Flooding, fist-sized “gravel,” shredded frames, busted derailleurs, heat, 20-mph headwind.
The 11th running of the Dirty Kanza 200-mile endurance bicycle race challenged pro and amateur cyclists from 44 states and 10 countries to find their limit in remote Flint Hills range land.
Two Californians, Ted King and Amanda Nauman, conquered the field. King, rolled across the finish line in 11 hours, 50 minutes, and Nauman, women’s champ for the second year in a row, finished in 13 hours 11 minutes.
Out of 966 riders who set out from the historic Granada Theatre at 6 a.m., one minute after sunrise, only 552 completed the course.
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The 59 percent finish rate was lower than in last year’s chilly mud fest conditions, proving organizer Jim Cummins’ observation that heat and the relentless Kansas south wind take the biggest toll on riders.
For finishers and non-finishers alike, Saturday’s race was memorable for the scenery, camaraderie and support of the large crowds of fans in downtown Emporia, who rang cowbells late into the night, welcoming back the last of the finishers.
Here are some Instagram posts from the intrepid riders of the trail.