Landrun 100 – The Odyssey

By: Chris Orr

Land Run wasn’t a race this year. We awoke Saturday morning and saw that it had rained during the night. We weren’t surprised, the forecast was for rain throughout the day, temps in the low 40s, and since it was Oklahoma, wind. After some last minute clothing decisions, we rolled in a light rain down to the start line. Even with the weather conditions, around 1000 brave souls were there ready for battle.

After Bobby Wintle shot the cannon off, we started our jouney. There were plenty of elite riders on hand, so after the neutral rollout, the pace quickly rose separating a lead group from the field. I stuck with my plan to hang with them for a short while then settling into my tempo pace. I was with them until around mile 7 before deciding to back it down.

I was pleasantly surprised that the road conditions were pretty decent for the first 20 miles or so. Then the Land Run really began. The light rain began and picked up from there. The gravel roads in Oklahoma are generally rideable, and still pretty fast, even when wet. The dirt roads are not. As the rain continued, the gravel roads produced a good amount of spray off the tires creating some eyesight issues with glasses on, so they were perched on my helmet. The dirt roads were no longer dirt and became slick mud. It was doable, but the traction was sketchy and slowed us down some. Mike Malone and I started working with Don Buttram for a while and we kept a steady pace going until the first “nature break”. Don kept going. It was getting colder and we were wet. My waterproofing of my jacket was working pretty well and I had coated my bike with wd-40 the night before to keep the mud from sticking, which seemed to help. Around mile 30, I got some grit in my eye and had to take my left contact out and put it in a Sport Beans bag. No big deal, but I was unable to get my jacket to zip back up at all. Next, my brakes faded until they quit altogether. The grit was wearing them down and when we arrived in Guthrie, I was considering a DNF if they couldnt be adjusted. Curt Carlson was able to adjust them so that I had some stopping power, but he warned that the pads were almost gone. He was right, I had another 5 miles and then I was without any brakes at all and I still had 50 miles to go. There were some scary monents and a lot of foot dragging, but I had no desire to quit.

The real muddy sections began around mile 70. Most were carrying their bikes through this section, but I was able to keep the cranks turning with some light pedaling and quick maneuvering. I didn’t have to walk the whole day. I saw a lot of derailleurs hanging with broker hangers. This is where my previous land run experience paid off. I aimed for the wettest sections instead of the dry sections, as the mud was softer in the wet. The WE-40 coating was crucial here. I may have been averaging 6 mph, but I was still moving toward the finish. The mud was scattered throughout the last 30 miles, but we kept going. Multiple “nature breaks” slowed us a bit, but with the attrition rate, we just wanted to finish. We couldnt feel our hands at all, but nothing was going to stop us. As we got to the edge Stillwater, we caught a group of 8 riders, but didnt want to fly past them right before the finish, so we just rolled in with them feeling like we coming back from a battlefield.

Today was about survival. Land Run wasn’t a race, it was an odyssey.