Bicycling (South Africa)



AT 6AM ON SATURDAY 2 JUNE, Jim Cummins stood atop the marquee of the Emporia Granada Theatre and looked down upon his boyhood dream. A sea of nearly 2 700 anxious riders – including Jens Voigt and Sven Nys – flowed down Commercial Street for nearly six blocks as they awaited the start of the 13th edition of the Dirty Kanza 200, one of the longest, toughest and most popular gravel races on the planet. The Dirty Kanza only exists because Cummins and his then-business partner, Joel Dyke, wanted to ride it. “Joel had done the 480km-plus gravel event Trans-Iowa, in 2005, and came back raving about it. We agreed to hold something similar where we lived – for the sole reason that we wanted it to exist,” Cummins says. “It’s not just a challenge, it’s a life-enriching cycling experience. People are drawn to that.” In 2010, the event grew from 100 to 200 participan­ts and Dyke bowed out. Cummins called two of his trusty volunteers, Kristi and Tim Mohn, and offered them a share of the business if they’d help him run it. “It wasn’t worth a cent at the time, but that was the best decision I ever made. We all worked 50-hour-a-week jobs, then spent another 20 hours trying to grow Dirty Kanza, but we were committed.” In 2010, Cummins, who had a day job as a packaging engineer, moved to a new town for a new job. By 2013, DK200 registrati­on cracked 1 000 racers. Cummins was trying to hold down his seven-figure job while running the race remotely. The stress nearly broke the team. “Kristi called at the end of that year and said, ‘We either sell Dirty Kanza, or we kill it, or you move back here and we run this thing full-time, because I can’t continue.’ I had been courting a 30-plus-year career I loved, and an event that was a boyhood dream. That January, I left the secure job and came back home.” And sometimes, after a decade of hard work and dedication, dreams do come true.

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