Race Recap Land Run 100
Racing Land Run 100 was a late decision for me. Originally I was planning on going out to California for Redlands Classic but a few weeks ago decided it would be better to race Land Run. This was my first time racing on gravel and I wasn’t totally prepared. On Friday the day before the race I drove to Stillwater and met my teammate Andy Chasteen at District Bicycles where he gave me a set of gravel tires. The guys at the shop were nice enough to let me use there tools and air compressor so I could get my bike set up. After that my teammate Brandon Melott and I rode the last 10ish miles of the course backwards then turned around so we could get an idea of the finish. Late Friday night I decided to make a last minute change to my bike and switch out my road pedals (Speedplays) and put on my MTB pedals (SPDs).
We woke up at 5am because I was staying with teammate/coach Brendan Housler and that dude likes to get up early. All the normal things done then we rode to the start. It’s kind of a party at the start of Land Run, which made the sub freezing temperature more tolerable. I knew there were going to be a lot of elite level athletes at this event but was still surprised by just how many there were.
The race. There was nothing neutral about the start as I expected with this many quality racers. Attacks started flying quickly and at mile 3 my DNA Racing teammate Brendan got off the front solo. A few miles later he was joined by CCB and later Meteor rider Kevin Girkins. This was Brendan’s plan all along because he was wanting to get to the first double track section (Mile 19) with as few people around him as possible. As a really really big chase group we got to this section about 30-40 seconds behind the break. I went into the double track third wheel and after a few dicey spots I came out of the section second wheel with Michael Van Den Ham (Pro Cyclocrosser) and we had a little gap. This section was full gas all out attacking. Shortly after we regrouped and the group slowed again. The next difficult section was around mile 24, a 1:40-1:50ish climb with the last 200 meters at about 18%. This section proved to be extremely challenging and would ultimately separate the race. After the climb there were still 2 riders up the road and now the chase group was just over 20 riders. In this group the rest of DNA riders were all present. Other notable racers were Ted King, Payson Mcelveen, Mat Stephens, Austin Morris, Matt Lieto, Michael Van Den Ham, Scott Moninger, Michael Shehaan, Rob Bell, Andrew Dillman among others. Around mile 30 the chase group was really close to catching the 2 leaders but then we slowed and the gap grew to over 3 minutes. The race went steady from this point all the way until the next technical section at 60 miles. This was the most difficult section of the race and one of the only muddy parts. We had the added drama with the lead jeep getting stuck in a creek/ditch witch we had to go through. Luckily I was in good position at this point and was able to dismount and clear the stream without any problems. Directly after this was a steep double track rutted out road that I ended up having to run up. At the top of this Payson had dropped everyone in the chase and about 10 seconds back Ted Kind and I followed. A few minutes later we joined the front of the race making the front group 5 for a short period of time then Dillman came across making it 6. At this point we had a good gap and the riders were motivated. I knew this was the winning move and I felt good about DNA’s chances because we had two riders in it. All was good until it wasn’t. Around mile 68 I started realizing I was in the red a little to much and over a small roller I was popped off the back. I tried to chase back on for a little bit but I was cooked and decided to ease up and wait for the next group. I got with the chase group of 12 or so riders and tried to sit in and do as little as possible. Just past mile 70 we rode past Brendan who was standing on the side of the road holding his bike. I stayed with this group for a few miles then continued to try and ride with every group that caught me. I ended up 25th in 5:20. It was a super challenging day. As a team we threw everything we had to try and win and Brandon Melott ended up having a stellar race finishing 4th. Also a great ride by fellow Arkansan Austin Morris (Pedaler’s Pub) finishing 10th. It was a great event and thanks for reading.
I also want to thank my team DNA Racing and all my sponsors, Allied Cycle Works, Vittoria, Garneau, Nalgene, The Boxcar Coffee, Midtown Optical, Fowler Automotive, Lively Beerworks, Erdoes PC, and The Meteor.
[Photos: Biff Stephens, Andy Chasteen, Gravel Guru]