Greetings to all Team Seagal Loyalistas, and fans of all things relating to racing at Council Bluff Lake! I don't need to tell you that this past weekend, there was a mass spiritual cleansing, otherwise known as the 2009 Burnin' at the Bluff Race, that took place down at Council Bluff. I, WE, everyone has been itching to do this race again. Shit, I had already started mentally preparing for this year's edition 5 minutes after I got home from LAST year's race. Mesa Cycles actually shuts down for a day in order to put on this race. It's that big of a deal. Holy shit.
We started the race mere mortals, and ending the race frozen, reborn, and with greater mental and physical fortitude than could have ever possibly been imagined by our weaker selves. Things overheard at our campsite:
Todd: "Geez, I've 'met more Chinamen' this weekend than I have in the past year total!"
Nico: "Not me..." (Business as usual for Mr. Asian Experience himself, Norcorn Torscornor.)
Team Seagal HQ saw fit to send *quite* the deployment to this year's race. A squad consisting of Gino, Professor Robert Burns, and myself (Casey F. Ryback) was at the front lines of the 12hr 3-man SS class, as well as another squad populated by the 1X1 Head himself, Punchor of Cocks, and 'Jonathon Cold'. Mustache Toscani once again took the path involving the most amount of pain in the 12hr Solo class, although this year he had company in the form of Masson Storm who figured that it wouldn't be painful enough to simply join Opus Dei and start a regimen of self-flagellation. So instead, why not ride around Council Bluff for 12 hours? The female half of Team Trail Monster was fighting the good fight in the 12hr Women's Solo category, and let us not forget the other half of Team Trail Monster joining in the 3-man Big Boy Class with two buddies. All in all, we had 10 soldiers racing, with Marshall Lawson and Forrest Taft giving new meaning to the term "manning the aid station" down at the boat ramp. I'll just say that you could get much more than just aid down there. And let's not forget our very important and very supportive friend and Pabst rep, Dave Aholt - from whom, many things are made possible. (Was that too biblical?)
There are many people (mostly people who didn't race) whining about how sloppy it would probably be, and how cold it would get. Coincidentally, that caused me to start whining about how sandy their vuh-jay-jays looked. Sure, Friday (and Saturday) night it got pretty cold, but let's be honest - transcendence into glory does not come easily, and these are only some of the small trials that all racers must face on the path that leads to the glorious halls of infamy.
I got there late, having not stopped at the beloved porno shack on the way down, just in time to party down. A few hours of sleep later, I awoke to sound of a sultry, seductive voice. Of course, it was a little strange waking up to the sound of Farinella's voice on the PA system at 6 in the morning when the sun hadn't even come up yet, but it only took a few seconds though to think if that it what it is like to wake up next to him all the time and that got me all warmed up. The Team Seagal campsite slowly came to life as we dined on the Professor's homemade pancakes, coffee, bananas, and middle fingers:
Preparations were slow as we went to register. Upon arriving at the staging area, I was met by representatives of Team Baby Arm:(Dr. Shlongenheimer came down shortly after this photo was taken.)
This is a very important race, with lots of important people, so you have to look your best:We lined up for the running start, and emerged from the mist like storied vikings from the halls of Valhalla:
My first lap was about as successful as last years' lap - cold, wheezing, and right when the first signs of a groove started to emerge, I get a flat tire at the spillway. The difference this year was the multiple hub-to-knee-deep creeks that constantly baptized everyone's lower halves. The rest of the course has some slick roots, but really, this trail was in great shape. 5 Minutes after I *should* have rolled in, I roll in and sent The Professor out for his first lap of Council Bluff. Ever.
He rolled in less than 1:10 later, his mind dripping from his ears, speaking in tongues:
He sent Gino off on his first lap, which would be a mere 30 seconds off the fastest SS lap, set by Mike Barro.
The day warmed up considerably as the sun came out, and the trail got a little faster except for the creek crossings, which made the 15 yards after each crossing muddy as hell. Along the way, we watched and cheered as all of our heroes emerged from the trees atop the Col du Campground, which I believe to be hallowed ground for all Missouri mountain bikers. Wendy was crushing off laps one at a time, never taking her eye off of her ultimate goal, and getting lots of help from Jim:
It was at one point on my third lap (her lap numbers were something like in the triple digits) that I passed her going up a steep hill, and said to her that she was my hero. I got the best wide-eyed, melted-brain, I've-been-at-this-all-day reaction as she said in a very exasperated tone "REALLY?!" That pretty much made my lap.
The Tropical Storm at one point seemed to be having a perfect storm of flat tires, which is never easy on one's fatigued state of mind. However, with some help from his Gu packet and his beard, he pressed on to the Hallowed Ground. Officer Nico was guided by his mustache, a group of Chinamen, and probably some obscure Phish concert to rattle off the laps. Personally, I didn't see a ton of those two jerks most of the day, as they were both up and riding most of the time:
When not being superior race support for his wife, Jim managed to get in some badass racing as well:
As did the Puncher of Cocks - it wasn't long after this photo that he lived up to his name and gave his teammate Todd a couple good sack-wacks for forgetting a wheel-wrench on a particularly un-lucky lap:
This race saw Jonathan Cold returning for the first time since his debut the last time that a race was held here at Council Bluff - the notoriously shit-filled, brake-pad-destroying Rim Wrecker this past spring:
So yeah yeah yeah... the riding was challenging, punishing, taxing, and above all, amazing. All day people were breaking shit - chains, tires, tubes, spokes, themselves, t'aints, and wrists. Well, they were snapping wrists, not breaking them. Let's get that terminology straight. But it wasn't until the sun was gone, the stars were out, and the temperature was down that we found out what all that blood, sweat and tears were for on the trail.
I'll tell you what all that shit was for - three Team Seagal podium appearances, with two of them being FIRST PLACE!
Wendy ran out of wrists to snap by the time she finished her 5th lap, and found out that she was in the lead, and even though she was ready to go out again, did not have to in order to keep position! It was certainly an emotional moment for her - It's rare to see such a strong person become overwhelmed.
Jim and his crew smashed souls in the Clydesdale class to achieve 2nd place, not quite dethroning Boob Jenkems, Corey Case and (I forget the name of the third guy) but definitely giving them the runs for their money:
(btw, who gave that confused vagrant up front a Pabst hat?)
In the SS class, I was chasing down Bryan Adams almost for my entire last lap, to come in less than 2min30s after him. That set Gino off chasing, in the dark, Mike Barro - a difficult task but one in which he found great success completing. Just so you all know, Gino Felino readily employs both superior attitude and superior state of mind, which makes him nearly oblivious to all adverse conditions. Going out for two back-to-back laps after dark is definitely a challenge, and it was not getting any warmer - something I noticed while waiting by the start/finish to relieve him in cse he were to come in from his first lap, unable to go out. I was as cold as a penguin's nutsack standing there. Fortunately for me, Gino's Pain Train to Glorytown did not stop at the station, but rather, merely slowed down to adjust clothing and get refueled for a final lap that required him to simply go out and not fuck up. Done and done, against some *VERY* stacked competition:Anyone know a dentist that could implant that belt buckle onto my 'grill?'
Mike Barro got the fastest SS lap, and walked away with a saweet PBR Messenger bag:
We watched Mitch the Masher blow everyone's mind by lighting up the course and winning the prestigious 12hr Mens Solo class against some more super-stacked competition: D-Wayne and Zach Brace (and of course Nico and Masson!)
This is when things get a little fuzzy. And by fuzzy, I mean wooly, as in sheep + bike:
All day there was badass music being played (although .38 Special could have been omitted) and so I had to bust out my air guitar, of which I am a virtuoso:
I didn't hear any Mortician, but I will say that Farinella's metal growl sounds a lot like Will Rahmer of that band.
Furby was hammering out these push-ups - so much so that you might say he was.... ON FIRE!
There are many moar photos to be seen, check here for several links. I'm not sure how to express enough gratitude to the people who made this possible: Mesa for putting shitloads of time and energy into making this *the* best way to spend a weekend in October. Thanks to Dave Aholt with Pabst for support our sport and making this an even better event with tons of free schwag and money! Thanks to Forrest Taft, Ms. Forrest Taft, Marshall Lawson and Dave for keeping people motivated and providing for some fun times and motivation (and tons of badass photos... more to come) at the aid station on the Enough Boat Ramp! Thanks to ICCC for the *hot* pasta and meatballs! Thanks to "E-55" and Thrasher for some of the photos that were used here, as well.
We can't fucking wait till next year.
In the meantime, the final mountain bike Non-Race is this coming Saturday at Klondike Park! Another incarnation of the Hogsback Hill Climb, and two more events - the Donkey Kong Time Trial, and the Strip Mine Rodeo. 10AM, be at the end of the the Hogsback Trail where it meets the road. For those of you who want to do Bubba Night Cross that night at Suson Park later that day, don't worry - this will not be a crazy day of leg-draining miles, so you should still have plenty left in the tank. Friday night there will be campsites reserved, so feel free to come and stay but be prepared to par-tay.
Stay tuned, for there is plenty moar to come.
I love mountain biking.
-Casey F. Ryback
P.S. Can you guess whose ass this is?