“I’ll backtrack first to DK200 last summer, where we heard the stories of Land Run along the way, and what an epic hundo it had been. Later during that day, Joe, Shaun, and I had the pleasure of meeting Crystal Wintle on the course and riding with her for a while. Turned out she was the owner of District Cycles, who hosts the Land Run. Keeping in touch with her in the months to follow, she urged us to come out and ride their race. So we decided to, and rallied our crew.
Land Run is known for having a large portion of the course take you through some of Oklahoma’s dirt B-roads, which consist of Oklahoma red clay. A solid surface, until it gets wet….. Last year they had the worst conditions ever, and we heard about the mud. This year they had a very dry winter, and the weather had been decent leading into the event. It rained a couple times during the week, but didn’t amount to what would be considered serious rainfall. We drove into Stillwater Friday afternoon optimistic about a challenging gravel race, and the adventure of riding someplace new. District Cycles goes above and beyond for this race. They got the local craft brewery in town to brew them up a special batch of IPA for the event, and named it Land Run IPA. The brewery agreed to host the riders meeting the night before, so we started the race weekend with a party, and a motivational speech from Jay Petevary and Bobby Wintle (Crystal’s husband, and brain child of the event). They left the kegs of LR-IPA open and free to all riders, all night Friday. We hung out at the brewery for a while, then went back to the hotel to prep for the next morning and get some sleep. (Enter scary DUN, DUN, DUN music here).
We woke Saturday morning to find a storm had rolled through overnight, and saturated the course. Our Momentum Racing crew of Joe, Melanie, Shaun, Super Kate (she is super, after all), Mickey, Eric, and myself grouped together at the starting line and waited for the start. I am still rebounding from a shoulder injury and trying to get my fitness back. Having not ridden a hundo since last summer, I wasn’t sure how it was gonna go for me. I said early I would give it my best effort, but knew I would struggle. Joe, Melanie, Shaun and Eric said we would ride it at our best effort as a group, and have some fun. For Joe, Mel, and I we were looking at it as a building block for DK200 this summer. At the line, Kate told me Mickey was going to pace her, and she wanted to give it a real effort. Kate and Mickey moved up into the crowd ready for the start. Bobby Wintle gave another speech, turned on his favorite Top Gun theme music, and fired off a freaking cannon, instead of a gun. *BOOM*, and we were off.
There was a neutral roll-out, out of town on pavement for a bit. When the group of riders hit the gravel for the first time, there was a unanimous cheer from all as the tires started crunching gravel. That was the last group cheer we would hear for 50 miles, until we rolled into Perry. We were riding pretty fast for a while, where we caught up to Mickey and Kate, and all rode together for a short bit. Soon we turned off of gravel onto a B-road, and were greeted by red clay mud. Which is like paste. Reunited with our old friend “hike-a-bike”, we shouldered the bikes and started walking. Once again, Kate excelled here, and went stomping past us cheerful as could be, and smiling…… ear to ear, SMILING! I told her she was too happy, to which she told me I was too grumpy and set in my ways (I had to laugh, and she got me to smile). This went on for hours. Ride for a while, hit nasty mud and hike for a while.
At least 7 different times we dismounted to hike long sections. Somewhere in there, Shaun was feeling froggy, and peeled away ahead of us. This went on for about 45 miles. We saw so many riders walking with broken bikes. The course was pure bike carnage. We stopped a couple times to help some guys convert their bike to SS so they could finish. In the midst of this, we found Aid Station #1, stocked with some snacks, water, and beer…. Yes, they had sent a keg of LR-IPA out. It may have been 10:00 in the morning, but that beer was damn good at that point.
At the beginning of the race, right before Bobby fired the cannon, he said “by the way, we buried a keg out there for you on the course”. We thought it was a joke, until mile 40 when we found it. He wasn’t shitting, they left a random mid-course keg along the way, buried 2-3 feet deep. Yes, we all filled a bottle. At mile 50-ish, we rolled into the town of Perry, the half way checkpoint. Luckily they had a bike hose-down area, so we were able to clear our drivetrains out. Eric was feeling pretty rough and told us to go on without him. From there on out, it was all gravel and B-roads, but luckily the clay on that section was all rideable. At mile 87 (much to my delight, as I was down to half a bottle, and still had 20 miles to go) we found Aid Station #2. More food, water, another keg of IPA, and whiskey. We partook in a short road side party with some guys, and then headed out for the finish. You would think Oklahoma is flat, but it’s not. Rollers, rollers, and more rollers, leading to 8,000ft elevation gain over 107 miles. Shaun, Mickey, and Kate had already finished. Melanie, Joe and I rolled into Stillwater about an hour behind them to a cheering crowd, and Bobby Wintle waiting for us with our finish line hugs.
Bobby is truly one of the most enthusiastic and beautiful people I have ever met. This guy stands at his finish line all day long cheering riders in, and hugs each and every one, while he thanks them for riding his race. And I mean, he doesn’t give you a lame one arm side hug, he hugs every rider like they’re a friend of 30 years. What a remarkable guy, full of love for people and cycling. Again, they passed out cups of IPA as we exited the finishers chute. Shaun, Kate, Mickey, and Eric (who waived the white flag at mile 70) were waiting for us. Poor Eric, this was his first gravel race, and this is what he got. We assured him they aren’t always like that. This one of the best events I have ever been to, from top to bottom! District Cycles puts on one hell of a race! 750 riders rolled out of Stillwater at 8am, only 331 returned under their own pedal power. EPIC!!”