“When I cross the line, people seem stunned”.
“The sun is beating down from a relentlessly blue sky on an 80-degree late-May afternoon in Emporia, Kansas. Alexandera Houchin is joking with her friends and supporters at the starting line of the Dirty Kanza XL, despite the fact that she’s just ridden her bike a few hundred miles through rain and mud from Iowa, napping under a highway overpass to get here on time. The laughter masks her misgivings about this race. It’s not because the DKXL is a notoriously difficult 542km ride through the steep and sharp Flint Hills of Kansas. It’s the race’s name, “Dirty Kanza,” that gets her. Kanza is a nickname for the Kaw Nation, the “People of the South Wind,” who lived in this region long before white settlers arrived. To preface that with “Dirty” shows a disconnect of the history of place that is ironic to Houchin, whose mother is Ojibwe.”
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