Emporia, KANSAS Totally Unexpected TEN YEARS AGO, 34 cyclists gathered to battle for the first win at the very first Dirty Kanza 200. Fifteen of them would ride through the grit and gravel of the Kansas Flint Hills to cross the finish line, led by top cyclist Dan Hughes, who finished in 12 hours, 58 minutes. This year, the starting line for the premier gravel grinder didn’t look anything like that small group of bikes from 2006. Crowding Emporia’s downtown were 1,500 bikes straddled by determined, tough riders ready to take on the gritty hills – 900 riding the 200-mile race and 600 forging through the 100-mile race. The course itself and the weather are the obvious challenges of the DK 200, and they are what bring riders from around the world. In 2006, after finishing eighth overall in that first race, Joe Partridge wrote in his blog, “This was a very good race. The riders were cool, the vibe was relaxed and I had fun. It was hard, but not so hard that I wanted to shoot myself in the face for signing up. The section of hilly gravel between Cottonwood Falls and Eureka was super, and was just about worth the drive by itself.” Those words have been echoed through the race’s 10 years, bringing a prestige to the Dirty Kanza that keeps DK Promotions, owned by Jim Cummins, Tim Mohn and Kristi Mohn, working hard. A race founder, Cummins was able to move last year into working full-time on the race and other events for DK Promotions. This race is about the riders and the experience, but it also belongs to the hundreds of support team members who came to town and to Emporia residents, who enthusiastically back it. Dirtykanza200.com, DK Promotions — 913-982-7958, visitemporia.com STATS • Dirty Kanza Promotions conducts the annual premier gravel grinder 200-mile race in the Kansas Flint Hills • Riders register during the All Things Gravel Bicycle EXPO prior to the DK 200, enjoying vendors and entertainment • A finish line block party welcomes riders as they cross the finish line where thousands are on hand to cheer them on and ring cowbells • The entire town of Emporia, Kansas, embraces this cycling event, with crowds on hand to witness their early-morning roll-out • Cycling has become second nature as a form of recreation in the community • The DK 200 has led to more local cycling events bringing visitors to Emporia • Not every cycling event has its own beer (the Dirty Kanza Kolsch) • The event has built camaraderie in the community and an increased focus on healthy activities.
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