Sometimes special moments on a bike come to you in mysterious ways. I guess I've always had a plan for how the "best" memory would come to me. I see it in my mind as I type this, cruising into the finish line of the Trans Iowa, alone, arms up, smile on my face and feeling good…WINNING! Wait, maybe it's a sprint finish in the Dirty Kanza 200, where I thrust my bike forward at the last second to edge out one of the top gravel road riders in the Midwest.
It's funny, none of those memories ever happened and even if they did they may not end up being the moment I always go back to. When you love riding and someone asks you to tell them what your best memory on the bike over the last year was, it's kind of like asking how many stars are in the sky. I contemplated this question deeply and even told myself, "you better come up with something good". Immediately, I tried to think of my best finishes, but did they really equal the best memories? I wasn't sure how to answer this question, until it came to me, what bike experience have I thought about the most throughout the year? I always come back to one image… sunset in Kansas.
The 2010 Dirty Kanza 200 stands as the most difficult thing I've ever done on a bicycle. Yes, I've ridden farther, but I don't think I've ever ridden myself into the ground deeper than I did on June 5th, 2010. As the sun set on a day that saw a heat index soaring near or over 110 degrees I rode steady with good friend and fellow competitor Joe Meiser tucked neatly behind my back wheel. Joe's bike was maimed, capable of only two gears, and I vowed to him and myself that I'd do the majority of the "pulls" in order to get us home. I watched a 4th place finish slip away from me as another rider moved passed our injured little caravan. Joe calmly stated that I should "go after that guy, if I wanted to", but I wasn't going anywhere. He may not have known it, but it was Joe who got me up and on my feet earlier in the day when I chose to lay down in the gravel and let the heat take me away. It was Joe who told me, "it's too hot to stop, I'm moving on", maybe knowing that I'd come with him, which I did.
As the sun went low on the Kansas horizon I looked over my shoulder at the panoramic landscape and said, "We'll never be able to explain things like that to people back home". My partner's reply was simply, "That's why we ride 15 hours at a time, so we can see things like that". He was right.
I didn't win that race. In fact, I wasn't even close to the winning time. But I saw and felt something that I'll never forget. It's those feelings and memories that I keep chasing.
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Tim (Eki) Ek
Tim Ek was born and raised in Duluth, Minn., and still calls it home. He’s always had a passion for competition and seeking his own extremes. Tim's true love is the woods: Out in the wild is where he clears his head and finds his peace, and he prefers getting there by bike. Tim Ek: The Eki Chronicles, ekichronicles2.kinetic-fitness.com