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Sedgwick-Area Residents Bike In Famously Grueling Race

Posted 6/15/2017

THE Giblin family—(left to right) Joey, Lexi, Rich and Amy—participated in the 50-mile Dirty Kanza bicycle race on June 3. THE Giblin family—(left to right) Joey, Lexi, Rich and Amy—participated in the 50-mile Dirty Kanza bicycle race on June 3. By Jared Janzen

SEDGWICK— Pedaling mile after mile on a bicycle over hilly terrain in unpredictable weather conditions of heat, wind and rain while facing the danger of a punctured tire probably sounds like an arduous task to most people, but for participants of the Dirty Kanza, it’s a fun challenge.

The grueling bicycle race through the Kansas Flint Hills attracts cyclists from across the country and around the world. Among those competing in this year’s Dirty Kanza on June 3 were Sedgwick-area residents Rich and Joey Giblin and their two daughters, Amy and Lexi.

Both daughters are married and live in Washington, but they joined their parents in the Dirty Kanza as part of Rich’s 70th birthday celebration.

The annual race begins and ends in Emporia and has divisions for 25, 50, 100 and 200 miles. The Giblin family took part in the 50-mile race. The Dirty Kanza attracts 2,500 competitors from 46 states and 10 countries, and organizers have to cap off the number of participants so as to not overwhelm Emporia and smaller towns like Madison and Eureka that racers pass through.

“It’s the best race of its kind in the world,” Rich said.

Part of the appeal comes from the beautiful Kansas scenery and the challenging hilly course, but Rich said the race also attracts professional cyclists because the longer races only have support stations every 50 miles, and any outside help disqualifies a racer. The importance of self-sufficiently makes the 200-mile race a great test of endurance.

Last year the family had biked the 50 together, so this time they wanted to kick it up a few notches and do the 100-mile race, but when registration opened online in January, that race filled within minutes and they had to settle for the 50. Two years ago, Rich completed the 100-mile race with a few friends.

On the morning of the race, thousands of bicyclists lined up on Emporia’s Main Street. Start times for the different distances were spaced 20 minutes apart, with the Giblins beginning at 6:40 a.m.

Rich and Joey agreed that the weather was ideal during the race, with low winds and moderate temperatures.

“It was a perfect day,” Joey said. “We couldn’t have asked for better conditions.”

The family kept close together during the race so they could offer support if needed. Rich carried repair gear with him in case any of them had mechanical issues, but fortunately the four of them didn’t have any problems, not even a flat tire.

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