Dirty Kanza Founder Jim Cummins shared a statement with Road Bike Action Magazine following his exit from parent company Life Time Fitness Saturday.

Cummins and Life Time came to a "mutual agreement" to end his employment with the company for “inappropriate and insensitive” comments he made on his personal Facebook page Friday. Cummins founded the Dirty Kanza with assistance from fellow cycling enthusiast Joel Dyke in 2006, and ran the race until 2018. He sold the DK to Life Time in 2018 and continued to oversee the race as the Chief Gravel Officer.

His statement in its entirety can be read below:

“I have dedicated the past fifteen years of my life to serving the cycling community. A strong community is a diverse community… made up of people from all walks of life, from all races, all religions, and holding a wide variety of views. I support them all.

A recent social media post of mine had one singular purpose… to show support for our men and women in blue. Unfortunately, I chose my words poorly. As a result, my words caused division and pain. For that I am deeply sorry.

In light of this, I have agreed with the fine people at Life Time that the only proper course of action is for me to end my association with the company and with their events. I wish Life Time, and the entire cycling community well. And hope that, some day, I can help to heal the wounds that I have caused.

Most Sincerely and Regretfully,

Jim Cummins.”

On Friday, Cummins made a post to his personal Facebook page asking his followers to watch a video in which two police officers attempt to apprehend Daniel Clary, a black man who shot an officer during a 2018 arrest in Pennsylvania. Clary was later convicted and sentenced to 110 years in prison. The officer survived.

“Watch the ENTIRE video,” Cummins said in the post. “Then if you still believe the Cop who shot Rayshard Brooks, after he stole the officer’s taser and then used it against him, was not justified in shooting Mr. Brooks... then unfriend me now.”

Brooks, a 27-year-old black man from Atlanta, was killed June 12 after he tried to flee from two white police officers after he fell asleep inside his car outside a Wendy’s restaurant. He was reportedly inebriated and took a taser from one of the officers. Brooks then fired the taser in the direction of one of the officers, but did not make contact.

Brooks was shot in the back as he tried to run from the scene. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Life Time responds

Kimo Seymour, president of Life Time’s events and media division, confirmed that Cummins had been terminated and told The Emporia Gazette Sunday morning that it was a “mutual decision to part ways.”

“We wish nothing but for the best for Jim,” Seymour said. “He was very understanding and it was a mutual decision to part ways.”

Seymour said he did not believe Life Time had a specific policy regarding employees activities on personal social media pages. However, the company wanted to “uphold certain principles and values.”

“We are careful about how to manage these situations and if an employee expresses a value that we think doesn’t align with our principles and values,” he said. “We think this event does stand for diversity and inclusion. ... We believe we need to take more positive action toward diversity. Cycling in general needs that.”

Seymour said he believes the DK can be a leading event in that area. In recent years, DK Marketing Manager Kristi Mohn, along with Operations Manager LeLan Dains and Athlete Services Manager Treva Worrel, has lead an effort to bring in more women to the race. The lottery for the 2020 race was the largest on record, Seymour said.

“We would love to be leaders in that area,” he said. “We have a phenomenal team there in Emporia with LeLan, Kristi and Treva. Our company has been fairly successful in getting involved in events that support the community. That’s one of the unique things with Emporia and the Dirty Kanza — it’s just such an amazing community event. We have an amazing team that comes together. We hope the event will continue to thrive.”

Life Time issued another statement on its social media Sunday evening regarding Cummins’ termination.

“As most of you know by now, we made the difficult decision yesterday to mutually part ways with the founder of Dirty Kanza,” they wrote. “On behalf of all of us and our organization, we are truly sorry for the hurt and emotional distress the events of the last few days have caused. Our cycling community is very diverse, and it’s one of the key factors that make us so unique and strong. At the same time, we stand by our decision as a company and by our vision and values that aim to ensure that everyone is accepted and supported. Those visions and values do not have a place for racism, prejudice or discrimination.

We are committed to taking action to ensure these values are upheld and continue to be centered in our work both as a brand and as an event. Most of all, we are committed to listening, learning and continuing to grow.

As an initial step, in the last few weeks, Life Time has launched a Diversity and Inclusion Council. This council will allow us to act and put intentional focus on changes we need to make internally so our company, clubs and events are a place for everyone.”

Seymour said part of growing the DK and moving forward is looking again at a possible name change — some have contended that the name Dirty Kanza can be construed as a racial slur against Native Americans meaning “dirty Indian” — though no decisions on that front would be made immediately.

The possible name change was also addressed in Sunday’s statement.

“In addition, we have been working throughout this year on options for a name change,” Life Time wrote. “Our event name wasn’t created with ill-intent, and while we have worked with and received support from the Kaw Nation, we also understand that our name should not cause hurt. This process does take time, and we want to do this in the correct manner. Please know that we will share progress as we work through this process.

Actions speak louder than words, and we are committed to putting in the continual work to establish long-term, sustainable changes.

As a leader in gravel cycling, we are also committed to being a leader in diversity within the cycling community. We acknowledge we have work to do in this regard. As plans are formalized, expect to hear more from us. We are open to hearing your ideas and encourage you to share them with us [dkinfo@lt.life].

Change is never easy but it is necessary, now more than ever, as we continue to grow and spread the joys of gravel with an even broader community. As the community of gravel grows more inclusive and diverse, it will become even more remarkable.

With respect and deep gratitude from your Dirty Kanza / Life Time Team,

LeLan Dains, Kristi Mohn, Michelle Duffy, Treva Worrel and Kimo Seymour.”

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include that Cummins was not "terminated" but rather, the decision for him to leave Life Time Fitness was mutual. 

(12) comments

Blueheeler

This man did absolutely nothing wrong ! ,

... ( watch the entire and you will see for yourself ). My instincts tell me this was flimsy excuse to simply fire him.

I am embarrassed for Kristy Mohn and her associates,.... obviously just another set of Liverals throwing a tantrum and kicking circles on the floor.

TedMosby

Based off of the slight mistakes in your comment, I assume you skimmed the article. He and LIfe Time mutually agreed to the "termination" and I'm sure he's free to rejoin at some unspecified point in the future, possibly involved with a different project. The decision seems to not have really harmed him and, in my opinion, possibly painted him in a better light for he maturely stated his realization of his actions and his regret. I assume you still view him in a positive light, then there really is no reason to have to comment on this article. Next, i doubt that Kristi had any hand in this result as she(and her associates) was mentioned only to talk about how she and the other two have been a driving force within the DK org for more inclusiveness within the race, particularly woman. Also, if the organization wanted to straight fire him rather than an amicable split, they would be well within their own and his rights to do so.

Valentine

Change the name asap, totally insensitive to our indigenous peoples.

Katoguy

He has the right to free speech...he also.has the right to.face the consequences of that speech. Lifetime.has a reputation.to uphold

TedMosby

Thank you for saying this. It was entirely correct and in the same vein, utterly respectful to all involved.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

All freedoms are being eroded, this is just another example. Unless you have the "right" opinion, you will pay dearly! And, with "tracing" and "tracking", your "contacts" may end up paying too! All of us that had history before it was tweaked for political correctness, know what happens if this continues!!!

DrPepper

‘Freedumbs’ there I fixed it for you. You’re welcome.

TedMosby

I'm not sure what you mean by any of the quoted words, save for the first, but your comment seems to be misinformed. There are no rights being violated here as, first off, you have to remember that companies and organizations have rights to, such as the right to terminate employee and/or association with anyone they please, so long as it has no connection to something out of the employee/associate's power. If you'll notice, opinions and expressed beliefs are totally within almost anyone's control, so no right, at any level was "eroded" in this situation. Secondly, you have to remember that the right to free speech only extends to any government entity, not a private citizen nor a business entity. I feel it's also important to remind everyone of the saying: history is written by the victors." So there has most likely never been a time where there wasn't political motivation behind the history, and the viewpoint thereof, taught to any person. I mean, everyone has an agenda. You also have to remember that at one point, every office in the American government, from local to the Head of the Executive branch (President), had nothing but prejudiced people filling them. During that period, which you may or may not have learned during(I don't know your timeline), history was taught in a very morally skewed light. Lastly, to backtrack to my earlier mentioning, I'm not sure what you mean by tracing, tracking, and contacts. My assumption, only my assumption, is that you're talking about social media as, in the scatter plot of your word choice, it seems to having the closest related fit between all three words. If you use tracking and tracing to mean simply going through a person's social media account information, and thus, discovering who that person associates with, or as you put it, contacts. Your wording makes it seem like a complex process, and yet its almost completely public knowledge, depending on some factors, that typically would take simply Googling the person's name and finding their accounts from the results. If you intended your words to mean the tracking and tracing of something as an IP address, i would like to explain, as an I.T. professional that IP tracking and tracing would yield little to no information to most people and entities, especially if no done for free.

booker5m

This BS !!

This company was looking for a reason to fire this fine man!

All this garbage is getting out of hand. Today if you disagree with the people like this company you are crucified!

You can no longer have free speech or throught that don't agree with these people. You have watch what you say because these type of jokers will stab you in the back!!!!!

TedMosby

Firstly, I'm not sure how he was crucified, seeing as he had an agreed upon end of employment with Life Time. Secondly, as I mentioned in a previous comment, his freedom of speech has not taken away. The first amendment only refers to the inability of the american government to stifle or endorse personal expression, save for preventing harmful expression against others, such as a hate crime. Lastly, as this for my own peace of mind, perhaps proofread your comments before you post them as your's is littered with grammatical, structural, and spelling errors. Though it is entirely up to you, just a suggestion.

Happy

This is outrageous, free speech is dead, all he did was tell the truth.

The company wanted to “uphold certain principles and values” and most of all the almighty dollar. Jim is one of the most considerate, honest, religious and unbiased men I have ever had the privilege to work with in my career and this is just plain wrong.

The city fathers should tell Life Time see you, we don’t need you anymore and hire Jim to run our own Dirty Kanza and with his connections it would thrive with no problem.

How many volunteers are we going to lose? Also thank you local law enforcement for the great job you do keeping our community safe

Scott Rothe'

Amen. Thank you Jim Cummins and Emporia Police Department!

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