I had a lot of reservations about going to Mid South 2022. COVID. Money. Time. Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to go. Bobby is one of my best friends, and I love his entire crew over in Stillwater. But, still…COVID, money, time. Then I saw that something spectacular was happening.
Comparing what riders think they are going to experience vs what they do experience, as well as what they are taking away from the ride, has always been a fascination of mine. We all bring our hopes and, yes, our fears to the start line. After a nearly two-year layoff from in-person events, I wanted to see what this year’s Mid South participants brought with them to the race. What did they think was going to happen once they rolled over that start line? What were they hoping they’d take away from it all after they crossed it again to finish?
When peanut butter mud and clay wreak havoc on drivetrains, you’re gonna see a lot of single-speed bikes rolling up to the start line at events like the Mid South. I did, in fact, see a number of single speeds but I was really into Nate’s Reeb Cycles Dirt Diggler, so I shot a few photos of it while I chatted with Nate about Stillwater, District Bicycles, and yeah, the mud!
When bike events promote inclusivity and welcome all sorts of riders, not just racers, wonderful things happen. If it seems like I’m still glowing from this weekend’s Mid South, well, it’s the truth. Those few days completely recharged over two years of dreary times and meeting Keith re-centered my own struggles by putting them in perspective. In a serendipitous way – ok, I was stalking him – I happened to catch him rolling into the expo area at Mid South on his Scissortail Cycles cargo bike. There’s so much going on with this one so let’s get to it…
A lot. A little. Eb. Flow. Ping. Pong. Southwest. Midsouth.
My brain is lost in a myriad of memories from the past two weeks as my schedule jettisoned itself from over two years of stagnation to two weeks of back-to-back events and Radavist Reportage. Last weekend was the Mid South, a gravel race/ride/experience located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, hosted by District Bicycles. While people travel from all over to cut their chops on some Oklahoma red clay dirt, gravel, and mud, I am so fond of this event for the ultradian rhythms found in its hosts, attendees, and volunteers. That’s why I told Bobby from District to expect me to park and sleep in his driveway for a few nights because I was coming to get a heavy dose of rhythmic balance…
For the astute bike nerd, with the unfettered access to the internet that many of the socially distant are currently experiencing, it is evident that hardly a day passes without some bike brand announcing their revolutionary new gravel bike into an increasingly crowded marketplace. Shorter chainstays! Bigger tire clearance! More braze-ons splooshed all over the frame! Into this current apocalyptic wasteland of the gravel racer without a race is born the Lickskillet. Springing from the loins of REEB (yes, that is BEER spelled backward) the venerable bike/brewing company in Longmont Colorado. As they say, each REEB is “Barn Built Because it Matters”.
To begin, it is important to say that I am not a doctor, a data analyst, or an economist. Am I an expert regarding the growing pandemic that is becoming one of the defining events of our lives? No, I am not. I am a bike mechanic who likes to take photos. There are smarter people out there who could (or should) be writing about this, but as it is, you have me. And I find it extremely difficult—even inappropriate—to talk about this year’s Mid South without acknowledging the massive elephant in the room. For some of you, these images or just the thought of a large group gathering may be upsetting. You would be right to feel that way, and I get it. If this were any other year, it would have been a widely celebrated event, filled with love and excitement from the greater cycling community. In a lot of ways, it still was. But given that upside-down is the new normal, here we are.
Have you ever been somewhere and you just knew it was special? For years Bobby from District Bicycles had been telling me about this magical place called Keith’s Bike Fort, providing lodging to the traveling cyclist.
Fingers Crossed For A Fair-weather Forecast At Land Run 100
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
You ever have a ride that breaks you? My first encounter with the red dirt of Oklahoma did just that. 2017 was one of the muddiest courses that had ever graced Land Run 100 since its inception. Only 165 of 1000 people completed that ride, and you can read more about it over here.
“In Oklahoma, you learn to make a lot out of a little…. Turns out that the unfortunate weather that scrambled our storyboards helped us tell a truer story. Ask around about the Land Run 100, and you’ll learn that we know how to put together an epic ride or two in Oklahoma, but a more honest reflection of our community of bike riders is found in those everyday rides that go according to plan or don’t, while the people sharing them barely notice the difference.” -Seth Wood
Second up in the Distict Bicycles crews’ personal rides is Crystal‘s Scissortail single speed ‘cross bike. This build came together at the absolute last minute before she raced the Dirty Kanza. Crystal didn’t have any time left to paint the frame before building it up for the race. What are ya gonna do? Even if you paint a bike, racing the DK will leave it chipped, with paint damage from all the dirt and gravel pinging off the frame, so Crystal built it raw, raced it and liked the way the patina looked, so her and Bobby got it clear coated with a nice, thick coat, to ensure this “pain patina” would remain.
I love bikes with a story, and this one, in particular, made me excited to document the bike!
While in Stillwater, Oklahoma, I got the grand tour of a few of District Bicycles employees’ personal bikes. Included in this mix was Bobby’s own custom Moots Farwell 29’r. Custom in the sense that Bobby didn’t like the swoopy tubes. Luckily, he convinced the crew there to make the straightest Farwell to leave the Steamboat facility. He also didn’t want raw or bead blasted titanium.
For that, he pinged Rudy at Black Magic Paint to coat the frame with an Oklahoma Red Dirt-themed wet coat. Topping the build off with XTR Di2 and a build kit tuned for Oklahoma singletrack, this MTB actually looks damn good clean. Usually, I prefer them good’n’dirty!
Mud. It’s hell. A catalyst for catastrophe and the end game for any bike event. Honestly, it’s been the one thing grating at my conscious since first accepting the invitation to the Land Run 100 late last year. For six years now, Land Run 100 has been put together by Bobby Wintle and the team at District Bicycles in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It’s a challenging race on a challenging course, yet the entrants must adjust their own psyche to determine what mental state they will choose to enter these dirt roads. Be it personal grit, the desire to complete the course in its entirety, glory, or to be the fastest group of racers in one of many categories. Racers register for the event to conquer their own goals.
The story of competition is as old as the ages, yet the history of the Land Run was one formed long before the existence of dirt roads as we know them today.
Stu made the trek from the wintery north to Oklahoma and the Land Run 100. He’s the owner of Freeport Bicycle Co, a shop in Illinois, and this is his Moots Routt 45 with a Lauf Grit fork. Stu and Bailey, the new mechanic at District Bicycles throw an event called the Ten Thousand. It’s a dirt road race that combines dirt roads in the Driftless area of Northwestern Illinois. The elevation gain of the event exceeds 10,000′, making for one tough day on the bike.
Stu is here in Stillwater to support Bobby from District Bicyce’s event, the Land Run 100, because Bobby has frequented Stu and Bailey’s event in years past. It’s always interesting to see how bike shop owners equip their bikes for events like this and I love seeing bike shop owner’s supporting each other’s endeavors. Roll safe, Stu!
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If you’re in Stillwater for the Land Run 100, come find us at District Bicycles. We’ll be here all weekend covering the event, the bikes and the people of this 100-mile dirt road race and while you’re here, be sure to try out the Iron Monk Mid-South IPA!
We ride a lot of dirt roads in California and usually end up staring down some beastly climbs on even the chillest of rides. I can climb all day, but nothing drives me nuts like mud and cold. Combining those two ride elements can have disastrous results. Watching this video on Land Run 100 has me re-thinking my tire choice for this year’s event…
Photos by Jarrod Bunk
Yep. We’re going to Land Run 100 this year to hang with the team at District Bicycles, document the ride, the bikes and the people of the event and of course, to just hang out. We’d like to encourage anyone who’s on the fence about coming out to do so. As for my personal bike, I’ll be posting about my setup in the next week or so, with thoughts about how to deal with mud, the weather and camera gear. Expect more shortly and if you haven’t ever heard of Land Run, check out Jarrod’s documentation on the related sidebar to the left.
Bobby’s Land Run 100 Moots Routt 45
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
Bobby knows the Gravel roads around Stillwater, when given the opportunity to make his ultimate gravel bike he chose the Moots Routt 45. This isn’t just any Routt though, this one has RSL tubing something that wasn’t an option until NAHBS this year. Other details include laser etched logos, and an engraved head tube. Bobby chose to use a Chris King 40th kit on this bike, to me something about the olive and Ti is just near perfect. The bike is outfitted with some new ENVE AR rims, Moots post, Thomson stem and a tried and true Salsa Cowbell bar. A Shimano Di2 build rounded it out with a custom machined Wolf tooth ring made to fit the new 9100 cranks.
Bobby and the crew at District Bicycles sure do know how to make one nice bike.