Greetings, Team Seagal Loyalistas. Let us mark February 27th, 2011 as the day which found all 50+ riders taking part today losing the weakest parts of our being. Fears, insecurities, intimidations, limits - they were all cast off of our from out bodies much like a monkey craps into his hand, only to fling it at another monkey. Unfortunately, I, Casey Fucking Ryback, much like everyone on our team, have no weak parts. So despite the punishment that was dealt today directly to my leg muscles, I lost only sweat, and my jenkem buzz with which I left the parking lot this morning. Oooo-weeee, talk about a good day. Almost perfect weather, lots of cool broski's with whom to spend the day, and good road conditions lead to a fine time had by all.
There was a report that we had 56 people start out the ride. (It would have been 57, but when Taggort sees "Designing Women marathon" in the TV Guide, there's nothing that will keep him from that TV. Must be something about that Delta Burke.) I fully believe that, because when I looked back as we rolled out, I realized that I was the locomotive in a man-train the likes of which I had never seen. It was at that point that I also was giving thanks to Energor for blessing me with a last minute fuji which I had left perched atop Mt. Kohler during a pit stop on the way over to the ride meeting point - because had I had any left within me, there would have surely been some home-made brown chamois butter magically appearing in my bibs. And it wasn't long after the magic fuji stop that Stormy and I happened to be driving down Claytorn Road approaching our destination when we found a couple of interesting things - Pete Goode choo-chooing his way on his bike, to which we made sure to remind him of his jerk status. We also pulled alongside our own Cockpunchor in his Cock-mobile. Attached to which, was his custom labeled bike. Storm and I had a good laugh at the thought of all other drivers pulling up behind him at stop lights or on the highway, and seeing the name "Cock Puncher" affixed to the bike, and all of them wondering just what the fuck that means:
An epic journey such as the one on which we were embarking required extensive preparation, and proper warming up. Stove and Peat showed the rest of us how to warm your shit up:
Rolling out at a very mild, chilly pace might have seemed a little slow to those towards the back of the pack, but it would surely pay off later. We kept a talking pace down Clayton to the first hill, which would lead us through neighborhood, over hill and dale, down my favorite descent (Woods Road) and quickly turn us up one of the harder climbs of the day, one that would surely wake your legs up - Bartizan. Continuing on, the climbs only got longer, and with the addition of Starwoods, we probably upset a couple of emo dogwalkers. Approaching the base of the main part of Starwoods, I was very amused by the reactions from those around me - "Is that the hill? I don't see where else we can go, so I guess that has to be the hill... Shit! That's the hill!"
One by one, the hills became flattened as we flexed our quads, calves and hamstrings. We continued up Alt past Nelly's house and Hidden Valley, through Eureka, around the "Allenton Loop" where I climbed up the second hill next to Donjo and Larry Koester and found it surreal to hold a conversation with them on that climb, whereas a few years back, I couldn't make it up that hill without stopping.
The first gas station at Allenton Rd/Hwy 44 was a welcome sight, unlike the inbred redneck in his Dodge 2500 Cummin's Diesel who told us how much he didn't like us being on the road. He then sped off with a spew of black diesel exhaust, no doubt upset at being late for the Criss Angel tea-bag orgy try-outs being held just a few miles farther down the highway. The neat thing about one of those is that instead of standing over you, Criss Angel levitates.
Allenton Road was then followed by two hidden gems, Scenic Loop and Woodland Meadow - during which I was believing to be on my own personal vision quest. I found myself slamming Mountain Dew and driving a monster truck, only to be thrown into a lake, at which point I awoke and realized that I was just remembering one of my favorite childhood commercials:
I came to, and found myself effortlessly cruising through Rockwoods Reservation, past my cherished Smokey The Bear, and up Melrose for a mid-climb break at Thrasher's house, at which he and his wife graciously provided bits of delicious cake and water:
Thrasher's wife recently opened the Celebrate Life Bakery, and this is the second year they provided this much-needed stop, and it was UH-MAZING! Thanks a ton! I think those cake flavors should be re-named "The Bubonic Chronic" because that it was it was like.
Peeling away from the cake, we headed out towards the D9 Bulldozer, which sits atop what I think to be the steepest hill of the day, Cremin's Green. It was almost a cheering section waiting at the top as I punched the pavement into submission with each of my swollen quad muscles. This is the only climb on the route that actually has a switchback. While recovering at the top, Mitch had the glorious idea of stopping by the recently "re-discovered" monument just a 1/4th mile off the route. I think we did a good thing by getting a huge group of people perched around one of these monuments, of which there are supposedly many around the city. The sign (closeup) refers to cyclists of the time making that point, the county line, their "mecca". I think we paid homage to that tradition in making that our farthest-most point on the ride. Not that much has changed in these group rides, right?
(next to the Pond/Old Manchester Monument)
There will be more to come regarding these monuments, I assure you.
Continuing on, we found Babler Forest (a climb that some former co-workers of mine refered to as "The Cunt-Punch") to be a climb well worth doing for the 50+mph descent:
A quick loop through Babler Park and up Doberman brought us to the second gas station. This was about the 75 mile mark:
On this ride, Punchor and I discussed how Nokeward, Stove and Peat are not made of human parts, but rather, whatever the T-1000 is made of. How else could they conquer such beasts as we encountered that day, doing so with only one gear? The first photo up above confirms that, because no human would do whatever it is that Nokeward would be doing on the ground there. God, what, a, fucking, JERK.
There was a surprisingly large group left at this point in the ride. Those of us left utitlized our superior attitude and superior state of mind to flatten Orville, Shepard, Clayton, and for Mitch, Stephen, Barry and I, the final obstacle, the Saddle Creek neighborhood, before returning to the sight of our departure. I know that Peat and Mitch both achieved Centuriosity today, though I wonder if anyone else did as well - Mr. Goode?
Finishing this ride in sunlight was simply a feeling that is hard to beat. Kind of like a road ride without the stigma of being a prissy roadie - just a bunch of friends who needed to get the season started in the best possible way - by skipping Froze Toes and challenging yourself at your own pace. Fattest tire award goes to Lawman, narrowly beating out Peat. First place award went to someone whom I probably never saw, because they were crushing everything, and maybe skipping the important parts. Who knows.
In case you didn't know who that guy at the bottom of Bartizan was, that was Thrasher, with a camera. If you look closely at the end, you can see Jerkward and his super-slow cadence:
Here's my Garmin Link! Which shows everything on the provided route except for Dehart Farms, and the Smith School extension.
It was awesome to see everyone Sunday. I don't know about you, but 2011 is starting out to be the best year yet.
-Casey F. Ryback
p.s. I am holding t'aint-salve-application-specialist interviews today.