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Big D Cycling Gets Dusty at Dirty Kanza and Sets Personal Bests along the Way!

The week-out forecast for Dirty Kanza was not looking very promising. For a change, though, luck was on the cyclists’ side in 2017, and the course, weather and conditions were perfect for a gravel ride through the beautiful Flint Hills.

Tim Herre and Nigel Vaught rolled through the finish line first and second on the 50-mile course. Joe Kleidosty and Greg Vaught rode the entire 206-mile course together, helping each other along the way, to Beat the Sun at Dirty Kanza, in Greg’s first DK ride and in Joe’s second attempt at the 200-mile course. This was Greg’s longest ride on a bike! Much to Joe’s surprise, it was his longest pull for Greg to-date, as well.

Sam Hess tackled the 50-mile course this year, after unsuccessfully completing the 100-mile muddy course in 2015. Here’s his account of his day on the bike:

Growing up just west of the Flint Hills, I thought I knew what to expect; I had ridden lease roads and cow paths in my teens. Boy, was I wrong. My first attempt at the Dirty Kanza was in 2015. Let me stress “attempt”. I figured I could just go out and do the DK 100 without much, if any, training on actual gravel. Before we reached the cattle pens, I found a blacktop road, bailed and headed back to Emporia; I had already carried my bike 6 or 7 miles due to the monsoon the days and night before … mud was everywhere.

Fast forward to 2017, with Joe and Greg talking gravel and taking a serious attempt at beating the sun in the DK200, I thought what the heck, I could do the DK50 with Nigel. So, I signed up again and took a more serious approach to my training (I rode gravel in south Johnson county 8 to 10 times before the DK and considered myself prepared). My goal was to not lose Nigel (Greg, or more likely Denise, Nigel’s mom, would kill me) and try and accomplish the 50 miles in under 3 hours.

Sam Hess grinding the 50-mile course with another rider he met along the way.
Sam Hess grinding the 50-mile course with another rider he met along the way.

The weather could not have been more perfect. At starting time, it was about 64 degrees with an expected high for the day of about 80 and a mild south east wind of only 4 MPH. It was a perfect day. The gravel roads were dry-packed from the early spring rains. Jim Cummins, Dirty Kanza co-founder and gravel expert (and high school buddy), stated at the start that the roads were perfect. They are called “Hero Roads”, meaning fast, cautioning all the riders not to get too carried away early on and burn all your matches.

I did not accomplish either of my goals. By mile 8, Nigel took off and all I saw was his orange helmet in the distance. I also didn’t quite make the under 3-hour time frame I set for myself. Nigel finished second, just behind and with Tim Herre, at just under the 3-hour mark. Their time was 2:59.26, an incredible feat for a 14-year-old (congratulations to Tim also). Enjoying the ride, I finished not too far back, tied for 7th place out of 289 cyclists @ 3:06.18.

It was an “awesome” day of riding. I believe both Nigel and I are looking forward to the DK 100 next year. I hope to see to more Big D teammates out there next year!

Jay Raupp conquered the 100-mile course, while at the same time completing his longest gravel ride to-date and also completing his first ever organized gravel ride! Here is Jay’s account of his day riding through the Flint Hills:

Dirty Kanza has an aura you can feel at the start. It has the inspiring Flint Hills, with its green scenery and vistas that you can never see from a drive on I-35. It has gravel roads you can fly on with your new 38 gravel tires, and also low maintenance roads that bring your cyclocross experience to play. This year had perfect, dry, windless weather and none of the legendary long walk toting the bike through mud, nor the derailleur-snapping, ‘peanutbutter splatter’ that first timers like me feared. It did have a half dozen creek crossings which were new to me, so I just did what the riders ahead did, which was go right on through and hope for no rocks.

One rider I met had hit a rock and flipped and got a gash from it. Another rider had flipped on the wooden bridge the map identified as unsafe – yes it was. I learned to identify surprise bumps and holes that lay ahead by noticing how many water bottles were already in the road. I wondered how anyone would ride on after losing their drinks. The best rides are shared with teammates and so it was this day, as I joined in the last quarter of the ride with Alvaro Gamarra, Reinaldo Barrera, and Christian Vila. Two were on mountain bikes, making quick work of the bad roads but still rolling very quickly on the gravel. I was getting lost, so might still be out there without them to ride with, and we finished together at 6hr 41min, a bit under 15mph. Thanks, guys! Also thank you to the Never Let Go Fund, who was my support team on the course.

Staging for the DK100 at 6:20am.  DK Co-founder Jim Cummins (gray shirt), will send us off.
Staging for the DK100 at 6:20am. DK Co-founder Jim Cummins (gray shirt), will send us off.
We get all the Dust we can eat, and a half pint glass for finishing, but do BYOB. I did.
We get all the Dust we can eat, and a half pint glass for finishing, but do BYOB. I did.

Special thanks to our title sponsor, Keen Wealth Advisors, for their tremendous support of our team.

Big D Cycling Juniors Start November with a Bang!

Chris Braley, at the ripe age of 10 years, came out strong last weekend to start off his cyclocross season.  Saturday’s Colavita Cup had a packed field of nineteen, 9-11 year old racers.  It was a fast course, with very little climbing.  He finished the day in 3rd Place.

Chris putting the hammer down!
Chris putting the hammer down! Photo credit: Randy Braley Photography

Sunday’s Boulevard Cup would prove to be more challenging with the race being 30-minutes and a hillier section added to the course.  With another packed field, Chris jumped out with a strong start and kept the number two rider in his sights, hoping to have another shot at the podium.  Even after dropping his chain on the last lap, he made one final push and finished the race in second place.

Chris having a blast on the podium!
Chris having a blast on the podium! Photo credit: Randy Braley Photography
Chip Zimmer has been having a great year in the Masters 60+ category, so he decided to mix it up with the youngsters at the Colavita Cup in Category!
Chip Zimmer has been having a great year in the Masters 60+ category, so he decided to mix it up with the youngsters at the Colavita Cup in Category! Photo credit: Randy Braley Photography
Amy VanNieuwenhuyse navigating the Boulevard Cup course, having a great Masters season.
Amy VanNieuwenhuyse navigating the Boulevard Cup course, having a great Masters season. Photo credit: Randy Braley Photography

Switching gears ~ Giddy up, Ponies! The Vaughts headed to Louisville!

Greg and Nigel Vaught headed east to Louisville in the first weekend of November for the Derby City Cup. Greg wanted to get Nigel some more experience with racing in a larger field. What Greg was not interested in was getting hit from behind, snapping his rear derailleur hanger on Saturday and destroying a wheel in his Sunday race!

Watching his son Nigel helped ease the misfortune he experienced in his races, though. Nigel had commanding leads in both his races at Derby City Cup, but some miscalculations and some difficulties with the course dropped him from the top step. Even with some mistakes made, he finished on the podium each day.

Finn Smith in the foreground with Nigel being the blue blur in the upper right corner of the picture, with an early commanding lead!
Local KCOI U20 racer Finn Smith in the foreground with Nigel being the blue blur, heading up the hill, in the upper right corner of the picture, with an early commanding lead!
Nigel earned a 2nd place finish and a 3rd place finish in both his races at Derby City Cup over the first weekend in November.
Nigel earned a 2nd place finish and a 3rd place finish in both his races at Derby City Cup over the first weekend in November.

Keen Wealth Advisors has been a major supporter of junior racing since it became the title sponsor of Big D Cycling. We can’t thank them enough for helping to grow our sport and to encourage young boys and girls to stay active and have fun  doing it!

Big D Cycling Keepin’ It Competitive In Masters! Keen Wealth Classic Is Less Than Two Weeks Away!

Big D Cycling has just rolled up strong through the heart of the KBCXT season.  Finishing up the two days of racing at the Capital Cup in Topeka, Kansas, on a fun and challenging course of mixed terrain, the team racked up seven podium spots, plus an additional four, top-five finishes, all the while pocketing valuable 1.5x KBCXT points in the race to repeat as Masters Cx champions.
While Paul Aldeguer was busy battling the Masters 40’s crew for a 3rd place spot, Steve Van Nieuwenhuyse, Jim Clevenger and Greg Vaught went 2, 3, 4 on Saturday against the Masters 50’s. Chip Zimmer and Amy Van each grabbed the highest steps that weekend in their divisions and looked great doing so!
Wash-Rinse-Repeat at Raytown BMX Course!
This past weekend, the Raytown BMX course had the Masters standing tall yet again.
Amy Van grabbed the top step both days in the Women’s division while her husband, Steve, managed back-to-back second place spots in the Men’ 50 field.
Amy Van warming up at the Raytown BMX course.
Amy Van warming up at the Raytown BMX course. Photo credit: Roger Harrison


Saturday
 had the Big-D Masters 50’s crowding the podium with Van Nieuwenhuyse, Clevenger and Vaught going 2nd, 3rd and 5th, respectively.

Steve Van off to a fast start ... is there any other way?
Steve Van off to a fast start … is there any other way? Greg Vaught close behind!! Photo credit: Roger Harrison
Chip Zimmer, as always, is a solid podium contender in the 60’s field and has received some help from Reg Robertson and aggressive newcomer to the Cx team, Jay Raupp.
Chip Zimmer taking the plunge!
Chip Zimmer taking the plunge! Photo credit: Roger Harrison
Over the last five weeks of Cross racing, the Masters team, as a whole, has stood atop 23 podiums and backed those with another 15 top-five finishes … and then comes the team Junior phenom, Nigel Vaught.
Nigel has made the jump to Cat-4’s and just posted an impressing top five finish at the Raytown course in a field of 23 riders. At the end of a recent, grueling, back-to-back race weekend and after doing double duty races each day in Juniors and C-4’s, Nigel made the comment he was “getting a little tired.”  This comment came as the Masters racers were busy cleaning crash wounds, putting weight softly onto sore knees, stretching out tight hamstrings and digging through the cooler for a refreshing adult beverage.
Nigel on the podium for Juniors 15-18!!
Nigel on the podium for Juniors 15-18!!

Some of those races Nigel went from finish line Juniors to start line Cat-4’s, while dad swapped numbers in the staging area. Ahhh, nothing quite like the eternal spark of youth and enthusiasm. Nothing that is, except the solid investment advice from Keen Wealth Management.

Please make plans to attend the first annual Keen Wealth Classic cyclocross race to be held in the scenic hills of Wyandotte County Lake Park on November 13, 2016, and see what Big D Cycling has in store for the Kansas State Category Championship Cx race. The Beach Shelter on the west side of the lake is ground zero for some great Cx and spectator action. Plan to spend the day with Big-D and have lunch with several members of the Keen Wealth staff. We’d love to see you there!

Big D Cycling Powers Into 2016 KBCXT Season

With the first weekend of the 2016 Cyclocross season in the books, one thing is certain: Big D Cycling has made it clear they intend to defend the KBCXT Masters Champion title.
Steve Van Nieuwenhuyse is off to a quick start!
Steve Van Nieuwenhuyse is off to a quick start!
The two-day Prologue Cyclocross Cup, held at the Blue Valley Park venue in Kansas City, Mo, kicked off the KBCXT season, and it offered racers a great mix of terrain variations, appealing to a wide variety of racer skills.
Captain Clevenger navigates his way around the Cx course.
Paul Aldeguer navigates his way around the Cx course, with his trademark socks up to his knees!

Mother Nature is always up for a good time when it comes to Cx racing and was nice enough to soften things up with a soaking rain the days before the event, then turning up the steamy heat on race day. The precipitation, along with a heavy morning dew on Saturday, had all racers scrambling for the right tire set-up and pressures to meet the slick grass and soggy conditions. Staying upright was key to a successful race, and several members of the Keen Wealth Advisors Masters 50 division made the right call on their set-ups.

Team Cyclocross Captain Jim ‘Clev’ Clevenger, long-time Big D Cycling member Paul Fancher and the newest addition of the Masters 50’s mix, Steve Van Nieuwenhuyse, went 2nd, 3rd and 4th on both days of racing. The trio mixed up their respective finishes each day, but, one thing was clear: there’s a new Masters spark this season.

Paul Aldeguer grabbed valuable points in the Masters 40’s, while Chip Zimmer and Amy Van Nieuwenhuyse each stood atop the silver podium spots in their respective divisions both days.

Chip Zimmer chippin' his way to a strong finish.
Chip Zimmer chippin’ his way to a strong finish.
KCA 2015 Rider of the Year, Nigel Vaught, wasted no time racking up two more Junior wins in the 12-14 division and was joined in sharing the Junior glory, with Peter Whalen taking gold in the Junior 15-18 class. Vaught has taken the next step in what is sure to be a great racing career and is racing double-duty this season in the Cat-5 division, where he placed respectably in two large Cat-5 fields.
It is a long Cx season, and the team relies on great products from Chamois Butt’r to help with those practice days, where barrier re-mounts are on the training schedule.
Special thanks to Roger Harrison of Lanterne Rouge for spending countless hours to take great photos of all racers!

Big D Cycling wraps up road season, looking forward to Cyclocross!

A lot of racing has happened in the months of July and August, with Big D Cycling getting on the podium multiple times along the way.

Paul Aldeguer and Joe Kleidosty took gold at the age state championship, in their respective age categories, of the  Sunflower Road Race in Topeka, KS. Mary Thompson earned gold with her effort, as well.

Fast forward to Truman Cup, where Jim Clevenger put in an impressive performance over three different racing disciplines ~ time trial, circuit and criterium racing ~ to earn 3rd overall in the omnium for Masters Men.

Jim Clevenger on the Truman Cup omnium podium!
Jim Clevenger on the Truman Cup omnium podium!

Nigel Vaught capped off his road race season with a bronze medal in Category 5 at the Kansas State Category Road Race in Salina, KS! Nigel won every junior KBAR race that he entered this year and has been showing improvement with every race.

Nigel Vaught on the top step of the podium at Truman Cup!
Nigel Vaught on the top step of the podium at Truman Cup!

Kleidosty shifted his focus from road to gravel this season. He borrowed teammate Alvaro Gamarra’s fat bike to compete in that category at Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, NE.  Kleidosty earned 2nd with his efforts in that race.

Fat bike Gravel Worlds podium photo
Fat bike Gravel Worlds podium photo

Greg Vaught has indicated he plans to do Dirty Kanza in 2017, so he joined Kleidosty recently at the Pony Express 120 Gravel Dash to get a taste of a longer distance gravel race. In addition to recording his longest ride, he completed it in under 8 hours and finished 9th overall, with limited gravel training or riding! Kleidosty finished 2nd overall and also earned the under-8 hour trophy.

Kleidosty purposefully took a wrong turn on the course, so he could catch up with Vaught and then pull him along for a large portion of the ride!
Kleidosty purposefully took a wrong turn on the course, so he could catch up with Vaught and then pull him along for a large portion of the ride!

Overall, Big D Cycling finished 2nd in the Keen Wealth Cup competition.  Key contributors to that effort were the following people with podium or near-podium finishes in KBAR: Greg Vaught, 2nd Masters 50+; Jay Raupp, 4th Masters 60+; Frank Quinlan, 2nd Masters 65+; Reg Robertson, 6th Masters 65+; Kathryn Johnson, 2nd Women Masters 50+; Kathleen Raupp, 1st Women Masters 60+; Roberta Dierks, 2nd Women Masters 60+; Mary Thompson, 3rd Women Masters 60+; and Nigel Vaught, 1st Juniors 9-14 Male!

Danny Mertz, new to the team this year, raced in a few road races and a couple criteriums, earning a respectable 6th place in Masters 60+!

Big D Cycling is primed and ready for cyclocross to start up this year, with practice happening over the past several weeks at the Vaught Cyclocross Compound. The Masters Men team is ready to defend their team title from last year, and the team is excited to present and promote the Keen Wealth Classic, which will be held at the beautiful grounds of Wyandotte County Lake Park!

Special thanks to our title sponsor Bill Keen and Keen Wealth Advisors for their tremendous support of our team and of junior racing!