2011 Tall Oak Challenge - A True Jerk-off!

Greetings, Team Seagal Fans! Whenever you get such a varied group of jerks in one place, all competing against each other, it truly becomes a jerk-off. And such was the case this weekend at Binder Lake, where there was an excellent showing from Missouri's most talented racers. The Duo class was stacked this year, with at least 4 teams with having a shot at the win. And let us not forget the Mario Van Peebles class, which also wasn't fucking around. Your heroes (us) sent a solid showing of soldiers into battle, all of which came out unscathed and completely victorious.

This is one of the races that is highly anticipated every year, because it is superbly run, there is plenty of food available, the trails are very rewarding and well-maintained, and despite the lake, there isn't a triathlete anywhere in sight. I know that I was heavily distraught when it looked to me as though I would not be able to attend this year, the first time in like four years. Fortunately, my world got "flip-turned upside down," and with a quick power-business phone call, I was back on track. No problem, brah.

And so it was, our lineup was to be Professor, Gino Felino and Orin Boyd going Mario Van Peebles style, and myself (Casey F. Ryback) teaming up with my co-worker, Marc, in the Duo/Man-Train class.

In the Crotch-Express was of course myself, Boyd, and Marc, and we were cutting our travel time pretty tight, but thankfully we did manage to make a quick stop at a gas station that has the greatest hand-dryer on the market: Whenever you see one of those, you know that your hands will be at least as dry as Criss Angel's throat after a week in Vegas.

Not long after that stop though, we had an unplanned stop, but one of Missouri's Finest, who wasn't too pleased at my chosen speed. However, he had apparently pulled over plenty of other racers on their way to Jeff City, as he knew about the race. He was also interested to hear more about Team Seagal, so I took a minute to give him the abridged summary of our team's storied history, and a brief summarization of our constitution and by-laws. At that point, he was understandably intimidated, so he let me off with a much smaller ticket that can be taken care of over the phone. But since we hadn't planned on a second stop, we were now unsure as to whether we'd make it to the start line on time.

No problem, bing bang boom, and I'm filling my water bottle up as the Nick's Dad's antique rifle was shot off, signaling the start of the race. So we were off on the rolling start through the woods, with the typical first-lap man-trains developing. Unfortunately, I was the caboose of one man-train in particular, wherein the guy directly in front of me was definitely not wearing his best shorts - there was a thin spot in the lycra just above his chamois, and it allowed a nearly unimpeded view of his "unblinking eye." Too late now, as at this point I can't "un-see" it, so at the final grassy climb, I jumped tracks, hit the afterburners, and choo-chooed past the group of dudes that I was tailing. None were able to hang onto the Crotch-train, and so before long I was handing over the baton to my co-hort, who set some blazin' fast times.

Most of the day I was unable to keep track of Mayor McPizza-Town, as he was off riding all the trails, non-race loops included, in the area. Orin and Professor were taking no prisoners, although unfortunately Professor had to make like a Catholic and pull out due to some unexplained pains.

The duo class was getting lit up by the top three teams who were going so fast that they were at risk of being accused of beard-doping, despite a lack of facial hair. Case in point, the knock-down drag-out man-brawl did spill Devin's blood:

The trail was in excellent shape, with many signs of recent and significant trail work having been completed. Many spots had been re-routed to make for smoother, more sustainable turns, and as usual, no problems with erosion. In fact, it was so dry that it was dusty, as evidenced by my sock-line: This is the kind of trail that rewards you for taking a better line and not using your brakes. You never really get the opportunity to go so fast that you run out of gear, and so you are often in the sweet spot, and you are able to keep your effort level relatively steady. One word comes to mind: flossing. Well, that and jenkem.

Over the course of the day there were many encounters on the trail, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, and allowed passing quite well. I learn many things while on my bike, for example, I learned that Women's class superstar Gabby was using this race to train for her planned ascension onto the high euphoric plains of glory, the heights from which she will look down upon the rest of us mere mortal racers and smirk, knowing her greatness. This will all be achieved by completing her first 12 Hour Solo mission around the hallowed grounds of Council Bluff Lake on October 8th.

Of course, a good chunk of the reason to go to this races is to hang out with other truly euphoric individuals.

And what race at Binder Lake would be complete without a little authentic, mid-Missouri moonshine?
"I wouldn't pay for it, but hey..."

With the sight of moonshine, there was one thing that was next on the weekend's itinerary, and that would be the 2011 Binder Brawl, a re-match between Mr. Jenkins and Nick, the result of which would be a peak in the day's homo-eroticism. And while that was very enticing to stick around for, food was more important, so we were off. However, as we pulled onto the grass, we got stopped by an old man in a minivan who wanted to see our permits to park on the grass, claiming that his family had donated the land and they had never issued grass-parking permits. Fortunately, I wielded a large Sword of Logic, which I promptly used to snap his mind's wrist. Wasn't even really a fair fight.

We were given directions to the mexican restaurant of choice, El Jimador. The food was excellent, however the walls resembled what I believe the inside of Criss Angel's window-less van looks like:

The inside of that van looks like that after he watches this Barney and Friends video clip on his phone:
The wall-decor wasn't the only thing on display at El Jimador, however. We had an excellent conversation regarding the gentleman in the corner whose style can only be described as a mix between Kid Rock and Gary Fischer, we called him Kid Fischer. No photographic evidence was acquired of him, or of the "heavyset" gentleman behind us wearing a shirt proclaiming that "This is what awesome looks like." Well, if his shirt is true, then awesome looks like a life of increasing health problems, constant heavy breathing, and a resting heart rate of 103.

Before we leave, we must conduct a little business. If you are missing this CXmas spoke card, send us an email (see the email address at the very bottom of our page.) Tell us what number is on the back and we'll see that you are re-united:

Another amazing race in the books where we cared more about having a badass time than actual results. Crushing trail, snapping wrists, drinking tall boys from our esteemed sponsor, and seeing cool people. That's what it's all about. Next endurance mtb race on the calendar for us is probably Rapture, and after that, Burnin. Oh my god.

I have a philosophical question that was posed to me the other day, and I'd like to share. What good are the ventilation-friendly clipless sandals when riding a recumbent, if the leading surface of the shoe is the solid bottom? I think this helps further prove that with a recumbent, it is even less about any kind of performance than it is achieving the perfect style - a style that is labeled "failure."

See you at Herman CX, and then at the pro-heavy Gateway Cross Cup. Don't miss 'em.

-Casey F. Ryback


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



Swooping into Swope Park

Greetings, Team Seagal Loyalistas. There have not been nearly enough updates this season, but fear not: across our ranks, there have been many miles logged, despite the recent heat wave. We have attended many of the recent races, including the Courtois Challenge, in which Nico got very cozy with a stream crossing. Ooooweee.

Coming up this weekend are two excellent races, the much-anticipated return of the Spoke Pony 3/6 Hour race, which had last made an appearance back in 'aught 8, where Mason and I took 3rd place: See here. We will never forget the Xanadu-like trail conditions that day. But this year, it is changing venues, from Landahl to Swope Park. To put this kind of euphoria into perspective, this is like getting a "Commando/Predator" combo Blu-ray pack for Christmas one year, and then the next year getting a "Marked for Death/On Deadly Ground" combo DVD pack. In other words, Going from badass wrist-snapping to t'aint-melting badassery. You can't lose.

By the end of that race, we'll be as messed up as a Steven Seagal sex slave, if Steven Seagal fed his sex slaves PBR.

Fortunately, we'll have a second race at which to try our wrists on sunday, the Midwest Single Speed Championships, which is not being held in Jeff City for the first time. I guess those Red Wheel bros were gettin' all bummed about the StL Man-Train choo-chooing all over their home turf. (We'll just have to make sure to do that at the Tall Oak Challenge instead.) So who knows what will happen there, other than a RE-FUCKING-SULTS.

How do we get these results, you have been wondering? Chubb laps.

So until race day, I have two things that you can put into your brain:

1) Read this.

2) Watch this:

Even though CX isn't too far away, there is still PLENTY of mtb racing left: Tall Oak, Rapture in Misery, Burnin' at the mother fucking Blorff, Berryman Epic...



RIP Hightower.

Greetings, Team Seagal Fans. It is with heavy heart and fingers that I type this out. Beloved 80's and early 90's movie star and former NFL star Bubba Smith, otherwise known as "Sgt. Moses Hightower" in his landmark 1984 role in the seminal "Police Academy" series, has passed away.

The story


Seen here as "Spare Tire" Dixon, facing off against Al Bundy:

I know that our own beloved Nico Toscani has taken this loss very hard. Please offer your condolences to him when you see him.

Goodnight, sweet prince.

-Casey F. Ryback