Greetings. My name is Coach, and, well, I like to party.
Waking up Sunday, there was a certain "misery" in the air. The miserable stench of a bleak, Flemish existence that could do only one thing: lead us on high to catch a glimpse of certain glory. And what better place to that then the Mt. Pleasant winery! Now this place is known for being a horrific, lower-back wrenching climb-fest. And approaching today, you could certainly come to a reasonable conclusion that this would be the case again. Well, you would be right again this year... to a certain extent. But there would be another variable added into the equation - slop!
Only a select few people braved the weather and conditions, but this year, that seems to have been somewhat typical of the field sizes anyway. Let's just say that the turnouts as of late have been putting the "weak" into "weekend racing." (It's there - just move the letters around.) But that didn't keep the sideline from being very active, and helping to provide "crucial" motivation to those balls deep into the sloppy mess of a course. And even though we were providing them with life-giving PBR, or Alf's favorite drink (Coors), there may have been a Merlot or Norton hand-up given at some point.
It was glorious - I signed up early, thinking and hoping that I might end up being the only Singlespeeder there and would take first place by default, however those hopes were dashed when I came across my teammate and fellow singlespeeder Eric. Those hopes were dashed much like when Criss Angel walks into the boys shower room and dashes the hopes of all the boys hoping to not have sore B-holes that day. Utterly crushing.
Helping to set up the course, in the rain, the overall lay-out was a little more side-stepping of the hillside this year. Despite much in the way of off-camber turns, the usual twists and turns kept our attention, especially since the ground was becoming more and more slippery as the day went on, more drizzling rain fell, and more racers sheared off the top layer of grass and soil. There was one climb that made me feel like Bolo getting punched by Van Damne:
Spied during our race (All photos courtesy of Mike Dawson):
The neutral start down the pavement was essentially just a slower version of the hole-shot, at which point when the pavement ended it was game on, with a very smooth power delivery, lest you be needlessly spinning your wheels. The first lap was a learning experience for many of us as we all slid out at some point, however I did my duty by slowly picking people off in a reverse manner, finishing squarely at the back of the whole race where I wouldn't cause any problems. It was only a few laps from the end that the cold rain finally worked it's way through all of my clothing and I felt my warm sweat-soaked clothing slowly turn into cold mud-soaked clothing. But my superior attitude and superior state of mind embraced it and I burnt up all my hate-fueled vengeance to finish the race warm. Peat the Awesome and Eric the Jerk were free to fly and cause some serious "wristal" damage. Damage they did - after lapping me, Eric went on to finish in first place with Peat in 2nd!
It was good to see a good showing by the elusive South City Cycling Club including Al, Tom and Jeff - having last intermixed with their ranks at Burnin', their mustaches were notably absent, though truly, their badassery was not.
After our race was finished, I went and joined in the heckling ranks alongside esteemed Hub Overlord Ron, Brian "G.S." Busken and several other to cheer on Tyler "Fiery Hatred" Bicknese, whom I believe is secretly a vocalist for a hardcore death metal band. The band is probably named "Bearded Furiousity." Caleb was also in that race, borrowing a bike, and was the crowd favorite by executing proper form and riding the huge climb every time and staying upright in front of the peanut gallery. I was also glad to see the guy on the Scattante bike, and even though it's a mail-orde bike, I like it because it has the words "scat" and "t'ant" in the name. Which accurately describes it.
The B Race did a great job of furthering to prepare the course for the A's, whom would would be racing on a ground surface that was the equivalent of a peep show floor, it was so slippery. The stage was set for epicnicity:
We had quite a battle going for a while between the newly-crowned King Of Columbia - The Professor: ...Butthead and Logan, with Professor taking an early lead, only to see that lead slip due to recurring problems with his rear brake. And on a course like this, having both brakes would be slightly advantageous. Seeing Professor struggling with his braking situation had me wondering if we'd see a StL native LvB ride his Fuji all the way to victory, as he managed to pull out a good respectable gap on the field. I knew things were going awry when seeing him wipe out at least once or twice, and then fading back, only to see his chances at victory dissappear from view when he... uh, quit. That left Butthead to lead the charge up Mt. Pleasant with a front-of-the-A-race newcomber in tow - D-Wayne:
I wasn't sure he'd be able to pull ahead, simply for one reason - you can't win a cyclocross race if you're going to smile the whole time like you're actually having a good time. PAIN FACE! That being said, he never was more than 10 seconds behind Butthead - no small feat. The crowd watched as their rear wheels most awesomely churned the mud, a rare sight in a StL CX race. Professor rode the rest of the race dueling with Devin, whose beard is well on it's way to achieving "grifter" status. As the race grew long, we all realized that it must be getting tough to keep riding up those huge climbs, so the superfans and I decided that they might need extra help. Extra help = running along side them up the hill while yelling and blowing my yellow horn right in their faces.
No one was spared - TK chose wisely by riding his gold-plated 29'r and made the slick stuff seem easy. However, it was even more amazing to see the dudes with tires 1/2 the width ride the slick shit just the same - Roland Sallinger might as well have been been on a 4 stroke the way he motored around the course, unable to ride only one spot. Roland may not have won the race, but he was the cleanest jerk out there - nary a wipe out. Impressive. For a fucking jerk.
It was too bad to not see Hermann CX God Jeff Yielding make it this year, as I just *know* he would have been like a kid in a candy store in these conditions. OOOweee.
I think we learned something yesterday. CX races are a lot like cheap hookers when they're wet and sloppy - it doesn't look very inviting or seem like a good idea beforehand, but once you're started and shit starts flyin', it is just plain fun and you want to do it again. And you have to take a long, scalding hot shower afterwards.
-Casey F. Ryback
P.S. This is what I think of, each time I see Nad sign his last name:
P.P.S. Will someone get Casey Saunders a handlebar and/or helmet mirror?
PIZZA TIME ADDITION
Go read this post. If you like to have fun of any type you should (Except for the type of fun Chris Angel likes to have, he is not welcome). If you expect a void in your life that will need some awzormness this december, check out this post.
Check out this post!