20140715

Hellz yeah! Its Back! MFXC 5: The Karkness

Basic info for now:

When:

9pm Saturday August 9th, 2014*

Where:
Sutton Bluff Campground

What:
Night time fun on sections of the OT to be featured in the OT100, sections many of you might have never ridden.

*Time is definite. Location might change due to course needs.

Check back later for full details.

20140610

The Innaugural OT-100 Race!

Greetings, Missouri Mountain Hill Bike Fanbois! I come to you today bearing news of much importance, and For Great Honor. For many of you, this will come as no surprise. But, for those of you who AREN'T completely plugged into the MO dirt racing scene like Quaid at Recall...

...then you should check this out.


Missouri may not be known around the country as a destination for mountain biking (all the better as far as we're concerned, because that means fewer people on all the awesome trails) but if the rest of the country knew what we were up to around here, then perhaps we'd see more out-of-state plates at the trailheads.

Let's put this another way. Various regions of the country have large, over-arching networks of singletrack connecting various localized systems. For example, Colorado has the 486 mile Colorado Trail, Colorado and Utah share the 142 mile Kokopelli Trail, North Dakota has the 96 mile Maah Dahh Hey Trail, the Appalachian states have the 2000+ Appalachian Trail, and so forth. Thankfully, Missouri can add its very own Ozark Trail to the list with over 350 miles of trail, and 225 of those being continuously connected! The best part is that there is even more to come as a result of the hard of work countless volunteers, and the "curating" organization - the Ozark Trail Organization, or OTA.


Much of the OT lies within the Mark Twain National Forest, and provides a stunning showcase of what the Ozarks have to offer when it comes to beauty, seclusion, and... well, uh... nature. Long have we at Team Seagal considered the OT to be our spiritual headquarters, as you can probably tell by browsing through our archives. This is because the OT, or at least the sections that allow mountain biking (of which there are many) provide the rider with a reminder as to what "real" mountain biking is - riding singletrack in the woods on rough, not-necessarily-groomed-to-perfection trails. It is about as far from "park" riding as you can get. What do I mean by "park" riding? Quick, short loops, well maintained, machine-built trails that only require a 10-20 minute walk out to the parking lot if you have a flat/mechanical; where all you need is a bottle of water and minimal-to-no supplies. The OT won't let you get away with that kind of bullshit!

This race passes through 4 sections of the OT - starting with the southern end of the Karkahgne Section, then the Middlefork Section, then the Trace Creek Section, and finally ending with the Courtois Section, which dumps you at the finish line of the Bass River Resort. This is not your many NUE-style 100 mile race that incorporates a lot of gravel mileage into the route. (And I do not mean to imply that those races are easy - just a different terrain.) This is over 98% singletrack, and instead of a handful of monstrous mountaintop summits, you'll be pummeled by 50+ short, punchy, rocky climbs under 400 ft of vertical gain, and leave you wondering how a climb that is so "short" felt so damn long.

Some of us have theorized that by the end of the first section, 50% of the entrants will have dropped, not realizing how fucking hard that trail would be. But if you can make it to either the Hazel Creek or Berryman Campgrounds before dark, you can rest for the night, and have an less-daunting ride to the finish line in the morning. (My prediction: no one finishes in under 10 hours.)


Either way, this race proves to be epic, in every sense of the word. And thanks to our very own Lawman, who knows this trail better than I know the inside of a stinky balloon, it is one of the most ambitious "one-day" races I've ever heard of - both in terms of it's difficulty (which should NOT be underestimated) and it's logistics.

Here at Team Seagal HQ, we've already put into place a training regimen involving our new secret training tool, a toilet seat that weighs our dookie:
details here.


This race will be so hard, that only the most dank jenk will have any effect on your state of euphoria after completion. Let me tell you though, if you manage to complete this adventure, you'll be happier than Criss Angel listening to his favorite LP:



In the meantime, you had best start preparing yourself for this undertaking. And to do so, we have started compiling a list of things you should start doing regularly in order to harden yourself for coming onslaught of pain you will have to endure on the OT, come Sept 6th:
  • covering your saddle with sandpaper, and start riding in cotton tighty-whiteys
  • switch from using energy gel packets while riding to packets of wasabi
  • chop down trees every day with just an axe
  • turn off your hot water heater
  • complete a Chubb Trail century
  • Incorporate more Napalm Death into your music selection:


Here is the race flyer: http://ozarktrail.com/ot100mtb/OT100-flyer.pdf  I should clarify, this isn't our race. But we're excited for it. Also on the Ozarktrail.com website, you can find VERY well done, comprehensive and high-quality maps of each trail section - these are worth purchasing if you are considering this race. (I picked up all 4, and they are seriously impressive.)


Registration opens in just a few days - June 15th!
Go here for moar info: https://www.bikereg.com/ot100mtb



Consider this to be a public service announcement, because remember, at Team Seagal, we are about education.

-Casey F. Ryback

20140602

To Hermann, and Pee-yond!

Greetings, you sonsabitches! Casey "The Doughy Rider" Ryback here. Before I get started, I want to make sure you are currently getting fucked, and know that i am very apologetic for getting this recap to you somewhat late. - and for this lateness, I offer this:

Anyway, so as you may or may not remember, due to you having probably been listening to some mall-core Linkn Park bullshit, this last weekend was mammorial/memorial day.  Few of us worked, and so that calls for an epic ride when two days off in a row were happening.

So a quartet of us were recruited from Team Seagal HQ to launch an overnight assault on the town of Hermann, on a mission of peace. And peace pipes full of Chinese herbs. Well, pipe - singular. HQ gave us the plan - to set forth on a bro-core man-train down the KittyKaty Trail, with mandatory stops at the delicious Augusta Brewery for some Tannhauser.

Titward put forth the idea to meet in Brentwood - however, in retrospect, I feel as though he may have meant that he would like to meet Brent's wood.  So it was, we were able to leave precisely after the rain stopped and pretty much avoid all rain on the way out. We threaded the needed of mid-county roads on the way to the CCP (Not to be confused with ICCCCCCCCP north of Wentzville) where we would traverse the Page Bridge, snapping the wrists of many shirtless fuit-booter dudes and aero-bar hybrids in the process.

Turning onto the Katy Trail, we seemed to reach the Hwy 40 bridge relatively quickly, where we got to see the progress of the construction and the forth-coming bike-ramp. From there, it wasn't long before we reached our first actual pit stop, at the Defiance Bike Shop, where we rested the legs, decided on the San Pellegrino over the Tab, and listened to the karaoke band around the corner:




From there, we pressed on, our sights on Augusta, where we would me the lovely Mrs. B and company for food and stuff. The trail had been relatively low on the dusty scale thanks to the rain earlier in the day, however the humidity was on the high end of the St. Louis Humidity Scale, which means that wet clothing set out on a line to dry will actually becoming wetter. So by the time we reached The Augusta Brewery (a mandatory Team Seagal stop any time we are withing 5 miles of it) we were sweatier than a fat, shirtless Juggalo in his tent trying to have sex with the ham-beast of a girl he met in the line for the port-a-john at The Gathering of the Juggalos. Despite our outward appearance, we were able to cool down with the proper beverages:

From here, with the sun well beyond its mid-day crest, we saddled up our steeds, and pressed on. The scenery became very pretty in the waning sunlight, which was pleasant, even if the trail was surprisingly soft and splattering:



As our shadows grew longer, I was wishing for more chamois, something like Designing Women-style shoulder pads:
Nice and thick padding



We managed to choo-choo all the way to the Hermann cut-off without having to destroy our night-vision by turning on our headlights. Hopping onto the Hwy 19, we rolled into Hermann, and set our internal GPS destination to Wings-A-Blahzin', only to be let down when the bartender told us the kitchen had closed like an hour ago. Truly, a crushing blow. No other restaurant was open any longer at this time of night, so we ultimately settled for some Casey's pizza, which was brought back to the City Park, and partially crushed. Camp erected, showers taken, sleep attempted.

The next morning, we had a meeting at the round table, and decided to return to the homeland on pavement rather than the Katy. Matt "Rand McNally" B set on determining our best route home, which turned out to essentially be the route from previous years' Vino Fondo from Hermann to Washington. (Strava Heat is an amazing thing.)

So our two days would be near polar opposites - Sunday: straight, flat, gravel, no traffic. Monday: twisty, HILLY, paved, and with varying degrees of traffic. And what better way to start off the return trip than with a slow, long climb up Hwy H (as seen previously at the Tour of Hermann, Loop 2) which is made even slower by having 20-30 pounds of crap on your bike. I realized that it would be a a long day of suffering uphill, especially with chasing my lean and mean traveling partners all day, so I had to set my internal soundtrack early on. Flipping through my the 300 CD changer in my brain, I selected a truly under-appreciated gem of the mid-80's thrash golden years and hit play:


Riding out of Hermann, as anyone who has done the Tour of Hermann of the Vino Fondo knows, the roads never stay flat for long. In fact, you are generally starting off each climb hoping to carry the momentum from the last bombin' downhill as far up as possible - and when my full rider/bike package is surely in the 275 lb range, that momentum doesn't carry it too far back up the hill. I did manage to hang out for a minute though:

Not long after that previous photo was taken, we found a roadside snack - baby venison:

By the time we reached Washington, we were even sweatier than the day before, having climbed more in the first 5 miles than we did the entire previous day. So it was time for a drink and a meal. This being Memorial Day, we found only one place open, and it just happened to be the Washington outlet for The Augusta Brewery. Perched on top of the hill overlooking the Missouri River, there was a great breeze, great beer, and low-key atmosphere under their covered porch area.

Our pit stop could not have been timed better, as we watched some ominous clouds roll in from the west, and as the rain started, it went from a light drizzle to "BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES! MAN THE HARPOONS!" in about 24.3 seconds. The river scene was a near white-out:

Once the lightning stopped, we pressed on, taking some even hillier roads on the way past Labadie and St. Albans, Can't say I was regretting having lugged my fenders all the way at that point. However, having been locked down in Washington due to the storm for a while, we got old-school-Tour de France hydration-style:

We sobered up quickly, considering every fluid that went into our bodies went directly out through our pores, especially when grinding out the long hills of West County:





Riding east, we made our way towards the easy, direct route into town, Clayton Road, and I got to dispense great information about oversized apple fritters to Matt B. We eventually all split up ways, happy to rest our t'aints - particularly TakeMeDownToPizzaTown, who rode the entire way with a heaping backpack full of shit for camping overnight.

We all know that this wasn't as cool as doing the DK ride this past weekend, nor were any of us super cool on fat bikes, but 85 miles there and back loaded down, and my legs are still tired.


So if I can leave you with a parting advice, remember this: opinions are like your sweaty crying dick - keep it to yourself.

Here's the totally hard fucking core Garmin link http://connect.garmin.com/activity/508258476

-Casey "Firecrest Stomach" Ryback 

20140519

A Syllamo To Remember

Greetings and Salutations, Team Seagal JERKfosi. It is I, the PunchOr of Cock, with a post-Syllamo tale to tell. Our story begins several months back, when I decided to sign up for the SS category...a first for me for this event. Turned out to be a very wise decision. After accepting the advice of several teammates, I wisely swapped my normally very adequate 34t chainring with a moAr Arkansas friendly 32t. Smooth move, ExLax. Now running 32X20, I felt at least somewhat prepared for what Satan's little section of the Bible Belt could dish out.

Fresh brake pads, fresh Stans and fresh gearing had my attitude in a very Superior state. After much work related bullshit was put behind me, I met up with our newest Soldier, Czech "Pohodar" (that means BADASS), Adam Rybar, and our chauffeur, Loreen. We met at Loreen's office in South County, which meant my radio was tuned to KSHE for some fuckin' Skynard, the T-tops were off and the hi-tops were on. The sun was shining and much excitement was in the air. Upon making the gear & bike exchange to Lo's Suby, we paid a quick visit to the latrines and hit the road for the five-plus hour journey Southwestward.

Our first stop was a visit to Route 66 Bicycles in RollOrz, where we, along with the PROprietOr, Dan FuhrmOrnn, discussed the lack of trail maintenance and likelihood of horrid conditions (100% chance of shit) we were to encounter. We then stepped outside to admire FuhrmOrnn's rock garden.


Those rocks are as prevalent as frightened children at Criss Angel's pool party.

Departing RollOrz, we motored on Southward on highway 63, which is like the Great Silk Road for meth trafficking. By the time we made it as far as West Plains, a pit stop was in order to fuel up with Casey's General Store pizza and to beef up our Juggalo count.


The "woman" driving this rig had as much metal in her face as this little trollop. So we topped off with gas and hit the roAd once moAr.



We arrived in "downtown" Mountain View to pick up our lightly swagged out registration packs, complete with t-shirts made from the excess inventory of highway worker uniforms. These things are brighter than the asses of little boys in Criss Angel's dreams. Two Hammer gels, a bunch of literature and one ugly ass shirt. If that’s not worth the price of admission, I don’t know what is!

On to our home for teh night, Sarah's Cabin. A lovely little cottage and a bunch of JERKS to share it with. The residents for the next couple days were: PunchOr, Rybar, Lo, The Reverend Storve FriOrdmOrn, Dave H, Rob L and ChristOrine FOrd, all the way from Iowa CitAy.

Upon arrival at the cabin and taking the bike down from the roof, my rear brake hose decided to simply fall out of the lever. I believe this is what one refers to as "Avid breaks." My once Superior Attitude quickly became decidedly less so. However, having a bunch of very Superior cabin-mates, we quickly ASSembled a plan.....a trip to RURAL ARKANSAS MAL*WART!!! We secured DOT4 brake fluid and a syringe (for the latter, we probably could have found one in any of a number of vacant properties nearby).



Got back home and set about fixing it. Not really fixing, because I still have Avid brakes, but Dave got it to at least get me by pretty well. It required a lot of pumping....not unlike a typical evening at the Criss Angel Summer Camp for Wayward Boys....but it did the job.

Everyone enjoyed a bit of dinner and a couple beers before settling down for some non-sleeping. Race day we awoke to moAr rain, temperatures in the mid-40's, and a lot of people using one bathroom. We traveled over to race HQ, prepared our minds and out taints for battle, listened to the promoter describe the dangers and the 'untrimmed-ness' of the Red Loop, then lined up for the mass start. As we were standing there, the rain began to fall at a heavier rate, prompting the entire 300+ racers to scream "Let's fucking Go already!!!" And GO we did....straight up that 9/10 mile motherfucker prior to the fuck-fest that was the singletrack entry.

The Blue Loop was, for me and many others, virtually un-rideable. I honestly think I walked about four or five miles of the 50 during the race. Moab doesn't know dick about "slick rock." Get the fuck down to ArKansas after three days of rain and 2/3's of a big MTB field in front of you....then you will understand slick fucking rocks!

I felt very good after arriving at the first aids dispensary. I refilled bottles, ate a banana and a Pop-Tart, and continued on. Upon turning off of the Blue Loop and onto the Orange, I felt touched by the hand of Energor himself and enjoyed totally ridable trail for several miles. Reaching the 2nd of three checkpoints, my spirits were lifted, my Attitude became once again Superior, as did my State of Mind. Once past station number three, at about the six hour mark, things were actually humming along quite nicely for me. Met a couple doods from Mississippi and rode with them for many miles. Then, on the Red Loop, after all that rocky bullshit prior, I flatted....TWICE in about 7 miles. Fortunately, I had two tubes and was able to make it to the finish, completing my first Syllamo on SS. I have to say, I am still pretty sore, but pretty goddamned happy about doing this with so few miles under my belt thus far this season.

Following my "race," I can't tell you how much I appreciated Strove walking up and handing me a very illegal IPA at the finish:



I was fucking spent, but felt great at the same time.

Back at the cabin, the Reverend StrOve led us in Bible study:



Following prayer, many tubed meats were consumed, along with copious amounts of various beers from around the region. I was able to sit on the pOrch for a brief conversation with an Asian gentleman and then engage in moAr merriment until passing out at about 9:30pm. A fucking awesome day.

Up early Sunday morning, we loaded up and headed home, but not before stopping for the worlds slowest breakfast cook:





While there, I visited the top of Mt. Kohler, where, as the sign directed me, I left "Warm Apple Dumplings."

I hope the old dood following me in there did not OD on the Clif Shot fueled jenkem vapors I left behind.

And, it's worth noting that St. Louis' own Dr. Rich Pierce brought home this nice bit of garden decor:



Huge thanks to Dave H and Adam for the help with my brakes....I would have been unable to even start without the assistance. A great time with a bunch of really cool peoples. I hope everyone enjoys a nice mini-vanning today……….

20140513

NW Epic Series Race #1 Stottlemeyer 30/60 Race Report

Greetings Team Seagal Official Jerk Club Members,

Masson "PNW JERKLIFE" Storm here after too much time away from teh TS blorg. Well it's that time of year again here in the PNW when Jerks start to surf the brown pow and shred the gnarnia with every chance they are given. I have been riding my RAIJIN every Monday at the Port Gamble Tree Farm for the past 9/10 weeks in preparation for the past weekends race. So much trail out there it's unreal, a short ferry ride and 7mi road approach via your bike and you can ride for hours and hours.  This was my 3rd time racing this race since moving to WA and it has become an annual thing for me, and the invite for out of state participants is always wide open.

The NW Epic Series out here is top notch and offers a great ability to race a full endurance series with all the races being less than four hours from Seattle, and in the case of Stottlemeyer it's a 20 min ferry ride and 7mi drive from my doorstep. The proximity of these trails to where Katemeyer and myself have lived going on 3 years now has been so great. I look forward to sharing the sweet sweet single track that awaits any Jerk who signs up. With something for everybody, and moar trail than any Jerk could ever dream of Stotty is a great place to shred. With one exception, when its muddy, and I mean really fucking muddy. I'm talking whites of your eyes Dutch in Predator Muddy.









I was signed up for the 60mi as I had done the year before, but after almost a full weeks worth of rain in Port Gamble, WA. the week leading up to the event I knew how muddy it was going to be, so I changed to the 30mi and prepared to get served. Thankfully I had some sand lingering in my chamois as it would turn out to be the only dry part of this past Saturdays event.  The race starts with a 2.5mi false flat fireroad climb before you make it to the single track that starts the 15mi loop. I had decided that no matter what I was going to maintain a steady 10mph pace to start the day, I did just that and entered the shit show probably somewhere in the middle of about 200 racers. The 60 milers had been on course for the past 2 hours and the leaders caught me while finishing my first lap, it was they're 3rd.

The course was brutal, but even despite how muddy, slick, soul crushing it was you just had to smile. I suffered the entire time, mashed my gear 32x20(I could've used a few more gears) for nearly 5 hours before finally crossing the finish line. 14/16 in the SS cat and 228/270 overall might be my worst result in a while, but I was just so happy to have finished the event. It was easily the hardest race I have ever done, and quite honestly I don't know how anyone finished the 60mi let alone in under 6hrs.

After the race the participants were treat to ice cold Rainier Beer and BBQ. I crushed out 4 brewsers, a pulled pork sandwhich, and hit the road with Katemeyer and the dogs for our campsite at Lake Crescent.  We got a fire going, made some braquitos, read scrolls, and enjoyed all the beers my cooler could hold. Another Stotty in the books for the Storm's, and I'm already looking forward to next year!
Next up for Mr. WA is a self supported bike race/ride across the state of Oregon, the Oregon Outback. This continental divide style, but much smaller. 360ish miles that I will be taking on Mario Van Peebles Style aboard my  2013 Kona Unit SS 38x17. Post to follow. GTF'ED Y'all.

Storm

20140505

A Crotch visits the N.E.C.S. on his home turf and turns it briefly into "TC MANhattan"

Greetings, fellow Midwestern mountain biker jerks! I, the Doughy Rider himself - Coachward F. Crotch-back, come with a tale to tell. For I, along with the Saintly Mrs. Coach, have just returned from a diplomatic mission of peace to the great state of New York, where we got to visit, amongst many other things, our very own New East Coast Syndicate - C. Dubs. In the process, I have learned many great things about The Empire State, or to be moar specific, the Isle of Manhattan. Please bear with me, as since this was a strictly diplomatic mission, there was no two-wheeled warfare waged, at least not on a race course.

First though, it must be mentioned that it is with some sadness - a lack of euphoria, if you will - that I write this passage, having been unable to attend the Missouri Cycling Monument, Cedar Cross. I wish I could have been there to get lemonade from the road-side stand, I wish I could have been able to hear Mr. Jenkins himself advise his nephews to drop the water bottles full of beer if the cops show up so they don't get in trouble. I wish I had been there to destroy the Ham's Prarie restroom for everyone who followed behind me. But alas, there were even greater forces at work this past week, and I had little to no control over them - much like my bowels after a pot of my own special Crotch Blend of espresso roast coffee in the morning. (The best part of waking up indeed!)  That all being said, a couple of huffs from my handle travel-friendly e-balloon, and I was quickly transported back to the outskirts of Jeff City - reminiscing about many times past, specifically that of picking gravel from my crack two years ago.

We arrived, with a suitcase full of extra delicious Midwestern beers. Stepping outside the airport, I could smell the fresh NYC air, and thought to myself how it smells better than I was expecting, which should make for an even better contrast for the special brew of "Fly-Over State Jenk" that was I planning on releasing later in the week. This fresh air was even more surprising after emerging onto the sidewalk after a lengthy trip on the Subway.


Anyway, great care was taken to preserve the integrity of said beers, (carefully wrapped in my undies) for a proper delivery. Before the J.P.S. (Jerky Parcel Service) was able to complete its rounds however, we had to meet for some food and beers at a neutral location, to discuss the transfer of good-will for beers:


We saw numerous things in NYC, specifically a surprising lack of totally sweet urban-fixie-brah-messenger-lane-splitter types.(Maybe it was different in the outer borroughs.) What we DID in fact see, were hundreds upon hundreds of Mexican or Chinese food delivery dudes on old, beat-to-shit mountain bikes with 2-ring road cranks installed cruising around everywhere with big Wald baskets on the front. So if you want you're looking for sweet NYC courier work, contact any of the hundreds of Chinese or pizza joints and they'll hook you up. Just beware, they work in ALL weather - I felt as though their numbers on the streets increased once the rain came down. Of course though, everyone knows that rain is not good on deep-section painted wheelsets, so many fixie-brahs may have retreated once the weather turned sour.

A strange occurrence that happened moar than once, would be when my gay-dar would go off, and upon a second glance, would realize that they are just European once they started speaking French or German or whatever. Please bear this in mind.

When in NYC, there are many things to do and see, so here is a short list of things I can check off the list for next time. For example, having visited the strip clubs, I found to be very strange, and unsatisfying, for a Missourian such as myself. These hardcore bitches were terrible at working that pole, not to mention the open windows during the day killed the atmosphere, as seen here:

After going to the titty bars, I felt a little gross, so we took the Subway back to home base for a good shower. This fit in nicely, for it gave me the opportunity to partake in a little bit if Missouri tradition in the Empire State - a good ole' shower beer:


Of course, venturing to this city required the sampling of some tasty vittles. At one particular food purveyor, we found something that I simply can not believe has yet to arrive on the banks of the Mississippi just yet - fucking crispy bacon with maple syrup for dipping:

I did opt to avoid a drink known simply as the "Negroni," which sounded moar like something that would have been served to black slaves in the 1830's:
 
 Hell, St. Louis may be south when compared to New York, but it isn't THAT south. Sheeeeit.


All this boozin, eatin' and clubbin' had us needing to take a break, and stretch our legs, and what better place to do that than in world famous Central Park. We had good weather, so a nice stroll down the curved paths, around the Reservoir, past the bridge from Home Alone 2, and around numerous  closed-for-the-season meadows. We eventually happened upon a food cart, so we picked up a salty pretzel, some shish-kebab, and a hot dog to munch on while we watch the people pass by. And let me tell you, if you think Forest Park is busy with lots of weirdos, Central Park is on another plane of existence. Freds, as far as the eye could see. Rental bikes in a continuous procession. And it wasn't just bikes for rent, but there was also a place somewhere that you could rent fucking Elliptigo's. Take this choad-burger for example:
What you are seeing in this photo is a full grown man, on a rental Elliptigo, who stopped in front of us to attempt to snap a "selfie." Unable to reach his arm out far enough to allow his crap-filled phone to encompass the entire monstrosity that is an Elliptigo, he managed to get this passer-by to take the photo - though he had to turn his contraption around so he could try and get an "action" shot. 

In another commons area, we had another full grown man, taking the form of a fruit-booter (with all due respects to reformed 'booter, the Tropical Storm) who was fruit-booting around this little area, listening to a boombox, and dancing like a figure skater. What music was he listening to? Stairway to Heaven - a song during which he was doing circles while holding up the metal horns. Completely enthralled in his music, he would buzz nearly everyone who went past, usually while holding his boombox (not pictured here:)
 

It was a fascinating study in human narcissism, observing all this strange behavior - the desire to be noticed. In the same super-busy commons area, were three dudes in everyone's way doing free-style frisbee, no doubt for the attention.


All this is well and good, but I was giddy as Criss Angel with a schoolboy at the chance of meeting up a dude who is probably more robot than man now - our very own New East Coast Syndicate and the lovely Mrs. Dubs, deep within N.E.C.S. territory. Riding the elevator to his floor, my ears popped, and gave me pause to think about the velocity that his turds must reach upon flushing his toilet. What is the terminal velocity for turds in sewage pipes running straight down for 2 dozen floors? Does overall consistency enter the equation? And would a "floating" log have a higher or slower terminal velocity than a "sinker?" Truly, these are heavy questions that will continue to "float" or even "swirl" around in my mind.

Mr. and Mrs. Dubs treated Mrs. Crotch and I to a magnificently prepared meal, and continued to provide me with numerous beers that all ended up in my stomach - a few extras of which made the return trip home. A wonderful evening with solid company - you couldn't ask for moar.

It was so high up, we were above the crop-dust cloud I had left at ground level:
Needless to say, I was almost as excited to impart my own "flavor" upon Dubs' own Mt. Kohler, his "fortress of soli-poo'ed" if you will, after having heard many, MANY tales of it's resilience. Imagine my surprise to walk in, and find some restrictions already in place:
 He's one step ahead of me!

With pleasing night-time views like this, I see where he continues to get inspiration to continue the important research in the field of jenkem studies, of which he is currently a tenured research professor:
 


All good things must come to an end, such as our sojourn into the Megalopolis of NYC. However, I did not return to Team Seagal HQ empty handed, for my suitcase fit a surprising number of beers:



Now, as a public service, since Team Seagal puts great emphasis on continuing education, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to offer a few ways to pick out tourists from the crowds on your next visit to Manhattan. I feel adept identifying these traits, having just been there, and having exhibited many of these traits before learning the ways of the natives to blend in and adapt their culture:
  • badly sunburnt face from open-air tour buses/boats, and standing in long lines outside
  • SLR camera permanently around neck - usually in conjunction with large backpack or square shoulder bag
  • Standing in the middle of a massively busy sidewalk taking a photo, oblivious to the throngs of people trying their best to not run them over
  • Tourists tend have their heads up, looking/gazing around and pointing, while residents mainly just look down, trying to avoid eye contact
  • They may or may not be wearing a complimentary/novelty poncho in the rain, seen here:
  • Tourists will still be speaking quietly
  • They'll be the ones happy to pay asking price for cheap bullshit in Chinatown
  • Residents seem to generally be dressed for work, or for a workout. Tourists look like they are going to a family reunion all the time.
These are just a few of the observation I made, feel free to add your thoughts.



I hope that this has been enlightening for you - for as I said, Team Seagal tries to educate as much as it does snap wrists. In summation, I found the city of New York to be, despite it's problematic lack of public restrooms, a huge, beautiful, crazy, interesting, and above all, a wonderful place to visit. I can only hope that I was able to impart my own "flavor" to it during our short visit.

In the meantime, feel free to get totally minivanned.

-Casey F. Ryback

20140407

Tour of Hermann 2014

 Greetings, Team Seagal Fanboiz! After reading the hair-raising account from our Good Doctor, regaling us all as to how he and his fellow jerks assaulted the state of Arizona harder than his dog Taco assaults the kibble at the first twinge of the post-jenk munchies, I was inspired.

This weekend was certainly shaping up to be beautiful - a fact that I'm sure was appreciated by no one more than Jeff Yielding, the wily overlord of cycling in Hermann. Last year the weather was amazingly awesome with enough sun to almost cancel out the wind. This year was more of the same, sunny, and a little less windy. Energor surely has smiled on us.

What was the plan? The Tour of Hermann is more of a "fondo" than a race. It's a fondo on beautiful gravel roads around one of Missouri's most picturesque areas. Picturesque, and hilly. Very hilly. Let's put it this way - the roads go up and down more than Criss Angel's head during nap time in a kindergarten class. Anyway, after last year, I learned my lesson - that Hermann will go Commando on your legs:

 With that lesson in mind, I applied mountain bike science to a drop-bar bike in the form of an 11-34 cassette, then applied some PBR to my mouth, and proceeded to profit.

Saturday morning.

4:30 AM came early, but would ensure early arrival to properly prepare my mind, taint, and bowels for the upcoming onslaught. This is a another lesson learned by this weekend - being the first person to "christen" the porta-john is a double edged pork sword. On one hand, there is no line, you have all the fresh single-ply TP you could want, no pressure to finish in a timely fashion, and no splatter on the seat to wipe off. On the other hand, with no underwater turd-mountain built up yet, the chances of a chemical-water splashback are very real - I now know this first hand. Those kerplunks and the subsequent wetting of my cheek meat  from below had me remembering the movie "The Sandlot," and Ham's amazing cannonball that splashed water all over the sunbathing girls.

The other benefit of hitting the plastic shitting box early, is avoiding a line like this:


Saddling up, I was happy to see a healthy contingent of Jefferson City crushers, and was bestowed many a training secret from one Corey Case, specifically that of the Second Surge energy gel. That shit has enough caffeine in it to get even the Masson Storm himself wired. The sun was rising, much like my anticipation of the start, which couldn't start soon enough.

As we rolled out, forming into a fairly high-paced line down Hwy 19, I could only marvel at how freaking slow some people pedal - I call it the "pathlete's cadence." This is essentially when someone who doesn't know any better stays in the hardest gear, pretty much all the time, thinking it to be the best way to go fast and get a good workout. I see it all the time, dudes crushing out the Forest Park bike path at 10 mph with a pedaling cadence of about 15 rpm. It is the equivalent of maxing out when weight lifting, all the time.
 

Whatever, it was a beautiful morning, and I was enjoying the bobbing and weaving on the Katy Trail, as I weaved in and out of different groups, before turning onto the first climb of the day, an average paved climb that has you cresting and looking at a simply beautiful valley, one that belied the utter pain soon to come. Some rolling flats brought us to the first real gravel climb of the day, one that I think I'll call the "grosso cazzo bianco." It was just huge,  long, and unrelenting. And, to top it all off, the erosion "trails" going across and down the road kinda reminded me of engorged veins. By this point, Robo-Peat, despite our recent assassination attempt, had already passed me back on the Katy, and I was wondering just how someone could truly mount the grosso cazzo bianco on a singlespeed. Hell, whatever - it's all because the titanium hardware in his hip makes him lighter. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, the first loop wasn't too crazy, as the roads were very well groomed, and the climbs were just a handful, though they were harder than Criss Angel at tee-ball practice. During a short re-route on pavement, I was happy to see the steam from the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant rising straight up, not being bothered by the wind:


It was awesome to bomb back down to the Katy Trail, for it was easy riding back to the car, where I had waiting some tasty pancake muffin things prepared by the saintly Mrs. Crotch:
The only way they could have been better would have been with syrup.

After stuffing my over-sized head with Mrs. Crotch's muffins, I joined forces with the Nick "You think that muffin is good, try mine" Smith. It was game time, and had to roll out. We rolled for probably 20-25 miles, bullshitting and also watching bulls shit. (Good thing Rich Pierce wasn't there, because the way he attracts murderous wildlife, those bulls would have no doubt ran us over.) He pointed out some stuff I would have missed, like this glorious church steeple peaking out from the trees out in the middle of nowhere, which required a short break:

We had a good steady pace going, though I think we were both going faster than we would have, had the other not been right there. On this second lap, the roads got a little deeper in spots, requiring more brappage. Fortunately, my Continental Top Contact II's give zero fucks about anything in their way - something that helped out the moment Nick and I came across an erosion canyon on a bombin' downhill. There was a nice lady there who had already flatted, and was waving us down to curb our speed so that we wouldn't end up like her, but I had to brap the tires and plow through the canyon.

This loop found us really employing out seated climbing position, lest we risk spinning out (not baller.) This would only get moar challenging as the grade increased, and our muscles fatigued. No matter, the roads and hills unfurled before us, as our chit chat lessened and we stopped noticing the scenery as much:



As the hills continued on loop two, the distance between Nick and I stretched out a little bit as we settled into the best paces for each of us. But it wasn't long, before plopping back down onto the paved road that would take us back into town, which was a nice rest from the buzzing.


Rolling back into the staging area, I felt relatively good, but with an ominous sense of apprehension about going out again. I knew I could, but I knew that I was gonna get totally fucking equalized by the end. So that may explain taking a little too long of a rest before loop 3, where the temptation to engage in drinking and merriment was strong. I had to press on though, as I had missed most other people I knew who were going out for the 3rd already - all of 'em on Team Noah - those jerks!

Most people seemed to think the 2nd loop was the hardest, but I disagree - the 3rd I believe was the most soul-crushing. Heading down the road, my legs were fatigued, but still turning the pedals over. However, it wasn't long before I was feeling like Mr. Burns trying to decide between "catsup" and "ketchup...
..."I'm in way over my head."

The third loop was the hardest, because the hills were more rapidfire, and there was less mellow flat-ish roads in between them. One hill would crest, point your right back downhill, where you would coast right into the next one. Bombing down one hill in particular not too far along, my spirits were briefly lifted as there were a small herd of no-doubt-feral children cheering me on, hoping I would run over the sticks they had laid in the road. What CUTIES!

My smile was quickly rotated 180% once I reached the base of one hill in particular, Benson Road. I'm not sure how I summitted this towering peak, but I do know that I was watching the speed on my Cateye fluctuate between 2.5 - 2.6 mph, for about 10 minutes. The thing just never stopped - I was praying to Energor, asking him to give me the euphoria to continue.

One thing I couldn't help but notice though, despite my euphoria, and in between periods of reminiscing, was the abundance of trash - mostly beer cans - on the side of the road, in ditches. It was more annoying to look at than choppy internet-streaming footage of Spring Classic races from Europe. And anyone who thinks that there is a lot of trash in the city, doesn't realize just how much there is out in the middle of no where too. In fact, if I bet the overall amount of trash would be relatively equal if you looked just 50 past the road's edge. End rant. Start euphoria.

That third loop was a truly done Mario van Peebles style - solo. Passed one person, and thankfully was back onto the road home a little sooner than I expected. That being said, the paved road was no picnic either - the final two paved hills made me feel more defeated than a Japanese girl staring up at a tentacle monster.

Unable to pull a proper wheelie up the Stone Hill Winery driveway, I was euphoric at the application of the third sticker to my number plate:

Arriving back at Stone Hill Winery, it was clear that plenty of ladies were getting married, as the  supply of loud, drunk holsteins piling into their cars with ill-equipped suspensions was much higher than it was at 9 in the morning. Fortunately, I received a glorious prize from the man himself, Jeff:


After finishing up and shoveling some of the random food I had in my trunk down my throat-hole (old french fries, peanut shells, clipped toe-nails... still avoided the Clif Bars though) a meeting formed between myself, Maria, Robo-Peat, EK, Mr. Clarke, where we decided to re-convene as quickly as possible at Wings-A-Blahzin' for some fried pickles, prepared meat, and a Punch0r Special:
...A.K.A. a Stag - this time held in the most worn-out coozie I've ever seen, courtesy of Peat. (I still have mine, too - though it still has some "loft.") I felt like Cancellara after his Tour of Flanders success, immediately drinking a beer, as only a badass would. Once my food arrived, I ate it so fast that I think I could have gotten respect from Marines in boot camp. (Maybe.)


Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for a second day of euphoric ascents of the Hermann Hillsides on account of official Ryback family business, however I was pleased to learn of Sasha and Lawman taking my place. I was less pleased to see that Lawman somehow managed to puncture his "it's not fat, it's plus-sized" tire, and had to walk to the nearest oasis - out of air and out of PBRs, he procured the only other 12oz at his disposal, displaying true Superior State of Mind - I'm just thankful that 12oz was not a Lime-a-rita.

I am more than a little impressed at those who were able to complete all 5 laps, particularly Maria and EK, who ground up more gravel than a lovesick Crazy Jim. Nice work, we're not worthy:


In the meantime, continue to get super stoked at this upcoming season, and to help you get super fucking pumped, watch this extreme hardcore downhill freeride wreck:



Stay tuned, as there is moar to come:
-Casey F. Ryback