Why You Should Attend Cedar Cross.

Greetings, loyal Team Seagal minions! This is just a friendly reminder from your neighborhood band of merry jerks that the arguably-greatest, most grass-roots ride in the state, Cedar Cross, is on the horizon. "But Crotchy, is there some sort of a sign-up cut-off?"  I have no clue, because I can't go. But I need to make sure that in my abscess (or is that absence?) there are like 500 moar people that do show up to show our boy, the esteemeed Mr. Borb Jorkins (name protected from future internet-search-engine results) the gooey, sticky love that I would normally provide:

I mean, look at those eyes, you can totally trust those eyes:

Those are the eyes of a guy, who doesn't give the awesome gift of a free roof rack to the rider who won, but rather, to the person whose car has the shittiest looking roof rack, in most desperate need of replacement. Or who gifts the frame to the person who finishes last, so that they can have a better bike, in order to do better next time. Or the guy who would have the common courtesy to reciprocate at least a reach-around.

"But Mr. Ryback, I haven't been riding this year at all! In fact, my legs are currently about as useless and without-purpose to me as a helmet visor! What chance do I have of being victorious on such an arduous journey?" The chances are 100%. In fact, just by showing up, your will have achieved victory, because the atmosphere is one of good nature, joviality, and probably some stinky farts (but at least you'll be outside, so they can't linger for long.)

By embarking on this route, you will be even moar certain of higher glory. But you will have to undergo many challenges, such as staring up, from the base of a monstrous gravely climb, and have to deal with the same level of intimidation that a front-row female concert-goer would have had when seeing Led Zeppelin live back in the 70's; just imagine staring up at these pants on stage, and seeing every wrinkly detail of that ridiculous hog:
Nice belt buckle!

In addition to being a superior route full of challenges, it will be a new starting venue full of badassery, comradery, and 100% lacking in douchebaggery - the newly-relocated Red Wheel Bike Shop in Jeff City. And, with Nick and Bob's uniting of their awesome powers for one common goal, does this mean we'll have a 2011 Binder-Brawl Re-match? We can only hope so - but a little encouragement in the form of moonshine may help to ensure it happens. And if so, please have a camera ready, so that your pal Crotch here can enjoy too.

The day may be a day of contrasts - so much pain and suffering on course, all while enjoying huge amounts of superior attitudes and superior states of mind with the people around you. But don't let the bad outweigh the good. Take your hairy pal Crotch, for example - he knows all about contrasts, being a clydesdale singlespeeder who prefers lycra to baggy shorts. That's like being a roadie with hairy legs. Or like being a recumbent rider with carbon soled clipless shoes. Or like being an upper-middle-class bike racer who complains about the cost of their carbon mountain bike wheels. Or like being an straight-edge juggalo with a college degree (or even a high school diploma, for that matter.)  So he knows a thing or two about contrasts, and knows that it isn't *always* a bad thing.

Even though I am unable to attend this year, I am still able to find satisfaction in life with the knowledge that I may have introduced C-Dubs to the concept of shower beers. (You're welcome.) But aside from that, I'll find even moar satisfaction in knowing that boatloads moar people showed up for this year's Cedar Cross after having read this bl0rg. (There isn't really a good feedback loop for that though, so I'll just imagine it.)

Speaking of imagining things, imagine my surprise at seeing the un-altered packaging material used upon unboxing a new tandem bicycle the other day:
I did not alter this in any way - it was the chainguard protector!
"Experiencing" that cardboard trouser snake would have you shitting pancakes for a week!

I'll leave you to think about that photo for a while. More to come...

-Casey F. Ryback

P.S. Here is why you should watch the show "Silicon Valley" right fucking now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE4LVSESyXc&feature=youtube_gdata


2015 Tour of Hermann - C-C-C-C-CRUSHED IT!

Greetings, Gravelly Team Seagal comraderinos! What a weekend it was. For we had deployments in multiple sectors - The Castlewood Dirty Spokes mountain bike race, we had small strike team take the beaches at the Czech Festival, we had yet others on the Berryman blastin' out new nips AND singletrack, and still others (including myself, the Coarch) deeply entrenched within the bowels of the Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge - a gravelly paradise that would make ole' Crazy Jim hungry.

The loops conceived by the ToH overlord, Jeff, are truly something to behold. Even if he wanted to make a relatively easy route involving very mild climbing, it would be nearly impossible to do so, given the terrain on which the Hermann region sits. That is, unless you just scooted your tender t'aint across the bridge and just did fun loops with the family up and down the Katy Trail all day long. Good luck with that though - your family probably already thinks you're a gigantic loser for riding bikes. I mean, let's be honest - we are huge dorks. To the rest of humanity, we look like this:

While Skeezy was busy getting back-handed comments and causing jam-jobs on the downhills at the surprisingly-dry Castlewood Dirty Spokes race, I woke my ass up well before the crack of dawn (inside the crack... of dawn?) to strap into the Crotch-Mobile (read: rusty Nissan) in order to be in the hamlet of Hermann with plenty of time for lift-off on Saturday morning. And after topping by the gas station for provisions and coffee, I set to planning my next summit attempt of Mt. Kohler - an attempt that wouldn't be realized until I reach the town of Hermann, or more specifically the Hermann Hardee's.

Having finished filing my morning paperwork, it was game on. Being the only one with our kit that day, I was charged with flying the stinky flag of doom alone. And having just freshly applied a liberal dollop of tingly t'aint balm to my undercarriage, I was ready to carry the flag all day.

The Paris Roubaix starting pits are a sea of 30mm FMB tubulars glued to carbon box-section rims and inflated to 63 psi, intermixed with more cushy layers of bar tape than there are beer snobs at your local mountain bike race. Well, gravel events aren't so different, but the tires are more like 40mm, the pressure dipping into the 30's, and there are a lot more hairy legs.

After a few kind words from JY, and we were off through town center. I was surprised at the speed at which our initial roll-out towards the Katy was moving - 22/23 mph, and I later learned that our boy Peat was choo-choo-ing at the tip of the spear with Butthead in the 28 mph range. Yowza! They were moving faster than technology in the eyes of that flat-pedal using, friction-shifting, boner of a retro-grouch that you don't want to talk to. So I was taking full advantage of the free speed afforded to me by the draft of other big hairy dudes, and by my still-working big ring. But it wasn't long before the pace-lining would come to an end, and we would be in the hills. So as we passed the big stuffed carnival bear in the rock-face, I knew the hills were upon us:
this is real, I swear. shut up.

The roads on the north side of the Missouri River seem to be more hard-packed, with a finer grit of gravel. Most of the time, they are so groomed to the point it could probably be suitable for one of those Rapha Vanity Races Gentleman's Races. So the first loop, while stacked with some gnarly climbs, flew by. For a brief period, I had a near-shitting-myself moment where I found my front Ultegra 6800 shifter stuck in the big ring. The thought of attempting this full day of climbing steep bullshit with a 50t ring had me thinking about committing seppuku by turning my bike over and impaling myself onto my grimy chainring. Fortunately, a swift kick from my carbon shoe sole put my chain where it belonged, and where it would stay for the next 130 miles, the small ring.

Arriving back at the car, we topped off bottles, ate some shit, got freshly-doped blood, and then proceeded to make like a fetus and head out. Loop two starts with one of the longest climbs of the day, it's only saving grace being that it is paved, which allows for some much-appreciated out-of-the-saddle-climbing time. Loop two and loop three are quite similar in fact, in that after the initial climb, they mellow out for a little while before repeatedly punching you directly in the nut-sack/v-hole. That isn't to say that there wasn't plenty of beautiful scenery. After the long cold months, it was a pleasure to see some great color out there - MANY big fields that were blanketed with a sea of these purple flowery plants:

I carried just enough food with me on the second loop to keep my from bonking before finishing back at the car, where I smashed a surprisingly delicious Gigi's turkey sammich on a pretzel bun. It was so satisfying, that I didn't need to eat much at all for the next several hours. Ooooo-fucking-weeee. That is good, because after pulling out for the third lap, I had plenty of time to think, rather than talk to the no one around me, and the last thing I wanted to think about was being hungry. Loop 3 I was Mario Van Peeble style, although I did briefly encounter some other people on their own solo mission, not to mention leaving olde man winter in my dust on one particularly long descent. The entire time though, I was counting down the miles until the most notorious climb from day 1 showed up: Bickmeyer Road. If you did loop 3, you remember it well - it was the only climb anyone talked about from that route. It was probably ten minutes of being in my easiest gear at about 3mph. After 80 miles. It was harder to ride up that hill than it is to listen to some douche-nozzle brag about their fucking downhill strava segments at Castlewood Park.

Camping in Hermann City Park is most excellent. Sitting around a campfire, we discussed many things, the least of which not being why anyone *cough cough Adam C. cough* would want to ride their singlespeed mountain bike (with trail gearing) down the Katy from StL all the way to Columbia. It is my belief that I would rather use the shitter immediately after post-Dos-Primos Borb Jorkins blows it up than do that ride on the SS mtb. Amirite?

Day two, reinforcements arrived from Team Seagal HQ in the form of Mr. and Mrs. Orin Boyd. It was certain to be a glorious day, though one loop was about all I had time for. The first loop was a rolling start of about 17 miles of training down the Katy in my granny ring:
It immediately got nice and climby once we exited the Katy, and never stopped until we got back onto the Katy, near the cliff-bear. Each climb was slow and steady, always keeping the cramps at bay. But the views and scenery were never ending, such as smoke from the Callaway Nuclear Reactor over the horizon:

...not to mention beautiful roads like this:

Over the course of loop 4, I was mostly a part of a loosely-congealed group involving a handful of Momentum d00dz, Snurb's inked co-worker Justin W and his buddy (both of whom are admirably training for the Louisville Ironman), Titty and his better half, not to mention a cool cat from Quincy, Jacob S, on his sweet, vintage TCX disc. There were several hills out this way that were simply brain-scrambling. It certainly helped to have some company of similar ability to stick with, especially once we returned to the Katy for time on the Wo-Man Train express:

Our grouplet coasted into Hermann City Park, oozing glory out of our pores, and most of the orifices. And what do I find upon arriving back at the park, but our good friend, Nico Toscani! He has been solo-missioning his way westward via the Katy Trail since early that morning. He truly is a massive jerk, and one who knows his frozen pizza.

What a great ride this was - near perfect, I would say. And what a fantastic deal! Two days of nearly 200 miles of supported riding available for $40? How can you beat that? There is even the chance of getting wine. Just in case, I brought plenty of Stag, that I will drink the fucking shit out of. What's next on the agenda? Only a little thing called the Cedar Cross! The most crunkenest time you'll evar have on a gravel road. Mr. Jorkins is a true honorary jerk, of the highest order. This much has nevar been in dispute, especially since his initial throwing down of the egg nog gauntlet, many moons ago. And as only a true jerk would do, his fantastic event, Cedar Cross will be one of the greatest things that you could ever imagine doing in your entire life. Bearing children included. Word is that Superkate, crusher of shit, is bring homemade cookies. Trust me when I say you want Kate's soft, moist cookies, bruh.

Unfortunately for me, my hairy wanna-be ass will be unable to attend the Ced0r Cr0ss, as a result of legitimately important family memorial on the same day. However, fear n0t. There are moar events this year to attend, and more things to crap all over. Rest assured, this year is becoming more and more full of victory as we speak. Additionally, both I and C-Dubs are becoming more and more full of turds as we speak, which will inevitably result in multiple summit attempts before the day is over. Now, I had better finish this fucking post before I start making grammar and spelling errors that autocorrect isn't able to account for, on account of a few too many of deez:

You still out there, Doctor?

Don't forget, as Sully in Commando sez, "Get fucked!"
-Casey F. Ryback

P.S. Look at who took 3rd at the Snake Creek TT, and made it to the Kona Cog - of Team Red Wheel, and and all-around nice-as-shit guy, Turbo! http://cog.konaworld.com/march-madness-with-kona-grassroots-rider-cory-rimmer/

Had he been on a Kona, who knows what would have happened.


Living to Shred Another Day - Also, We Get a Man on the Inside

Greetings, Uber-gnar-tastic Team Seagal Jerks! We come bearing good news. Yours truly, Crotchward F. Crotchback, Orin Boyd, and our comrade-in-arms B.H. are able to report that Council Bluff, and North Trace (at least up till the big chimney) are in excellent shape. Inspired by the events of last weekend, where our 4-man man-train conquered the Bluff loop and Middlefork all the way out to Wolf Pen Hollow, we decided that it was worth doing once again, but heading out on North Trace instead. Titty especially needed to have some good gnar-time after a less-than-enjoyable experience at last weekend's Ouachita Challenge. Talk about great decisions.

Launching from the paved boat launch, we were immediately transported into a Ozarkian Paradise (sans the crystal meth) once entering into the Bluff trail. Nothing was going to stop us, except for the need for snacks, and a quick rip off my pocket E-balloon - something that has become indispensable on long rides. Hanging a ralphie from the Telleck Connector onto North Trace, we ascended to Hwy DD and then further on past Martin Road where Snurb and I dispensed aids at the OT 100 last year. And THAT is where the terrain got even moar awesome - controlled burn city! Any overgrowth was gone, leaving nothing but a white line of gravelly singletrack goodness unfurled before us. Praise be to Energor, for we transformed into "Prince Shredward the Turd" on each charred descent.

 How ironic that, a controlled burn surrounding a fireplace.

look closely - two of our heroes are visible

what an amazing sign
Never pass up a chance to see a wet beaver in the wild.

Council Bluff snapped my t'aint's wrist, but my superior state of mind was still well intact. From there, we departed for Caledonia BBQ, but were thwarted by a closed sign. Which meant that Dos Primos was next on the list.

Speaking of next on the list, the next ride on the list is Tour of Hermann - a supremely well-run and well-attended event these last two years. We here at Team Seagal HQ have procured a new source of go-fast blood that will be transfused at the base of the first climb each day, but will be completely undetectable due to the extremely high levels of alcohol, butthash, chinamen, and re-circulated intestinal gasses that skew the results of any blood tests.

Who else is coming? Word is that a healthy murder of Seagals will be in attendance, possibly camping friday and saturday night. With the move of the start/finish from The Stone Hill Winery to the Hermann City Park, that guarantees 5 fewer climbs over the course of 5 loops. So there's that. I've made sure that my small ring is in good shape, as it will be the only chainring that gets used this weekend. Yes, feel free to shit all over me and not offer me beer, as I will be riding gears this weekend - the SS CX crusher, the S.S. Major One, in a pretty advanced state of decomposition. My back would be more fucked than Criss Angel's cub scout den if I were to attempt to do big mileage on the SS around Hermann, again. No it isn't for sale, because how else will I hang onto the notion that I can ride SS CX?

I'll actually be using one of these bad mofo's:
...yeah: it's an e-bike, fat bike, and a trike. You absolutely can't not fail miserably on it.

Finally, there is some big news having just come down the pipeline from Team Seagal HQ. After years of trying to infiltrate their ranks, we now have an official member of Team Seagal in the employ of our favorite bicycle company and purveyor of two-wheeled fun - Kona Bikes. Our own Mason Storm, A.K.A. The Tropical Storm, A.K.A. the Ultimate Jerk, A.K.A. Stinky Butt-a-cheekio, A.K.A. The Bearded Salmon Slayer, will be the store manager in the first ever, long-in-the-works Kona Bike Store - a full service shop, owned and operated by Kona Bikes, that sells exclusively Kona Bikes. (And if there is one thing he is good at, that is "service.") Talk about heaven on Earf. This will require a relocation from Seattle to the picturesque little hamlet of Bellingham, which is essentially Kona World HQ.

This is huge news! Some ridiculously awesome things are in the works for sure - just make sure to stay tuned, and more importantly, make sure to offer that jerk a heartfelt congratulations, or at least a heartfelt kick in the nuts next time you see him! Perhaps with enough pressure, we can convince them to open one of those stores here in the StL!

More to come...
-Casey F. Ryback


Operation: Make Stormy, T-Tocs, Sam Axel and B0rsk0rn Jealous. A Day At CB and MF.

Greetings, Soldiers of the Team Seagal Infantry. Winter is behind us, and Spring is upon us. And as anyone who mountain bikes in Missouri knows, spring is a tricky time to get onto the trails due to the spring ground-thaw and rain showers that seems to keep the ground perpetually wet. And as we all know, riding wet trails leads to rutted trails, and that leads to eroded trails. Unless you ride horses, in which case these rules don't apply to you, so please continue to post-hole the trails we as a user group build and maintain, and don't forget to shit on them. (I mean, if horses can shit all over multi-use trails, why not humans?)

Nevertheless, with weather forecasted to be fantastic this past Sunday, a couple of ride options came into Team Seagal Headquarters on our room full of tele-types that bring us up-to-the-moment news to keep us on top of all ride-related information, For Great Justice. We indeed sent a small, surgical-strike-force in the form of Orin Boyd down to the Ouachita Challenge, an event that has been a staple of the team since the first time we atteneded it in 2007. Another ride was in our sights: the Route 66 Bicycle's "Death By Gravel" 90 mile gravel adventure through some of the same roads used in the Rally in the 100 Acre Woods, attended by our own Ad0rm Ryb0r.

Those events are all well and good, though Ole' Crotchy is here to tell you of another tale - one with highs, lows, happiness, sadness, laughter, crying, hope, despair, and above all, manliness. A murder of 4 Seagals, K-Weezy, Pry0r, Punch0r, and myself (the Coach) convened at the boat launch where we were afforded our first views of the most serene of Missouri's water features:
It wasn't long before it became readily apparent to us that today would be one of those "Perfect Days in the Mark Twain National Forest," and thus, would be a perfect chance to show those #PNWGoodLife jerks how good the life is down here in the midwest - perhaps spurring a little jealousy, or at least some homesickness.

Punch0r and I set off in the Cockpunch0r Mobile - but before meeting our comrades, we had to plan out our morning constitutionals so as not to have to go all equestrian, and take a shit on the trail. Punch0r spoke with Energ0r atop the Mt. Kohler at the MacDonalds, while I was able to keep the dam plugged until reaching the boat launch, where I would be able to visit my favorite pit toilets in the whole state. This time though, I had a guest, who obviously heard about the kind of noxious gases available in that stink lodge, and had to get a taste:
I could tell from the lack of movement, that spider was euphoric as fuck, and no doubt speaking in tongues. I could also tell from the tingle on my t'aint from the draft coming up from within the pit below, as I sat there trying to translate what that spider was saying, that it would be a windy day, bringing in warmth from the south.

Windy it was, as we rolled out onto the trail, with more than just a breeze coming off the lake. In fact, it was a rare thing to see the lake water have white-caps. Like an on-the-fence juggalo attending his first Gathering of the Juggalos, we briefly questioned our clothing choices, but within a mile or so, the trail peeled us away from the shoreline, and we were headed deeper into the woods, away from the gusty wind and towards the Telleck Connector, where we would be able to continue on to glory.

Approaching the first noteworthy climb of the day on South Trace, our questions about of clothing choices quickly turned into questions about bike part choices, particularly, the presence of antiquated mtb tech on our bikes. Things such as standard 9mm quick releases, threaded bottom brackets, non-taped steer tubes, a front derailleur, and worse of all - only *one* bike that had tires of 3" or wider. I mean, what fucking year is this, 2013? I was amazed we were able to get up the hills with any kind of "verve."
Despite our lack of baller-tude, we were able to get past our gear-related shortcomings and still have some fun in the near-perfect trail conditions. There was little dead-fall, and very few wet spots on the trail from water drainage, but true to OT surfaces, these almost never resulted in mud, just some wet splatter with firm rocks underneath.

We climbed up from the Trace Creek/Middlefork intersection to the DD/32 trailhead, to find a group of 5 or 6 dudes fully loaded with at least a couple of days worth of gear on their backs. Unable to stop, since glory waits for no man, we pressed on, crossed Hwy 32, and proceeded to shred epic gnar-gnar on the nearly 3 mile descent to CR 72. I mean, we were like Shreddie Van Halen down that fuggin' trail, brah.

The trail was rolling nicely, buff as Homer's head after sticking it in the bowling ball polisher:

It was so smooth, a fat bike wasn't even necessary to feel like we were having "the most fun we'd ever had on a bike:"

Climbing over the Ozark hills, my only hope was to attempt to latch onto the K-Weezy locomotive as he choo-choo'd up to the hill crests.

Our turn-around point on the OT was Wolf Pen Hollow, an excellent stopping point for some food, water and rest, having already done 12 or 13 miles:

look at those to fucking SS Raijins!

Deciding not to do the climb up to Hwy 49, we instead headed from whence we came. Punch0r, punching his was back down the descent to CR 72 and Adam's Creek:

What fun it was. Climbing back up to Hwy 32 and the John Roth Memorial was also tons of fun, riding the Weink0rn train taking smooth lines through all the creeks. Oooooweee!
It was on this return trip that we passed 2 separate groups of fellow shredders - probably the most I've ever seen on the MF at once.

The couple of miles between the DD/32 trailhead (a Team Seagal Satellite Office) and the Telleck Connector were pretty awesome too. Punch0r and I stopped to try to get a glimpse of a wet beaver:

...the spring was flowing heavily right next to the trail thanks to the recent rains and karst topography:
...And as was flowing the creek at the entrance to the Telleck Connector:

It wasn't long before we were back in full view of the Lake:

The loop around Council Bluff is very different terrain from the OT proper. It is much more physical, requiring more short bursts of power, and more wrenching of the bike in and out of coves, and not to mention the hills, i.e. the fire road climb:
happy to report that Pry0r's shorts are in good shape, with only moderate stretching

Punch0r proceeded to snap the both my wrists quite handily moments after I snapped this pic

Arriving at the Enough boat launch, I found that we were too late to the party:
Trojan brand, Shaq-size

We only had two climbs left at this point - oh, and a shitload of rocks. Around this time, fatigue was becoming a big part of the equation. My mind was wandering, though not due to my preferred method of induced-euphoria. I had thoughts float into my head, like how the name "Anne-Elise" sounds an awful lot like "Anal-Eaze" and how I would like to start my own political party called the "Constitutional Party." (This is different from the Constitution Party. Very, very different.) I could then run for office on a platform of regularity and a promise to re-invest in our nation's sewer system, with a possible re-circulation system for the gases that can be harnessed for fuel. Or just to get high as shit.

We had more trail to crush, like the notorious R.O.C. garden - so what does a Murder of Seagals do, but go all Shredward Shredderhands and c-c-c-crush it:

Don't forget the crushing of the spillway:

From here, there was little to do besides lay down suppressive fire in the form of a man-train passed the beach, and then back to the boat launch, victory clinched tighter than the the b-holes of the little league team at the moment Criss Angel's name was announced as their new head coach and jock-strap inventory manager. (or JSIM.)

Truly, a 33 mile purely-singletrack excursion deep within the Ozark hills got our minds right, and or t'aints sore. No matter, Superior Attitude and Superior State of Mind saw us to the end of the ride with no flats, no mechanicals, or bonks. The Sun was out, the rain held off until the drive home, and PBRs waiting back at the car. Does it get any better than that?

I don't think it does.

Stay tuned,

-Casey F. Ryback

P.S. Look what fucking came on Pandora the other day:


Death By Hills 2015 - Anyone Get A Headcount?

Greetings, lactic-acid burning Team Seagal Fans! My legs are sitting here, with symptoms of C.O.L.S. (Crushed Out Leg Syndrome) running rampant. Thankfully, the medicine I have been self-administering in the form of peanut butter snickers, milk and coffee, are slowly working some magic. Also thankfully, the weather and roads cooperated big time for this year's much-anticipated 7th Anal Annual DBH. With weather as perfect as we had it, you would believe that Energor himself was looking down upon us with favor that day.

But it wasn't all roses and sunshine. For at the moment I awoke on DBH morn, and walked to the fridge to get some milk for my cereal, I was reminded of the previous night:

Still in a bit of a daze, I had to draw inspiration from several local crushers who are well versed with the starting-big-rides-hungover plan - people like Dr. Rolland Sallinger, D. Pri0r, H.H., all great riders to have gone on to great hungover-success before me. Fortunately, even though I came up short of the morning Triple Lindy, I still managed to pull off (or squeeze out) the minimum requirement of two summit attempts. Praise be to Energor.

And so it was to be, glorious mid-march weather in StL, and a great ride set to start. I arrived, admittedly a little nervous about what I was about to make my body do, but having summitted twice, I knew I had the foundation for a great day. So all that was left to do was set my internal soundtrack to some seriously inspirational steel-drum-laden tunage:

With the image of Arnold slaying the militia and saving Jenny with steel drums playing in the background, I couldn't be more set. So I was able to relax, and say hello to many cool people in the parking lot. A few simple words were said, and we rolled out at down Clayton Road, with a massive pack behind me:
Also, Check out Pry0r's video of the group

For what it's worth (nothing) it isn't too often a group this size gets together for a ride in this town, without some greater cause to motivate them to do so or without being charged an entry fee. But we saw everyone in this group - dudes, chicks, d00dz on gravel bikes, a 26" mtb (Nice work, Barry), at least 3 bikes in the Singlespeed Division, a couple of tri/tt bikes, CX bikes, and plenty of go-fast road bikes. Thankfully absent: recumbents. It was a diverse, eclectic group.

Anyway, as we cruised down Clayton, it was clear that it would be a little while before my legs were properly warmed up and ready for business. Shit, I was still not used to even seeing them exposed this year - my legs were more pasty white than Buddy's ass. (yeah, think about that.) So the only thing to do was to employ a Superior State of Mind, because the mind controls the legs. The first big wake-up of the day was the notorious Bartizan climb. Quickly dispatched, we were onto the next one. Unfortunately, approaching the next one, our own Harlan Banks, a.k.a. Nad Snurb, pressed the "eject" button which removed himself from the ride by way of busted-ass rear-derailleur hanger. I am fairly sure his derailleur hanger got wind of what was in store for the rest of the day, and decided to become a juggalo - also known as a failure.

Doing Strove's loop, I had to make sure to achieve retribution for last year, where I elected to not climb Starwoods in hopes of catching back onto the group. It was just how I remembered it, covered in pavement that looked like Seal's face. Stopping to help out K. "Hollywood" W. as he finished fixing a puncture, we would end up riding together for the next 80 miles. Yowza. Our other riding buddy's came and went, and we just kept the pedals turning. Climbing up Alt Road, we got E.K. in sights, but once we crested past Hidden Valley's entrance, we lost her to gnarly descending skills, and wouldn't reel her back in until the ascent up Forby, where we would form a bit of a wo-man train that would choo-choo its way all around the Allenton Loop, getting many thumbs-ups from the locals, and into the first rest stop at the Six Flags gas station. Topping off water bottles and procuring provisions for the next 45-50 miles, a small, surgical strike force departed, one that would basically stick together the rest of the day - myself, Hollywood, Dr. Sallinger, JR and crampin' Chris. Oooooweee! What a great day!

Even though we were 30 miles in, it felt as though I had sweated out most of the hangover, and the legs were doing what I pay them to do - crush shit out all day long. And climbing up Allenton past the roller coasters, I got to get a glimpse of the Greensfelder Trail surfaces, where they cross the road numerous times - and I'll tell you they were softer than Criss Angel out for an afternoon jog in Forest Park behind the WashU women's cross country team.

Of course after Allenton Road comes the Scenic Loop:
Jerkward has only one gear, and it ain't low
Exiting Scenic Loop Road, we all couldn't help but notice the completely full horse-trailer parking lot, dozens of horses ready to "aerate" the soft trails with their poo-covered hoofs. We appreciate all the hard work they put into helping build and maintain those trails by the way.

Scenic Loop, and then onto Woodland Meadows, where we would find new meaning for the term "25% grade." Down through Rockwoods Reservation on beautiful pavement gave us time to munch on snacks, and ride for a few miles in the big ring for a change. We then came to the base of Melrose, where our band of merry men had the collective wrist snapped by a dude on a tri bike in nearly his hardest gear. Getting dispatched uphill by aero bars and a sleeveless jersey was more disappointing to me than a juggalo hearing his son say that he wants to go to college. I suppose we all must learn some humility from time to time.

Melrose leads to Hwy T, which then takes us to Bassett, which then takes us to the infamous Cremin's Green, or "The Green Monster." It was here that I witnessed probably one of the most amazing performances of the day - 50 year old David F. pass my wheezing ass in a standing high cadence like I was standing still. I was reminded of a this speed comparison video:

Climbing that hill, afterwards you feel like something was cleansed from your body, and you are now stronger for it. And descending that hill, you would be able to tattoo yourself with your blazing disc rotors.

Bassett Rd, what was left of it, hurt pretty badly after Cremins. Regardless, we jammed down the backside, took a pass on visiting the monument, and continued on through some seriously beautiful scenery:

riders up the road
lone homeboy on the horizon
Bouquet certainly is a crusher, but at least you're distracted by the scenery. Once at the top of Bouquet, we cruised down Ossenfort, nearly got run over by some shit-eater on a motorcycle, and prepared for Babler Forest.

Babler  Forest.

We saw many things on the slopes of Babler Forest, all of them noteworthy. Here's a short list:
  • 50mph
  • the lead group, which was miraculously still together in a big way, leaving as we rolled up
  • a fucking dead horse being mourned by a live horse:
  • 2 door 1st-gen RAV4:
    This one's for Jerkward

Wildhorse Creek Road looks even bett0r when being ridden by a murder of Seagals:

Climbing Wildhorse Creek Road was tons of fun, and by tons of fun, I mean a demon hell-ride. But it provide us all with the chance to descend Rieger, climb Smith School, and get totally served by the Pfriedman's who were serving up PBJs and water - something that may or may not have saved several asses, and fueled our lap of Babl0r State P0rk.

I should mention, that at this point in the ride, we lost count of the dead squirrel corpses that were strewn as far as the eye can see, across nearly every road we set tire to. I had been figuring that someone in the lead group was picking them off just up the road from us.

By this time of day, it was becoming readily apparent that if you were still riding, there was no need to think about cutting short the route. Personally, I was feeling more and more confident as the day went on. And even though each hill hurt, I was able to recover sufficiently before hitting the next one, which meant that I never totally blew up on any climb, and never experienced any sign of cramping. That's not to say the hunger wasn't coming on strong. By the time we crested "Doberman Hill" the rumblings were coming on just in time to hit up the totally awesome gas station at Eatherton and WHC, where we stocked up on some loot, hour-6 style:

Resting at that gas station affords a person a great chance to people watch. Sunday, being a supremely nice day, we had the chance to watch dozens upon dozens of doctors, anesthesiologist, lawyers, bankers and financial investors playing the part of "badass Harley guy" on their $40,000 hogs rolling past. Good times.

That gas station, as far as I am concerned, marks the end of the monster hills. Sure, there are some tough ones yet (Orville and Shepard) but by this point in the ride, they almost felt like formalities. The more stand-out thing was the beautiful weather, the amazingly smooth pavement on Orville, and the good company. So what if we never caught the lead group - they're a buncha jerks anyway.

There were only a few miles left, up Shepard, over to Clayton, where we then hung a leroy onto Streucker, another Leroy on Valley, and finally a Ralphie onto Kehrs Mill. For bonus points, we hung a final larry into the Mitch's secret Kehr's Mill Bypass. Oooweee.

Rolling into the empty lot, both myself, KW and Dr. Sallinger were all commenting on how we all felt surprisingly good, considering what we had just did. Good signs for a sure-to-be-gnarly season. And 90+ miles is a great start:

It was seriously awesome to ride with so many people yesterday. I hope the rest of the season can treat us as well as this ride did (except you, Snurb). Next up, some gravel and mountain shit.

Stay tuned, sucka!

-Casey F. Ryback