Thereabouts – Gus and Lachlan Morton – recently interviewed Sarah Swallow, one of the founding members of the WTF Bikexplorers and organizer of the Ruta del Jefe in Arizona, about life and the pursuit of all things rad. Check it out here and head to Thereabouts for their excellent write up about Sarah!
My favorite event last year returns for 2020 with a plethora of new activities. The Ruta Del Jefe weekend will include a 55-mile gravel ride, bikepacking tour, 12-mile run/ride…
Ruta Del Jefe is a 125-mile self supported adventure race following dirt roads around the Santa Rita Mountains, the lair of one of the only North American Jaguars to live in the U.S., El Jefe. Rural Del Jefe takes place on Tohono O’odham and Hohokam lands, in the Sky Islands region of the Sonoran Desert and the US/Mexico borderlands in Southern Arizona. The race follows remote and rugged dirt roads through one of the most biodiverse and beautiful places in the world yet, the region is plagued with many environmental threats and a humanitarian crisis that need our attention and action.
Want to learn more? Well, head to the Ruta Del Jefe website and be sure to check out our Reportage from last year’s race! Remember, registration opens December 13th at 7:00 am mountain time and is limited to 100 racers, so jump on Bikereg to set a reminder.
Progression happens when people push the current paradigm causing a shift, or a schism in the model. This applies to bicycles as well. From the era of the klunker and the cruiser influencing mountain bikes to people riding 23mm road tires on gravel roads. Hell, I think it’s safe to say that our generation has seen various permutations unfold from people who push their bikes just a little more than others. To the verge, even.
You might be wondering, out of all the gravel events popping up around the world, what makes the Land Run 100 special? Why ride gravel in Oklahoma, in a place known as “Tornado Alley”? If you are wondering this, you are not alone.
Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Land Run 100 gravel race. Bobby and Crystal Wintle host the event from their shop, District Bicycles, in the center of historic downtown Stillwater, Oklahoma. The race attracts two thousand gravel cyclists from around the country and has some legendary stories attached to it. For instance, in 2017 rain soaked the red dirt roads to the consistency of peanut butter mud and only ~25% of the riders who started the race finished. Despite the treacherous conditions that bad weather can bring on race day, the Land Run 100 has established itself as a must-do event on the gravel race circuit. Before I talk about why I think that is and what I learned from my experience there, I’d like to acknowledge the history behind the name of the event.
The general rule of thumb is if you build it, people will cram the biggest tire possible into it. I wish we lived in a world where tire clearances were maxed out with drivetrain efficiency in mind, but it’s not always the case. However, when it is the case, you end up with a very capable bike. So yeah, if you build it… with ‘it’ being the Specialized Sequoia. While people have certainly put mountain bike tires on this bike before, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone fit as big of a tire as Sarah Swallow did with the Ground Control 2.1″. This bike is her recon bike for her 125 mile race next month, the Ruta de Jefe, in Elgin, Arizona. While there is no singletrack per se on the course, the roads can get rowdy, where a wide bar and fat tire will soften the blow from the washboard and ruts.
Some might call it a hybrid, or just a rigid MTB, so that nomenclature is welcome, but bottom line is, I doubt anyone foresaw a build like this arising from the Sequoia platform!
Also, as a personal note, happy birthday Sarah!
Follow Sarah on Instagram.
Tucson to Kanza: a Long Ride to a Long Ride
Word and photos by Ultra Romance
Dirty Kanza: How does one prepare their mind, legs and undercarriage for a 200 mile “race?” How do you relaxation cycle ésport™ without relaxation? How does one saunter through the day, resting in the sun whenever the mood strikes, dine on expensive chocolate after a fine fine yogurt cupping at the local co-op, all whilst riding 200 miles in one go?? Can that even be kinda fun?
I suppose it depends on your Myers Briggs score divided by how many years you’ve spent in dental school. Dentists were all over the road scene, and as road has taken a major swan dive into a pile of 20c used rubbers (sounds dirty cuz it is), grav grinding (sounds dirty but only mildly) has become the future world arena for the well-to-do-sadistic. Dentists are sadists by nature, nothing against them, they just are. They drill and pull teeth outa screaming peoples faces all day. They love training for 200-mile races.