Greetings loyal Team Seagal Fan! For me to be sitting here writing this is truly the culmination of a long day of ups and downs - waking up this morning (the day after the race) I was pretty sure that I couldn't give 2 shits about this race or this weekend anymore, and I'll explain why shortly. This just goes to show the power of Shakespeare's Pizza, friends, PBR, and a good 4 hour nap.
When you think of the endurance mountain bike races in the Midwest this year, which ones come to mind? Rim Wrecker, Ouachita Challenge, Syllamo's Revenge, Bone Bender - there is a common link among these, and it has to do with yak semen. Or rather, the improper application of yak semen during the sacred rain-repelling dance that we try to do before a major race.
We look forward to this race every year, this being the 3rd year in a row that we have deployed an troops to compete. This year saw a change in venue over previous years where it has always been held at Landahl Park Reserve. This year we (Masson Storm, Nico Toscani, and myself - Casey Ryback, along with our better halves) journeyed to the undiscovered mountain biking Xanadu known as Crowder State Park, near Trenton, MO. I arrived Mario van Peebles style - solo - at about 1:20AM Saturday morning to find the rest of the Team Seagal Party Train having already landed and set up camp the previous evening. After waking up "fully rested" at the crack of dawn, I and the rest of our War Machine started our morning battle preparations.
Nico started by unpacking his favorite bag:
He then continued to test-drive my chair, which has been deemed the greatest camp chair known to man. (Or at least known to TC Man Men. Here we see this chair at it's debut)
All of this tom-foolery belies the t'aint destruction that lied ahead for our heroes. As time of detonation approached, the Tropical Storm and myself went to registor at headquartors. Got to see some faces we haven't seen all year, since this is, unfortunately, the first Heartland Race Promotions race that we've done all year! How good it was to be back. We park both of our bikes, registored, and came back out to our bikes and realized how badass these Konas look next to each other, especially with Masson's newly FB-built wheels using some pimp-ass lime green Velocity Blunt rims:
Fully fueled with jenkem, pop-tarts, gummi bears/worms, and coffee for our excursion into the 12 hour Tunnel of Pain, we lined up for the le'Mans-style start. Masson decided to change things up this time by doing the run on the first lap. Little did he know that it would be the hardest run yet - straight up a big fucking rocky hill!
Nico spreading his wings and flying:
Bob is super-pissed for two reasons - he's going uphill, and he's on foot:
Masson emerges from his first lap with the blood of countless snapped wrists on his hands (note the green wheels):
Next it was my turn to take over as head wrist-snapper, which I was anxious to do for a 2 lap stretch. It was apparent to me about 1/2 way through my first lap that the heat felt like the Turbonegro song "A Blizzard of Flames." I put in my fastest lap first, with 52:36, and mellowed out to a much more sustainable pace for lap number 2 at 57:57. (no where near Cameron Chamber's fast lap of 42:07) Coming in after my first lap, blowing Drew's mind with the GOLD:
Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the random group of Amish or Mennonite women walking down the trail, to whom I had to call out "On your left!" Oddest part - they took a photo of Nico. Ask him all about it.
Seen at the staging area:
Nico, who is all smiles, all the time - like Dwane or Mitch:
Joe Houston, who has really trimmed down and is in danger of losing the ability to dominate the clydesdale class:
Overall 12hr Solo winner - Zach Brace!
Brian "The Gun Show" Busken:
6hr Solo Women Winner - Christine Ford! (Hey! I know her!)
Much of this race was super badass, and we all can't wait for next year. Superb production on superb trails with superb people competing - there may have even been a road bike nearby with an old Suntour Superbe component group on it. As dusk got closer and closer, the forecasted threat of rain became more and more real. Very, VERY real.
That's when things started changing.
At some point during the first true night-lap, the spotty light showers that had persisted for the last couple of hours and hadn't even reached the trail surface through the thick tree cover decided to stop fucking around and turned into full-on rain. Masson came in with reports of knocking trees down with his body saying "it's slick - watch out for trees." 15 minutes after I was deployed onto what would be our last lap, the race course was closed. The race was approaching epic status, due the supreme XXTREEM hardcore downhill freeride conditions that were being encountered. Very similar to Rim Wrecker the last two years - not muddy, just lots of standing water and slick rocks. The big difference is that I still had brakes at the end of that lap, whereas that was not the case at Rim Wrecker. Oh yeah, and I forgot about the sections of white-out fog. And landmines. I escaped my wet night lap without wrecking, and actually managed to pass a few people. Zach and I rode through the last double-track section together, and I actually felt my own wrist snap the moment he told me that he'd be going out for another lap. Turns out he didn't have to, as he already had 1st locked in, and couldn't go out anyway. The Tropical Storm had, unbeknownst to us, actually put us into 3rd place on his last lap with solid riding. No photos were taken during this time, as all shit was fucked.
We had no idea of our placement until we magically strutted into the awards ceremony with Zach and Drew at the VERY moment that Zach's name was being called up to the 1st place podium! Nico was later called to a very lonely podium, for the Nico Toscani Class. We received information that once word spread that Nico would be racing in the 12hr Solo 20-29 class, all lesser racers out there pussed out, this turning that class into the Nico Toscani Class, and allowing Nico to sweep the podium by himself. No photos were taken of this, as my hands were full of 16oz PBRs and my nuts. I did manage to get a shot of the 12hr Overall category, 1-Zach, 2-Mitch, 3-Todd Holtman! Way to sweep that shit, StL:Evidence of a disgusting final lap - Todd's head, and the mud-skidmarks that came through the helmet vents:
After a long-yet-cut-short day of badass racing, Energor must have decided he was not happy with having been smashed to bits at the hands of the Doctor and Robort, and wanted to take his anger out on us as we tried to sleep. The rain continued all night, with varying levels of shitty wind and lightning. It was one of those storms that, when you get up in the morning in your house, you say to your spouse (or in the case of singer Jack Johnson, you say to the 30 other dudes in your bed) "Holy shit, did you hear that storm last night?" Only we were all in our tents. I thought mine was an adequate tent, as it has always served me well, but I've now come to realize that Ms. Ryback and myself may as well have been trying to sleep underneath a goddamn umbrella. An umbrella that you put in your drink. I actually spent part of the night trying to hold the rainfly in place. Ever try to wring out an entire sleeping bag?
Waking up after a night like isn't that much fun, and neither is stopping at a gas station/fireworks store where the bitch-attendant is upset with the fact that she works at a gas station/fireworks store and takes it out on you, the customer. Here is a short list of things that didn't work:
-the cappucino machine
-the fountain soda machine
-empty coffee pot
-one of the gas pumps
-the women's toilet, which had a sign saying that it wouldn't flush toilet paper, and just to put the tp in the trash can.
We recommend that you don't stop at that gas station/fireworks store, located on Hwy 65, just on the north side of Hwy 70. Everyone there hates you, and you probably can't get what you need anyway. Fuck 'em.
What better way to cure a miserable morning of loading all your sopping wet belongings into your car and getting treated like shit at a gas station, than to sink your unbrushed teeth into the JOBS at Shakespeares!
Thanks to Heartland, specifically Doug Long - so much work for a race that could not have gone any better (up until the rain.) Never a bad race with these guys! Even better now with their real time scoring... Results
In other news, we have recently recruited two more Soldiers onto our team - Jim and Wendy Davis, also known as Team Trail Monster. There's a good chance you may have one or both of them at the dirt crits, any number of endurance mountain bike races in the area, or probably at GORC and OTA Trail workdays. They are very active in snapping the wrist of trail erosion, and making it possible for the rest of us to ride clear, sustainable trails. What a great addition - they fit right in!
I had to use your blog header photo because I can't find a good shot of your guys together in my personal archives. Holy shit.
Stay tuned for more information about the next Non-Race coming up this Friday! A night relay at Lost Valley - meet at the mound at 7:30PM, race will start at 8:30pm sharp. Bring your charged lights.
-Casey F. Ryback
P.S. Doctor is alive and well! See the Comments section of Robort's Blorg!