This Dirty Kanza 200 was the best ever. As a rider and photographer, I have never experienced the emotion, grit, determination and scenic quality to this level. It was a dream shoot for me. I look through the Dirty Kanza 200 images I captured and I’m in awe.
Every one that towed the starting line was a courageous dreamer, every finisher a champion. I was surprised at the winners, but I knew this was going to be a different race than we’ve seen at the Dirty Kanza in some time. It wouldn’t be a smooth 20 mph fast race for the winners this year. This was a true taste of what Kansas is like. The riders that finished had to pedal, carry and find the determination to finish the hardest 200 miles the Flint Hills has to offer. The weather dealt out rain, cold temperatures, mud and wind. Some riders excelled in the conditions and others’ spirits and bikes were completely broken. All reached their breaking point and some pedaled right through it.
The female champion, Amanda Nauman, a California cyclocross champ, seemed to glide through the course like butter. She talked, smiled and even cracked a joke when I shot her around mile 120, climbing a rocky hill made slippery and unrideable to many by the rain and mud. She climbed it with ease and wasn’t breathing any harder than I was when she passed by.
The male champion had a different kind of day. Every time he passed by my lens he seemed like he was digging deeper than he ever had before. Unlike Amanda he was not smiling or joking on that hill. At that point he was somewhere around 17 miles behind the leader. When I heard he caught the leader at the ESU campus, I was surprised. I know him and saw his struggle and it was impossible to keep the tears inside when I saw him win the most grueling race I’ve ever witnessed.
The finishers were so inspiring to me, I know next year I will not be able to shoot. I have to finish the DK200 again or else I have let the circumstances I was dealt beat me. We are not our circumstances or our past mistakes. These riders proved that last weekend. Even if we don’t know them personally, we now know them all as champions.
Here’s just a few Dirty Kanza 200 images from the weekend:
(Scroll to the bottom to view in a pretty gallery) (Click HERE to see the entire image gallery)