The most famous of all gravel races is happening right now about an hour southwest of me, the Dirty Kanza 200. I know a bunch of people that are doing it. Quite of few of the local Topekans I train with are racing. My brother Kris is riding a tandem with his friend Rita. Then Roger, Eric and Keith are all doing it solo.
My team mate, Brian Jensen, who won the event two years ago, decided kind of last minute, to race. He tried to talk me into starting, which is the only way I’d do it, helping him. But, I’m not good enough to even do that right now. He’ll be fine.
I wish all the competitors good luck. The DK is a race where luck plays a big part. A thunderstorm moved through Topeka at about 2 am and I couldn’t help myself to check the radar to see if the course was getting wet. It wasn’t. Good luck.
Last year was a disaster with hardly half the riders finishing. Brian flatted numerous times and finally broke off his rear derailleur about half way through. This year it is going to be hard and fast, a new course record, by time, since it is not the same course even year.
Also, sad news about Muhammad Ali and cyclist Jocelyn Lovell. Both died yesterday after long battles. Muhammad with Parkinson’s disease. Jocelyn with being paralysed after being struck by a cement truck.
I never met Ali. I would have loved that. My friend Dennis, from Cable, spend a few hours with him alone in Illinois one stormy night. Dennis said that Ali’s hands were so quick you couldn’t even see them move. Ali was the most famous athlete the world has even seen. And he lived up to it. He lived by his standards and never wavered. That will be his legacy.
I had the pleasure of meeting and racing against Jocelyn. He was the first “professional” rider I saw venturing from Kansas. I ran into him in the shower in a dorm in Milwaukee when I was 14. Man, was he intimidating. Legs like tree stumps, an earring, a serious bicycle racer.
I didn’t know him that well, but most riders either loved or hated Jocelyn. I loved him. I understood his humor, his mentality and laughed at his outbursts.
Anyway, I wish all my friend’s and all the other riders, a safe race today. Many will be out there past dark. It’s a sad day with two sports heros pass on the same day. But it is just part of life. I hope they both rest in peace. They are deserving of that.
Here’s a video my friend, Michael Aisner made of Muhammad Ali back in 1966. Pretty great Michael did this in high school.