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


2014 AZ Training Camp & The Sedona Big Friggin' Loop

 Greetings Jerks!!! Doctor here. As I sit here in a jenkem haze on the eve of Prescott Monstercross, rubbing yak semen on my elbows and making offerings to Energor, I am still trying to figure out why I signed up for a 50 mile race with 8,000 feet of climbing. It did seem like a better idea than the 70 mile option with 12,000 feet of climbing. The only conclusion I can come to is that Spring Training has worked. You see, Northern Arizona was recently struck by White Lightening. I am not talking about moonshine or shitty chain lube, but one Jerko Toscani's whip loaded with jerks and baller single speed Konas!
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The Polar Express
      A three man strike force consisting of the aforementioned Nico Jerkscani, Jonathan Cold, and Orin "Tit Balls" Boyd piled into said vehicle for a record breaking 19 hour run into beautiful Arizona for the 5th edition of Spring Training. The jerks sped through the night in order to see the San Francisco peaks in time for breakfast.
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Breakfast Palace Omelette
     After a gut busting stop at Martanne's Breakfast Palace, where they have instituted the entirely covered plate policy, the jerks drove the last hour and a half into Prescott where they found a green building containing their Doctor hard at work.
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Ironclad Bicycles
The hardening process began immediately. Many IPAs and Coffee Stouts were consumed while I finished up the last of my work for the week. Once we were all about three deep we decided to go for a ride that would make all the rest of the rides of the week seem easy. Climbing about 1200 ft in 5 miles while you're drunk is no easy task, but Training Camp isn't about easy it's about hardening the fuck up. We got back to the shop 20 miles of trail later ready for some serious food and beer at Prescott Brewing Company. Somewhere downtown we discovered the Ladybug, the shop owner's car, looking good on the streets.
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The Boss' rig
     The 5th edition of Spring Training saw perfect weather throughout, temps in the mid sixties and sunny. This is the first year that no snow whatever was involved. Beautiful. Wednesday morning saw the Polar Express pointed in the direction of the 305 trail, one of the best trails in town in my opinion. Combined with the Salida Gulch loop you end up with a great 3 hour ride, which of course left us with a great hunger and powerful thirst for beer.
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Raijin at The Green Gate (305 trail)

       Bill, of Bill's Pizza fame, has opened a hamburger place called Bill's Grill. You can get as custom as you want. It's even enough food to put Titty down. Look at that monster of burger!

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Titty: Before and After

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Taco the Dog holding' on tight
     That evening we ventured to the campsites a mile up the road from my house, had a little fire and watched the sunset. My dog taco was very excited to have so much company in the back of the truck, her preferred mode of travel. The hardening process was going full steam at this point, with another great ride planned for Thursday.
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Sunset at the top of The Senator Highway

     Tim, the manager at the shop, single speeder, and honorary Seagal, wanted to take us on a ride in town Thursday morning, but suffered a nasty crash Wednesday morning out riding before work. With him sidelined and the Black Canyon trail only an hour away, the choice was clear. White Lightening was once again loaded with fancy single speeds and pointed south for some desert single track goodness. Black Canyon trail is totally different than Prescott riding. Not as much climbing, much twistier, more consistently rocky, and not a tree in sight. A great place to harden the fuck up.

     Anyone who has ridden with Jerkward much, has probably witnessed his uncanny ability to spot underwear and condoms in the wild. In fact at one point during the week I felt like Nico was my guide and we were out on a condom safari. Take this rare velcro equipped pair of BVD's, photographed at the bottom of the 305 trail. There was some speculation that these might belong to our very own C"rot"ch, but we were unable to guess how they may have traveled this far.
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Coach's BVDs
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Snake in the grass
     This condom was found somewhere near the aspen creek trail head on our first ride of the week. Jerkward clearly has some sort of 6th sense.
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Black Canyon Bloomer
      Here Jerkward has captured something much less likely to give you full blown aids, the bloom on a cactus at Black Canyon. Here you can also see how different the terrain is to the ponderosa pine forests of Prescott. Note the saguaro cactus in the background. Nice work! Nothing works up an appetite like going on condom safari for a few hours so we had no choice but to go back to Bill's grill to get totally fucked. After a nice easy ride on Friday we would be headed to the mystical land of Sedona for Big Friggin Loop.

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Titty and his Burger

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Coconino National Forest secret desert campsite
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Meet the Jerks
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Brahquitos in the works
    Some people like to taper down and rest a little before a big ride. Not at training camp. After a pretty good week of riding, 50 plus miles of Sedona was looming on the Horizon. My initial plan was to maybe dink a little bit less on Friday with an almost 8 hour ride the next day and all. That plan went out the window as soon as we got camp set up. Almost immediately fire was applied to brahquitos to soak up some of the beer. After chilling by the fire jamming some 90's hip hop we were mentally prepared for the task that lay ahead. We were ready to get totally extreme. Criss Angel at T ball practice extreme.
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You know which line in the trail Team Seagal chooses

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       Sedona offers yet another totally different environment. The terrain is rocky as a mofo, with beautiful red rock vistas around every corner. The riding is so fun that it really takes your mind off of how worn out you are by this stage of training camp. The trails are super technical, but oddly flowy at the same time. Sedona Big Friggin Loop is a bucket list ride for sure. For all you jerks that haven't been to training camp yet, start planning for next year now.

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Jerkward managed to capture some great photos during the ride to further entice you to join us next year.
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Dr. in Sedona
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    After a solid day of riding we were off to Flagstaff to visit Lumberyard brewing for some top notch food and BEER!!!  Another Training Camp in the books. The next morning it was back to the Breakfast Palace to get some Jerks carbo loaded for their drive home. I had so much fun during Big Friggin Loop I went to work on Monday and signed up for some Monster Cross. Now two weeks later my digestive tract has finally recovered, my liver has been battle hardened, and Superior State of Mind has been achieved! Until next time, get totally fucked!!!

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Doktor in the Chute


2014 Lost Valley Luau - Soon To Be a Past Time About Which I Will Reminisce

Greetings, Team Seagal Minions! If you weren't outside Sunday engaging in spirit-lifting activities under the seldom-seen-this-year sunlight, then do yourself a favor and start drinking to forget. Forget that you missed out on an unbelievably beautiful day - a day that finally allowed the Lost Valley Luau to be held AS SCHEDULED for once! This was almost as rare as our Good Doct0r riding a road bike anymore.

Not only was the weather cooperative, but the trail conditions could not have been better. In fact, not since Mason Storm and I took 3rd place at the much-ballyhooed 2008 Spoke Pony Showdown in beautiful Landahl Park have I experienced a trail surface with a more optimal ratio of tackiness-to-buff-ness. These were the conditions about which I have recently dreamt whilst chasing the brown dragon on the ethereal Zambian plains - hittin' that sweet jenk' so hard that my breath repelled even the saintly Mrs. Crotch for a full week.

We as a team, still reeling from our podium domination at the 2008 Truman's Big Love (also at Landahl) - seen here, sent quite a squad to crush souls, snap wrists, and chew bubblegum - those who attended todays proceedings included myself - Casey "The Doughy Rider" Ryback, Gino "I Passed Crotch Twice" Felino, Harlan "So Much For Those Sidewalls" Banks, Simon "Who Needs a Rack When My Trunk is as Big as Your Garage" Ballistor, and finally Nico "Ardent Fan of the Maxxis Ardent" Toscani. In case you haven't noticed, 2008 was a big year for us, and not unlike Al Bundy continually recalling his 4-touchdown high school football game, we shall forever look unto 2008 as being "The Year." Or maybe that's just me.

Also in attendance for immoral support was Roland "Late for the Race But Not the Beer" Sallinger, Cock "Processing Horses for Meat Creates Jobs" Punch0r, "Resident Alcohol Connoisseur" Pry0r, and lest we not forget, the recently returned from the VDS-sand deposits by the ocean, "How Do I Make This Slow-By-Design Fatbike Go Faster?" Lawman!  Honorable mention on account of an *intent to race* but was not actually there, Orin "AWE HELL NAW" Boyd.

Pre-race, it was truly amazing to see many players in our local game, specifically the rarely-seen-in-the-wild Nate Green Beans who was dressed to kill, as usual. He and I had a moment, where we discussed our potential needs to take yet ANOTHER morning duece. This was something we were worried about because there was less than 10 minutes to the start of the race. Fortunately, we both had TP on our persons - I have some in my hydration pack, and he carries some in his baggy shorts pocket. (No hydration pack or anything like that, but TP in the pockets. Hardcore.) I had some "rumblings in the lower decks" myself, which frustrated me greatly, as I had already summited Mt. Kohler twice that morning, and would normally think that would be sufficient. (If I were C-Dorbs, I wouldn't be ready until the 3rd summit was achieved - a "triple Lindy.") Anyway, only so many people abide by a dress code at bike races that involves mother fucking collars, son! Keep that shit up, Nate!

I, the C"rot"ch, was a little apprehensive about toeing up to the start line, seeing as how this past year I "catted-up" to the Team Seagal P/1/2 Elite drinking team, where I will now be able to engage in team tactics with Mason Storm, Snurb, and our own Mr. Sallinger while leading into the final sprint to complete liver failure. However, since the Luau had the advantage of actually being on a SUNDAY this year - unlike Saturday, as are most mtb races around here, I actually could attend this time - and wanted to try to start a thinking seriously about that whole 100 OT race.

Not to mention that a swollen, rotting singlespeed dude such as myself in a class full of geared racers doesn't fair too well on a 2-mile drag race on gravel roads to open up a race. No matter, I managed to stay attached to the large opening (wo)man train at least in some way into the singletrack, even though the majority of competition had easily left me behind to rot.

Crushing out that singletrack found me hitting my brakes a little too often as a result of several descent-related jam-jobs, and my slowest lap. This karma was repaid by jam-jobbing people behind me while ascending... well, pretty much anything. In fact, my speed regularly was averaging 3-4 mph on some climbs. It's no wonder Jim Krewet grabbed 2nd place SS from my clasp at Burnin' in 2009, not unlike the Springfieldiens snatched the Lemon Tree back from the Shelbyvillians:

I must admit, there was a moment of humility, in my already humiliating outward appearance, when on the first lap, I was easily passed by the one and only, Peat, who was not only "hella late" but is also now half-man, half-machine - he passed the shit out of me and everyone around me. Truly, an inspired performance. He has little kid energy.

Onward I pressed, and by the end of the 2nd lap, my chronic brown lung, a result of hittin' the jenk', was starting to ease up, and my breathing became moar controlled, and my speed increased. Recalling my Steven Seagal training sequence, I employed those techniques to great success:

The hills seemed to get steeper, yet Superior Attitude and Superior State of Mind prevailed, just like Steven predicted:

Keeping a steady intake of 1-2 gels per lap, plenty of water, a bottle of Haterade (mixed strong), and an occasional pull from my custom E-balloon (a device very similar to an e-cigarette but built for discrete jenkem dispensing) I kept the mind right, and the muscles un-cramped. Fortunately for me, my superior tire selection kept the air in my tires, though I'm afraid that our very own Harlan Banks was not as lucky, despite his Superiority. He had to be left in my wake. If only he could have accompanied me on my way to completing 4 laps - I wanted him to share in the misery on the big gravel climb with me. By the 4th lap, I had more difficulty ascending that big gravel climb than a Juggalo with meth mouth has eating corn on the cob.

My race ended up being a lot of flip-flopping back and forth with a man twice my age, one Rich P., and I must say, I can only hope to crush souls at that age. All around good guy - make sure you buy him a beer next time you see him - just look for the bar ends-turned into aero-bars on his mountain bike. Truly, the embodiment of Superior State of Mind.

Having crossed the finish line after the race, I was happier than Criss Angel when the new issue of Boy's Life Magazine shows up in the mail. Immediately, I was treated to fellow like-minded individual Vince handing me a bottle of his private stock, a bomber of the Boatswain Chocolate Stout. Oooooweee, it was just as good in the warm sun as it was under a bleak, frozen sky at MO State CX Championships at St. Vincent - another epic race, where we watched as fellow mountain biker Garrett Steinmetz showed he can beat anyone on any wheel, anytime. Once that stuff was down the hatch, the PBR was ready to flow freely and directly into my throathole, which, after nearly 4 hours of riding with little food, I was buzzed more quickly than Criss Angel's little league team that time he took them to dinner.

After much tomfoolery, one that was lacking in much SCCC or Red Wheel d00dz which is too bad because they put the "foo' " into "tomfoolery," it was time to pack urrveything up and get outta there. Upon arriving at the car, I may or may not have seen EK and David Frei leaving on what looked to be a trail run of some sort, no doubt not returning until dark. Hardened, they are.

Managing to fold myself origami-style into my car afterwards, I choo-choo'd my way home, all the while enjoying the sun's warmth, the ability to have windows down, and a favorite slow jam:

Arriving at home, there was only one thing left for me to do - fiend on some pickles (which goes well with tasty beer):

Truly, Energor has smiled on us this day - Praise Be Unto Him. But More importantly, praise be unto Torrez and the rest of the Quantum Mesa crew, for putting on a singularly perfect event. Nice work, jerks!

-Casey "It's Not a Belly, It's a Firecrest Profile" Ryback


You Finna Be At Lost Valley Luau, Right, Brah?

Shit, cuh! We gon' be doin' this hurr race urrveywhere at Lost Valley. You finna be thurr? We is. Shi'!
Whaddya gon' do instead, drink some bullshit Miller Fortune beer? Naw.

Fuck. The first mountain bike race of the St. Louis mountain bike racing season is just about here, and for the first time in several years, the chances are good that it WON'T have to be postponed until steaming hot July. Like I said, Fuck! So tell us, what have you been doing to prepare for this? Some of us have been going to Arkansas, to Arizona, or to Illinois to take in the views:

Fortunately for me though, I finally got my new secret weapon delivered, and I'm expecting to get totally equalized, and allow me to completely dominate the all the classes:

Look out, because just because my XT disc brake are awesome, doesn't mean they can always stop my fat ass in time to not run you over.

Anyone planning on doing Tour of Hermann?

The Doughy Rider,
-Casey F. Ryback


A Ride in the Cold Snow: Better Than a Sharp Pedal to the Shin

Sheeeeit, a little snow never hurt no one. Well, actually, maybe it did. But hey, we can't think about the past now. We have to think about the future. A future where we can mine tribinium on Mars for export and arm rebel midget hookers with machine guns to defend against Cohagen and his goons:

 So we formed a small surgical-strike team had to get out in the snow on old technology (2-inch and narrower tires, triple cranks, rim brakes) and somehow see if we could manage the 1-2" of snow on our completely outmoded bicycle designs. Thank Energor we survived.

Anyway, we did in fact establish our F.O.B. (forward operating base) at Steinberg Ice Rink, from which we launched our attack on the crusty grounds of the park. We immediately set our sights on each and every inch of double-secret singletrack within it's borders. (There's more than you think...)

I may or may not have broken my frankenstein fender while crushing a log pile, but that is no matter. One thing that didn't break, however, was Jerkward's tubeless Bruce Gordon tires on crabone rims.

We crushed out several miles of the Kennedy Forest loops and then some - not to mention the loop require tops hats, monocles, and a sun umbrella. It was pretty easy to see all the lesser-known trails when they are highlighted by snow, and it was super awesome. Why bother scraping off the car and driving to the legitimate trails when we can shred the tread in FoPo? After an hour or so, we had to stop for beverages, courtesy of Nico's handlebar bag:
Not pictured: open Busch and Ranger cans.

Despite temperatures barely in the double digits, we crushed out another few miles after this social stop, and then parted ways, on a mission to head home. But not before a CX practice lap in the Steinberg Heights.

After arriving back at Casa Del Crotch, while warming up and drinking a Busch Copper Lager, I was please to find out that Tornado Tom was doing his own C-C-C-C-C-CRUSHING today. No doubt that after his race, he was recovering in his own 1980's coke mansion with coke and hookers. Which is what makes it awesome.

If only we would have had a fat recumbent, we could have been so much cooler:

You're welcome,

-Casey F. Ryback


Death By Hills 2014, In Memorium

Greetings, you Jerk-Ass Jerks. As I sit here trying to manage the two fleshy bags of lactic acid that stretch from my hips to my ankles, I reflect on a day that has become an early-season ass-kicker for many of us. I know that this date has been looming over my unprepared head for several months now, but now that it has passed, I feel a sense of relief, accomplishment, excitement, confusion, diplomacy, apprehension, euphoria, and furious hatred.

Nevermind that though - for, to be assaulted with hills the likes of which we see on this ride, means your legs become ready to mow shit down later in the year, much like Dutch, Billy, Hawkins and Mac did to the forest in Predator:
"Up in dem trees..."

(Fun fact, that .gif syncs up pretty well with Mortician's "Drowned in Your Blood.")

Back here, deep within the sprawling Team Seagal Worldwide Headquarters, we had been working hard to ensure a lack of precipitation. Because nothing rains on a parade of people on bikes like actual rain. Our efforts must have paid off, as the roads were drier than the inside of Criss Angel's whitey-tighteys after mistakenly hiding in the girls' locker room all day.

Gathering at Kehr's Mill and Clayton, it was clear that the numbers of the ride were not as high as I had been expecting, most likely due to the island-paradise-like conditions inside many people's gashes. But no matter, it isn't like total participation makes any difference one way or the other to a free group ride. So we rolled out our Train of Flesh and actually managed to stay together all the way down Clayton. Despite picking up a few extra riders en route, we made sure to send them back to the beginning for registration and then allowed them to catch up.
All photos courtesy of the fastest camera-slinger in the west, Nico
Continuing to the first hill, it was readily apparent to me that I was in trouble for the day. I would say that it took me several miles, and multiple climbs, before my legs found any kind of groove. Down Woods Road (Also known as Rocks Road) we climbed up my favorite hill of the day, Bartizan. Since this hill arrives early on in the ride, while everyone is still pretty bunched up, it is very much enjoyable to hear everyone's gnashing of teeth and unintended farts that get squeezed out while in the middle of a full-body tensing of muscles.

After some drama half-way up that hill was sorted out, we continued onto Mitch's Secret Training loop, where we were greeted by some encouragement from one Steve F., left in his absence while he was busy shredding Arkansas trails like a jerk. In an effort to present full transparency, I must admit that I did in fact skip Starwoods Dr. in the hopes of staying with the/any group after having been delayed unexpectedly at Bartizan. I know, this is highly blasphemous to skip a hill from our own ride. But it's done and over with, so I hope that this transgression can be overlooked this time.

As the miles clicked over, I was happy to see that there were little to no big issues with traffic, particularly on Alt Road, which is always a bit of a Japanese-style shit-show. The Allenton Loop did in fact present many people with reasons to doubt their courage, yet all that entered did leave victorious. Briefly regrouping at the Motomart by Six Flags, it was more than a little awkward how everyone was hanging out inside the place. No worries, as I had bigger hills to crush, loftier wrists to snap:
-Allenton Rd: snapped
-Scenic Loop: snapped
-Woodlawn Meadows, a.k.a. the "Goat Trail": snapped
-Melrose: snapped.

From the top of Melrose, we had some nice rolling pavement all the way to Hwy T, which lead us past the Bank of St. Albans (there is a lot of money in St. Albans.) and then up Bassett. Of course, 1/3 of the way up St. Albans affords everyone the chance to climb Cremin's Green!
The D9 Bulldozer is no longer there, but the switchback sure is!

Nevermind the fact that Cremin's is half-way up another hill, which is already huge in and of itself. No matter, that hill allows us to bomb down the other side, and affords us a close pass to a local monument of St. Louis Cycling history, one which we have visited before:

Bouquet Road: snapped, though the landscape has changed dramatically since the last time I visited - the powerline strip that crosses the road has been completely clear-cut, giving the hill a Mt. Ventoux-esque feel. (Not that I've ever fucking ridden that climb.) I can't help but think that all of those trees seemed to be much shorter than the power lines themselves, and now that they are gone, I can only imagine how badly eroded that hillside will be in just a few years.

Onward - we had to go crush the Wildhorse Creek Vallley flats, which meant a top speed run on Babler Forest Salt Flats:
proof that it can be done on a SS.
No word on if the shoes hanging from the powerlines last year were still there.

After a quick lap of Babler State Park, one dude Tokyo Drifting his fart-can'd NSX, we crushed out Doberman Hill, had some great service at the gas station at 109/WHC  Road, and then continued to snap the rest of the route before climbing the home stretch of Kehr's Mill towards victory.

What a great ride - I would like to thank my 11-34T cassette, XT derailleur, and extended jenkem high for providing me with the means to endure the continual assault on my quads. It was great to ride with lots of people from all over the region coming to ride some of the smoothest pavement around. I was also glad to see that our very own Roland Sallinger has progressed his fitness so far already, that he didn't feel the ride was hard enough, thus electing to install some bottom bracket bearings that were so completely roasted and packed with crunchy-style peanut butter, that extra wattage required to spin them (and his 40psi tires) all day probably equaled out to an extra climb or two by the end of the day. Nice work! Truly superior state of mind.

I was slightly disappointed to see that the closest we came to having a fat bike class were dudes on CX tires, however, I was then made happier upon learning of this early ancestor of the modern fat-bike - it was cool WAYYYY before it became cool:

This concludes today's session,

-Casey F. Ryback


Things to Keep in Mind for Death By Hills

Greetings, Early Season hardmen/women. DBH is nigh upon us, and while it and the 25% grades it brings may cause pre-cramps in the quads of the un-superior (or "inferior" if you're into the whole brevity thing) it shouldn't cause problems for those of us who have been gettin' totally "swole" all winter long.

Here in the Team Seagal Conference Room, we've been formulating a few... uh... format changes for this year's ride. Despite this not being a timed ride in any way, shape or form, why don't we offer time bonuses for those riders showing up with the right "attributes." For example, be sure to show up early to get weighed in so that you can get your "over-200-lb" time bonus. Additionally, if your name is Nico, or if you have ever offered to translate the most Ancient of Chinese Scrolls with an off-duty cop, you also get a time bonus.

Additionally, if your name is Peat, and your currently have a broken bone in your leg and/or hip area, then you get a big time bonus, regardless of whether or not you are riding. Or, if your name is Bob and you open your beers with a drill, then you get a time bonus. Or if you show up wearing a weight vest to give you the equivalent weight of one of your over-200 heroes.

Big time bonuses if you are show up blasting out your nips, or sick blast-beats like on my new favorite album:

However, if you piss and moan about every hill as you come up to it, then you get a massive time penalty. No wait - just don't come at all, because you'll be missing the point. No time bonuses for post-ride self-congratulatory back-patting, either.

Please remember, be waaaayyyyy more courteous to drivers than you normally would be - since West County doesn't normally have a group this large come through it on open roads - we will be impeding traffic in the middle of the day a lot more than is generally accepted as ok. This means stopping at stoplights, at least yielding at stopsigns, ect. So I'll stress this point: DON'T BE THE DICK WHO FUCKS IT UP FOR EVERYONE.  At the end of the day, I don't want to find myself saying what I heard every day of my childhood: "This is why we can't have nice things, Crotch."

Shit, that's just good life-advice anyway: "Don't be a dick." And I think Nico often offers up his own advice which happens to be the second part of that: "Don't fuck it up."

Don't be a dick and remember what you learned in school:

The hits keep coming. In an Furthering-Education series, we will now provide a how-to video what equipment not to use when attempting to go off-road:

I'd say that the biggest problem that dude will face on tight singletrack, (aside from the monstrous wheelbase, of course) is the ancient Rock Shox SID, which was already the most flexy fork on the market. That is, if it even still works!

-Casey F. Ryback


Death By Hills, Round 6

Greetings, Team Seagal comrades. While C-Dubs is keeping busy watching the 2-Man Luge over and over again, we finna be plannin' a ride. Death By Hills is here again, same place, route, time of day. So dial in your rear derailleur lower limit screw, and start massaging your quads. I've installed an 11-34 cassette on my wheel, just to assist in getting my gravity-challenged ass over all the hills. Key words: *ALL* the hills.

Where: Across the street from the Wolf Public House - in the big lot next to the gas station. Don't expect to get any food from the Wolf afterwards - they close at like 2.

When: February 23rd - same days as Froze Bro's.  Important to note: if the weather sucks for 90+ miles on the 23rd, maybe we'll try it again on the 2nd of March - which is the following weekend. Bad weathr could include rain, snow, and/or temps that are too cold.

Time: Clicking in at 9AM

Pace: Whatever - I'm going the only speed I know how to go - glacial. Some dudes will hammer, while others will pedal. If you're not sure where you're going, hang with someone who does know.

Route:  Garmin Link

-Start at Lone Wolf Coffee
-Head west on Clayton,
-Left on Thunderhead Canyon Dr.
-Left on Westglen Farms Dr.
-Right on "Village Plaza View Dr," toward the stripmall
-enter bike path opposite the parking lot
-left across black pedestrian bridge, crossing Hwy 100
-left after bridge
-hard right off of curb onto Old Manchester (across from the Jack in the Box)
-left onto Woods Rd. Descend and turn left up Bartizan, come back down, and continue down Woods.
-left onto bike path and ride south along Hwy 109.
-left up Old State for about .1 mile
-left onto Redtail Hawk Dr
-Then turn/veer left onto Johns Cabin Rd, which is a clockwise loop (Mitch's secret training loop) and will bring you back to Old State. (BUT not before making a quick left up and back down Starwood Rd!)
-Cross 109 at Old State, turn right up Alt Rd.
-Left on Forby.
-Right on N. Central Ave
-Cross over Hwy 44, turn right onto West Main St (in between train tracks.)
-left onto Wengler and start Allenton Loop, going CCW.
-Exit Allenton Loop to the left, go underneath Hwy 44, and climb Allenton Rd.
- right onto Scenic Loop Rd, going "Wrong Way." (may have to skip due to park rangers or police.)
-right, continuing on Allenton Rd.
-left onto Melrose
-right onto Hwy 100
-right onto Woodland Meadows Dr.
-right onto Old Manchester
-right onto Glencoe (through Rockwoods.)
-Go straight up Melrose
-Turn right (again) onto Hwy 100, cross over and turn left and continue on Melrose all the way until it descends to Hwy T.
-Left on T
-Left on Bassett
-Left onto Cremin's Green, out-and-back. Continue up Bassett.
-Left onto Old Manchester
-left onto Bouquet.
-Left onto Ossenfort (at the big white farm house)
-Cross T, and continue on Ossenfort.
-Continue straight onto Wild Horse Creek
-turn left up Babler Forest as an out-and-back.
-Come back down, and turn right onto Wild Horse Creek, climbing to Rieger.
-Turn left onto Rieger
-Right on Pond.
-left on Smith School Rd.
-Left on BA.
-left into Babler State Park. Once in Babler, turn right onto John Cochran Dr (CCW loop), turn right up Theodore Wirth Drive, and left down Guy Park Dr (past the pool). Turn right back up John Cochran Dr, climb up the first hill, and turn left at the bottom of the other side (also John Cochran Dr (be careful on the gravel!) and duck under gate to exit Babler State Park.
-Immediately turn right up Wild Horse Creek Drive (Doberman.)
-Turn right onto Old Eatherton.
-Left onto Orville.
-Right up Shephard.
-Left onto bike path alongisde 109
-Left onto Clayton
-Left on Strecker
-Right on Kehr's Mill
-(option to turn left into Saddle Creek Neighborhood and reconnect up to Kehr's Mill at top of hill)
-or take Kehr's Mill straight back to The Wolf Public House.

*Please take note of where to exit Babler State Park - it is not well marked, and easy to miss. It is at the bottom of the second climb, when you will pass by it at first, and then loop back around to it. It is not very well paved, and you will have to go underneath a metal gate.

NOTE: There are only two gas stations/refuel points on the route, so plan accordingly - first is the MotoMart next to Six Flags (~28 miles in) and the other is at the top of Wild Horse Creek, where it intersects with 109/Eatherton (~80 miles.) Plan your water/food consumption properly!!!

This year also marks the first year for an official Fat Bike Class. After months of lobbying for their own class in the CX races, they finally have an official class. Just know that if you show up on a moped/e-bike, I will stab you with my chainrings. So there you have it, show up if you want, just don't be an:

 Stay tuned, as there is more information

-Casey F. Ryback