2011 Spoke Pony Redux, and the MWSSC!
Greetings, loyal Team Seagal minions. It isn't too often that there are two excellent opportunities to races one's mountain bike over the course of one weekend, within the same state. At least, not here in Missouri. So when the large obelisk of opportunity erects itself, one must jump on the chance, and take that chance deep.
The Tropical Storm and I had been looking forward to making a return trip to the Spoke Pony 3/6hr Race, having podium'd once before. Last time, that race was located within the limits of the lovely Landahl trails. And while we would absolutely love to ride and race those trails (about which we can not rave enough) again, the new venue at Swope Park is so beautifully constructed, that they should have sent a poet.
Not only was there a shit-ton of badass mountain bike racing to be had in KC, the next day there would be the Missouri Singlespeed Championships at Truman Lake, the trails around which had been recently been featured in Dirt Rag magazine. Not too shabby.
So our marching orders were sent down from the Team Seagal War Room. With more than one teammate expecting a child any day now, another up at Kona's HQ, and yet more still with equally as good of an excuse to not be there, it was to be that myself (The Coarch), Masson Storm, and Harlan Banks would be deployed on Friday night to rendezvous with a Kansas City ally, Nick, who would be providing us soldier's quarters. The drive over was filled with discussion, and also filled with random nuggets of joy like this, which was found on a truck stop men's room "sanitary dispenser" (take close look for the return instructions): Not too often can we include photos from truck stop men's room.
On the way over to Swope on Sat morning, we did pass by a bar in KC called "Buddies Bar" where we're pretty sure that you can get yourself a... stiff drink. Make sure to check it out. We arrived to find a great spot for the tent, and low and behold, we were able to set up our tent next to the other St. Louis group: Just enough space. It was there that we connected with The Holtmans, Strove on his 17.5lb road bike and Val, Christine and her partner, Dave Hagen, and Keith Weinkein. We had a good mix of true east-side jerks, however it was most unfortunate to realize that we were the only ones whom had made the trek over. To miss this race was truly a missed opportunity to be able to experience the quality trails at Swope. But more on that later.
We also got to make new allies in our fight against the sand. For example, the Singlespeed Pirate was there to show us how to effectively flush out any sand: Getting to see Rich Anderson, who regularly snaps Storm and I's wrists, as he creaked his way past camp:
One by one, the laps ticked by as the trails got more and more dry (it had 1.5 inches of rain the night before) and the trails became we reveled in the "mild" temperatures, and even had humidity that was at levels lower than the usual "Missouri Men's Bath-house Sauna Room" humidity levels. Those be some steamy bath-houses, by the way. We were also reveling in the trails that we were riding, which had this effect on those unaccustomed to such difficulty:
Stories of flat tires, over-the-bar excursions, and chaffed t'aints were rolling in faster than Criss Angel to an Altar Boy Training Camp. Of course, wrecks are like sodomy - all fun and games until it happens to someone on your team. And on Masson's 2nd lap, he had an involuntary dismount. He rolled in as we passed the baton: Turns out that he was in some serious pain after going down harder than Criss Angel on Violent J from ICP. It left this souvenir on his top tube: Here is what I envisioned Masson's wreck to be like:
(That's right, two TNG references in one post.)
I was out on course, ducking my head to get past "Headache," getting in a full-body workout as I cleared the "8-Pin Alley" section, blasting through Nate's section, up and over "Marci's Playground," past "Faceplant," and then holding my nose through the Dead Hooker Zone before emerging at the staging area, to find The Tropical Storm in some pain, and since we were pretty well behind, and since a lot of our 3-hour buddies had just finished and were drinking PBR tall-boys, I pulled the plug as well, happy in the snapping of the trail's wrist that we inflicted. (There may be a fairly large impact crater where Masson landed, so to the trail builders, we're sorry.)
All was not lost, as we had some *very* good conversations with the good friends, and the Swope brain-childs, who have some shit in the works that will blow your mind. And not just cool trail design, but an expansive urban trail network, the likes of which have not been seen in the Midwest, or really anywhere else in the country. As my vision became slightly less focused, we cheered as the remaining 6-hour soldiers man-training their way in and out of the staging area.
At that same time, we also watched the 3-hour podiums. Team Seagal Allies, Nick and Keith, got 2nd and 3rd in their respective 3-Hour age classes - here we see the two in a photo entitled, "Two Guys One Cup:"
Our own Harlan Banks, AKA Nad, not only won the 3 Hour SS class, (there wasn't anyone else in it, btw) but he also put in the fastest fucking 3 hour lap, and therefore winning the overall 3-hour Solo dude class! Here you see him drinking on the podium, with Nick in 4th, as per his contract with our team: Nice fucking work, jork.
Fortunately, the dead hooker was found, and brought back to safety by a caring racer: That was one hellafied sleazy trail section, brah.
Jerktown USA, population - 3:
Peat hasn't even signed the drinking-on-the-podium contract, but honors it nonetheless since he took 3rd in the 6hr solo 20-29 class:
Right back atcha, Burnsey:
One thing that separates mountain bikers from roadies, is the amount of beer at the event. There was more Boulevard, Tallgrass, and of course, PBR than one could shake a baby at. It was after the race was over that many things were revealed to us, specifically the existence of this belt buckle (please don't look at it the photo if it offends you): There was another one somewhere involving a blow-up doll being violated, but that may have to wait for some other time. I'd actually like to take this moment to personally apologize to C-Dubs for discussing and showing this photo, as I know that his more conservative, older-generation sensibilities might have trouble with it.
It didn't take long before our hunger got the better of us, and we craved some serious meat. Good thing we were in KC, for if you go to KC and don't get some barbecue, then you must be one of 2 things - a vegetarian/vegan, or you like dudes; in which case, you still get meat, am I right? Anyway, so before leaving, I transferred my crap over to the Steve/Peat/Val/Dave/Holtman caravan, where we headed to Gates BBQ. Masson and Harlan were headed back to StL, but not before going to Arthur Bryant's. My proof of being at Gates, as my memory of this isn't too reliable:
Sore undercarriages finally getting some rest, I tried to convince my companions to let me stop at Buddie's bar for some true relaxation, but they weren't having any of it. So instead, we stopped at Wendy's for ice cream and then headed to the hotel. Speaking of Wendy's, I am once again puzzled by strange fast food signage, this time involving a Wendy's sign(s):
The next day we awoke to begin the rest of the journey over to Truman Lake, where we would surely get to be impressed with the state of Missouri singlespeeding, all coming out at the chance to be crowned the Missouri Singlespeed Champion. Seen while on the way to the race:
Unfortunately, there were only about 30 people there, and that includes a handful of geared dudes for the geared class. Fortunately, last year's Missouri Singlespeed Wrestling Champion, Nick Smith (of was that Mr. Jenkins?) was there, and he brought a healthy man train of Red Wheel jerks, such as Stoney, Turbo, and Chris Bopp, all of whom were looking completely devoid of any sand. Unstoppable force Garrett Steinmetz also stopped by, since he didn't get to finished the Spoke Pony on account of a frame that had its wrist snapped.
Despite the lackluster turn-out, the riding was fierce and the weather was amaz0rz. The trail, while not offering the same level of technical challenges that we found at Swope (but then, not much does) DID offer much in the way of fast descents, tight turns, and the ability to settle into a groove and keep it all day. Well, that is until the newly-constructed section, with it's soft ground, sucked your soul out of your nose, ate it, and then shit it back out onto the ground for you to pick up on the next lap. Churning out 50-52 minute laps, I found myself feeling much better than I expected, and even managed to choo-choo past a couple of people. However, those gains were wiped away with a double flat tire, 10 minutes from the end of the race. Oh well, that's what I get for using the same tires I was using last year at this time.
It was a fun race, regardless of how many people showed up. Although things like this remind you how much mountain bike racing can, at times, be like an individual time trial. It was also here where I was reminded that there are, in fact, still people that like Nickelback, and will take offense to your assertions (or as I like to think of them, factual statements) that the band purpose is simply to serve as a warning to others. I mean, it's not too often that people will actually pay to attend a concert just so they can throw shit at them. (Sorry Dave, I just love making fun of them too much.)
After eating at a suitable restaurant, El Camino, Peat showed his battle wounds from the weekend's festivities:
Anyway, this weekend was a blast, between mountain bike racing, cool people, beer, eating BBQ - how much better can a weekend get?
-Casey F. Ryback