Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Mid-South Report: Getting Home & Thoughts On The Events

Sunrise Monday morning
This will be the last report filed for the 2024 Mid-South event. I'll give a brief overview of our trip home then I'll hit up on some thoughts on the events overall. By the way, a special review of the Honeman Flyer will be done soon, but will not be a part of this post. 

Monday was a tough one for me. I did not feel 100% until we got about three hours from home, but it was a good trip home. We stopped in Kansas City at a home of some friends of Ben and Marty where I met Bob-not-Robert (yes- that is what he goes by), and we had some delicious KC barbecue. Then we stopped in Des Moines to drop off that new Salsa Cycles shirt to Steve Fuller. It was great to see Steve there for a hot minute.

We saw these lavender colored fields, but I do not know what it is that is growing here. 

At any rate, I made it home in one piece and I was wiped out from all the trip's activities and events. I was really happy to get back to my family and my own bed. 

Final Thoughts: So, Mid South.....what do I think........ Well, this is one really special event. That's very apparent. Bobby and Crystal, along with a bunch of help from all over, have crafted an experience that has to be felt to be understood. On one hand it reminds me of old-school gravel events where people concoct their own version of a bicycle event, throw in some good ol' hospitality, a little history, and fun, whip it all up, and you gotta very unique gravel experience. Many events have done this in many various ways. Mid-South does this on a larger scale, but they do it. Really, really well

Don't ask. I don't know anything.

I said that Mid South was Bobby Wintle. Obviously that is not the truth, but spiritually, yeah....I think it is true. I got to see Bobby in action at the finish line. I saw his style of leadership. I saw his pouring out of himself for the entire event. 

On Sunday Bobby took me over to his house, just he and I. It was a very kind gesture on his part, and I think it was something done to show me how much he cared about me, our relationship, and his gratitude for what I did which eventually inspired him. Bobby shared with me about his recovery from Mid-South. The inter venous vitamin injection, the massage to relieve his pain and tensions from hugging so many people. I don't know how many other event directors actually physically, mentally, and emotionally sacrifice themselves like Bobby Wintle does, but I bet most do not go this far. 

Then the event itself is really multiple events all at one time. It is a music festival, a running event, a bicycling event, and a party in various places. All in the span of about five days. I have no idea how Bobby and Crystal, and well, their entire support staff - how they live through it all. The event is a massive production and we got to see a lot of it coming down on Sunday which just reinforced the feelings I have that this is an incredible undertaking. 

The people I met were from all over. Different ideals, different cultures, different everything. I had my eyes opened. I learned a lot of things. But one thing I learned that went and cut across all those differences was that we all need each other. We need the community in gravel and elsewhere in our lives. It binds us together, but when it is good and honest, it gives us Life. 

I have to thank Erik Mathy, who, without his energetic activism and ideas, this would never have happened. I have to thank Li King for the talent and craftsmanship that went into producing the bike I rode. I wanted to thank Michael Lehmkuhl, Marty Larson, Ben Witt, and Justin Michaels for catering to me, putting up with me, and generally just for being so kind to me. I owe all these folks a lot. 

Of course, there is Bobby and Crystal Wintle, without whom Mid-South would not exist. Thank You!


It is kind of hard to put this one into words that suffice to describe what I experienced at Mid South. I recall several pivotal moments and intimate things which I don't think I can ever share outside that little community of people I was privileged to get to know. 

There were kindnesses, hugs, the look in a person's eyes that was somehow just different than your day-to-day interactions this time. People had joy. There was hope. Optimism. The gravel family really showed out for me this time. Maybe I just have not been sensitive to it before, but maybe it is just a Mid South thing. I cannot say. 

Sorry about all the vaguery and shadowy comments. I really was just struck  differently this time, and besides the obvious roads, bikes, event formatting stuff, which is blah, blah, blah... Mid South had what I think is very unique, rare, and makes one want to come back again. If there was a theme to this thing, it was that: Many people said that they wanted to come back again. I think that says a lot. 

I was told that the red dirt of Oklahoma will never truly be washed out of my clothes. Maybe, maybe not. I do know that red dirt will be part of my soul from now on.

That's the conclusion of the Mid South Report. Now back to the regularly scheduled blog postings.....


MG said...

I’m so stoked that you were able to experience the Mid South like this, Brother. My one experience in the race – in 2019 – was similar, but I was camping solo on the lawn of the County Courthouse, so I was stuck in the epicenter of it all. It was super fun, but it was definitely a more solitary experience than what you just had. That said, the love and vibe from the Gravel Family was strong.

I hope to get back down there someday soon. It’s a special scene that they have down there.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Thanks Brother! I cannot imagine how it must have been for you at Mid-South. That would have been a radically different way to take in that event.

Maybe someday it would work out that we could experience that event together. That would be rad!

Rydn9ers said...

It was as perfect of a Mid South as I think there ever will be, it might be duplicated from a weather standpoint but I'm not sure how you could beat it. Good seeing you down there and getting to chat for a bit, bike looks awesome.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers - Yep, I agree. Thanks for the support at the aid station. Those cookies were awesome!

john said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful time for you and the festival - and the bike race is one of the best.