Here is what is going on lately with TBL Photography! I hope you enjoy my photographs as much as I enjoy taking them! Don't forget to subscribe to follow this post to get updates and special offers!


gravel sportsmanship

June 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

_MG_0642_MG_0642 I was at Camp Creek Road, about 30 miles into the Dirty Kanza 2016. Just off to the left, was the downhill into a trickle of water. A rider flatted just after the water. She rolled up next to me as she was talking about having problems with fixing the rear. I told her I could help, but that would mean she would be DQ’d. 

_MG_0649-Pano_MG_0649-Pano She looked at the rear wheel, and asked a couple of racers as they went by if they could help. About that time, a guy on a Single Speed pulled over and said he could help.

_MG_0662_MG_0662 It wasn’t long before Dave Wilson had her fixed up and back on the route. This is what I love about the DK. A guy on his ride, willing to stop to help out another rider. I knew that she could receive help from inside the race. I knew that I could not help her without her risking not finishing. 

I later saw her at the finish. She said she even had another rear flat… but this time she had one tire change under her belt and was able to finish the race.

Sportsmanship and the DK… 

Cover for Gravel

May 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

The feel of the Dirty Kanza 200 is something very special. I know I have told some of you about shooting it as a spectator, but without being there it is so hard to convey the feeling and emotion of the event. The emotions from riders, volunteers, and spectators flow through the collective group. I get goosebumps thinking about it. I also think emotions and connection reflect in the images I am able to create while there.

Getting lost in the moment. Feeling the cold mist at The Cattle Pens, and seeing the smiles on riders faces as they come by. This was what I saw when I shot the image that was selected for the cover of Kansas Outdoors. http://www.ksoutdoors.com/


KSO2016_cover_FINALKansas Outdoors Cover 2016http://www.ksoutdoors.com/


I wanted to speak about shooting an event like this from the photographer’s point of view. First, I have to say without the acceptance of the event coordinators, this image would never have been made. Years ago, I asked for permission to shoot the event and was granted permission. From there, I have built connections with so many great athletes from this single event. As a photographer, the connection to subject is so vital. I also think that others can feel where you are coming from when making an image. If you come from a good place, you project that. I also have to say that an event like this, is my endurance event as well. Being engaged mentally for over 24 hours straight is taxing; however, I think the investment in time and emotion is tangible and sensed by the riders. 

When I was contacted by the publishers for Kansas Outdoors, I can say that I was honored. I was honored for my chance to show what a local event looks like. I was honored with the ability to showcase an event to a state, national, and global audience by images I had taken. To other photographers, I would say this: assign a worth to your work. A value is assigned by you to your work by the amount of work put into an image. It is also assigned by what the image is. I equate this to the “Bigfoot” photo. Would a photograph that didn’t follow the rule of thirds, or leading lines, or was slightly out of focus be less valued if it was of a Bigfoot?  Content adds value.

All of this is a cycle. You have to put yourself out there, so someone will see your work. If your work needs practice and honing, how do you know this if you don’t put it out there for others to see? Once it is out there and someone appreciates your work, how do you assign a value? I would ask for you to be realistic about it. How long have you been making images? What image resolution do your images have? What is the image of? What is the reach of the image to be? 

We as a community of photographers have to work together and not against one another. We should support and trumpet each other so that the community gets better and stronger. Images become stronger, and we become better at our art. 

Museum at Prairiefire

January 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Museum at PrairiefireMuseum at PrairiefireThe late morning light in winter shone bright on the multicolored windows of the Museum at Prairiefire.

Most people say that if you are shooting photographs, and the sun is high without any clouds… you better be shooting inside. I disagree. I think light is light, and it all depends on the subject matter. The Museum at Prairiefire is constructed with glistening colored panels that reflect differently in the light. I  shot these at about 11:00 in the morning with a stark blue sky. I loved the change in the colors.

Leaving 2015

January 01, 2016  •  2 Comments

As I look back on this year, I see so many things that make me smile.  There were some sad times to be sure, but as a whole, the year was great. This posting finds myself waiting on the web site gurus to fix a new upgrade.

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A photography blog isn’t much good with degraded image performance. It wasn’t long before the web elves danced around with little bells and chains,

and all the nasty little Gremlins were chased off.

Looking back, last year really did hold an amazing amount of contacts and great images. It started with the new 2015

finding me and my family coming back from Colorado.  Donut Mill woodland park-0163Donut Mill woodland park-0163 On the journey back to Kansas City, we try to stop in Woodland Park, Colorado.  The Donut Mill has been a staple on the trips out and back. If you get a chance, please stop by to try the dinner plate sized cinnamon rolls. Donut Mill woodland park-0154Donut Mill woodland park-0154


We continued our ride home and along the way, I slipped off of I-70 to a side stop. I highly recommend this. Get off of the main road. The boring, mundane blip after blip of the dotted center line holds nothing for you but miles down the road. Take that left turn somewhere along the way and spend a few minutes. I knew where I wanted to stop, as a good friend of mine (Corky Heller [http://www.chellerphotography.com]), had been there before.

_MG_0198-Edit-Edit-Edit_MG_0198-Edit-Edit-Edit http://www.stfidelischurch.com

It was at this point the kids needed to stretch, and frankly I needed to stimulate my brain with more than kids videos and alphabet games. The spreading expanse of the St. Fidelis Church was amazing. The warmth of the pews and the arched expanse of the ceiling pulls you into the sanctuary. Truly an inspiring view of amazing architecture. After stretching for a few minutes, we made our way home to Kansas City. 

Soon, my daughter’s birthday came along. People ask me what they can do to improve their photography at home. I say shoot a lot. Shoot everything. Shoot all the time. Challenge yourself by shooting everyday things, thinking of them as other moments. “If this was that, then I would do this.” Trust me, my kids have become very accustomed to striking a pose when they hear their names.



I also say to make time to go on mini-trips. At the end of January, Corky asked if I wanted to tag along to a Boy Scout Camp and then some travels on back roads around central Kansas. I made the arrangements with my lovely wife, and went for a long weekend.


_MG_0001_2_3Stone CellarA native stone cellar near Sedan, Kansas

_MG_0187_8_9Coronado Heights - Castle InteriorFrom the rolling Smoky Hills region of Kansas, the “castle” at Coronado Heights is an iconic structure.

I had seen numerous shots of the castle at Coronado Heights, but I had not seen many (if any) of the inside.  I loved the stonework, and the feel of the medieval space. I was waiting for the castle dogs with wired hair, long limbs, and hungry bellies to run in from outside. I could see the coat of arms on the wall, tapestries flit in the drafts created by cooking fires. Now, we just needed a drawbridge.

In February, I find myself attending a National Geographic presentation. My wife and I adore the addition of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts to Kansas City’s expanding arts and intellectual scene. This venue hosts many things from musical performances of world class nature, to nature presentations by world class photographers. I have seen amazing imagery presented here by the likes of Catherine Karnow (http://catherinekarnowphotoworkshop.com),

Paul Nicklen (http://www.paulnicklen.com), and Carsten Peter (http://www.carstenpeter.com/index_en.php). 

Kauffman Center red and blue-1Kauffman Center red and blue-1

The start of March found me traveling for work.

Welcome to Aggieville-1Welcome to Aggieville-1Downtown Aggieville at night.

A few days later, I was off to Manhattan, Kansas for a work seminar. My camera and kit travelled with me so that I could wonder around in the evening to see what I could find. That is another common theme that I have noticed. Take a camera with you. I don’t care if it is your cell-phone or your DSLR. Take it with you. Now that you have it with you, think about the photograph. Don’t just take the mindless snapshot, but compose. Think. Look.

Once back, I had a shoot of a cooking class to attend.

Wine on a hot pan-1Wine on a hot pan-1Chef Bob Brassard uses wine to get the flavors from the bottom of the pan.

I shoot a lot of things for use of others. I have said in the past, that you should not shoot for free. Assign a value to your work. There are some images that I do not get “paid” for, but value is assigned. A gold medal meal is bartered for photos for students. 

KCMO at The Scout-1KCMO at The Scout-1A view from Penn Valley Park toward downtown Kansas City, Missouri. A trip at the end of March after a storm system, to one of the overlooks in Kansas City. This park is about twenty minutes from my house, and holds one of the most recognizable views of the city.

April found spring approaching with flowers and trees starting to bloom.

Nelson Atkins-1Nelson Atkins-1The shuttlecock on the southwest corner of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art is truly a national treasure. If you ever have a chance, take a day to explore it. I can tell you, backpacks are not allowed. Tripods and flash photography are also not allowed inside of the galleries. 


I then travelled to Washington, DC. The cherry blossoms were starting to bloom, I had a friend living there, and it was my birthday.

What better time to spend a week with a camera!

IMG_0003Marine and his sonA Marine assigned to the Silent Drill Team with his new son. Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC As most of you know, I will talk to anyone. While traveling I noticed a young couple on the plane with an infant. For the most part, the child travelled great. There were some times on the four or so hour trip, that the child cried. I could see them working on trying to quiet their child. I could see they were trying to do everything in their power to calm the yelling. I get it. I have been there. I walked up to the young couple as we waited for the bags, and asked if I could tell them something. I told them, from one parent to another, to never feel ashamed of their child. You could see the relief and calm come to the situation. I asked if I could get my camera and take of photo of them as we waited. I gave my card, and told them to email me as I would send the image back to them. A few months later, I received that email and sent the photo back. I also learned that this young man was assigned to the Silent Drill Team with the United States Marine Corp. (http://www.barracks.marines.mil/Units/CompanyA/SilentDrillPlatoon.aspx)

IMG_0155Korean War Memorial

The Korean War Memorial was an inspiring site at night. The sound of the city falls away from you while in the National Mall,

and the dark around you made the lights feel like starlight. 

IMG_0008The Subway in DC

The subway and bus system in DC was amazing. It really did allow for travel all over the city. It took some getting used to,

but was not that bad with some help from my buddy.

IMG_0064-Edit-Edit-EditWashington Monument - Kites - Cherry Blossoms The National Mall made me thankful for tennis shoes and a camera. So many things to see and do. I think I could spend a month here and not touch all of the things I would like to do. (http://www.tblphotography.com/washingtondc) I was also lucky enough to be invited into the National Arboretum to photograph something. A pair of nesting Bald Eagles. Now to those that see them on a regular basis, this is not something special. In this case, it was. I was not prepared with the kit that I would need to shoot long distance wildlife, but I was not passing up the chance. These were the first nesting pair of eagles in the District of Columbia documented in 50 years! I was also glad to talk to the resident Ornithologist abut the habitat as we walked up to the secluded viewing area. 

IMG_0419IMG_0419 The nesting pair moved around in the early morning sky, and finally arrived to feed the one visible eaglet. I also discovered that I had been allowed in to photograph these amazing birds before the Washington Post and National Geographic.

May then found me prepping for the upcoming Dirty Kanza 200 bicycle race (http://www.dirtykanza200.com)

DK 200 Granada-1DK 200 Granada-1

I had shot this amazing amalgamation of awesome people over the last few years. Different images have been selected for publications in Women’s Adventure Magazine, Road Magazine, Men’s Health, and several others. I enjoy that, but what really gets me is the relationship the people have with one another and the event itself. If you have never felt what a contagious environment is, you need to be standing at the start or finish of this event. A complete town comes out for friends they have not met yet. The vibe of the event is different. The racers help one another. The people around you are all smiling, I mean down to the person. I get emotional just thinking about being a part of this. It also allows me the ability to take people inside of the event.

DK 200 linda-1Linda Guerrette Shooting at The Cattle Penshttp://www.lindaguerrettephotography.com Sometimes the people around you seem larger than life. I got to meet Linda Guerrette this year, and I have to say she nails event and especially bicycle event photography (http://www.lindaguerrettephotography.com). Beyond that, she is one of those people that you just feel a smile and a hug comes naturally to. Inside of the race itself, you can see how people battle the mental race as much as the route itself.

Yuri at the Cattle Pens-1Yuri at the Cattle Pens-1 DK 200 finish-1DK 200 finish-1A split second fisnish Here, Yuri Hauswald (http://www.guenergy.com/) sprints at the finish after an tremendous closure of about 20 minutes out on the route. I love this, and I love the moment just after that.

DK 200 finish close up-1DK 200 finish close up-1Yuri after the sprint at the finish of the 2015 DK 200 I love the total exhaustion and end of the race relief you can see here. But to be honest, I really love

the connection that he had with his wife after he was able to stand.

DK 200 finish close up yuri wife-1DK 200 finish close up yuri wife-1 I also love the relationships that the camera has brought to me. Wendy Davis (http://apabstsmear.blogspot.com) at the finish of the 2014 DK and her hug to Kristi Mohn was my cover for the Dirty Kanza Magazine. Getting to see her again this year, and getting to see her finish her fourth DK200 had me smiling and a little teary. Possibly, this coming year will let me see her complete her 5th DK200 and thus earning her an spectacular goblet!

DK 200 finish Wendy Davis-1DK 200 finish Wendy Davis-1

June came in with an invite to come to Whiteman Air Force Base and to have up front access to the Thunderbirds. Some truly happy, outgoing, and friendly people. An outreach of the Air Force to the public and especially the youth, they are some top notch aviators and crews.

USAF Thunderbirds-1USAF Thunderbirds-1 USAF Thunderbirds-1-2USAF Thunderbirds-1-2

The image of B-2 Spirit Bomber 331 (Spirit of South Carolina) was taken as the bomber banked low due to the low ceiling. This image was also a donation I gave to a soon to be retiring Air Force Specialist who has worked on this very bomber. Dennis Saum with Overland Park Art and Frame (http://overlandparkart.com) stepped up with a donation of the framing for this career military man. I ended up signing this and making it a series print, 1 of 10. Spirit Bomber-1Spirit Bomber-1

The summer found me shooting more for the local Farmer’s Market. We took the girls to a local school

grown garden that showed the power and work of being organic. 

Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market

The farmers at the market tend not to be “marketers.” They are farmers after all. I have gotten to the point that they all pretty much know me, and enjoy the

imagery that I can give back to them. They are what I call my “feel good project.” If I can further them,

then my organic produce for my family becomes more plentiful. 

Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market

On the artisan side, Chef Dave Derr and Chef Jessica Rush make the art of stuffed casing and grilled meats to the next level.

Artisan sausage, who knew it would be so tasty!

Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market Broadmoor garden-1Farmers Market

Interspersed in between customer photographs, I continue to try to capture those important family moments… like the wonder of loosing your first tooth.

Logan's First tooth-1Logan's First tooth-1

Here my wife Sara spends a moment with her 89 year old grandmother. She has always had such a love for her grandmother and grandfather.

Sara and Boo-1Sara and Boo-1

During the year I was also able to work on more commercial images. Corrine Mosher (https://www.facebook.com/corinnemoshershooting) allowed me the honor of having a shoot at her home range. Shooting a shooter in a manner of speaking. She really was easy to work with.

591A0042 flag 24x36591A0042 flag 24x36

Not long after shooting for her, I was asked to shoot for Shoot for the Gold Event (http://www.shootforthegold.com) . This event was put on by Corinne and Mike Mosher for donations going to Special Olympics. One interesting comment that I heard from national shooters, was I was the only photographer they had seen that would reset steel targets.

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As September moved in, other events and customer shoots came along. The sunflowers started to show the summer was ending and fall was coming.

sunflowers-1sunflowers-1 sunflowers-2sunflowers-2 sunflowers-3sunflowers-3

Race the Chase was upon us (http://www.racethechase.com). A run, race, ultra-run 50 mile route across the sweeping prairie of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (http://www.nps.gov/tapr/index.htm)

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I was happy to see one of the gentlemen of the area show up with his kit. Dave Leiker has always been forthcoming with help, context, constructive critiques, and a smile. (http://prairiedust.net/)

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I try to see stories within the event. Ella Reusser had taken a left when she should have went right. Crushing!

 Finding out she was off-route. I could see the anger, disappointment, and disgust wave across her face like the waves of wind sifting the tall grass.

She was done.


Another racer, Shane Heiman, come off coarse on the same path as she had. He immediately told her THEY were not giving up and to come on. They retraced the route back to the wrong turn (adding something near 4 miles to the route), and got back on track.

IMG_0400IMG_0400 IMG_0424IMG_0424

She would later finish as the top female!


September found me back in Colorado and just in time for the Vapor Trail 125 (http://vaportrail125.com)


125 miles of single track trails in the mountains of Colorado at night. Sounds fun doesn’t it?

591A0081-Edit-Edit591A0081-Edit-Edit 591A0102591A0102 591A0171591A0171 IMG_0020IMG_0020

The trip also allowed me to come across some new hikes and trails. Brown’s Creek FallsBrown’s Creek Falls

October came and so did the Waterfire (http://www.waterfirekc.com) on the Plaza. The cauldrons lit on Brush Creek were only half as mesmerizing as the aerial work and fire dancing of the member from Quixotic ( http://www.quixoticfusion.com ).

591A0499591A0499 591A0593591A0593 591A0677591A0677 591A0843591A0843 591A0940591A0940 591A0058591A0058 October saw more product images


Some tasteful products from Drangonfly Gourmet Foods (https://www.facebook.com/DragonflyGourmetFoods/)


and food:

Kusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroKusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroFrom a pop-up of Kusshi by Joe West, a great night of fine cuisine on 10-20-2015 Kusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroKusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroFrom a pop-up of Kusshi by Joe West, a great night of fine cuisine on 10-20-2015 Kusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroKusshi pop-up at Broadmoor BistroFrom a pop-up of Kusshi by Joe West, a great night of fine cuisine on 10-20-2015

The end of October, November and into December found time at a premium. Customer family shoots, custom settings with post production, and special location shoots filled the books. I was able to shoot some amazing family sessions that held meaning of passed love ones.

kari girls ghost mom 8x10kari girls ghost mom 8x10 flott ghosted layers exportflott ghosted layers export 591A0024591A0024 Heater frame snowflake 591A0011-EditHeater frame snowflake 591A0011-Edit 591A0034591A0034 591A0071-Edit591A0071-Edit 591A0043591A0043 591A0016591A0016 And as the year closes I am content. I have been able to expand my circle of friends on this silly spinning orb called Earth. I have seen more people smile and have been able to be part of those smiles. It does my heart good. And with that, may you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year! 591A0189-Pano-Edit591A0189-Pano-Edit



2015 DK200 - Mud and Smiles

June 06, 2015  •  2 Comments

The rain had been coming down for a few days off and on all over the state.  For several weeks, the rivers and streams had engorged themselves on the cold spring rain to the point of covering fields and roads with muddy, drift wood filled water.  The green of the fields was deep and rich. The type of green that you can smell. The grass and wild flowers sift scents across the fields in the mist that make it almost enjoyable to be standing in the cold over a waving prairie field. 


The days leading to the Dirty Kanza 200 scattered rain and cool temperatures across the region. The day before the race, on registration day, a steady drizzle blanketed Emporia along with a tinged anxiousness.  The highway out of town had been covered in water.  Many of the roads were covered in water.  Jim Cummins had a concerned look about him, but was firm in that the race was going to happen.  Somehow, the rain was not going to stop the DK.  It may alter the race. It may mold the roads into slinking, slimy snakes that wound across the Flinthills… but it would not stop the race.

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

{Riders return to town after riding some of the route during registration}

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

April Morgan rolled up in the rain just outside of the Dirty Kanza Headquarters.  Her smile was ear to ear and I could tell that she was having fun. The rain didn’t matter.  The grit and mud didn’t matter. The issue was that these riders were here.  The muddy roads were not what was going to battle them and their machines on race day. They would be battling themselves.

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

Even the vendors and sponsors had to dress for the weather.  Most looked more like longshoremen than bike industry personnel.  Tents filled their eaves with pools of water, and then splashed to the ground when filled to overflowing.  The crowds continued and the smiles continued to beam through the misty dank day.

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

I came around a corner and instantly saw a face and a smile that you cannot help but recognize, and then smile back.  Wendy Davis, who I had captured at last years finish of the DK200, was smiling away.  Her photograph adorned the cover of this years DK event magazine, and I was so honored to be able to share her moment of emotion with the DK world. With all of the water, I had brought her something in case she needed help at one of the water crossings.  The pool floaty shark may come in handy!  As I walked off and said I would see her later, her smile followed me.


Eric Benjamin (The Adventure Monkey http://adventuremonkey.com) and I decided to make a run south of town to see what the water was like at one of our favorite water crossings.  Once there, we decided that we should probably plan on another section of coarse to shoot.  I am just a shade under 6’4” and when that water went from hip to lower chest in one step, that was good enough for me. We looked at some more areas of the route, and headed back to town. Once back, I found The Queen of Pain - Rebecca Rusch signing books and sharing smiles with anyone that wanted to come say hello.  She is truly one of the most gracious premier world class athletes that you will ever meet.  What a great, forth coming smile.

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

I then ran into a group of folks whom I had struck up in conversation at Radius Brewing { http://radiusbrewing.com } the day before. Pennsylvania is a long way to come for an event in the rain, but the DK has turned into just that type of event.  Contenders come to pit themselves against other wold classers, while others come to pit themselves against the reflection in the mirror.  Jacqueline Hill showed me what she had just received.  Most fans have Rebecca sign her book, Rusch to Glory { http://www.rebeccarusch.com/rusch-to-glory/ }, Jacqueline had something more personal in mind.

2015 DK200 Prerace2015 DK200 Prerace

The riders meeting was phenomenal.  So many amped, smiling and I would say giddy people.  The rain was there in conversation, but never really appeared to bring people down.  Jim Cummins, Kristi Mohn, and LeLan Dains spoke about the race and what was to be expected.  A lead-off home run was hit by Eric Benjamin with a punk rock inspired photography slideshow and tribute to “Big Grin” Joel Dykes.  Goosebumps and a slight surge of adrenaline got the crowd ready after that.  I could see people move a little forward in the seat.  I could see smiles run across the crowd as images from Eric, me, and Patrick Evenson { http://coverage.zenfolio.com} scrolled across the big screen at the scenic Granada Theater. After the meeting I met with the photographers of this years event : Linda Guerrette {http://www.lindaguerrettephotography.com}, Eric, Patrick, Kim Morris {http://www.kimmorris.com}, J. Greg Jordan {https://www.facebook.com/pages/Flash-Photography/204158196347312?__mref=message}, and Paul Arnold



The next morning was race day. The morning came early and I headed down to Commercial Street at about 4:30.  A fine mist filled the air.  The type of mist that comes from a little spray bottle atomizer… you know the kind. The kind that leaves small, microscopic globules all over everything. Small dots on lenses, roads, bikes and brakes.  I could see the sheen on the road from in front of the Granda Theater. I hoped the rain would hold off to allow as much drainage as possible for the race…. please let there be only minor changes to the route.


I continued to walk downtown, and headed over toward the DK HQ to feel out any route changes.  I stopped by the Sunflower Outdoor and Bike {http://sunfloweroutdoorandbike.com} Pop-up Store. I could see Rebecca Rusch and Dan Hughes getting ready. The customary wide smiles and grins were replaced with thoughts and flat affects.  They had more on their minds than smiles.

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Time ran away with the morning, and soon I looked at my watch to notice it was nine minutes until the projected start.  A line call out for the front of the race included notable pain endurance athletes as Yuri Hauswald {https://twitter.com/yurihauswald} and Rebecca Rusch, 

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Bob Cummings from Wichita, Kansas had made his way to return to the DK!


Andrea Cohen, the Iowan who always has a smile, was ready to go at the starting line.  The last time I had seen her, she was wet and muddy.  She had been slogging up the Verdigris Creek crossing last year in the slick, wet clay.


Another smiling face, pretty much for the entire race, was Amanda “Panda” Nauman.  She held that smile on hills, in the mud, and in the mist and rain.  She also finished first above all other women in the field… with a smile! 


Yuri Hauswald chatted with Barry “Wicknasty” Wicks at the call out line.  I again noticed they were smiling as they jostled around on their bikes, waiting for the start.


The crowd sounded like they favored Dan as he was announced, but I think they really appreciated the group of amazing riders for the talent amassed in front of them. Stephen Goetzelman lined up next to Dan and awaited the rest of the announcements.


Shortly after a couple more announcements the line settled in.  They reminded me of the recent Kentucky Derby horses in the stalls. Shifting feet. Anxious yawns of excitement. Rolling the bike back and forth. Squeezing the brake back and forth out of reflexive tension. They were ready… and the start of the 2015 Dirty Kanza was off.


I was to have Eric Benjamin and Corky Heller {http://www.chellerphotography.com} riding with me to capture and leap-frog the winners as best we could. We ran to the truck, and barreled out of town.  It wasn’t long before we caught the field as they headed south through Emporia.  We all looked at the churning water of the Cottonwood River.  The banks were containing it, but barely.  We all knew this day would contain some amazing images.

We headed to the first place we wanted to catch the riders, “The Cattle Pens.”  This is an area where open range pastures lead to a loading and shipping location for cattle and semi-trucks.  Nestled against a portion of the Kansas Turnpike, the cattle pens mix Flint Hills topsoil and cow manure to generate a mud that not only stinks but stains.  It wasn’t long until riders started appearing.  Yuri hammered through the rough spot and had his eyes on the top of the hill.

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Sean Mailen 863 / Salsa Cylces  {http://salsacycles.com} made his way across the mud and rock north slope of the Cattle Pens, already covered in mud from a previous 3 mile hike in even worse mud.



Darren Fuller 880, Fourth place finisher in Mens 50-54, got on the pedals as he came up the hill.  The mist and wind had picked up, and was adding a cold headwind as riders headed toward the turn at the top of the hill.

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Then  Joe Stiller maneuvered the wide tired bike up the nasty road. It trucked right along, and I wondered if this was not the race for a fatty.  Floatation may be the key to this one!


It was some time and several riders before we saw Dan Hughes come rolling up with a group.  He and been involved in a little tangle earlier, and was making up distance.  It is interesting to listen to the photographers on the sides calling out kits as the riders approach.  “Is that a Salsa? I think so. I see white and black, is that Dan? Can’t tell!”  Note to the riders that want their photos taken… wear a kit that we can see from a long way away! 


It wasn’t long before we could see the red and white with blue helmet that meant one person was coming…. Rebecca Rusch was here.  She had a smile on her face as she looked up, and then shifted to determination as she went by.  She was on this, and I could tell she was going to finish it.


We then decided to head to another section of coarse, and loaded up to get off the route.  As we headed south, we were going to take some photos of the first major creek crossing, and then go to the east to be off route and to give the riders the road as much as we could.  We pulled up to the crossing in time to catch 


Curt Shelman with Chamois Butt’r, First Place Finisher mens 55-59, scoot across the creek with what looked like little problem.  Some choose to walk while others rode the crossing.


Brian Hayden (154) made a little gap from the others as he rode right through the chilly runoff.  Others took this opportunity to clean derailleaurs and chains of the grit, rocks, and mud that had accumulated from the cattle pens to here.

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Soon we decided to leave the crossing as to get to a spot in front of the leaders, so we attempted to get off the route by taking a road next to an impoundment downstream from this water crossing.  We travelled about 4 miles to a crossing that would have been over the engine of the truck I was driving and another Jeep that was taking photographer Linda Guerrette around the route.  We headed back to the south, and unfortunately had to be on the route more than I had ever wanted to.  This section and no other way to get off of the route. We drove wide. I waited for opportunities to go around as they presented.  This was about the riders, and I did not want to hinder that.  At one point, I became stuck on the left side of the road. Not due to the mud, but a rider had pulled to the left side and I had riders to my right.  I noticed as I looked at the rider, that he was fiddling with something in his hands and his hands were shaking much like a bartender makes a shaken-not-stirred Martini.  He was not in a good way. I could tell he was pre-hypothermic.  I offered to let him warm in the truck.  He refused.  I thought about anything I had that he would take.  He advised he was fine and would get going in a minute.  I made sure he was looking me in the eye, and he was making a conscious decision.  He looked at me and said he would be ok.  I told him he needed to eat, and he needed to ride.  HE had to. I also knew that an Oasis was a few miles down the road, and there were enough riders on the route to call for help if he became worse. He later found me at the finish with a smile on his face, thanking me for stopping to check on him.



We pulled into Madison, grabbed some coffee and headed to the check in area.  As we walked down the street, I could see the blur of a couple of bikes go zooming out of town. We had missed the leaders!  Third place finisher, Jesse Stauffer (599) was heading out of town as we made it to the check-point.

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The unsung heros of this group are the support crews.  The stress of success can lead people to yell, become upset, and otherwise become someone they normally aren’t when supplies are not ready.  A well oiled and prepared support crew is an amazing thing to see.  I would offer that it is much like an Emergency Room when a trauma patient comes in.  What do you need in the most important order as soon as I can get it.  Fuel, mechanical, hydration, clothing… everything there in a second.  I also noticed one of the great aspects of the DK. One support crew was a single wife. She was running getting food, clothes, everything for her rider.  Another wife from Team Apex {https://instagram.com/teamapexmultisport/} ran over, said her riders were not there yet and asked if she could help.  She grabbed a hydration pack and started filling it.  What other sport has someone that would do that?  Where else would you see something like that?  Seriously, where?

We loaded up once more, and headed to “The Bitch.”  I had talked to Jim about this little gem about three weeks ago.  He said he and LeLan had been out scouting the route on some roads that were not used before.  He said when he looked over at this, those were the words that came to mind… That is going to be a bitch!  Let me set the scene.  There is an abrupt short climb at a bridge, and then the road rolls over about a mile and a half. A slight rise and a left turn leads into a long downhill where speed can be carried to a low-water concrete bridge.  A slight uphill rolls along with a slight curve to the right as you travel through some creek-bottom hardwoods. A nice stroll.  Another low-water concrete bridge with some washout damage, and another gentle uphill… until you turn left at the marking. Then the downhill leads you to the base of “The Bitch.”  ANOTHER low-water bridge, a short straight away, and then a lilting curve and turn to your left, a turn to your right, a turn to your left… and then the last part of the hill straight up. 591A0606591A0606

Michael Sencenbaugh (606) trudged up the hill without much hesitation.  Work.  One rotation after the other. Up and over.

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Jesse Stauffer (599 and eventual third place finisher overall and first in mens under 29) also made the work with a steady cadence up.


Lucas Seibel (671 and eventual second place finisher for single speed) smiled all the way up the hill. The entire time. I don't think he could have done anything else.


Yuri powered up the hill chugging away like a Cummins Diesel. One RPM at a time. Breathing heavy with the force of every crank. He didn’t waiver. He didn’t walk… he cranked on.

591A0642591A0642 Dan Hughes arrived and in typical Dan fashion, demolished the hill - with one exception.  He made a joke. I don’t think I have ever heard Dan make a joke in the race. Granted, I have not shot Dan as much as others, but this struck me.  After Dan went over the hill, Eric and I looked at each other and at almost the same time (with I am sure the same dazed look on our faces)… “Dan was joking… he has never done that.”  I noticed that he had a look on his face of genuine enjoyment.  He was having FUN!  He later told me that he had no pressure.  He was going to ride his race for him, and he was going to have fun doing it.  I could see that.


A short cross over to the west and we ended at about mile 116 on the route.  This was a double hill that came out of the creek bottoms to the upper open range. The gravel was more like small boulders. The road had a washout across it, leading uphill to a saturated section of mud which lead to another section of gravel up to the flat-top. 


Matt Rossi (805), came up the hill and into the middle with a polite “Excuse me gentlemen.”  Up the hill he went.  Some riders became walkers, while others mentioned that they would not have ridden the hill without the photographers taking their photographs.  We are always glad to provide support and motivation!

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[Dan Hughes]


[Bill Clinesmith]



[Rebecca Rusch]


[Dan Hughes]


[Joe Fox]


[Yuri Hauswald]

Long gone were the smiles.  Grins had turned to grimaces. This was absolutely an internal check of what was on the inside.  You could see the riders looking down at the rocks in front of them.  They were as much looking into their thoughts and internal being. Who could make the miles back to Emporia?


The last section of the route would have to be someone else's as we were heading to Emporia to get some of the DK100 finishers and set for the 200 finish.  Getting ready for the 200 finish appeared to be the smartest thing we had done all day.  Yuri had closed on Michael Sencenbaugh, caught a line, and kept it. 


You could hear the cowbells ringing off of the surrounding buildings.  The crowd’s collective yell waved the riders down the chute to the timing line. Yuri was giving everything he had. 


With slightly more than a bike length and .49 seconds, he crossed in front of Michael.  After 200 miles, the length of a bike and a helmet excluded second from the top step of the podium.


Yuri took some time to recover as other 100 riders came in to the finish.  You could see that he had left it all out there. He had given everything and that had been enough.

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The smiles remained for top finish female, Amanda Nauman’s face!

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The biggest thing I noticed at the finish was this.  Everyone smiled. They may have been tired, but they smiled.  The fans and family along the chute smiled. The DK200 and DK100 … they all congratulated each other and smiled.  I got to see friends who have finished multiple 100’s and 200’s… and I smiled.  I do think that the inner pride of doing something worth doing is important. I think reaching inside to that point of breaking, and then not giving in is important. I also think we all need to have those smiles. After watching Jim, Kristi, LeLan and Tim operate on little to no sleep over 30 some hours… and smile the entire time… I can see love for an event and community that goes deep and I can see why people return to the Dirty Kanza 200.


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