Land Run 100 takes place in 5 days. Stillwater marks the first major race of 2016 for many of us gravel kids in the Midwest. Wet, dry, hot, cold, calm or windy, races like the LandRun100 never disappoint. The build up has a lot to do with the feeling of these events as well as just the riding itself.
There’s the training that goes into it. Our goal may be to finish fast or just to…finish. Survive the challenge. I that’s really what most of the races are about for the majority of us. Can we survive the challenge the race organizer has presented us with? Regardless, we all have to put a few miles on our bikes pre-race. Weekend warriors trying to fit in a 40 or 60 mile in here or there. Cringing when all we can muster is a quick quarter century. I made that sound fancier than just saying…25 miles. Will it be enough? Have we added enough hills? Faced enough headwind? Attacked enough rollers? The course is about to answer all our questions.
We have all mentally planned for the race. Well most of us have. We watched as registration filled up. Who is coming back this year and who isn’t. We all anticipate meeting up with old friends pre-race. Some of us road trip to the race with buddies. There’s always the “new guy”. Quietly much more nervous than the others. Listening as everyone talks about the legends of the past. What food did you go with? Solids? Gels? All natural? How many water bottles? Bottle? On bike? Camelbak? Roctane? Scratch Labs? Gatorade? Hammer? Straight water? How will you take in calories or do you just wing it? Tires 28’s, 32’s, 35’s, 38’s? Bigger? How many tubes? Tubeless? Tools? Pump or co2 or most likely both? We all will be pedaling soon and find out how our choices play out.
Race day. Time to execute. Time to have fun. Time to finish. We’ll all take our pre-race pictures. Some will make it to social media, some wont. We’ll all wish each other luck, promising to stick by each other. Some will and some won’t. It’s all good. It’s race day. Things happen. Have fun. Slow roll out happens and it’s game on. The first 10 miles feel a little awkward as you hold your line and focus on not ripping off the dudes derailleur in front of you. The first big hill comes up and chaos unleashes. The climbers shoot to the left line. “On your left! On your left!” The survivors shift to a low gear and think “here we go”. Every one pities the “first flat guy/girl”. “Good?” “Good.” I was that the “first flat” dude maybe 5 miles in 2 years ago. I’m slow. Even the last of the 50 mile folks passed me. Lotta playing catch up that day. The only year I’ve finished the LandRun100 now that I think about it.
Over the next 5 to 10 hours the course plays out. We pedal. We coast. We talk. We walk. We climb. Epic stories unfold. Legends are born. Hero’s are made. “Smitty CRUSHED it!! Not all will finish but all will take home a story. All will move on to the next race. Training will happen again. Planning will take place again. All will try to execute again. Tis the season.
I love race season. Hope to see you out there.