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    Otso Journal — Fenrir

    Made Of Grit: Dylan Morton & the Otso Riders of Unbound 2022

    Dylan Morton stands at the finish line of the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL with his fully-loaded Otso Fenrir Stainless bicycle.

    I love that I can go and put my Fenrir through hell and it doesn't care. Like, it's happy to take everything that I've given it and just keep moving forward.

    Dylan Morton takes a sip from his hydration vest and surveys the Expo before him. It’s a scorcher of a day in Emporia, Kansas; the wide, cloudless skies giving no respite to a growing group of cyclists as they move toward the Unbound Gravel XL start line. Dylan is in good spirits: he poses for photos, greets friends as they pass by, and even shimmies into dance aerobics while his fully-loaded Otso Fenrir Stainless models for its own glamor shots. The All Things Gravel Expo is conveniently located right next to the start chute, which is quickly filling with fidgety riders, fans waving beer cans, and fast-melting Untapped Maple creemees. Unbound security volunteers are desperately waving spectators toward either side of the timing barrier, but to no avail—cameras and phones jut into open spaces, trying to capture friends and family as they prepare for one of the largest, unsupported, ultra-endurance bicycling challenges they’ll face this year.

    It’s chaos personified. It’s, as Morton says, “a pregnant moment.” He’s right: the air is palpable, almost electric. “There’s an experience that’s about to happen,” Morton continues, and you can sense that each rider is interpreting this knowledge as best they know how. Briefly he ducks under the shade of the shared Wolf Tooth Components/Otso tents and soaks in the last portions of cool air he’ll find before grabbing his Fenrir Stainless and saluting the fanfare around him. He walks toward the back of the start line where he’ll review on-bike nutrition, determine he’s carrying too much, and give a big bag of M&M’s to a less fortunate friend. The start gun goes off in a flash, and Morton starts rolling.

    I think one thing that has been present in my life is, like, curiosity. What do I want to know? I say oh, I want to see this place, or I want to experience it. Long rides give you the ability to be like oh yeah, I went through there. I went through the whole thing.

    Morton is no stranger to endurance miles. In fact, he prefers them. His palmarès include a win at the 2021 Utah Mixed Epic (an annual 1000-mile event through the heart of Utah’s rugged landscape), a successful ITT of the 2021 1000-mile Arkansas High Country route (a craggy, unsupported route with over 75,000+ feet of elevation gain), as well as numerous bikepacking trips across Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, and other remote sections of America’s backcountry. “I’m curious,” Morton remarks, “I think one thing that has been present in my life is, like, curiosity. What do I want to know? I say oh, I want to see this place, or I want to experience it. Long rides give you the ability to be like oh yeah, I went through there. I went through the whole thing.”

    While some cyclists toe the lines of these epic endurance events with one major goal (to win) Morton’s approach to knocking out the miles comes from a more subtle need to find peace and balance: not only within himself, but in how he relates to the world around him. In 2022 he made the decision to ride his Fenrir Stainless 240 miles from Bentonville, Arkansas to Emporia, Kansas ahead of the 350 mile XL race—not because he needed the extra shakeout, but because it helped Morton solidify the natural bonds between his bike and his own mental/emotional state. “There’s something about riding to a bike race on the [same] bike that you are also going to race,” Morton explains, “It makes you feel like, no, I’m home. I’m comfortable. I have been riding this thing. I know exactly how it speaks to me. I can speak to it. If there’s anything even weird, fine. We’re in sync, and there is something in that that makes me feel so much more calm.”

    Dylan Morton's fully-loaded Otso Fenrir Stainless ahead of the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL.
    An Otso Cycles Fenrir Stainless with a race number plate for Unbound Gravel XL.
    A Wolf Tooth direct mount chainring with White Industries cranks mounted on an Otso Fenrir Stainless bicycle.
    A rear light and Wolf Tooth seatpost clamp covered in dirt and dust.

    Morton isn’t here to win. He’s here to become a part of the course. “[Winning] is not my goal,” he states. “That’s not in my DNA.” Yet, that doesn’t mean these races aren’t meaningful for Morton. Having the ability to stay “consistent and purposeful and motivated and moving” is evidence enough of his mental and physical fitness; however, Morton’s ethos toes the line between pushing power and appreciating his body’s strength in the moment. “I feel like if you’re going to a race, you should feel like you’ve given it every bit of effort, that you should not leave anything in reserve. But you shouldn’t be at the end [of the race] thinking, cool, turn around, get the bike ready to go. As long as I got across the line, that’s appropriate. And I always want to leave that for me.”

    The Unbound XL capped a 590 mile journey for Morton’s Otso Fenrir Stainless, which, as Morton states, “disappeared” as he reached a groove on the southward course. “Everything was selected for [that bike],” he explains, “Like, conscious choice. There was nothing that was just given to me … or, like, I wasn’t aware of. Like, the tires—fully aware of them and selected and chosen and put on there. And there is something really fun about that. But I think the reason why I do those things is so that when I’m riding a bike, that’s the last thing I have to think about.” The course itself was “very pedaly”: “Didn’t have to get off my bike at all, didn’t have to turn on my head lamp," Morton says. "I could actually use my Dynamo, which requires my front wheel to be spinning at a certain speed to create light. Didn’t have to worry about light the whole time because that was on all night.”

    Riders at the start of the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL bikepacking race.
    Cyclists lined up at the start of the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL race.
    Water covers a part of the 2022 Unbound Gravel course.
    Dylan Morton pedals forward on his Otso Fenrir Stainless at the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL bikepacking race.
    A row of flowers alongside a Kansas field.
    A field of corn is blanketed by a cloudy blue sky.

    The Otso Fenrir Stainless is a ride-anywhere bike—a bike meant for speedy singletrack, craggy climbs, long bikepacking journeys, and afternoon coffee rides. For Morton at Unbound, it became a steadfast workhorse so reliable it “melted away” as his pedals pushed forward through the Flint Hills, from El Dorado to Eureka, Hamilton to Madison, and finally back to Emporia. Consistent and capable, the Fenrir shepherded Morton to his flock, taking “every bit of input” and saying “yes” to whatever Morton asked of it. “I just put it out in front of me,” he explains, “and it just rode over everything, and there was nothing I had to worry about.”

    Sometimes… you actually are a part of the landscape. You’ve lived here your whole life. Tell me who you are. Who is the person who wants to be here?

    The famed rains that soaked through the 200- and 100-milers met Morton with grace, having already ridden through several storms on his trek into Emporia from Bentonville. For endurance bikepackers, rain is “part of the process”—Morton, however, takes the sentiment a bit further. “[It’s] this kind of relief,” he says. “Now we’re riding in a little bit of mud and a little bit of cold. Thank you, [mud and cold]. Like, this changes the script. This cools it off. This is different.” Being present and in the moment on course affords Morton the time to respect and honor the lands he rides on—to make them a part of “his bones.” As a full time mechanic for The Meteor in Bentonville, Morton uses experiences like Unbound XL to reintroduce himself to the world: to become a part of the larger spaces in which he rides. “Sometimes… you’re just like, you actually are a part of the landscape,” he muses, “You’ve lived here your whole life. Tell me who you are. Who is the person who wants to be here?”

    Dylan Morton holds a Pacifico beer and kisses a dog following his finish at the Unbound Gravel XL race.
    Dylan Morton stands with his Otso Cycles Fenrir Stainless at the end of the 2022 Unbound Gravel XL.
    Dylan Morton, covered in mud, smiles for the camera at the finish line of the Unbound Gravel XL race.
    Dylan Morton's muddy, dusty, and dirty Otso Fenrir Stainless at the end of Unbound XL.

    Morton completed his Unbound XL journey at 4:20PM on Saturday, June 5th, having ridden a total of 350 miles in 25h 23m 08s on top of the 240 miles already logged between Bentonville and Emporia. As he is greeted at the finish line with beer, hugs, and a wet towel from Chamois Butt’r, Morton suppresses his thousand-yard-stare, poses with his Fenrir Stainless, and shares ride details with friends. “I rode the bike, it did its thing, and I didn’t have to think about it, do anything, put a chain back on, worry about it,” he says, wiping his face. “I love the aspect that I can go and put my Fenrir through hell and it doesn’t care.” At this point, it’s safe to say that Morton and his Fenrir Stainless have become one. Just like Morton, the bike is “happy to take everything [given to it] and just keep moving forward.” And forward they will go.


    Otso Cycles makes versatile, performance-first bikes that are inspired by the spirit of the forest. You can find us on the terrain less traveled, in the winding woods, shredding a forgotten trail, and also on social media. Check out our Unbound gallery below to see Otso riders ready to take Emporia by storm.

    A cyclist proudly holds her Otso Cycles Waheela C.
    A cyclist proudly displays his Otso Warakin.
    A cyclist proudly displays his Otso Cycles Warakin bicycle.
    An Otso Cycles owner proudly displays his Voytek.
    A cyclist proudly stands with his Otso Cycles Waheela C.
    A cyclist proudly stands with his Otso Warakin.
    A cyclist stands proudly with his Otso Warakin at Unbound Gravel 2022.
    A cyclist proudly displays her custom Otso Cycles Waheela C at Unbound Gravel 2022.
    A cyclist holds up his Otso Cycles Waheela C on one wheel.
    A cyclist proudly shows off his Otso Cycles rig.
    A cyclist proudly displays his Otso Waheela C.