Spring Training and The 2011 Sedona Big Friggin' Loop

Good day and salutations. Your author today is Nico Toscani, it is great to have you back in our little corner of the internets. If you have got a minute to spare I encourage you to stick around because there is a great tale to be told...

Would it surprise you to learn that two of your Team Seagal heroes have just returned home from a fantastik re-alignment of Jerkitude?  Stove and I felt strongly it was time to bail, time to hit the road in an airplane and jump to the other side of the USA.  Our Dr. Friend called and we answered.  Battle plans were dispatched and two Jerks from Missouri were dispensed to The Grand Canyon State.

An early A.M. departure from STL ensured we would indeed view Dr. Wesley McLaren in the AZ Desert by high noon.  Ohh man, what a sight he was.  Dr. handled all of our arrangements with the skill of a 5-star hotel concierge.  He prepared quite a ride, Stove and I just had to jump aboard and take in the sights. 

First stop, Prescott (Press-kit), AZ.  The home town of Dr. McLaren.  Two days of cruising local forest singletrack between 5,000- 7,000 ft with the Doc left us very hungry for Mexican food and malted beverages.  We indulged frequently and began to focus our intense attention squarely upon the real task at hand... CRUSHING the SBFL.   In addition, we documented our progress:


Continuing forthward, the Team Seagal Locomotive clamored on down the track. Across the Verde Valley, a mere 57 miles to the north of Prescott was our second stop; Sedona, AZ.  Taco, Stove, Dr., Mrs. Dr., and Your Author arrived as the sun set the evening before the race. We chose a super area to set-up our campsite, very nicely equipped with jumbo fire-ring and large cacti (for security). Tubed meats were warmed and canned beverages were put into our faces.  We all joined hands and Dr began to read from his ancient Chinese scroll...

Soon, a giant Vortex appeared.  Swirling wildly and spewing energy throughout the desert landscape, the vortex was intimidating. Dr. was courageous to step forward and inspect the beast he had summoned.  Satisfied with its power, Dr. Wes beckoned us to come closer. "Follow my lead," he called.  Dr. then entered the vortex, t'aint first.  One by one we followed, leaving Taco behind to guard the tubed meats.

Holy shit. The Sedona Vortex we entered for the next 48 hours was positively mind-blowing. Your Author considers himself extremely fortunate to have been there.  The race course laid out before us was a true t'aint buster on paper; let me tell you that meeting it face-to-face was a real treat. We aligned with two bad-ass dudes while returning enemy fire early on in the day. Otley and Jimmy, both fine examples of Jerkitude, hitched up to our charging locomotive and surely their lives were changed for the better as a result. The five of us each made the SBFL our bitch, we offer up the following images as proof that we had a kick-ass time:

Ohh man, that there was some good shit.  We flipped a bitch and headed south across the Verde Valley back towards Prescott. Doc had us home by noon so we returned to the local trails to conduct another dirt parade.  We climbed to the top of the venerable 396 trail and then followed D to the R down some twisty doubletrack to a remote mountain-top subdivision. Second house on the left was the new McLaren residence, Dr. had brought us to see his amazorz cabin in the woods:

Our luck with spring-like weather ran out the following day.  A cold front blew in from the west and steady rain turned to snow.  

Unfortunately, riding trail was out of the question.  Instead we went to a breakfast buffet:

Next, Doc took us to the bar that gives you 2 fer 1 drinks:

Then we made a stop by the Liquor Deli and headed for home:  

Mrs. Doktor prepared sweet potato enchiladas for supper:

The five of us crushed everything and went to sleep very drunk on AZ.  We woke the next morning and promptly returned ourselves to Missouri. That's it, vacation is OVER!

Thanks for stopping by,



Good Times on the OT

Greetings, Jorks. What a fantastic day of weather, we had today. Quite a Monday, if there ever was one. So what are 9 dudes supposed to do in the woods together on a day like this? Why, ride the Ozark Trail, of course. So yes, I along with the Tropical Storm, Jason, T-Tocs, Mash0r, and our good friends Pat, Nick, and Caleb set our crosshairs on the Council Bluff boat launch, and launched a full-frontal assault. Our plan was to ride from the boat launch and connect to Middlefork while doing the gravel out and riding the singletrack back.

And so it was, a plan more elegant than a poodle taking a shit. We met, and were on the trail before long. However, we didn't leave before discussing Criss Angel's newest magic trick - one which rather than making something disappear, he made something *appear* and then stick around. In this case, it he would make the semen appear on his chin, and then keep it there long enough to have people think it is a miracle, and then come to worship.

As the "Orient Express" rolled up, having camped at a super-secret location the night before and getting in a CB night lap, it was quite clear that they were extra anxious to get back into the woods:

As the Middlefork Man Train rolled out of the station with me as the "bro"-comotive, we settled into a steady pace around the shores of Council Bluff Lake. My muscle memory almost got the best of me as I almost turned onto the bridge to complete the CB loop. However, disaster was averted as I caught my shit at the last minute and we didn't miss a step on the transition to the Telleck Connector. We found that connector, and the short section of Trace Creek to be marvelous, save for a couple of choc0late Jello Pudding puddles. The switch-backed climb up to the DD/32 parking lot was especially hard on our t'aints, but nevertheless, we crested that peak in short time, and were able to stop to see the recently-installed-but-not-quite-completed-and-soon-to-be-dedicated memorial to a true champion of mountain bikers in the OTA, the late John Roth:
It'll be like the mountain biker's version of the old StLCC monuments out on Old Manchester Road, which have been talked about a bunch lately.

Crossing 32, we left the highest point on the trail for the longest descent of our ride, where we would then hop on the gravel:

Descending down that hill, I was going so fast, that I thought I might have been on an Elliptigo:

As it turns out, I was just on my badass Kona Big Unit, accompanied by none other than Randy "Big Unit" Johnson:
It was pretty evident who had the advantage on the gravel road that descended alongside the creek - anyone with derailleurs. We journeyed past the house which now has 6 dogs to chase us, and came to the tailings pond creek, where we took a deserved break before slogging up the steepest climb out there. At this point, we really started to feel the heat of the day - a welcome heat after months of riding with thermal clothing. The sweat was rolling down our brows in the 80+ degree sun as we cockpunched the climbs, and shredded the descents. After a few of Ozark hills, we came to Barton Fen where we started on probably the second longest climb of the day, and as you can see, was also recently included in a controlled burn:

On Middlefork, the climbs keep going, and happen one right after another. As I was climbing from one of the gravel road crossings, I looked up in a haze of climbing-induced delirium, only to see Mash0r having taken an elevated sniper's position just up ahead, no doubt hoping to eliminate some competition for this year - instinctively I reached for my sidearm, but at the last moment grabbed the camera for instead, in order to have record of my killer. I soon realized he was not out to kill me, yet, but rather to snap a photo. Whew.

Coming over that hill, it felt great, as I knew that we were getting closer to the waterfall, where we would stop for more water and food. It can be really hard to keep eating food when riding in the heat, especially when you know you have to wash it down with ever-warming water in your hydration pack. Even little creek splashes like this were a welcome sensation - when only a month ago, it would have brought serious concerns regarding the warmth of my feet:

The last couple of descents before crossing the last gravel road and climbing back up to Hwy 32 were a real blast - super twisty with more flow than Nate Dogg, RIP. I was surprised at the pace that I kept on the ascent to Hwy 32, but I think that I must have blown my wad - because after descending from the DD/32 trailhead to South Trace and climbing the one hill on South Trace before descending to the Telleck Connector, it was all I could do to simply stay upright on that last climb. Of course, my speed felt even slower, as I let Caleb go past me at the base of that climb at which point he was basically in full sprint and out of sight within 15-20 seconds. Damn! I think I felt his accelerations affecting the Earth's rotation, there was so much power.

I was the last person to roll in from the train of dudes that rode the trail back from DD/32 to the boat launch, while the rest choo-choo'd their way down the pavement. Our buddy Pat was a little too euphoric from all the badass-ness that had been crammed down his throat by that trail, and had to hang out at the DD/32 trailhead for a bit as he got a grip on reality. Totally understandable, given the level of enlightenment which he achieved that day.

You can tell that Middlefork has been getting a fair amount of traffic this year already, as we saw a handful of tread marks already there. Traffic from both cyclists, and from trail volunteers - the trail had ZERO overgrowth (not out of the ordinary for this time of year,) but it also does not look to be getting much this year either! I think there was only one tree over which to dismount. Another thing we saw was a "witness tree" and I don't think I was the only person wondering WTF that was. Another glorious day in the woods, as we look forward to the first event of the year, whatever that may end up being.

Garmin Link:


-Casey F. Ryback

P.S. MFXC grows closer every day. Are you ready?



2011MFXC Non Racer Start List

1) Nico Toscani SS
2) Steve Friedman SS
3) Peat Henry SS
4) Cock Puncher SS
5) Lisa Troehler F
6) Craig Thrasher SS
7) Rob Ballou M
8) Marc Engelhardt M
9) Jason Pryor M
10) Scott Peipert M
11) Todd Davenport SS
12) Joshua Stockwell SS
13) Randy Anderson SS
14aka69) Chris Wurster SS
15) Jeff Yielding M
16) Team Breslin SS
17) Karl Kimbel SS
18) Barry Volmer SS
19) Nick Smith SS
20) Sasha Petrosevich F
21) Dan Bruns SS
22) Matt Hayes SS
23) Bob Jenkins M
24) Sarah Worthington F
25) Christopher Connolly M
26) Giovanni Fondolinni M
27) Bryan Adams SS
28) Chris Davis SS
30) Jason Zoll SS
31) Tom Lauria M
32) Craig Seibert M
33) Matt Stacey M
34) Stephen Venters SS
35) Dan Dougan M
36) Gabrielle Renner F
37) John Lake M
38) Tom Marsh M
39) Al Ebert M
40) Mike Barro SS
41) Joshua Clark M
42) Josh Picker M
43) Jon Donjoian SS
44) David Smith M
45) Chris Smentkowsky M
46) Brad Wadlow M
47) Larry Koester SS
48) Scott Nelson SS
49) Trail Bling SS
50) Matt James M
51) Mary Piper F
52) Matthew Ochs SS
53) Todd Holtman M
54) Karen Holtman F
55) Keaton Haire SS
56) John Jones SS
57) Chris McRae M
58) Caleb Hulsey M
59) Travis Hammons M

16 spots left, last day to send you postcards to me is March 28 2011. Go HERE for the deets! If you are one of the lucky 59 you should recieve some top secret awesome shit in the mail by this time next week, and if your not on the list and your not Brian Shoemaker....whats wrong wit u?


Mason Storm


From the Team Seagal History and Culture Dept.

Greetings, Team Seagal loyalists. If you've ridden westward in the last...90 years or so, you might have found yourself asking yo'self, "What's going on with those cuh-razy tombstone-like monuments roadside out in West County?" I, along with seemingly lots of people recently, found myself wondering that as well. Just look at our recent Death By Hills ride, or recent discussions over on StLBiking.

So after gathering one of my favorite 2-liters and having a fairly lengthy conversation with Energor, he revealed many truths to me. One of those truths being the reason behind the stone at Pond Rd. and Old Manchester engraved with name of William Butler. And by revealed, I mean I looked into, among other things, some old StLCC archives from the Missouri History Museum, and got copies of some important stuff.

These are photographs of photo copies, and I've left them in their high-res state, so you can read them more easily. The first one essentially is a memorial statement for Mr. William M. Butler, who had recently passed away, and had been a long-time member. In reading this, you understand how important he had been to the club, and why they erected a monument to him at a spot to where the club made regular weekend runs.

This document, minutes from a meeting on November 10 1921, mentions their discussion about the placement of the monument at "County Line Hill" also acting as a "suitable momento for our friend Victor Smith." Whereas I know that William Butler was a Club member and i saw his name on most of the rosters for the weekly club runs and rides, it is unclear to me as to whether Victor Smith was actually a Club member or not. They also discuss a "suitable resolution to be written and presented to the Smith Family." Read the paragraph 3rd from the bottom.

These are minutes from a meeting on April 12, 1923 where they discuss dedicating the "next stone monument" to Mr. Butler, and a further suggestion to erect another monument in Forest Park near some old "pump" that was apparently at the time, a significant feature of the park. I read in later meetings that the cost of this monument was to expensive to make it with a bronze plate attached to it, but I would like to know more about whether that monument was ever put there. I suppose I first need to know what old pump they are referring to. It was in the meeting that the decide to write the resolution in the first photograph above.

This document shows the minutes from a meeting on Nov. 9, 1922 and about halfway down, they discuss the objects that were supposed to have been put in a "steel vault" below the monument at Hill Town which out *near* the current intersection of Chesterfield Parkway and Olive. (Although for the *precise* location, contact Diogenes on the StlBiking message board.) I've hear that nothing was actually found below that monument when it was moved from that spot.

Apparently it was quite a big deal when they erected these monuments, with an actual ceremony, with cyclists coming in fairly large numbers to come out and spend the day. There is a handwritten account of the ceremonies for the Setting of the monument placed on "Frisco Hill" down in Jefferson County. It was "one of the most notable events in cycling for a number of years, (and) caused real enthusiasm to prevail."

These dudes were the real deal. They would ride out to these points (among many others) from downtown, usually leaving from the Blair Monument in Forest Park, or from Tower Grove Park. Riding all day on dirt roads with no services, they would often times arrange to eat and stay overnight at an Inn such as the old Wildwood Inn next to the Butler monument on Old Manchester Rd, and then return on Sunday. 60-90 miles in a trip. House Springs, Cedar Hill, Desoto, Kimmswick, Ellisville, Alton, St. Charles, even Farmington were all accessible to these dudes.

There's more to come, because there is a lot of stuff share. St. Louis, while not a haven for cyclists like Portland or California, has a history with bicycles going back as long as the bicycle itself. The first bicycle *race* in St. Louis was held back in the 1870's, by the turn of the century the Forest Park Bicycle Race would literally gather crowds by the 10's of thousands, and cyclists/cycling groups had a very real impact on getting streets paved and improved.

Oh, and 5 more people have been infected with the Team Seagal virus. There is no known cure, however symptoms may include wearing team race kits and being extra jerky.

Thanks to Jim Murray, StLCC Prez for his help and info!

-Casey F. Ryback