Monday, March 15, 2021

The Mid South Comes A-Callin


Last year the Mid South was the first and last of the big ones to hold an in person event before the world went nutty and we all learned how to cope without being around most of the populous. At that time things were just starting to shut down, it was before words like quarantine, social distancing and Zoom became part of the lexicon. This year, being the first one of the season and knowing now what we know, the Mid South decided that it could not hold a massive in person gathering and created the idea that became the Incredibly Socially Distanced Mid South. Not to be confused with a virtual event, those are so 2020. In all fairness the Mid South did take the virtual idea of 2020 and expanded it considerably through the use of partner shops, it was like Doordash for gravel events... Graveldash? If you couldn't go to Stillwater and the Mid South, the Mid South would come to you. Each partner shop would make a local course for the 100/50 mile cycling events and the 50 K running event and you'd have the weekend of what would have been the official Stillwater version of the Mid South to get 'er done, as Larry would say.


I have never made the odyssey to Stilwater for the Mid South, I really dig the message and vibe they are sending out into the world and that Wintle guy is not without a modicum of charisma but there is also a reason why the moniker The Mud South caught on almost immediately following the name change. I think they have managed only two dry years out of ten and my derailleur is already quivering in the corner as a type this out due to the thought of that orange mud reeking havoc on it's shifty bits. This year though maybe my shifty bits would be safe, I mean it can't rain everywhere can it? I know a few folks that believe that the government is geo-engineering the weather, my bet is on Bobby however because maybe he was able to make it rain everywhere. The week and a half leading up to the Mid South here in Nebraska we had temperatures into the mid 70° range, almost unheard of around these parts and it looked like fantastically dry and abnormally warm weather for the Nebraska version of the Mid South. It was not to be however because as the 13th got nearer the forecast got worse and worse until it was almost certain anyone attempting the Mid South on Saturday or Sunday was going to get wet. Well played, Mr. Wintle, well played indeed.



Since the full Mid South experience was on it's way to Nebraska a few of us decided to get up at a most unholy hour to see if we could stay dry and when I say it was early, it was early, 2 am to be exact. How do you get up at 2 am, well math really. If you need 6 hours of sleep to function you start at 2 am and you start ticking off hours in a counter clockwise motion until you've made it backwards 6 hours and that number represents the time you should be asleep. This does take some fudging because time to bed might not equate to hours of sleep if you take a while to doze off, so plan accordingly.


We took off right around 4:30 am, perhaps even a touch sooner than that, and spent the first 30 miles in the dark. It wasn't horrible since the temperatures were right around 40 but it was harder to keep a decent pace for fear of out riding your lights and meeting something not so forgiving before you realized you were on top of it. 



Rolled into the halfway point in Valparaiso feeling pretty good, average was right around 14 mph but I knew that we still had most of the climbing to do on the back half of the course.


Since this was the only town we went through on course until we were only a few miles from the finish I decided to spend maybe a bit more time than I needed to and get something to eat. This package of Oreo's must have slid right under the inspectors, the middle one didn't have any cookie parts and was only "stuf".





Things out of Valparaiso weren't bad either until just before Agnew when the really big rollers started and they just kept coming one after the other in an endless sea of gravel waves. Miles 75 through about 93 were some of the toughest I've done in recent memory and my poor early season legs were feeling every foot of elevation and as a consequence the average MPH sank like a pirate on his way to Davy Jones' locker. 


Saw these fellers out there wrangling some fish and for a moment I pondered if I really would rather be fishing like the bumper sticker says. Nah, a bad day on the bike is still better than a good day fishing even if you do come home smelling worse than the bait some days.


Once our little group got fragmented I didn't see another soul shortly after Valparaiso until about mile 85 or so when one of the Lincoln Abraham's and friend came riding by... fun fact, none of them are actually named Abe or any derivative of Abe or Lincoln for that matter. Suspicious. 


I'd been munching on Clif Bloks since leaving Valpo and that was doing me just fine until I ate the last of the old package and got really cheap and decided not to open a new one since I was within 15 miles of the end. That was a horrible call on my part and by the time I got to the last little MMR outside of Lincoln I was running on fumes and not the kind you sometimes blow out your chamois. My legs decided they had had enough and with a mere two miles to go I had to pull over and eat something. Thankfully I had a Clif Bar on me because the gooey, sugary blob of a Blok sounded stomach churning. I scarfed down the Clif Bar and it tasted better than any Clif Bar had any right to taste, the normal dry almost cardboard flavor and texture seemed to be replaced by something much more delectable. At that moment on the edge of that MMR two miles from the end, nothing in the world tasted better than that bar... heck for all I know I may have eaten the wrapper since I still haven't found it.


Snuck across the finish in just a tad over 8 hours of moving time, the goal was between 7.5 and 8 so I just missed that but all things considered I was not mad about that at all. I had a bit more non moving time than I wanted but I took the longer break in Valpo and I had to stop twice to fiddle with the GoPro, one time the dang thing stopped reading the card and I had to swap it out for a different one. Technology, so much fun until it's not. On the bright side for being as early in the year as it is I felt pretty good during the race and even the day after wasn't that bad. With the horrible January and February we've had that 100 miles was half of the total mileage so far this year. Best part was that the timing was impeccable, it wasn't long after I finished that the light rains started, another 30 minutes and I'd have been crying in the rain. But it was not to be and the derailleur was safe for at least another race.


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