My MidSouth Gravel

I used to preach solely about how The Dirty Kanza had changed me.  I used to preach about how much The Dirty Kanza had helped me grow up as a cyclist.  I like to say I was born and raised on DK gravel.  All of that is still true…but…

I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past year and I want to make sure other events get their due.  The LandRun 100, currently MidSouth Gravel, is one of those events.  I have been to every single LandRun100 race/ride.  2013 was the first one.  I was there.  I am not the person now I was then.  The LandRun100 has humbled me and helped me grow as a cyclist as much as any race.  I failed two out of my first three attempts there.  I have broken my bike, abused my body and tortured myself mentally there.  I love the LandRun100…

2013.  The Year of the Derailleur.  Race Result.  DNF.  Three little letters defined what was a tough day for me.  In truth those three letters perfectly summed up my lack of mental toughness, my lack of physical fitness and in the end, my lack of cycling experience.  Traveling out of Emporia to ride in races was very new to me.  I was nervous.  I was excited.  I was a little scared.  I had travelled with much more experienced riders.  I had no bailout plan.  107 miles.  Chilly.  Rain in the forecast.  No one told me about the damn hills around Stillwater, Ok.  Spoiler alert.  There are never ending hills around Stillwater and when you are a 10-12mph rider…they are effing MASSIVE hills in your mind.  I was unprepared.  I had little in the way of equipment.  I barely knew how to change a tire.  I had a Trek X01 with 35mm tubed Happy Mediums.  Checkpoint 1 was about 60 miles in.  I was a couple miles out when the 6 hour clock clicked in my head.  I was going to miss the cutoff time.  Perfect.  I was sore, exhausted, pissed off, cold and tired of the overcast weather.  I was near the back of the pack.  I didn’t know Wintle that well.  He’s a nice guy.  He wants people to finish.  Shit.  SHIT!  Cutoff time extended.  I could keep riding.  I didn’t want to keep riding.  I hated bikes.  I sat down for like 20 minutes but was too embarrassed to quit.  I kept riding.  The rain started.  Cold effing rain started.  Great.  Now I’m freaking walking in the damn, cold rain.  It’s near 7 hours and I’m at like mile 70.  Broke Rear Derailleur hanger at Mile 75.  No idea what a hanger is…  7 hours and 40 minutes.  Out.  Phone dead.  No numbers memorized of all my new cycling friendsI sat freezing a little church in Meridian Oklahoma waiting about 2 hours for a friend to come find me.  I was so cold all the way through I could not stop shaking.

2014.  The Year of the ITB.  Race Result.  09:08:18.  I learned a lot about what not to do this year.  I wanted to be faster.  I thought all I had to do was pedal more.  I randomly jumped on gym stationary bikes.  I threw my bike on a trainer and pedaled a lot.  No direction.  No plan.  Apparently there is a thing called “bike fit” that involves more than just dangling a string from your knee when you buy a bike.  Who knew that saddle height, fore and aft positioning, cleat positioning and a structured plan all meant something? Who knew poor bike fit and stubbornness could do so much to ruin a season.  Have you ever had ITB issues?  I had to crawl up stairs after rides from the pain.  20 mile rides. So I went into LandRun with a weird pain in my knees.  The outside of the knee to be specific.  Usually started intensifying after a couple hours.  I popped a LOT of ibuprofen and carried a few small bottles of whiskey. The tiny airplane ones. Clueless. I finished LandRun in 2014 and had no idea what I had done to my entire year.  ITB issues became chronic and cost me so much time in 2014.  I could not even ride a mile to the bike trails without pain.  All because of bike fit.  I finished LandRun though.  Weather was good.  Hills were bad.  Wintle hug was awesome.  Stoke was stellar!

2015.  The Year of the Herniated Disc.  Race Result.  DNF.  I had lost 2014 to ITBS.  I finished the LandRun and the DK in 2014 but the pain was so intense.  I was paranoid and didn’t want that again.  I was scared of that pain.  Bikes were supposed to be fun.  a release.  I started off 2015 with a herniated disc.  I could feel that damn pinched nerve all the way into my foot.  I did okay if I pedaled controlled and sat leaning forward.  Well…this is LandRun.  There was peanut butter mud.  There was hike a bike.  I walked for 3 miles with stingers causing me to stop and recover my breathe from the pain.  I didn’t want to lose Dirty Kanza due to stubbornness at LandRun.  I wanted to quit at mile 30.  I called my wife. She guilted me into getting to the halfway checkpoint.  The day took me 6.5 hrs to go 50 miles.  There was a lot of walking in mud!  I played it safe.  I stopped at mile 50.  Race over.  Day over.  Pain over.

2016.  The Year I Got Skinny.  Race Result.  9:37:13.  MUD!  MUD!  There was mud!  Oh wait…it’s LandRun…there’s always mud.  No pain.  Bike fit on point.  Weight dropped from 175 lbs to 150 lbs.  I can’t explain it.  I got really sick in late December around Christmas.  I didn’t recover my appetite until later that year.  I dropped 25 pounds in 3 month’s.  I’m not kidding.  Maybe too much too fast but it happened.  I really had a great day on the bike.  The time doesn’t show it but there was a lot of walking in the first half.  I did go over the bars once. We turned into a field and a rut grabbed my entire front tire. The second half was dry and I rolled in with a new friend Elliot Rodda.  117th place out of 332 Finishers.  Austin Morris won that year.  18 year old kid.  I believe he was on a mountain bike.  Crazy fast.

2017.  The Year We All Earned It.  Race Result.  8:34:06.   Ever been wet and covered in mud for over 8 hours with temps topping in the 40’s and dropping throughout the day?  2017 epically sucked.  We were all numb mentally and physically.  You just pointed the front tire, turned the cranks and moved.  By the time we left the halfway checkpoint I doubt any of us had much thought process going on.  Just Finish.  Pedal until you see Wintle.  Wintle will tell you when to stop.  Freaking just pedal.  I dropped my entire Snickers bar into the mud at mile 80’ish. I was SO sad. Screw it. Jammed the entire thing into my mouth. Spit out the gritty parts. My mind and body stopped working.  Like seriously…stopped.  I stopped pedaling at one point.  Bike rolled to a stop. My body leaned over.  I got off the bike and leaned on the saddle.  I wasn’t thinking of quitting.  I wasn’t thinking period.  I was just…stopped.  Turns out it was like 10 miles from the Finish.  A friend told me to ride with him for a few more miles…so I did.  Again.  No thinking.  Just a numb mind and body turning the cranks until Wintle said “that’s enough.  You’re done”.  EPIC.  Beginning to End.

2018.  The Year We All Smiled.  Race Result.  7:01:29.  What can I say?  We deserved this one.  Paradise.  Dry.  Fast.  Fun.  No issue’s.  None.  Peaceful.  I saw a herd of Unicorns in a field under a rainbow playing soccer with a herd of goat men…all with faces of Wintle…Paradise.

2019.  The Year I Beat Jeffy.  Race Result. 6:13:19. Yes. Jeff and I were a tandem team but it does NOT matter!!! I crossed the freaking line first!! I technically beat Jeffy by half a bike length!! The day was damn near perfect. Fast. Fun. Jeff kept touching my butt all day but that’s his issue not mine. Narrow bars…whatever… So much fun. Can. Not. Be. Repeated. Third Place Tandem but that was not the goal. The goal was to have fun…and we won!!

2019.  The Year We All Learned. LandRun has officially been relearned. MidSouth Gravel is now upon us. I’m excited for what the day will bring! I crashed and effed up my shoulder a week ago. Separated Shoulder. Next Tuesday an MRI and a specialist will determine my MidSouth Gravel fate. DKXL is my accepted challenge in 2020. I’ll do what it takes to be ready. If doc says ride MidSouth…I pop the Ibuprofen and I ride. If doc says don’t ride, I put on the fanny pack and support the hell out of my gravel friends and family at MidSouth. Either way…it’ll be ROWDY!!!

Gravel Season is officially upon us. Love y’all!!

About BobbyT

Backroad cycling enthusiast, husband, father and friend. View all posts by BobbyT

2 responses to “My MidSouth Gravel

  • Tim Harris

    Nice writing Bobby, I remember those well even the ones when I was on crutches, ’17, ’18. Excited to see the tandem, my friends from here are riding tandem at LR also. First ride for them was last Saturday, Enid to Lake McMurtry for Chili bike. Icy roads, 3 crashes.

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