We have a family reunion in Emporia Kansas every year around the first of June. The invite goes out each December. We all mark it on our calendars. Except Cousin Wintle. He never uses a calendar. He just watches the stars in the sky and knows when to show up...with whiskey for all. We start planning. Where will everyone sleep? Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn...random backyards?
March comes around and things get a little more serious. Who's all coming? Over 2000 people?? Did you accidentally hit "invite all" again?? The Knights, the Brothers Kuat, Rider, Mulreadys Gang, ETown Proud, Madison crew, Riders from the City of Gravel, Wild Wendy and her tutu, Stillwater's loading up the tents, RV's and VW's... Cousin Paul and Gudberg coming over from the fairy tale Lands of 'Eng and 'Ice. Yuri and his band of California misfits. Panda and the Sheek. John and Venny riding their Cantu's up from Texas. Petervary's and Rusch come down from their majestic peaks. Z and Heidi...Mr Shirley himself...all making plans. Too many family members to list...all coming to Emporia Kansas. Land of the Hills of Flint.
Quiet. Silence. See that?? Way out in the distance. A cloud of gravel dust. Coming closer. Quick! Hide the good beer!! Put the bacon away!! A single knock on the front door. Deep breathe. Steady. Open the door. HUGS FOR ALL!! YES!! Welcome to Emporia!! Food! Beer! Rick being inappropriate with all the cousins! Smitty in his rocking chair spinnings tales of glory! JeffY telling anyone who'll listen about how fast he can drop me on climbs.
Uncle Jim stands up and yells...who wants to go on a bike ride?? 206 miles okay??
We sweat. We cuss. We ache. We climb. We help each other. We crank. We get "aero" and we look "so pro". We bask in the glory of the Flint Hills. We get dirty. We give high fives and chest bumps. We take Selfies and we 'Gram. Most of all...we enjoy a day on bikes. We enjoy the day with family. Gravel family.
The ride's over. The Sun was beaten. The Five Timers Club expanded!! The party begins! Biscuits and Gravy!! Bacon!! Burrito's! Beer! Wine!! Sno Cones! ZEBRA CAKES!!!!!! Sweaty, bear hugs. More inappropriateness from Rick. Lawn darts. Croquet. Fire pits and S'Mores.
Honea please put on a damn shirt...
We play hard. We ride hard. We sleep hard. We hug hard. We love hard. We're family. A Crazy, messed up, delusional, slightly deranged, loyal, loving, dependable GRAVEL family. We'll do it again next year. Next year I'm putting up a tire swing. Next year I'll build some sweet jumps. Next year I won't hide the good beer.
Next year Honea will put on a shirt...sleeveless of course...but it's a start....
Ya'll come back. Ya hear?
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Gudberg and Lauf Forks for allowing me to be a member of their 2017 Dirty Kanza "Dirty Dozen". I'm so glad Lauf was a part of my experience in Beating the Sun and joining the Five Timers Club. I've enjoyed beating the hell out of Laufs "The Grit" fork the past 6 months on our backroads. I have no plans of ever taking it back off the bike!!
Love and peace everyone.
Now before I get into those goals let me first say I realize everything is relative. A big goal for me is not necessarily a big goal for you. I'm not saying we can't all empathize with each other and support each other no matter our skill level in life on a bike. I'd like to hope and think we can. I'm just saying...I understand if you don't.
My main cycling focus in 2017 is placed firmly in Emporia, Kansas. My home. My Flint Hills. My roads. My life. Emporia and the surrounding Flint Hills just happen to also be the home of a little thing we locals like to call The Dirty Kanza. A 200 Mile day of fun on our gravel roads. We just happen to invite and welcome...the entire world to come visit that day.
My primary goal this year is to Finish my 5th Dirty Kanza 200. I want to ride down that finish line chute high five'ing family and friends. I want to be swallowed up in hugs by Tim and Kristi Mohn and LeLan Dains. I want that firm friendly handshake from a smiling Jim Cummins. I want to stand up there on stage at the Awards Ceremony and collect the Five Time Finishers Cup from Dan Hughes. I respect the Flint Hills. Finishing is never a right. Finishing is surviving the day. Finishing is earned.
I have a second goal for the 2017 Dirty Kanza. I will be gunning to successfully complete the Race The Sun challenge. I will be gunning to finish before the determined sunset time cut off for that day. Normally around 14 hrs 45 minutes. My best finish? 17 hours. I do this. I Beat The Sun and Jim Cummins better watch out. He better be prepared. Stand tough. He's going to have a very excited 43 yr old cyclist and friend jumping into his arms with every ounce of remaining energy at the Finish Line.
I'm working hard. I'm training daily. I'm dropping the weight. I'm focused. I'll know if it's all enough on that day only. DK Day.
I was stoked to learn that Lauf Forks will be a part of my training, my riding and my memories for the Dirty Kanza goals this year. I can not wait to see how my Salsa Warbird glides through the Flint Hills with The Grit leading the charge.
We'll be tackling plenty of miles before DK Day. The LandRun100, The Dirty Reiver, DK Training Camp weekend, Maizies Pride and Elrods Cirque are some Century races along the way.
We've got a busy 6 months ahead. Let's get started. Shall we?