On an unrelated note, I'm very glad that no one has voted for Jean Claude van Damme. I mean seriously, look at what part he played in the 1984 flick "Monaco Forever."
5 of your favorite Heroes, Gino Felino, Lt. Col. Austin Travis, Mason Storm, Shop Minister, and yours truly, Casey Ryback, did intend to destroy the minds and souls of all that lay before them. The battlegrounds were the Singlespeed Class, and the Clydesdale Class. The competition was great, as was the preparedness of our collective t'aint. We found the classes a little more crowded than the KC Cup two weeks ago, which we greatly welcomed. Mo' Competition, Mo' Fun we always say, unlike with P. Diddy's song "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems." Spirits were high, and our legs were hairy. How can you go wrong?
Singlespeed class started off with a bang, seeing a line of coke... er.. 5 or 6 riders (including Matt Keeven, Gino, Lt. Col.Travis, Shop Minister, Troy N. and yours truly) shoot off the front and open a large gap immediately entering onto the "Boulevard," where it became a loose super-fast paceline. Well, super-fast relative to singlespeeds. Okay, I wasn't going that fast, though I did keep the front guys in sight. Once the first rocky climb came up, many were found going CX-style and running up in order to save energy. At this point, things spread apart quite a bit more and the race settled in. I gritted my teeth knowing that I had, not surprisingly, gone a little too hard at the beginning, so I tried to strike a balance between easing off my anaerobic pace and keeping the adrenaline going. It didn't take long for extra motivation to come up behind me, as Andy Schuette was becoming visible just behind me around every turn, and I knew he had the taste for blood! BLOOOOOOD! So I couldn't let up. Shop Minister, Lt. Col. Travis and Gino stayed fairly close for nearly the entire race, always battling to the death with Mr. Nelson, who was gunning for a better result than he had two weeks ago.
This course was absolutely ripping. It felt like a pump track coming down Tasty Goodness. My average speed was just shy of breaking the sound barrier, at 12.3 mph. That's pretty quick, considering you have to contend with Family Trail, and 200+ lbs. I'm curious what the expert men were running...
Much to my (and all our) surprise, I come out of the last bit of singletrack on my second lap, about to cross the little bridge going up to the start/finish, and there sits one Mr. Keeven! His first of 2 flats had reared its nasty, smelly head. It is bittersweet to pass someone that you know is a much faster rider than you simply because of a mechanical, but hey, no one will disagree that that is racing. If it were always solely about the legs muscles, then that wouldn't be mountain biking. That would be bodybuilding. We never saw Keeven again, until he crossed the line running - having run half of his last lap on foot! Unfortunately, he wasn't the only Mesa racer with a bad stroke of luck. Chris of Mesa Cycles had much trouble with his tires.
Mason Storm had a strong race as well, working moar like a massive steamroller of pain all the way to the finish line where an ice cold PBR was waiting for his black ass. Final Team Seagal results:
Singlespeed Class - 1) Shop Minister 2) Gino Felino 3) Lt. Col. Austin Travis 5) Casey Ryback
Clydesdale Class - 3) Mason Storm
That's right - 4 out of the top 5 were Team Seagal badasses. Now THAT is Badass.
Here, you'll see myself, Mr. Ryback, spreading my Batwings:
Mason gets his dues (not shown: pouring one for the homies):
After the race, there was much socializing to be had. Maybe a little congratulations to each other for representing St. Louis so well. Much PBR was drank, as well - this cooler was FULL with 2 full cases worth of cans:
DaveyB sportin' his new hat, and to say thanks, tries to show us his man-package:
The more attractive half of Team Trail Monster takes 5th place in beginner womens class:
Doesn't it look like Drew is dragging not only his new schwag, but also some dude behind him?
I promised I'd get a non-blurry photo of Davey B this time on the podium, especially since he was the ultimate wrist-snapper this weekend, taking 1st overall against a mega-stacked field! Congratulations!
Also big congratulations are in order to Christine, as seen here, for taking 1st in expert women's!
Whew! After all that super-racing (that's like racing, only more awesome) we had worked up quite an appetite. (Not an ape-tit.) So our Team Seagal Pain Train set a course to join forces with 4 DRJ Representatives (Mr. Ploch, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Beirman, and Mr. Albert) in dominating a local eatery, known as:
That place is a haven for all things meat-related. Oh mama, the combo platter involves all the major species found on the farm - pork, beef, ham, and then you STILL get 2 sides, a delicious pickle, all slathered in this sauce that probably can cure cancer. It's that good. Kinda feels like a place that Bandit would have eaten.
It was somewhat slow progress on the way home, due to two reasons. 1) Extra wind drag caused by open windows, which were required to ventilate the noxious gases out of the Pain Train. Noxious gases coming as a result of PBR and Biffles. 2) The need to stop at various gas stations for beverages. 2 cans which we've never tried before. The first one offered a very ambitious claim - to "restore faith in mankind":
Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but it will take a lot more than just a tasty, caffeinated energy drink to restore my faith in humanity after having seen Steven Seagal's new movie "Pistol Whipped."
The other can was much more intimidating, called Black Mamba. It's "The Energy Drink that Strikes Back." My face sez it all:
Don't forget - NORBA Short Track Series starts this week! It'll be some super fast, non-hilly riding with beer and food and girls and diamonds! Well, no diamonds, but lots of good stuff nonetheless! You should try it out fo' sho'...
Truman's Big Love at Landahl this weekend... Be there or be L7 (square.)
So with some simple intarweb word-of-mouth, we spread teh word of our latest Non-Race. The Challenge: clear as much of Chubb as you can. Sure, we all say "I can clear this section!" But does that necessarily translate into "I will clear section?" That's what we aimed to figure out, and before the day was finished, we found out what we may or may not
clear, and also made some new friends. Today wasn't necessarily about snapping wrists or destroying our t'aints with long hard miles, but rather having fun while trying to reach your goal. (You'll have to forgive me, as I don't remember everyone's name. My mind is a vast wasteland of snapped neurons.)
We weren't too sure how many people would show up, so we were pleasantly surprised with a badass turn-out of at least 20 people. (None of us ever actually got a headcount. Duh.) One thing is for sure, Furby showed up! He was feeling a little shaky to begin the ride out (silly Cat 1 racer so focused on being a roadie badass, he forgot all about the trail!) but got noticeably more confident as the ride progressed, despite mismatched shifters.
Pretty healthy group waiting to start out:
We had 12 sections selected, guaranteed to challenge even the most seasoned french fry. I mean, rider.
Mikey T. makes it looks easy on the first section:
A rare El Cavano sighting!
Christine impresses the guys by destroying the first double switchback:
Resident Clydesdale extraordinare Mason Storm proves his climbing prowess through the second double switchback:
Lil' Buddy on his way to clear that gnarly rock-ledge switchback by going through the chute and on up to victory:
Furby sums up Steven Seagal's entire range of emotions with one face:
John Twist holds his own:
There's a reason they call him The Mountain Goat:
Your's truly, Casey Ryback, clearing this hill for the first time on the SS:
Thrasher, AKA "Gun Show" bombing the staircase (pay no attention to old Karate master in background:)
Dudeman X shows us that it ain't no thang:
Cockpuncher gettin' awesome:
Christian Stitz (overall winnar) gives everyone a lesson in how to climb the staircase - there IS a video of this in case you need proof, and it will be posted eventually:
Mikey T (along with yours truly, not pictured) come awfully close to victory:
Gino grinds up the double switchback to the picnic bench:
Descending the rest of the trail proved that riding a mountain bike is fun. Especially when you don't encounter equestrians, or their fecal matter. By the time our huge pain train arrived at the West Tyson Shelter, we had developed a massive appetite, one that could only be satiated with PBR and Brats. And Steven Seagal's own brew:
Lil' Buddy proudly shows that there are cookies named after him (what a grin!)
Much merriment was had, much PBR was drank, and we all reveled in how even though that was the longest 6 mile ride evar, it was also one of the most satisfying. The scoring was as such: if you clear a section on your first try, you get a blue hash mark on the back of your spoke card. If you clean it on your second try, you get a black hash mark. He/she with the most blue marks wins. Christian Stitz, now the reigning Staircase Champion, had 10 blue hash marks. 2nd place was a tie between with Lil' Buddy and Mike Tieber both having 9 marks.
I have a lot more photos (over 110 total) on Webshots. You don't need to register to view the photos. Lil' Buddy, could you email me that group photo you took at the staircase - email@example.com
Thanks to everyone for showing up, we all had a blast! Stay tuned for the next Non-Race at Matson Hill... Go here for the upcoming Non-Race schedule. Please tell your n00b friends all about these events - this is about the social aspect of mountain biking just as much as it is about the riding itself. One of the best ways to see this great sport grow is to encourage newer riders to get involved so that they can develop the passion that we all share already. We want to see more people out riding!
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!
[b]Where[/b]: Chubb Trail, West Tyson trailhead
[b]When[/b]: June 15, Sunday at approx. 10AM
[b]Who[/b]: Only those with Superior Attitude need attend
[b]The Scoop[/b]: Medium pace, no-drop, no "dab" group ride, with points accumulated for cleaning selected sections, obstacles, and trail features. Leave your stopwatch and sense of urgency at the trailhead, but do bring your bike handling skills and some patience. This [b]won't[/b] be a lung burning, quad-bursting time trial like last year. Instead, we'll group ride along the trail, and attempt to clear certain sections. If you clear it, you'll get a check mark on the back of your spokecard for that feature. He/She with the most points wins. Tie breakers will come into play if needed, too. The honor system will be in place for those sections and situations where we can't observe the whole run.
In order to try and keep this ride somewhat timely, we'll limit you to 2 attempts. We're planning on barbecuing at the trailhead after the ride, so stick around for some (of course) free PBR, and probably some meat of some sort. BYOB and BYOMeat if you want.
It's always more fun to ride with friends, so come make some friends and ride with 'em!
*Disclaimer* All Non-Races are determined/governed/subject to the weather. We won't hold it if it's crappy and/or muddy. Dates subject to change, so pay attention.
I (Shop Minister) and the Shoe Guy were actually in Italy during the Giro. A screwy hour long ride on a train took us from Florence to Carpi, a smallish friendly town and the finish of that days stage. It turns out that everything in Italy is for some reason written in Italian, and for a few hours we were not sure if we had missed the Giro finish. But alas we were plenty early and we set up on the inside corner of the final turn, 200 meters from the finish. There was a giant TV screen showing us all the action while two dudes announced excited things in Italian live and loud. Let me tell you, I have never seen a party atmosphere at a race that was like this. Young and old having a good time and excited to see the pros fly through.
My wife got some amazing shots as the riders came through. This is the stage where Cavinough lost to Bertolini in a photo finish.
The Giro was awesome, but riding in Italy was a once in a lifetime experience. Shoe Guy and I brought our pedals and shoes and rented some Bianchis not too far from the hotel. The nice lady at the shop spoke great English and she gave us a map and directions for a 90 km ride. But first we had to get out of the city, which was easier said than done. This picture of the one-lane cobble stone roads with cars, scooters, bikes, and no rules was taken during a slow time. After about 12 km we got out of the city and into our first climb. Shoe Guy took off like he saw a sign for free pie a la mode at the top. A move which he paid for because every switchback produced yet more uphill. After about 10 minutes of climbing I passed him, 5 minutes later I hit the summit of that climb and waited for the Shoe Guy. That is when we meant a mustachioed, Italian cycling angel who never told us his name. We call him Santo Luigi.
It turns out we were already lost and didn’t even know it. Santo Luigi spoke enough English that we could communicate relatively easily. After a short discussion of where we were headed Santo Luigi simple said “You a follow me.” And we did.
We followed Santo Luigi through rolling hills to San Casciano. We would pass him on hills and wait for him at the top, or a couple km down the road. Speaking of the roads, it is like the roads in the countryside of Italy are made for cycling. No pot holes, no tar lines, very little gravel, just smooth windy pavement.
After San Casciano, Santo Luigi told us to make a series of turns and then to wait for him at the bottom. Little did we know that we were about to descend for about 5 km with super sharp hairpin turns. Shoe Guy discovered that his rental brakes were not to be trusted on bombing down hills so he was forced to be very cautious. I, however, went as fast as I could on an unknown road. Once at the bottom of the hill we waited for Santo Luigi and the two of us talked about how we weren’t sure it could be better than that.
At the bottom by a crossroad Santo Luigi told us he was not going with us any farther, but he had a good route for us to take. We were to go through Greve and take a left towards Sugame. As he said this he flattened out his hand and tilted upwards 45 degrees. So I said “Turn at the big hill?” Santo Luigi left his hand pointing upward and said “No, no, it’s a good for you” with a grin. He told us about a few more turns to get us back to Florence, we shook hands, and we never saw Santo Luigi again.
Greve is where we stopped for lunch. It turns out that this was the perfect meal for cycling. I had two glasses of a local chianti, a large salad with tuna, black olive and onions, bread soaked in olive and balsamic oils, and a cappuccino for the road. I say it was the perfect meal because within 10 minutes of finishing the meal we turned toward Sugame. The road towards Sugame was a 6 km continual climb and we felt no ill effects from the food-take that Hammer Gel! We reached the summit of Sugame at 529 s.l.m. which is 1,735 feet. The climb was fun, but the descent was ricdonkulous. A twisty, turny, 10 km down hill with beautiful views of the Italian countryside. As our arms burned from being in the drops forever going downhill Shoe Guy yells “San Luigi, you make a me so happy I could a kiss a you on the mouth.” Santo Luigi was right, it was good for us.
The rest of the ride we passed through little Italian towns as we headed back to Florence. It was a perfect ride that seemed to be mostly down hill. That is until I got us lost. We missed and important turn, frankly because the Italian street markers are stupid. They don’t have street names, they just say what town streets head to at each crossroads. Anyways, I got us lost. So lost that at one point we almost got unto the freeway, the on-ramp wasn’t marked either. In an attempt to find the right way I ended up adding a climb that makes the Six Flags climb in Allenton look like a bump. At the top we found two nice old Italian ladies who knew no English but tried to point us to Florence. After a few more wrong turns and the Shoe Guy’s patience wearing thin we made it back to our wives who unsurprisingly didn’t even miss us yet, although we were an hour late. We ended up riding 96 km.
Sorry about the novel but such an experience deserved a decent write-up.