“About a year ago I caught the gravel bug when I heard about LandRun and Dirty Kanza from a couple buddies who like to suffer just about as much as I do, naturally I decided I needed to do both of these races in my first year as a real gravel cyclist. First up was Land Run down in Stillwater, Oklahoma on March 11th. I made the solo trip down from Detroit and met up with a couple friends on Friday to take part in the shake out ride and see if my gearing would be appropriate for the terrain.
Shake out ride went great!! My legs felt great, conditions were dry, and my SS gearing didn’t seem too high. I was ready for a nice salty dinner and a couple beers to calm the nerves before things really kicked off in the morning.
Race Day!!!! I woke up nice and early so I could meet my buddies for fear dump inducing coffee and breakfast burritos before the race, then loaded up my camelbak with a rain jacket and a couple extra pieces of food in case things went south and I ended up riding for longer than I had planned.
The first 25 miles went great, I was somehow one of three single speed idiots in the lead group and was able to hide behind people and do next to no work on the front. Then the rain hit and I had to stop to throw my rain jacket on since a short sleeve jersey with arm warmers was not going to cut it in 35 degrees and rain. Jacket on and I started to pick my way back up to the group when stupidly I hit a bridge a little too hard and blew a tube (note to self set your shit up tubeless). Replaced my tube pretty quickly while taking note of how many SS guys were passing me since I was determined to get on a podium. The rain really started to come down and make things messy a couple miles after I got back on the bike, but I figured I had ample clearance and a SS drivetrain so nothing considerable could really go wrong with my bike. A few miles later I found out that red dirt roads when mixed with water grind away a brake pads pretty quickly when I went to slow down before a turn and nothing happened, lucky for me the road went straight and I was able to Fred Flintstone my way to a stop before turning around and getting back on course.
About 10 miles later we rolled into Guthrie for the halfway point and I could see that a lot of guys were pulling out due to mechanical meltdowns and because they were smart enough to realize that it wasn’t going to get above 40 degrees and the rain was just going to keep coming down. I found my drop bag and fumbled through it for my spare bottles and tube then stuffed a handful of gummy bears in my mouth and took off. 5 miles down the road I found that I had mastered the art of rubbing a foot on my rear tire to slow myself down since I had no more brake pads left, not that they would have done anything since my hands were totally frozen and I wouldn’t have been able to use the levers anyway. Around mile 65 I thought my tire was loosing air so I stopped to replace the tube. After spending what seemed like an eternity trying to get the tire off with frozen hands I decided that peeing on them may warm them up and give me some feeling (boy scouts taught me well), it worked!! I was able to remove the tire and found that some dirt found its way into the casing when I changed my first flat and it had just ground away at the tube for 30 miles. This time I took my time and cleaned everything out, sacrificing some of my water to make sure it was clear of all debris. When I checked my race time I found that I had just spent 45 minutes doing something that normally takes 5 and knew that my chances of a podium were gone, now it was just about finishing in a time that I could still be happy with given the conditions. I dialed my efforts way back and made sure to stop and help a few people who had snapped derailleurs and were struggling to single speed their bikes because I’m a firm believer in Karma. Before I knew it I could see Stillwater in the distance and I started to pedal harder since I knew it meant a hug from race director Bobby Wintle and a finish line beer.
All in I spent just over 7 hours pedaling and about two hours changing tubes and clearing mud off my bike so that my tires could move freely again. It was all worth it and I can’t wait to go back again.”
Cup O'Dirt Admin