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Eric Benjamin/adventuremonkey.com
Darin Schneidewind, right, leads a pack of riders Saturday in the Dirty Kanza 200 enducrance bicycle race. Schneidewind finished 25th in his division and 60th overall among the 680 riders who entered the race.

Jeremy Gaston | Managing Editor

EMPORIA—After suffering an injury last year, Lyndon ultra-marathon runner Darin Schneidewind found a new sport in bicycling and a new challenge in the Dirty Kanza 200, in which he competed last weekend.

“After winning the Hawk 100 in September of last year, I suffered an Achilles injury that sidelined my running,” Schneidewind said. “I had been looking at the Dirty Kanza for several years but never done any cycling. With the injury and the spinning (riding in place) I decided to buy a bike and sign up in January. I really only did two months of training on a bike outside, and six 80-100 mile training rides.”

Schneidewind set out Saturday on the Dirty Kanza 200, a solo, self-supported, non-stop, 200-mile-long endurance challenge on gravel and dirt roads in the Flint Hills. The race began with 680 riders, less than half of whom would finish the ride.

The course included fast treks through smooth gravel, hilly terrain through Madison and Cassoday, rocky roads, and exchanges of wind at his back and in his face.

“At one point, we had to carry our bikes through a muddy jeep road and a thigh-deep water crossing,” Schneidewind said.

The race included checkpoints every 50 miles, where Schneidewind was refueled with a break, fluids and occasional food from his crew, Mark Berry, Omaha, and William Sprouse, Enterprise. By the final checkpoint in Cottonwood Falls, Schneidewind was ready to take full advantage of his last chance for assistance.

“My crew made me a black bean and cheese quesadilla, that re-fuelled me and brought me back to life,” Schneidewind said, recalling the beginning of the final trek to the finish line.

“The closer we got to Emporia, the roads flattened out some and were in much better shape,” he said, hoping to finish during daylight. “I was in a race against the sun and had less than 4 hours to go the last 50 miles. I was not sure I could make it, but I was determined to ride this last section as hard as I could.”

Schneidewind also wanted the special award given to riders who finish before sunset, which was 8:47 p.m. that evening.

“When I hit 190 miles, I had almost an hour to get in before sunset,” he said. “My Garmin hit 200 miles and I was still on gravel, but I finally saw the highway and became re-energized. I hit the pavement and knew I was going to make it before sunset.

“As soon as I got into Emporia, people were lining the streets cheering…it was awesome,” Schneidewind said. “Hundreds of spectators on both sides cheering and high-fiving you – I felt like a rock star and I was elated.”

Schneidewind crossed the line in 14 hours, 29 minutes and 43 seconds, placing 25th in the 40-49 men’s division and 60th overall of the 331 racers who made it to the finish line.

“I got my awards and finisher pint glass to be filled with beer,” Schniedwind said. “It was an awesome event. Kudos to my crew and my family. It was a great day and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

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