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Ken's story: Mid South

BaseCamp athlete Ken Carl shares his experience at the 2024 Mid South gravel bike race in Oklahoma.

"Life is a celebration, and when you can share it with others, it is a joy-filled celebration."

That was Mid South 2024 for me. A celebration of a successful BaseCamp (a heart-deep thank you to everyone, with a special high five to my coach, Kathy Watts), a celebration of a full return from injury, of the simple joy of riding a bike, and a celebration of being.

I have heard for several years how bright the spirit of the bicycle burns in Stillwater. This year all the puzzle pieces fit. Cindy and I overpacked the car and began another grand adventure. Knowing there were BaseCamp teammates and others from my home team of Vision Quest made the event all the more enjoyable.

The fun started with a pre-event shakeout ride sponsored by our friend Steve Mathews of Chamois Butt'r. Race morning, my only bit of regret was not being detailed enough to find everyone at the start. From what I can see in the results, Sarah Porch and Andrea Troy rocked the ride.

The start was a measure chilly, yet perfect with the sun shining, fist bumps, high fives, and well wishes throughout the starting field of thousands. The course was dry, dusty, and fast. At least until the water crossing at mile 18, where we all came to a full stop waiting to join the walking train to the other side. We were well entertained by those adventure-seeking souls attempting to ride through the crossing. The water was thick with red mud and slick steep banks. More than a few riders took full bath dives. The though of filling my kit with red mud water while having 80+ miles to go was motivation to keep walking.

At the first rest stop, I had the unexpected joy of meeting our AltRed sponsors! Another celebration. For me this ride was all about enjoying, thriving not just surviving. So I was at leisure taking photos, talking, and resting at the rest stops. The course was punchy and fast for the most part. A seemingly endless menu of little climbs .3 .5 .6 miles in length…there was work to do with fun to have, plus that welcome wonderful hug from Bobby Wintle, the race director, at the finish line. Amazing he hugs every finisher from first to last. I finished in my planned time properly tired, dusted red throughout (as Kae Takeshita rightly predicted), smiling, and filled with positive thoughts for the season ahead.


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