by Don Lee
The outreach to support my “little indulgence” has been heart felt and humbling. Sometimes we have casual conversations about the “cycling community” and how great it is, etc. blah, blah, blah. I’ve come to realize that it’s not cliché, but something deep and meaningful. So many people have stepped forward to help me get to this race and (hopefully) finish it. My team at Alger Bikes has been generous and helpful beyond expectations. Brian Walquist keeps putting up with every single request and last minute change I’ve come up with based on all of the great advice I’ve received. Justin Nalley has endured endless questions and has ensured I have everything I need for the bike. Bob Hammond has patiently allowed me to camp on a stand in the back and has twisted more wrenches on my bikes in the last twelve months than I think I have in my entire life. Nathan Falls has become my “stand partner” and a great resource to bounce ideas off.
I’ve had people from competing teams support me in ways that have both astounded and surprised me considering the level of energy and persistence required to do such a generous thing. Elliot Cooper, Sally Finkbeiner and Mike Bernhard from the Founder’s team for the great conversations about the race and setup, Mike Clark and Kathy “Kaat” Tahy from 3rd Coast Cycles (check out the 2017 HeelKaat Hundie if you love gravel) both pulled strings in Emporia to ensure that I would have the support I needed. Brad Rivard and Steve Kenneth advocated on my behalf with the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company riders who are heading to DK. The final hookup came courtesy of Kevin Soules of Team Apex by way of him introducing me to Bill Hill. I met Kevin just before CX season last year, he became a regular and good friend via the Questionable Traction CX practices that Chris Jensen and I organized.
Bill Hill is a four time Dirty Kanza 200 finisher. If John Despres is the West Michigan ambassador to the DK 200, than Bill is the commander-in-chief of the WM contingency. Bill is out to earn the coveted DK 200 1,000 Mile Chalice when he hits 1,000 miles of DK punishment this go-round on his fifth finish.
The DK requires every rider to have a support person. Minimally this requires you to have the phone number of a person with a vehicle who can bail you out if you destroy your bike, your body or your mind. Or if in Johnny D’s case last year, have so many flats that you run out of tubes (Johnny D’s NOTE: I’ll share that my 7 flats with 6 tubes was 2014, not 2015. Last year saw me ride into town without a rear derailleur. 2014 I made it 93 miles while last year, I abandoned at mile 25 and rode back on my super slow SS.) Team Apex offers their teammates and as luck would have it, me… a significantly higher level of support than this.
I was invited by Bill to join the Team Apex DK 200 organizational meeting. I spent much of the time at the meeting texting notes to myself and trying to ask relevant questions. I learned much and felt fortunate to have been invited into yet another group of seasoned DK finishers. Plus there was an abundance of Founder’s All Day so I felt right at home. It isn’t lost on me that this group of people had endured in some cases, multiple DK200 experiences and had no trouble sharing every tip, trick and hack that they have collectively learned over thousands of miles of riding with me, more or less a complete stranger to most of them.
The conversation stayed mostly on track with a couple deviations including Chris Knight jumping in Rich’s pool in his kit, Troy Carr’s constant comic relief, recollections of being stuck in the mud, varied states of ass chafing, and of course, tire choice.
When the conversation turned to GPS there was some discussion about keeping your Garmin running for 14 hours plus. Through trial and error and tearing open a bunch of chargers in the Emporia WalMart, Bill discovered that there aren’t many battery operated chargers that you can plug into a Garmin with out having it shut down, reset and erase your entire DK effort. Jack Carpenter mentioned that he found a portable emergency charger that worked while the Garmin is running. Then he offered to lend his to me… I was pretty blown away considering we had only met thirty minutes earlier. I ended up getting one shipped to me in time but it’s always amazing to me how generous people in the cycling community can be.
We discussed the way support would work and what riders needed to have together for their individual support kit. For the most part everybody settles on some basics, but then individuals will detail out their support kit to suit their personal needs or perceived needs.
For Team Apex the individual support kit is a 15qt. plastic container. The example that Bill had was Rich Worth’s. It had his name and phone number, and three ¼ sheets of paper with an instruction/reminder list of things to do and or eat at each checkpoint. Rich also had a reminder to follow Rule #5 when things get tough at the end of each list.
The basics included repair parts, chamois cream, food, etc.
My kit specifically contains:
- Spare Tire
- Tubes (2)
- CO2 cartridges (4)
- Chain w/quick links
- Zip ties
- Wet wipes
- Cycling shoes (spare)
- Zip Ties
- Electric tape
- Chamois cream
- Triple antibiotic ointment
- Bars, GUs, peanut/cashew mix and Polish Dill pickles
- Food, Acetominephin, Ibuprofen, Enduralytes, multi-vitamins in three separate Ziplocks each labeled with a stop number.
Support is ready. Now to prep the bike.