The 2022 Gravel Season is On

It’s fitting that the gravel cycling event, MidSouth, is geographically smack in the middle of the country in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This event is the unofficial start of the gravel cycling season and it is like an enormous central magnet pulling riders from every direction throughout the country to meet, compete, and have a fun time embracing this sport of gravel that’s growing like wildfire.

Some 2,500 riders and racers embraced this early season classic that’s quickly become a staple to the gravel calendar. UnTapped proudly had a contingent taking part and we grabbed comments from a few Maple Fanatics in the immediate aftermath as they’re still cleaning the caked red Oklahoman dirt from their clothes and bikes.

Sub-30 degrees and nervous energy at the start

Rachel Cohen: “My goals going into MidSouth were twofold: I hoped to have a fun, relaxed time traveling to race in a part of the country I’d never seen before AND I wanted to see what my body could do in March after a lot trainer time and minimal outdoor miles. (Editor’s note: Rachel, Kristin, Laura, and Ted are all Vermonters. i.e. lots of trainer time in the previous few months.) The race surpassed my expectations on both accounts. MidSouth was equal parts bike party, community reunion, celebration of diversity, AND a solid challenge for my late winter legs and lungs. Riding for 3+ hours more than I have since last summer, I solely relied on the UnTapped coffee infused maple for my late race nutrition. Pushing through grueling winds, completely alone and utterly fatigued from mile 80-95, I sucked down several syrups for an essential extra jolt of caffeine to get me all the way to my finish line hug.”

Devin Cowens: “I’m happy to have gotten MidSouth under my belt as my first event of the year. With 29 degrees at the start, it was hands down the coldest race I’ve ever done! Riding solo for 20 miles in that headwind was brutal but I’m hoping it’s adequately prepared me for the season ahead. I’m stoked for more races and several bikepacking adventures to come!”

All smiles on the start line, despite the cold

Kristin Motley: “I didn’t bonk at MidSouth this weekend, not even a baby bonk for such a long day! A lot of trial (and a lot of error) over the last few years finally proved that maple energy keeps my energy consistent and my stomach happy during long endurance events.

My race was over seven and a half hours and I ate four UnTapped, two waffles, drank three bottles of Lemon Tea MapleAid, one bottle of Ginger MapleAid, ate some pretzels and a mini Vermont meat stick. At one of the aid stations there were some unorthodox fueling options, but they paired really well with maple syrup. So I had two bites of hot bacon and a baby shot of bourbon. I’d say I nailed my nutrition!”

Laura King: “Lining up for 102 miles at MidSouth Gravel while six and a half months pregnant meant I had to pay extra attention to riding safe and smart AND fuel early and often. The chilly — but lovely — temperatures made it harder to drink, so I filled both bottles with MapleAid mix (one Lemon Tea, one Ginger) to encourage more frequent sips. I wore mittens because of the cold which impacted my ability to open packages, so I was happy to find easy fuel access with the Salted Raspberry UnTappeds. What a way to kick off the season with one of the most community oriented events I’ve ever attended. The amount of cheer, encouragement and camaraderie I experienced on course was unparalleled. I’m already looking forward to coming back in 2023.”

The finish line is part bike race, part circus

Logan Jones-Wilkins: My day was one of contrast. For 60 miles I was having a fantastic race! And then, as is bike racing, my MidSouth met a prompt and dirty end as a crash in front of me after the creek bed took me out of contention and the race (editor’s note: gravel races are full of unexpected challenges. There’s a mid-race detour through a dried creek that required a bit of running). That being said, I was super confident about my next 40 mile prospects, mostly because of my nutrition! With the race being 100 miles and stopping at aid stations seeming unlikely, I was 100% dialed with UnTapped. My plan was simple: eat 300 calories every hour after the first. For the first three hours, that meant four waffles. Then during hours four and five, when I was hoping to be really on the stick, that meant one waffle and two maple UnTappeds (“gels”), with at least one being the Salted Cocoa or Salted Raspberry per hour for added sodium. Lastly, I had my contingency with another gel and a waffle in case I was feeling an energy drop. Up to the event, every big session I did followed the same protocol: 300-350 and hour after the first — no exceptions and it’s always worked great for me.

Ted King: Gosh, I love this event. My friend Bobby Wintle (the event organizer) makes the entire weekend a festival so no matter your experience or interest in competition, you’re going to have fun. This was the first event since shattering my elbow in October, so it was a bit of a test to make sure the body is operating as I’d hope. Truth be told, I’m thrilled with the top ten finish. I exclusively ate UnTapped, sticking to my routine of one waffle, one UnTapped (“gel”), and one bottle of Mapleaid per hour. The start was freezing, so I had hot water mixed with Ginger Mapleaid, which is one of my favorite nutrition hacks.

Ted take a sip of hot Mapleaid after an early attack is reeled back in

All photos courtesy Ansel Dickey.