly closed - the adjacent forums and email lists, silent for months, began to buzz with proclamations of new goals, aspirations, and stories from years past. What for, one might ask? Isn't it just a ride? Video, blog-post, photos have come close while in concert with one another; yet, short of the actual experience ... which, I still do not have (at this writing) ...no amount of words or photos can truly convey what I'm on about here, what I've only yet witnessed from the seat of the support car. I have so much to say, though none of it adequate.
As the Dirty Kanza "registration weekend" closes out and we all return to work for another dreary Monday, there's little doubt as to the nature of our daydreams. Conference calls, mundanity, and chilly weather.. who could be blamed for thinking ahead to June, for planning, and for dreaming?
For the naysayer, for those that will poo-poo the ever-increasing entry fee or the "flash-in-the-pan" gravel culture and the marketing "machine" that simply wants to sell us all yet another single-tasker bicycle... no, no, no. Stop. Come see it, come FEEL it, and if you don't come away changed even a little, then make your arguments. No, the DK is indeed something special. I won't get the precise numbers correct here, that's not why I'm writing this; but, the 100-mile option was FULL and closed-out to entries in around 30 minutes. The complete 1,900-rider combined field for all ages and distances hit its cap and closed-out barely over two hours from its opening at 8AM central. There *IS* something about this event ... certainly the thousands who tried and failed to get in on time will tell you, with regret and sadness, that this event is not "just another ride". Ask me how absolutely livid I am with myself that I, again, am not riding. Its doubtful I'll be able to convey my feelings without first finding a wall to punch.
Who can dream? We all can... for those that can't quite conjure the reasons to ride, the feelings... read below, a guest post from good friend and friend of the show Steven WIlliams. Toward the end of a string of back-n-forth emails on the subject, this gem captured my attention and, IMHO, best captures the event: in brief moments, in thoughts that leave one's mind to linger with hope and possibility, casting imagery onto one's mind's eye that which paragraphs and pages cannot. Brevity once again eludes me, as evidenced by the myriad words I've already expelled into the ether in excess of the Steven's assessment below. Please enjoy.
Words & photo, and the permission to use them here,
by Steven Williams:
The beers the night before the race.
Finding a new place for a good dinner.
Curling up in a sleeping bag in the back of the car or a full camper of riders hoping for as much anxious sleep as possible.
The leisurely pre-dawn ride into town.
The crowded, noisy yet silent start line.
The sound of a thousand cleats clicking in.
The pavement giving way to the chattering gravel.
Being surrounded by a thousand riders.
They come, they go.
We bridge, we fall back.
Clouds hanging seemingly motionless on a deep blue inverted sea of sky.
A lonely nature break.
The litter of bottles, cages, pumps, cue sheets, sunglasses lost and trampled by a hundred wheels.
Riders sitting, beaten.
A quick inquiry if they're okay.
Avoiding eye contact because you know that what they have can be contagious.
Look, a town!
Time to go again. The miles won't ride themselves.
Ticking away, the moments that make up the anything but dull day.
All that remains for me is the cowbells at the end, the familiar faces again, the challenge met.
And a pint glass, that won't be empty long.
$140 ain't so bad I suppose.
Thanks, Steven --- simply brilliant!