DK200 Race Report Part II

In Blog by Eric Benjamin Comments

It was Emporia’s own Matt Brown with two other riders in the lead of the DK200! Oh man! I know Matt likes to start strong because of his racing background but holy cow to be in the lead of this year’s stacked field was pretty incredible. Then I began to worry about him finishing if he was pushing that hard already. I was pulling for him to finish this year. I think he gets a lot of grief for never finishing the DK200. I told him earlier that week this was his year to finish it. He has had heat stroke and with the weather usually being hot enough to fry eggs on the gravel, the DK200 becomes a dangerous affair for him. But this year, hell I was wearing a jacket as I shot these photos it was so chilly. As he passed me he said,


“The lead group took and wrong turn and got off course.” Oh OK, now I understood. And here’s the deal. The leaders that ended up in the top ten were way back in the field of riders now. They would have to  fight to regain the lead. I wondered how they all would hold up because of the effort they would have to put forth to get to the front. But just think, if that wrong turn wasn’t made Cameron Chamber’s record would have been blown out of the water. But finding your way is all part of the DK200 experience. And at this point Matt was in the front.


 There go the top three 25 to 30 miles into the DK200

I am going to put ALL the pics out here soon. I know you want to see yourself in the Flint Hills, if I did shoot you. For this post I am publishing some of the really good ones.

DK200 Texaco Hill

 Here come Gunnar Shogren and Rusty Folger

DK200 Texaco Hill

 And there they go!

DK200 Texaco Hill

 Joe Fox from Cycle City!

DK200 Texaco Hill

 Some guy in red having a ball! OK, so I don’t know everyone.

All these riders at this point, very early in the race, are in front of some very fast and skilled riders. They would soon catch up and pass these mere mortals. But is was cool while it lasted.

DK200 Texaco Hill


DK200 Texaco Hill

 Wait, is that a number one coming up from behind? That would be last year’s winner, the human diesel, Dan Hughes.

DK200 Texaco Hill

 Dan on his own picking off riders to get to the front

DK200 Texaco Hill


DK200 Texaco Hill

 Here come some Salsa riders that were also contenders to win

DK200 Texaco Hill

 Tim Ek and Joe Meiser from Salsa!

I was shooting and having a blast rooting these guys on. We were on Texaco Hill, the first big hill of the race. It’s a long, steep climb that these riders made look easy.

DK200 cyclists


DK200 bikes

 Is that? Yes it is.

DK200 Texaco Hill

 It’s Cornbread, another favorite to win!

DK200 Texaco Hill


dk200 Texaco Hill


dk200 chamois but'r team

 Chamois Butt’r team

dk200 bobby smith

 Bobby Smith seems to be glowing he’s so happy early in the race

dk200 Texaco Hill

Wait a minute, is that? Yes it is! Here comes the Queen of Pain, Rebecca Rusch!

dk200 landscape

 The Flint Hills

dk200 Texaco Hill

 There she goes and would end up finishing third even though she’s way back in the pack at this point.

dk200 cyclists

 Jed Sampsel from Emporia!

cycling action

 Here comes Matt Gersib another contender and wait a minute, is he pulling a gun on me?

cycling dk200


cycling dk200


dk200 gravel


flint hills rock

 The beauty of the Flint Hills

dk200 marker

 A course marker. I was going off course to get to Battle Creek Hill without bothering riders

scott bolley im design

We got to Battle Creek Hill and waited. Since I was shooting into the sun I wanted to use a flash at a high sync speed. I tested it out on Scott as we waited.

dk200 hill

 Battle Creek Hill. And here come some riders!

dk200 riders

 The leaders were switching places by this point. There’s Gunnar!

dk200 bike choice

 Rusty was riding on his own at this point

dk200 leaders

 Two powerhouses – Dan Hughes and Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey

dk200 salsa cycles

 Tim Ek grinding up the hill


 Matt Brown!

dk200 chamois butter team

 I have never seen a team have as much fun as the Chamois Butt’r Team. That’s a group of great guys with great sportsmanship too.

dk200 hill

 Battle Creek Hill

cycling on hills


dk200 cyclist


dk200 cycling photography



That’s Emporia’s Randy Smith!

dk200 scott omara

Emporia’s  Scott O’mara!

It was interesting to see how the riders were riding and who they were teamed up with or if they were on their own.

dk200 fun

 Some happy guy!

dk200 jed sampsel

Jed Sampsel from Emporia, the Veggie Gravel Grinder, going strong

dk200 garret seacat

Garret Seacat, sort of from Emporia riding strong too

I shot a bunch more pictures and then we got out of there. I needed some gas, since we were expecting to be in the helicopter I wasn’t prepared, and I wanted to check in on the Pablove Grub support crew.

pablove grub

 Pablove Grub Support tent

The Pablove Grub support crew was manned by Adrian’s family and friends. They are not cyclists and have never done anything like this before. I have to say, I was blown away with how well they did. But more importantly, the riders loved them. The Pablove Grub support crew took great care of their riders and even took care of other riders too. They were an amazing bunch. I think they fell in love with cycling a little bit that day too. If you are a rider and have good things to say about them, please email Jim Cummings or me. All money raised goes directly to the Pablove Shutterbugs program. Here’s a video about the program and one about Pablo and his family that started The Pablove Foundation. Here’s the Adventure Monkey page if you want to give.

“It’s About You” Pablove and Nike Livestrong from tyler whisnand on Vimeo.

pablove grub

 The Pablove Grub tent was there as a beacon of hope for their riders

salsa at dk200

 The Salsa support crew was set with Ryan Horkey large and in charge

joe meiser dk200

 Joe Meiser at checkpoint one – kissing babies and shredding gravel

I spent some time talking with everyone and seeing how all the Emporia riders were holding up. The weather at this point was amazingly nice. I had no sympathy for any whiners at this point in the race. Then Jed’s wife Reneé grabbed me and asked if I was good at fixing bikes. Those that know me well will be laughing right now, but I have gotten better at taking bikes apart and putting them back together. Just don’t ask me to do any plumbing or woodworking. Anyway, Jed’s chain had a bad link and was shifting erratically. I helped take the link out and tried to put a SRAM masterlink in its place. I couldn’t get it to click for the life of me. And every time I put some muscle into it I was surprised at how much of my pectoralis muscle was needed to fix a chain. Because of open heart surgery, this was giving me some pain. Crap! I felt bad for Jed having a mechanical that could keep him out of the race. Finally I looked around for someone I knew could help. I saw the amazing chops of Joel Dyke. He saved the day and Jed was able to continue on.

There were some good, technical spots to shoot in the second leg of the race, but I didn’t want to take my wife’s pretty, new Rav Sport on those roads so Scott and I took the highways to checkpoint two and waited to see how the field of riders was looking.

dan hughes dk200

 Even though he took a wrong turn and got back in the field, the human diesel, Dan Hughes showed up first to checkpoint two.

dan hughes dk200

 Dan was in and out of the checkpoint very quickly

kristi mohn dk200

 Kristi Mohn, Race Director and Traffic Cop extraordinaire

rusty folger dk200

 Rusty Folger came in the midway checkpoint in the number two spot

cornbread dk200

 Cornbread was #3

rebecca rusch dk200

Rebecca Rusch came in like 11th but left so quick I think she shot into 3rd.

rebecca rusch dk200


rebecca rusch dk200

 Rebecca was caught smiling in most of my pics – even when grinding up hills with 20 miles to go to the finish. Yes, she is the Queen of Pain.

dk200 finish line

 The finish line was incredible this year!

At this point it was in the upper 80s and I heard I few riders complain of the heat at the midway checkpoint. I had no sympathy. I went back to E-town with Scott to download files and see how things were going downtown. Then I shot over to the last checkpoint in Council Grove to see how the lead group was shaking out. I was having fun watching the DK200 from the view of a spectator but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurting inside. I wanted to be on a bike.

I got to Council Grove and found out the leaders were already there and gone. Hmm, they are going at a record pace now. At the midway checkpoint we didn’t think any records would be broken that day. Now things were heating up!

I knew there were some big hills by Lake Kahola so I raced there. I didn’t see any racers for quite awhile. Dang it! I really wanted to get some shots of them on the last leg. Finally I came upon the leaders. I passed slowly as to not stir up too much dust (sorry guys) and waited on the hill leading out of the Kahola Lake Valley.

dan hughes dk200

 Here come Dan and Rusty

dk200 leader action

 And there they go!

rebecca rusch dk200

 Here comes Rebecca Rusch!

rebecca rusch dk200


rebecca rusch dk200

 I shot a few more riders and then sped into Emporia for the finish

dk200 finish line

 Here they come!

dk200 results

Dan and Rusty beat the old record by one minute!

rebecca rusch dk200

 Rebecca Rusch comes in third overall and shatters the previous women’s record!

rebecca rusch dk200


rebecca rusch dk200

 Rebecca and Dan – Champions of the Gravel

dk200 finish

 I shot more riders (check out the Pablove Grub sign back there!) before finally feeling like I rode the DK200 myself

dk200 finish corey godfrey


This was the most active I had been in eight weeks. I suddenly felt tired and very cranky. I had to go home and cool down for a bit before returning to the finish line.

dk200 finish

 I came back to watch all the night finishers.

dk200 finish matt brown scott omara

 Matt Brown and Scott O’mara! Matt finally tamed that beast.

dk200 finish


dk200 finish line party

 Mikey caught his second wind.

dk200 finish bobby wintle

 Bobby Wintle speeds across the finish for a successful day!

Then, I hate to say, the weight of the camera and the bag got the best of me. I had to put them away. I have a few more shots, but missed a lot of our Emporia riders. My feet ached, my chest was sore, but it was a great day. I stayed at the finish line until the last Pablove Grub rider came in at 2:28 am.

My favorite story though was of Sam Tovar, my friend and the doctor that heard the heart murmur for the first time. He was two to three miles from town when he went over a bridge in the dark. His skinny tire got caught between the slats and he went head over heels and his face became one with the ground. His rim was bent and the tire would no longer hold air but he could see the lights of Emporia just ahead. Never a quitter, he pushed and carried his bike the rest of the way. He crossed the finish line with a loose tooth and bloodied face with his bike on his shoulder. Wow. Much respect Sam.

That was a great day! Next year, I will be on the bike.

Feed Your Monkey!