Dirty Kanza 200: 2014 edition

In Blog by Eric Benjamin Comments

Another Dirty Kanza 200 is in the books! We had perfect weather conditions for a fast race – low winds and mild temperatures and some very fast racers. Records would be broken.

This little bicycle race, thought up in the heads of some somewhat crazy gravel grinding cyclists some nine years ago, has become something of awe. The whole town of Emporia was buzzing with excitement all week. Bicycles were everywhere. Sales were up all over town. This bicycle race has become something that has brought change to the culture of Emporia. It is quite amazing. After talking to vendors that go to races and events all over the country, this kind of community support doesn’t happen everywhere. I am going to take some time in the near future to write something up about how this has happened and the effect it has had on our town. This is a positive example of how bicycles can make a difference to a community – a positive difference.

My photography exhibit was a big hit too! I’d like to thank the Emporia Arts Center for the opportunity to do my own show – quite an honor. See more fine art prints here.

But hey, I know why you are here, not to read my drivel, you want to see pictures! Here are a few of my favorites from the day. I will make all of them available to you soon!

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 The Granada District of town was ready for the big race

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 The field of racers was over 1200 strong! We had two racer meetings on Friday evening. Excitement was in the air!

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 Live music outside, people everywhere, bikes everywhere – Emporia had come alive!

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The racers were nervous with anticipation, taking their positions according to their expected finish times. I shot this and wondered how many of these racers would finish as they had hoped. You never know what can happen over 200 miles of Flint Hills gravel.

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 A roll out with the Emporia Police Department as an escort


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 The first hill of the race about ten miles out of town. The locals know of Road D Hill. I positioned myself and waited. This shot was worth the short wait.

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 I shot for some time getting racers from the 200, 100 and fun rides. They will be published soon!

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It’s not every day a regular rider gets to ride with the likes of Rebecca Rusch. That’s another cool thing about this race – It brings out all levels of racers and creates new cyclists every year because of the excitement and inspirational efforts from all the racers.

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 Cornbread Godfrey from Lincoln Nebraska, a former DK200 champ

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 Tandem racers from Minnesota – The Rakes

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 Big Dave from Stillwater

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The unexpected morning fog made for some great images

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 Chamois Butter had a lot of riders out there this year!

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 Adventure Monkey, Shawn Omara!

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 OK, people this is the face to make when riding the DK200! This guy wins!

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I shot and shot and shot. It was unbelievable to see all the riders on our gravel roads!

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 Bobby and Crystal Wintle from District Bicycles in Stillwater, Oklahoma – all smiles at mile 10

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 Riding up a hill with no hands and striking a mean pose for the camera. Jim Davis wins.

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 This guy motored up the hill like it was nothing and was all smiles.

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The line of cyclists was very cool to see

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 Chuck Tucker on a single speed Salsa Mukluk fatbike

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 Katelyn was having a great day, although worried about finishing the half-pint, she ended up having her strongest day ever!

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 Team Reynolds from Emporia

After some car trouble, the truck overheated, and thinking about going back to Emporia to put the Corolla through the Flint Hills, we added coolant and were good to go. We headed to the low water crossing just before Madison to shoot.

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 The Leaders – Joe Fox from Cycle City was the first to hit the water

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 Some rode, most carried through the murky water

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 Barry Wicks doing the happy dance for the camera

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 Rebecca Rusch

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Dan Hughes, four-time DK200 Champion

I set the camera to capture movement through the water. I like my results

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 Lance Andre, all around badassed cyclist

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 Best DK200 fans ever!

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 The Pirate Cycling League from Lincoln Nebraska well represented – Bob Breckner

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 After the first checkpoint in Madison, Kansas the riders had to climb a steep hill to get out of town

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I was doing the miles-per-hour estimations math because I wanted to make sure and see Katelyn at her checkpoint for the half-pint. I high-tailed it from Madison to get to Cottonwood Falls. I was worried that I might miss her. She was having her best day ever on the bike. I wanted to get some really good pictures along the course, but sometimes other priorities take precedence.

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 Katelyn came in to Cottonwood Falls feeling great and looking strong!

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 I drove to Sharps Creek Road to wait on the leaders. I shot a few landscapes waiting to see riders

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Well ahead of any other riders was the leader at around 140 miles into the course – Brian Jensen from Lawrence, Kansas!

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With a 10 mph tailwind, the leaders were really moving through this section

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Barry Wicks riding strong

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 I hiked into the hills for a few shots

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After getting some great shots of riders in the open expanse of the Flint Hills I made the decision that I better get back to Emporia. Katelyn was going to finish her first century ever! (and the half-pint was actually 110 miles)

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 She did it! Kristi congratulated Katelyn as she crossed the finish line. Kristi and Katelyn rode together quite a few times for some DK200 training.

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 This guy was standing there later in the day after he finished the DK200. This is the epitome of a DK200 rider

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 I shot this amazing landscape as I waited for the riders on Sharps Creek Road. Click to see larger.

And that’s that. A new record was set (see results here). A new King of Kanza would be had. It was a great day. I was motivated to be on a bike next year instead of behind a camera. I was a little bummed that I wasn’t riding. Next year I hope to have images from the seat of my bike!

We had quite a few photographers out there that got some amazing shots. We will soon have links from the DK200 site to the photographer’s sites. Plus I will do another page of blog posts from the race so you will have a central location for all the DK200 stories.

You may have noticed the lack of pictures of Dan Hughes, well just wait. He is going to do a guest post of his Dirty Kanza 200 experience sometime this week, so stay tuned.

Feed Your Monkey!