Well, I’m one tired puppy after the excitement and physical demands of Land Run 100. Instead of sludging through mud, we were treated to perfect weather with light breezes, overcast skies, and a high of 63 degrees Fahrenheit. So my fatigue is from fast conditions that meant pushing hard for the entire 106 miles. Complain as we might about mud, carrying your bike often lowers your heart rate, lending periods of rest. You could argue that a dry Land Run is harder physically and a mud year tests you more mentally. In either case, it's never easy and that's exactly why we all show up!
I lined up alongside Jim Cummins and missed a couple crashes as the bunch made its way to the first of the gravel. I had a great start, staying the lead bunch longer than expected. That had me worrying that I was overgeared. Just like every other singlespeeder in the race, there were times when I had to dig deep to clear a hill. But I did manage to summit each rise aboard my bike and that means I probably had just enough legs for my 40x17 ratio.
I spent most of the day riding solo, happy to ride at my own pace. It can be difficult to share work with riders on geared bikes, with them often slowing on hills and rolling faster on the flats and downhills. Similarly as I caught or was caught by other singlespeeders, speeds didn’t align. The exception came with around 10 miles to go. Tyler Anliker, of Emporia, Kansas, caught me and after a quick chat he rolled ahead, I thought for good. But on the next hill I began to claw him back. Soon I passed my bud Liz Barcheck, a friend from Colorado who was getting her first taste of Midwest (or MidSouth in the case of OK) gravel. She absolutely crushed the 100 miles and cheered me on after I passed, but not before an "Oh man! I wanted to beat you!" taunt. Just after the laugh from Liz, I rolled by Tyler. Over the next few hills I opened up a little gap, suddenly digging deep. My back was screaming, hands were cramping, but I was having an absolute blast. My gap grew over the final hills, but on the longer descent into town, Tyler used his strong legs and bigger 42x17 gear to chase me down, hollering "Looks like we got a race on our hands!" as he caught me. I whooped it up, saying, "Heck yeah!" and jumped on his wheel, spinning my legs up to stay in his draft.
Soon Bobby Thompson, The Casual Cyclist, rolled by us in the aerobars casually saying, "you guys and your silly singlespeeds!" Just outside Stillwater, as Bobby backed off, we caught him again and he settled in behind us for the highest cadence show in Stillwater. Tyler and I rode together into town, shook hands and thanked each other for forcing each other to race all the way to the line. Tyler led it out and brilliantly ramped up the pace on the slight incline to the last corner. I struggled to stay with him there and if he had looked back right then, he would have seen a grimace coated in red dust on my face. In the final two blocks before the line, I managed to dig deep one last time and just edge out my new partner in singlespeed crime. Thanks for the race Tyler! You certainly helped me empty the tank!
Crossing the line, I received one of Bobby Wintle's legendary hugs, got a sweet finisher patch and a frosty Coke. And just like that the struggle was over and the warm embrace of my wife, friends, and my gravel family took over. With the perfect temps and dry conditions, racers lingered longer than usual at the finish line. I changed into street clothes and joined dozens of gravel buds for beers, food truck treats, and countless retellings of the day's goings-on. We talked about our favorite sections (I loved the technical double track sections the most), our biggest hurdles, and plotted reunions later in the season.
I raced my bike exactly as I profiled here on Rambleur, even going with the 33mm Vittoria Terreno Mix tires despite the lack of mud. While my back was sore by the end of the race, it was a bumpy coarse, with continuous rolling terrain, and I was on a singlespeed. Bigger tires would have been nice but I was really pleased with how the Vittorias worked for me, especially in the sandy sections.
I was exceptionally happy with my fueling and hydration. While I paid for the drop bag service I decided not to use it. Instead I loaded up 106 miles worth of food and drinks. I’ll have to carry at least this much again at Trans Iowa and DKXL, so I figured a dress rehearsal was in order. With the cool temperatures, it meant that I easily reached the finish line with 3.5 liters of drink mix in my Camelbak Chase vest and two 1-liter bottles. That's 900 calories right there. I supplemented that with six gels (GU Roctane, Honey Stinger, and Science in Sport), a KP-homemade potato/pea curry pocket and a small KP-homemade pizza roll. At the finish I still had a gel, several bars, and two more of KP’s homemade treats in my pack and pockets.
My clothing also worked out well. I often overdress but did well this time round. I wore a rain jacket over my Camelbak rolling around before the start. With five minutes to go, I stuffed it in my pack. I started with Kitsbow wool arm warmers and DeFeet full-finger wool gloves. I didn't wear knee or leg warmers or even a cycling cap this time around. The arm warmers stayed on all day and just before Guthrie I took off the warmer gloves for a pair of thin, Pearl Izumi fingerless mitts. I also was happy that I chose to wear a Buff UV Multifunctional Headband around my neck. I used it to cover my nose and mouth when lots of dust was kicked up by other racers or passing trucks. Otherwise it sat around my neck. The rest of my cycling kit included a pair of Shimano XC7 shoes, Bontrager wool socks, Ground Effect bib shorts, a Garmin heart rate strap, a Velocio baselayer, a Gore lightweight jersey, a Specialized Evade II aero helmet, and Oakley EVZero glasses. All worked exceptionally well!