SALSA CYCLES: What is your goal at this year’s DK200?
JOE MEISER: Finish. First and foremost it is always to finish.
Ride my own Race. Stay focused on the ride I want to have and not get caught up in a wolf pack where another rider or group think start to seep into me making decisions and driving pace.
Finish under 13 hours. It sounds nice and round, accomplishable given my history at the event.
Go faster if the weather, course, and my fitness allows it. A sub-12 would be amazing, but they are very rare. I’ve come within 3 minutes once.
Stay hydrated and keep my tank full. When it is hot in Kansas and you are on the bike dehydration is a constant. It takes 3–5 water bottles to get between checkpoints and a whole lot of calories. Yes, I measure distance between checkpoints in water bottles.
Enjoy the scenery while in the Flint Hills. Watch the prairie grass blow and cows munch that delicious green foliage. Daydream about life on a farm and sitting on the front porch after a hard day won watching the sun set and taking in the days accomplishment.
SALSA CYCLES: What is your biggest fear going into the event?
JOE MEISER: Am I ready? Is my fitness where it needs to be, where I want it to be? Am I mentally prepared? Do I have the necessary focus to do what I need to do and make the decisions I need to be successful for 200 miles? Will I be able to ride to the level of expectation that I set for myself? Will I finish? Do I have enough innertubes? Will I flat? Oh, I hope I don’t flat. Do I have the right tires? Did I put them at the right pressure? Do I have enough food? Will I still want to eat these salty, sweet, gooey, chewy, crunchy, meaty things as much at mile 180 as I do at mile 20? Will my drivetrain hold together? Is it going to be hot? Am I going to cramp? Please don’t cramp. Will my nerves hold? Will my stomach? Will the wind be brutal? Demons I tell you…demons.
SALSA CYCLES: What have you done to prepare and how are you combating that fear?
JOE MEISER: I’m more scared now than I was before you made me think about that fear. Why did you do that? I’m going to put my headphones on now and try to relax. After I do that I’ll start preparing my bike, kit, hydration and nutrition for the ride. While I’m preparing the logistical things I’ll start to visually myself throughout the race. I see myself coming across the finish line and I’m working backwards from there and forwards from the start to think about what I need to do, all of the decisions I need to make to be successful. I’m less scared now than I was before.
SALSA CYCLES: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Dirty Kanza event?
JOE MEISER: I always look forward to the Dirty Kanza. I am in awe of how the people of Emporia welcome us into their community and how they encourage us throughout the event and congratulate us at the finish. I get emotional at the start when we are cheered on like a parade through town. This is a bike race, we aren’t war heroes, but there they are cheering us on.
Most years there is a point in the race when the pack has strung out and I’m riding alone. I look out over the prairie and it literally takes my breath away, like I’ve fallen and the wind is knocked out of me. This is a beautiful place, a special place. It means the world to me to roll my wheels over those roads and feel, hear and smell the world around me. It is inspring and free.
The finish line party! Coming through the finish chute is the best experience in cycling. Everyone is cheering the riders on. The feeling of riding 200 miles is heavy, but the physical and emotional toll turns entirely to happiness, pride, and a bit of relief. I like to be in the back of the finish chute after my race is over to try and capture some of that energy from others. It is incredibly inspiring.
Sorry I’ve gotten all sappy. This ride, the community, the people of Emporia, The DK crew, and being a part of it mean the world to me. Having to sit down and think about it, reminded me of why I do it. Thank you for making me sit down and think about it.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.