The 2016 Land Run 100 – One of our Faves
If ever there was a race tailor-made for Team Virtus, this was it. None of us had ever attempted Land Run before this year, yet it has instantly become one of our favorites, and it’s on our must-do list for next year. You should do it too. Yes YOU!
***Note: Chuck added some comments in green, Kate’s comments are in blue, Bob’s are in Red, and Travis apparently had nothing to add.***
Bob: This is bullshit. My comments have always been green.
The 2016 Land Run 100 in Stillwater, OK had it all: red, clay-like mud, whiskey, misty rain, gravel, beer, music, hike-a-bike, sunshine, wind, food trucks, seemingly never-ending rollers, and… Wait a minute… what’s that? A podium finish for a Virtusan? Perhaps. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Five Virtusans – Kate, Chuck, Travis, Bob, and I – and one FOV (Friend of Virtus) – Mickey – met up at various locations for the drive down to Stillwater. We stopped for some fine dining and some drinks.
I’m pretty sure Travis loved riding with Bob and me. We sang our faces off as we rocked some sweet jams on the way to OK. Bob and Travis seemed to be having a fart war while I, sadly, had no firepower which is completely unlike me.
We soon found ourselves at Iron Monk Brewery for registration, the pre-race meeting, and of course to buy a sweet-ass growler filled with delicious Land Run IPA. The race director, Bobby, gave a short speech from the heart, as did the course designer. And then the one and only Jay Petervary spoke briefly. The talks were short, sweet, and they actually got me pretty fired up. It was MUCH better than most pre-race meetings. The whole atmosphere was amazing. Seriously, it just felt good to be there.
Chuck: We bought the growlers to take home with us, but it is worth pointing out that the beers being served up at check-in were free!
We hung out for a bit, drinking the delicious Land Run IPA and chatting with friends. We visited District Bicycles and bought a few things, and then we headed back for some more delicious beer and live music. Speaking of live music, Bob had himself a little crush on the singer.
Bob: She totally wanted me, I could tell. We made eye contact and everything.
We finally dragged ourselves away from the party and headed back to the hotel to try to get a good night’s sleep. We Virtusans are pretty frugal, so sometimes the sleeping arrangements get a little cozy – sometimes too cozy if you ask Travis, but perfect if you ask Bob or me.
The next morning we ate a big ole continental breakfast, and we fought over the two bathrooms as we tried to empty our bowels as much as we could. Trust me, you don’t want to be carrying any excess shit when you’re about to ride 100 miles. Those poor toilets.
Chuck: And some of us were smart enough to go through the adjoining door to destroy the toilet in the Luke/Bob/Travis room instead of the Chuck/Kate/Mickey room.
We kitted up and made our way to the race start for our pre-race team photo:
And of course we had to take our trademark “Where’s everyone else?” photo:
The race was kicked off with a bang from a legit canon. I mean, that was some kind of boom! The roll-out of Stillwater was a bit cool and damp as a light mist fell, but our spirits were high. Kate had been training like a mad-woman, so she and Mickey were out of sight from the get go. The rest of us stuck together for the first 15 miles or so, if my memory serves me right. After that, I found myself on my own. Well, I wasn’t alone. There were lots of riders around me, but none of them were my teammates. But onward I rode.
And the roads were in great shape! I wasn’t sure what the hell everyone was talking about from last year’s race. I didn’t see any of this infamous mud. But then the roads changed, and we began to see the early carnage the clay-like muddy roads in this area of Oklahoma can dish out.
It wasn’t long before almost everyone was walking their bikes. Those that tempted fate by riding through the mud either ended up without their derailleurs intact or they had to keep pulling over to clear the mud from their bikes just to keep them rolling.
In some places, the mud was so thick and sticky that you couldn’t even roll your bike at all. Carrying the bike was the only option. There’s some technique involved in carrying your bike through mud, so if you plan on doing this race – which you definitely should – you might want to figure out what works best for you.
Kate: It turns out bike carrying is an area where you can put all kinds of time on faster riders.
Bob: I heard the first 3-4 miles of mud was from natural causes. The rest was formed by a deluge of roadie tears.
After several miles of hike-a-bike and climbing a set of stairs out of a kick-ass creek crossing where the race director was doling out encouragement, I found myself back on rideable gravel roads. And then – at around mile 40 – 45? – I found a most pleasant surprise: a keg in the ground, covered in ice.
After a few pulls from the keg, I hopped back on the bike to ride out on my own again. I was shocked at how many riders passed up the cold beer. But I knew my Virtus brethren behind me would enjoy this fine gift from the people behind the Land Run 100 as much as I did.
Chuck: Oh yeah, I stopped at the keg too!
Kate: Riding with Mickey I wasn’t allowed to, but I don’t like beer anyway.
Bob: I may have consumed more than my fair share..
I was feeling strong, and I’m pretty sure I had a shot at winning the whole thing. Remember at the beginning of this post when I mentioned a possible podium finish for one of us? Well, that was ruined when this happened:
With my hope of winning crushed, it was nice to chat with our friends Lo and Alice on their tandem while we waited for the train to pass.
It wasn’t long after crossing those railroad tracks that I started to feel not so great. My energy was waning, and I felt a bit queasy. I ate a little more food and drank some more water and kept pedaling, but I was definitely wishing one of my teammates would turn up.
I rolled into the halfway checkpoint to the sound of some live music. The atmosphere at this checkpoint was great. There were food trucks there, and riders, support crews, family, and the burrito truck. The blessed burrito truck.
I took a few extra minutes to eat, drink and recover. I didn’t want to stay too long, though, so I gathered my things and was just getting ready to stand up when this guy rolled up:
I gladly waited a few extra minutes while Chuck refueled and filled up his water. Seeing Chuck, who was in very good spirits, was fantastic. I felt rejuvenated knowing we’d be riding together out of the checkpoint. I’m pretty sure Chuck’s jersey will never be the same, though.
Chuck: That jersey has been through the laundry so many times and still has pink stains. I like to think they are badges of honor.
We left the checkpoint together, and it wasn’t long before the clouds gave way to the sun as the temperature rose. It turned into a gorgeous day to ride bikes. The roads seemed to get even better too. I only remember one small stretch of a little mud, but the rest of the roads were in fine shape. And even though there are no huge climbs on this course, don’t be deceived. There is very little flat terrain. The never-ending rolling hills were killer during the second half of the race. I was so over them by mile 80, but we pressed on, knowing there was one more manned aid station somewhere ahead.
I think it was at around mile 85 to 9o when we rolled up on the aid station. And damn, it was the perfect aid station at the perfect time. There was a sign that said, “Whiskey, Women, and Beer” or something like that. As we stepped off our bikes, one fine volunteer asked if we wanted whiskey to which we replied, “Hell yes, we want some whiskey!” She seemed surprised and excited as she poured us each a cup. It turns out we were only the 4th and 5th people to actually drink any whiskey at this aid station. We assured her that there would be at least one more rider coming through that would gladly drink any whiskey he was offered. The crew working here were awesome. They were happy and super helpful. They even loaded us up with some candy bars and a beer for the road.
Kate: Nope, didn’t get to stop here, either, but at least the slave driver played domestique and stopped to get me an ice-cold Coke while I rode ahead.
Chuck and I begrudgingly left the oasis of the aid station and rode toward the finish line over what seemed like a thousand more rolling hills. But we knew we would finish at this point. And we knew there was beer waiting for us. And food trucks. So we rode with a thirst and a hunger like no other. Kate managed to snag a photo of Chuck and me shortly after we crossed the finish as the sun was about to vanish.
I’ve finished a lot of long races where the race director was nowhere to be seen. I’ve finished a lot of races where there is no beer left. I’ve finished a lot of races where the finish line has already been torn down. And you know what? That sucks. If anyone needs all that shit, it’s people like me who are out there all damn day, struggling just to finish. We NEED that beer and food and finish line and at least a handshake from the Race Director. We deserve it, damn it!
Bob: Preach, brother.
Well, as Chuck and I crossed the finish line of the 2016 Land Run 100, the RD Bobby was there waiting for us, screaming like a maniac. As we stepped off our bikes he gave us a big hug. And it wasn’t some bullshit, rah-rah, I’m-hugging-you-to-seem-cool kind of hug. It was a genuine fucking hug. That shit was real, and it was fucking great. I’m sure there are some a-holes out there who scoff at such a display of joy and affection. To them I say, piss off. Go ride somewhere else and leave this race to those of us who love it.
Chuck: Bobby is such a genuine and super high-energy guy. I really liked hanging around the finish chute watching him yelling and hugging finishers. You get the feeling that each and every rider is important to him, from first place all the way to DFL.
After some high-fives and hugs from Kate, who had long since finished, and Travis who pulled the plug around mile 60 – 65, we each grabbed a beer and went to change clothes. On our way over to our car, they were giving out awards. Chuck and I knew we sure as hell didn’t win anything, so we didn’t pay much attention to it. As we finished changing clothes, though, Kate walked up with a “slight” grin and some hard-earned hardware:
And this wasn’t a cupcake division. There were some badass ladies in her division, and she took second fucking place! Holy shit! Huge congrats to you, Kate. You trained your ass off, and it was well-deserved. Super proud of you.
Chuck: Definite highlight of the entire weekend! Congrats again Kage!
Kate: Seriously the only reason I placed was all the bike carrying you had to do. That said, it was super cool to place second in a division with more than two people, and the girl who was first in my division was also second overall for women.
We headed back to the party/finish line, and Chuck and I got some grub. Someone pointed out that the one food truck had a painting of me without my glasses on the side:
We ate, drank, passed much gas, and cracked wise. We just had a grand old time as we waited for Bob to finish. But the longer we waited, the more worried we became. We knew Bob didn’t have a light. And we knew he left his phone at the hotel. But he’s Bob effing Jenkins, and we knew he’d be fine. He’s the king of IWIO (It’ll Work Itself Out). And you know what? It did. He crossed the finish line to the same greeting from the RD Bobby as Chuck and I received.
We were obviously relieved to see Bob, and we were super-happy that he finished. His tale of the finish will put my little story to shame, so hopefully he will decide to share it with us (coming soon!). I know it involved rum, beer, getting lost, police, and a couple panicked directors/organizers. But in the end, Bob does what he does best. He Jenkinsed the shit out of that race.
The ride home involved a few naps. Bob and Kate clearly haven’t mastered my technique of avoiding nap time photos:
The ride home is often a ton of fun if you do it right, and we always do it right. And of course that means we stopped to eat lunch together:
And then some of us later stopped for dessert. Because when you pass the Uranus Fudge Factory, you pretty much have to stop.
As I mentioned before, this race was put right at the top of our Must-Do list for next year. And you know what? We’re already signed up for it, and there’s even more of us going. I hope you signed up too, because it’s already sold out. If you were dumb enough to miss registration, you should get on the waiting list for sure. I know I’m looking forward to another hug at the finish line. And maybe Kage will go for the number one spot next year.