SoBoCoMo Gravel Grinder Recon, starring le Professeur


Greetings Team Seagal Loyalistas! If this winter could be described in one word, it would probably be something like "hate" or "bleak" or "stupid" or "murderdeathkill." One of those. But if the Team Seagal Winter War Plan could be described in one word, it would be "pain" or "manly" or "nut-chillingly-cold" (still counts as one word.)

Having been kicked off at CXmas, the Gravel Grinder series is in full swing, having taken place last weeked in and around Hermann, Rolla before that, and this coming weekend it will be in Columbia. With that in mind, two brave (and manly) Seagal Soldiers, myself (Casey F. Ryback) and Nico Toscani, were given our orders to deploy to Columbia to rendezvous with Professor Robert Burns - our mission to do some recon on the Sunday's route, and also to snap as many wrists as possible on the way. (Very easy to do while riding the MKT Trail.)

While en route to our first destination, Professor Burns' headquarters, we were sidetracked by a few things. The first was delicious Supersonic Burritos at Sonic. Holy shit, that is the best breakfast burrito at any place with a drive-thru. Our bellies full and nearing our destination, we were also able to take in the local sights without leaving the car:

Arriving, we suited up and embarked. First thing Professor told us was how to find our way back, should he fall in battle and can't direct us back. He said to look for the picture of the guy wearing short-shorts and tube socks stretching his thighs:

Columbia is such a badass town, as we were able to take trails all through town to get to where we needed to go - first to Klunk Bicycles, and then to outer-lying roads. Karl, of Klunk Bicycles and Repair, (our new and totally awesome sponsor) is the major organizing force for the Columbia edition of this weekend's Gravel Grinder series. Professor is our highly trained liaison with Karl, and with his help, new bonds were made between Nico, myself and Karl. I had hoped to get a photo of the 4 of us so everyone out there better knows who Karl is, and so people can put a face with the name that we will surely be using quite often in teh future. However, due to the me having had parts of the movie Rocky IV in my head, I forgot to snap the photo. Fortunately however, once I got back home, I contacted a *really good* police sketch artist who was able to render an image of what Karl probably looks like, according to the description I provided:

So back on our bikes, we did find the roads around Columbia to offer an awesome mix of thick gravel, some pavement, and some super-buff hardpack. Don't forget the hills. Oh yes, the hills. Well, they were downright dangerous:

They were plentiful and soul-cleansing, both going up and down. We got chased by a few dogs, but none of them were the threatening kind, but rather they all seemed to want to come out and meet us and lick us. Almost no traffic once we got out of town.

And the sun - it was out most of the day! However, that did end up having a funny side effect. So the temperature never got above 23 or 24, which is pretty cold. But the sun did shine directly on a lot of stuff, and on some lower spots, that meant for some super soft surfaces, as seen here on the last several miles of soft, wet, and gross Katy Trail (note how Professor is leaving a rut, which is impressive considering that he is so light, that he's actually still at his birthweight:)

At least the Katy was super scenic. But not only was it soft and wet, but that notorious Katy Trail dust was turned to cement, which sprayed all over ourselves and our bikes. It wasn't a problem for Norkward and myself, being on Major One singlespeed CX bikes. Unfortunately for Professor, he decided to take out his Powertap Hub-equipped Major Jake, which *is* geared, and all that spray resulted in a cemented downtube which then in turn rendered his shift cables useless, and giving him what he should have been on in the first place - a singlespeed CX bike:(that's what a middle finger looks like with lobster-style gloves on)
I think this is just another example of the CX gods, probably with some influence from Energor, trying to coax the Professor into riding the SS CX bike exclusively.

We soldiered on, seeing wildlife of all sorts from fat squirrels to deer to a flock of turkeys sitting patiently:
As Nic-ward shows us, the only thing better than riding bikes is riding bikes through a flock of birds!:

We were headed back to home base at this point, passing the "Big Tree" and heading up some long, punishing hills to finish out the route. Despite Professor having more health problems than a Tiny Tim, he has been logging more hours of saddle time than anyone I know, and finished up super strong today. This year will be even moar impressive, for sure.

Upon finishing up, Jerky and myself found our bikes to be splattered with that terrible Katy cement as well. So much so that it created little bottom-bracket-mounted stalactites:

That cement could not even be chiseled off without risk of damaging the frame tubes. Turns out that it has to melt off. Yes, it has to melt off, much like the pepper cheese melted off the sides of each side of Shakespeares Pizza slice which we shoved down our throat-holes after the ride:

When going to Shakespeares Pizza, your best option (bearing in mind that there are no bad options) is to get the Team Seagal Approved "JOBS" pizza:
-Breakfast Bacon

...and with four toppings you get a 5th free, so you must then have pepper cheese. Make sure to round out this work of art by ordering it with wheat crust and in the 16" size. Then wash that mother fucker down with a very reasonably-priced PBR in the 16oz can. Holy shit. This is the kind of meal that ends wars. The kind of meal that can get you pregnant.

Do this ride on Sunday, starting at Klunk Bicycles. Karl will be there, but will Balboa show? We ended up with a little over 47 miles in less than 4 hours (having started elsewhere in town) with a little over 3400' of climbing. This is the kind of ride that makes you stronger! Garmin link

Speaking of making you stronger with hills, it won't be long now before we do our second annual calf-cramping, thigh-smashing Death By Hills ride. It will most likely be the same, or only slightly-modified, route as last year, and will start from Lone Wolf Coffee again. Just gotta figure out a date now.

Oh yeah, next Thursday (Feb 4th) we may be heading down to ride Middlefork (weather/trail conditions permitting) but starting from Council Bluff. Anyone interested?

2010 is feeling good so far... Are you riding... outside?



Doctor said...

I finally got to ride outside today jerks. I went on my lunch break and did the wilhoit ride. 30 miles in 1:45 with a 13 mile climb up a mountain pass. Sweet titties. It was amazing after almost 2 weeks of being confined to the trainer.

PS. The Death by Hills ride is a suitable substitute for VDS-12.

Mitch the Masher said...

I'm in for the Hills ride and possibly the Fork on Thursday. Might have to drive myself so I can get back, the earlier the better.

Casey Ryback said...

actually Mashor, sounding like Jerkward and myself might be headed to Jeff City for a some gravel recon down there. interested? call me...

C-Dubs said...

Yet another tremendous effort, we back here at the NECS suffer from the latest CIA torture technique known as extended indoor trainer sessions. It is rides like this one that help keep my sanity knowing that one day I too will be able to ride outside during the week.
Doctor, nice job on the 20 miles, did you also drop a fuji and post your time for the Jenkem Cycles non race # 1?

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