A Crotch in Illinois

Greetings, Team Seagal fans. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my inability to be present at the (postponed) Broemmelsiek proceedings this Sunday, I was forced to procure other plans for a day's worth of riding over the weekend. And I had recently read a lengthy account from 1923 of a "tour" that the StL. Cycling Club had taken through Calhoun County. In that account, they spoke of quiet, pristine farms, undulating roads, and lots of euphoria. And with myself having briefly passed through there once before, I knew they weren't fibbing. So I decided that I needed to conquer that land in the name of Team Seagal.

If you don't know where this place is, it is essentially just across the river from Grafton, IL. If you have ever done a "two-ferry" ride stretching from IL into St. Charles County, then you have most likely passed through it - seen here. Bordered by the Illinois and Mississippi river, there is almost zero traffic.

I enlisted a trio of indigenous tribesmen to help me lay down a reign of terror over the narrow county, and neighboring Jersey county. 3 strapping young lads - Jason, Justin, and Nick were manning the forward cannons laying down suppressive fire and piloting the Pain Train, while I was in the lower level shoveling coal on the fire to keep it burning hot.

Our landing zone, or LZ, was in Grafton. We were quickly on our plastic horses, but before going to the ferry, we were first to take a loop inland a little bit, namely up Graham Hallow Rd in the first 10 minutes. That certainly punched my legs in the face. But once we were on high ground, the terrain rolled along pleasantly before we plunged into another valley, myself reaching 48mph (on a twisty descent I'd never been on) while Jason broke well into the 50's. I quickly slammed a Mountain Dew before we hit the another hill, the top of which I could not see until I was rolling over it.

Not many photos to speak of at this point, as we were man-training at an unstoppable pace, until we circled back around into Pere Marquette State Park, where they introduced me to Army Road, which has to be one of the coolest road descents in the greater St. Louis Metro Area - even better than Woods Rd.

Soon, we were at the Brussels Ferry, the landing of which was being over-run with some soda-thirsty bugs:

The ferry boat captain was most certainly an expert at snapping the wrist of the river - he coaxed that ferry from landing to landing as well as Criss Angel coaxes underage dudes into his van. Yeah, he was good.

Riding away from the ferry onto the roads of Calhoun County, I was regaled with many a not-so-tall tale of the God of Alton, and the ease of which he smashes all that stand before him. And this was even despite his age. One thing I learned on this trip was that in Illinois, you seemingly get faster and more locomotive-like as you get older. What a weird land this was.

We choo-choo'd down quiet country roads, past countless apple orchards and corn fields, past southern-plantation-style farms, and finally resting on a hilltop:

I allowed my guides remote access to the Team Seagal supercomputer, which we were able to use to plot out the next leg of our journey. This took us to the Golden Eagle Country Store, which I quickly learned was friendly ground:

After refilling with fizzy fountain drinks and homemade brownies, we got back on board the Pain Train: ...where we loaded back onto the ferry and started the last leg.

And by last leg, I'm referring to Springfield Road. "Hey, we gotta show the Coach Springfield Road - my Garmin registered 29% last time!" Not being one to back down from a stupid-painful hill, despite my 215lb body, I said "yeah, fuck that hill - let's go do it." So we reached the bottom of it, and my first thought was actually "Damn, it's a good thing I got a haircut two days ago so I don't have to carry all that extra weight up this mother fucker..." Then I took this photo: After you round the corner at the top of this shot, it flattens out to a false-flat of only 18%, then kicks back up to finish off whatever is left of your legs. Cresting the top of the hill, I was glad to know that all we had to do was roll our way over to Rte 3 where we would descend like exhausted madmen for like 2 straight miles back to our cars.

And thus ended my stay in that foreign land. I found their people to be hospitable, and their roads to be smooth-ish. Two things are for sure: it isn't as flat as you'd think, and we need to launch a full-fledged Seagal Assault onto Calhoun County, and push the boundaries of our known lands further north into the hill country, where we will keep the tradition of crushing the roads on a bike alive.

From my handlebar:

We crushed it like this "Strapping Young Lad:"

-Casey F. Ryback


Only in Illinois.

It's no live squirrel in a cage, but a it's still pretty amusing. How much shit do you have to cram into a full size van to the point where you can't fit a unicycle inside?

Prepare for the Lost Valley Luau this Sunday, as there will be more pain dished out than you evar thought possible from that trail. We'll be there, so be extra nice and we'll go easy on yer wrists. This will be almost as epic as this:

-Casey F. Ryback


Secret Western Recon

Greetings Loyal Team Seagal believers. Due to the looming battle to be waged this coming weekend on the shores of Landahl Park Reserve, the Brass up at Team Seagal HQ dispatched orders for some recon of those trails to be done before the race. And so, Scroll-Master Orin Boyd and I, Casey F. Ryback, answered the call by rendezvousing, loading up the Crotch-mobile, and heading west.

Our plan was to meet up with one of local resistance, our good friend Nick, and his guard dog, "The Pre-nis." He gave us a place to crash and also filled us in on the most up-to-date intel on the trail "sitch." We devised a plan: Crush Landahl in the morning, then stuff our food-holes with the closest food, and then a second counter-assault within the confines of Swope Park. It would be Landahl as teh main course, and Swope for dessert. Maybe with a jenkem snack thrown in as well.

Now I have ridden Landahl numerous times over the years at various races, however I was very excited to get a chance to find out what the story was at Swope - a place about which I had heard many good things. Turns out, those dudes in KC are not doing a good enough job of hyping up the place. But then, it's so good that it is probably impossible to over-hype it. Just thinking about being able to ride Swope Park had me as excited as Criss Angel walking through a cucumber farm.

After settling in at Nick's encampment, we stopped a local donuttery where we procured confectionery provisions that would give us the sugar-high we would need to be able to properly get out day started right. And let me tell you, an apple fritter from Lamar's is like a personal pan pizza. It's fucking massive.

I have as of recently been battling a saddle sore that somewhat resembles Kuato from Total Recall: I Only WISH it was Kuato on my t'aint, because at least then instead of just causing extreme discomfort, he could impart upon me some crazy telepathic planet-saving truth-bombs. Instead, I just slathered some Desitin on him. ...er, it.

We arrived at the Argo Road trailhead/blast-furnace where we got our shit together, and then proceeded to shove off. Making our way in great trail conditions in a somewhat counter-clockwise fashion, we discovered a small-yet enjoyable loop named Tasty Goodness that tempted us with lots of extra lines and large drops that would surely distract us from the ultimate goal of crushing out more trail. Orin stands here, peering over the edge of one such drop:

We backtracked up a bit so that we could do one of my favorite things: a rim job, which as it turns out, would be part of the upcoming race loop. Seen on that loop:

True to Landahl form, the trails ripped and the trees were narrow. I managed to squeeze through with roughly the same amount of effort that Criss Angel uses when playing Red Rover at the local boys boarding school:

Orin was not as lucky, on account of his bike's massive wingspan:

After performing a flawless rim job, we continued onto Will's Wanderer, fresh with water-draining additions. And seeing as how that trail flows like a waterslide, we then splashed out into the field where we stopped at the car for some fluids. The heat was definitely on our minds, and we might have been a little delirious, as we had some conversations with a couple of penguins before we realized they were just painted:

But a couple hours sweating in the heat wasn't enough, so the sweaty man-train left the station one more time for lap two. This time we headed straight back for the stretch called "Swedish Erotica," which had been declared a favorite thing of Nick's. Back and forth (or in-and-out) on that trail, and it was time for a full-race lap, which we surely completed in an expert-class-winning time. Orin was certainly impressed with the quality of the trails at Landahl, and his mind was later even further blown when he realized that given all that, we hadn't even ridden 1/2 of what that park has to offer. (So you know what that means...)

Still, having done around 24 miles at Landahl, we decided it was time to leave a little bit in the tank for Round 2 later that day. But not before stopping in at Subway for fresh provisions. At about that time (exact time has been classified,) we contacted other members of the mountain bike resistance, who would aid us in our attempt to conquer the KC trails. Codenamed "Sarah" and "Jesse," we would be meeting them at Swope Park's trailhead for some further guidance in our quest for trail knowledge.

The wrecking crew:

Swope Park. I'll start off by saying that I'm just glad that it's on the Missouri side of Kansas City, that way my home state can lay claim to it. I'll also say that is one of the most shockingly badass trails I've ever ridden, this side of the Rockies. Reminding me of all the best technical parts of Klondike and Chubb laid out on topography similar to Roller Coaster, and all crammed into 10 miles (so far). With multiple loops to choose from, each loop offers a *very* diverse set of challenges: from "gravity-friendly" playgrounds, to wide/fast sweeping turns that dare you to test your tire's side knobs by not touching your brakes, to 1/2 mile technical sections that won't let you sit down, but will have you grinning the whole time. The trail designers managed to help you forget the elevation change and just focus on the next challenge by taking advantage of switchbacks and gradually taking the trails up the hills. As you crawl over all the carefully-placed boulders and start to notice all the different "technical line options," you start to realize just how much effort and work went into this freaking place. I can think of several people (*cough cough* Mash0r cough*) that would be as giddy as Criss Angel in a boys choir locker room when riding this place. For example, while we were packing up, two dudes rolled up on trials bikes.

So in conclusion, expect a healthy Team Seagal Strike Force at the KC Cup, to be held at Swope later this year.

After dropping Nick off, we thanked him for his hospitality in providing us soldier's quarters, and he was able to drop another load... of information onto us. That is, the place to stuff our faces before the journey home - that place was d'Bronx Pizza. No matter that they were closing up, they still sold us several pounds of pizza, and pretty much gave us the cookies and beverages. The writing was on the wall: that place fucking rocks.

Even though our day was coming to an end, my knowledge was still expanding, as I found a new use for one of our esteemed sponsors. The Simple Strap, which has almost as many uses as duct tape, just found another one: Keeping the cranks from spinning when bikes are on the roof-rack.

With almost 40 miles of sweaty but 100% mechanical-free badass riding, our stealthy night-journey back to the East was smooth sailing and awesormz.

And speaking of speaking of sponsors, look what just arrived from Velocity: It won't be long before these Blunt SL rims will be locked and loaded, as one more weapon in our arsenal, in which it will be used to "Crush our enemies, and hear the lamentations of their women."

If you haven't ridden Swope or Landahl, it IS worth the drive.

-Casey Fucking Ryback


Our Mantra

Greetings. When we're out there, in the heat of battle, there is only one thing that we must keep in mind. That is what is best in life:

-Casey F. Ryback