Greetings Loyal Team Seagal Fan! Before I dive into the race report, I want you to check out info for our next Non-Race, scheduled for next Sunday! Also check out the StLBiking.com message board for some discussion.
Now for the good stuff. Yours truly, Casey Ryback, and fellow commando Mason Storm were in search of some glorious fat-tire battle this weekend. Fortunately for us, we received intelligence that there was a battle of heroic proportions planned for Landahl Park Reserve, and any battle fought at Landahl is a battle that is un-lose-able. By that, I mean that even if you don't come in first place, you still win because the trails are so incredible, and you at least got a chance to do a super-badass mountain bike ride.
So we did set a course for East Truman Road on Saturday evening, but arrived a little too late to be able to set up camp near the start/finish line - turns out they DO close those gates. We drove around to the Argo Road trailhead and set up camp up there, and nearly were blown away Wizard of Oz style thanks to Hurricane Landahl passing overhead. FYI, it can be hard to sleep in a hurricane, especially when the tent you bought on clearance didn't come with sound-deadening insulation. Bastards.
Upon waking up, we quickly packed up because an oversized, way cheap, and uber-delicious breakfast at Winstead's was on the brain. Their amazingly tasty dinner and friendly staff were most impressive the previous night as well, handily snapping the wrists of our appetites. Oh mama.
After departing from Winstead's, the pain train went straight to the start/finish line to set up ahead of all the other suckers who drove in that morning, and didn't arrive before they closed off the parking right along the course. We had prime rockstar parking, right next to the course tape, and within sight of the porta-johns but out of smell range. That's good, because when it came to those porta-johns, Domination was the name of the game for Mason and I.
It wasn't long at all before the Pfoodman Express pulled into the station, with two eager employees of Ballwin Cycles. (Where was Cody, though?) Some pre-ride action showed us that the trail was in BADASS shape, almost as good as at Spokepony. The shorter course (compared to longer races we're used to like Rapture, 24 Hours, and Spoke Pony) was going to make for fun fun fun and fast fast fast laps! Just the pre-ride alone had Mason and myself super anxious to get racing. I mean srsly, holy crap. Amidst worries of a badly stripped crankset, I pressed on despite a deafening creaking sound. yowza. The racer's meeting at 11:45 found me drinking from my traditional racer's-meeting-Pabst. I was already in flavor country, and the race hadn't even started yet!
We lined up in the staging area, Mason overseeing demolitions in the Clydesdale class, and myself laying down supressive fire in Singlespeed class (despite also being able to qualify for the Clydesdale class). I was one of two St. Louisans in the SS class, the other being Matt Keeven. There was also a good St. Louis presence in the stacked expert class with Mr. Breslin, Pfoodman, Mikey Tieber, Tom Albert, and Wes Bierman - all of whom are riding "the shit out of their bikes."
At the start line, I must have been standing on a fire-ant colony because I was getting antsy to get moving while waiting for the Experts and Expert Women to roll out. Right off the gun, a High Gear rider, Troy (?) pulled away with a Marty Northstein-esque sprint off the line, grabbing the hole-shot from Mr. Keeven, and putting down some early hurt. He had to back off the pace before too long, and apparently had a couple of wrecks that allowed me to put him into my sights and try to reel him in. I could tell that he was laying down a pretty good pace even still, good enough for me to not confidently pass him right away. I must have pulled away from the rest of the pack pretty early on in the first lap, as I had not had anyone on my tail for a while. So I figured I'd try to hold his pace for at least a little while (maybe look for an opportunity to pass at some point) and try to just hang onto my 3rd place. However, midway through his second lap, the top of his helmet had an unfortunate collision with one of the infamous low-hanging trees, and caused him to stop for a moment. I paused to see if he how badly he was injured, but he wasn't bleeding or unconscious, which is a good sign. He said to go ahead, so I did, and alerted the Trail Patrol guys when I came through the start/finish. I knew I'd never catch Keeven (unless that sniper I hired actually did his job; he didn't) so I tried to take advantage of my newly acquired 2nd place, and just ride consistently. Came up on a few experts, and sat in with Mikey Tieber who was nursing a snapped rear shift cable, leaving him in highest gear. We rolled together most of the way to the finish line (for me) and quickly made my way to the beer cooler to finish what I'd started at the racer's meeting!
Mason had a little better luck off the line, managing to get the hole shot. That early lead wasn't to last long enough to grab first place, however, as he had some serious competition to come from the racer who eventually took 1st place. He was reported to have said that he was constantly having to rubberneck in order to see how close Mason was to snapping his wrist. The big challenge, according to Mason, was trying to pull him back in once he hit his big ring. Of course, and trying to keep up with a fully suspended bike with gears while on a SS is always a challenge. But then, nothing worth doing was ever easy. (Well actually, there was that girl in the Philippines...)
Post race was awesome. Plenty of PBRs to go around, including one to Cameron Chambers who was found on the side of the trail giving bogged-down riders a helpful push when trying to restart. Something about cramps? It's not like he's still recovering from that 200 mile Dirty Kanza race victory a week ago... Hanging out and watching the awards was hella fun.
"Talkin' 'bout ghetto life..." Oh sorry, I was channeling Rick James again.
Big congrats go to Matt (last name?) El Presidente of Wash U''s cycling club, and amazingly also the sole mountain biker on their squad. If you happen to meet a Wash U cyclist and he/she isn't a mountain biker, sell them your mountain bike so that they can use it. Anyway, Matt got third in Beginner Class using those cold-war relics known as "rim brakes:"
Mason looks down upon his loyal subjects from the 2nd place podium spot for Clydesdale:
Here I, Casey Ryback, bask in what was really a 1st place spot, since no one can beat Keeven:
Sorry Davey, those PBRs tasted extra good, so I had a bunch, and that kept me from getting a non-blurry photo:
There are many good possible captions here, such as how Tom was hording all those beers to help drown out the memory of mistakenly doing an extra lap - yes, and extra lap:
Maybe we don't want to steal that Keeven guy away from Mesa - I mean, look how weird he is! We're a serious team that expect serious results, and there is to be absolutely NO horsing around of any type within our ranks. Very serious indeed. Geez, what does he think this is, a road race?
On a side note, we're still not sure what keeps more St. Louis racers from carpooling to do these KC Landahl Races! They're more fun than a watching the baboons with the red asses at the zoo!
Remember, West Tyson at 10AM this Sunday for some badass technical riding!