What ended up happening: Word of mouth, spreading faster than the clap on a college campus. Bob had made a simple blog where people could sign up. Instantly the list of people signed up was like 50. not long before it reached 70, and then 100. No fucking way. I watched as the list passed 130 names. Who were all these people? From all the surrounding states - Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Texas, and even a rider or two from Missouri. Then 150. As the date grew closer, I heard it had passed 170, and grew close to 200, though he was too damn busy having to organize and coordinate than update the list.
And it wasn't just participants that jumped on board - sponsors wanted to be apart of it too - every week it seemed like he would announce a new company that was giving away some seriously cool shit:
-Monster Bicycle Company
-Jeff City Athletic Events Committee
-Red Wheel Bike Shop - Owned by another superior badass, Nick
-Paceline Products/Chamois Butt'r
Attaching an excellent cause to the event is always a good idea - in this case it was the Callaway Hills Animal Shelter. In addition to that, this event was perfectly positioned to be a great preparation ride for the Dirty Kanzaa 200 race.
Oh yeah, and it was FREE.
In addition to throngs of participants and sponsors, the volunteers also were all over the place. Between the squad of weedeating dudes who cleared the singletrack of overgrowth, the people that helped at all the crucial turns and at the check-in were awesome. (Check-In seriously could not have gone more smoothly.)
So with all of this in place, and a date in sight, I for one had been trying to put in some long miles on the CX bike - the idea to turn my t'aint into an impenetrable fortress of callous.
Skip to race day. We sent a number of troops to this event - Sasha, Lawman, Sandwich, Schlomo Axel, Dr. Rolland Sallinger, Professor, and myself, Casey F. Ryback, not to mention our associated parties. I was up at 0430 hours, ready to meet my attack squad in the Party Wagon for the long drive over. Lukabis Cannabis, Brett, S. Axel and myself man-piled into the man-wagon for the drive over. After an unsuccessful attempt to divert Scooter's arrival at the correct parking lot, we were all checked-in, slathered in sun-block, and ready to roll-out - already noticing that it was hot as fuck outside.
Rarely seen sight in the parking lot prior to the roll-out: Pete Goode getting prepped next to a vehicle that he drove to the start line.
Bob, clearly a little overwhelmed by what he had created, told everyone what to expect:
A few well-thought-out expletives, and the roll-out was underway, book-ended by a lead and chase vehicle (Again, an example of the awesome volunteer support.)
A few miles of roll-out allowed a lead-group to develop, populated by some seriously fast dudes. As they stretched out of sight, I settled into a comfortable pace, chatting it up with the Rolla Giant himself. I started to notice a group of other riders filing in behind me, to form the first of many man-trains on the day. The dreaded first climb of the day wasn't a cake-walk, but it wasn't enough to stop the party. It was there that I made my move and passed the couple from Texas on a Calfee bamboo tandem with a belt-drive timing chain/belt. Once up in the hills, the real ride began to take shape. Rolling gravel roads, punctuated with lots of short kickers, and all kinds of well-groomed gravel. Some of the gravel ended up being pretty deep, which made me happy that I had fatter tires before I even got to the singletrack.
Having the cue sheet was pretty crucial until you we arrived at the singletrack, which was very well marked. The first off-road part was as we entered into the Mark Twain National Forest, past a Forest Ranger, and out through a beautiful green field that stretched for miles. Really awesome, as we just followed the balloons. I was tempted to stop to see if they were secret jenkem balloons, but keeping the party rolling was more important. Huffing fermented poo-gas would have to wait.
Filing though a number of gates, we found ourselves shredding down the first singletrack, which made me think of mountain biking in the 1990's - steep and sloppy. I had been riding with Pete for a while, and he was regaling us with tales of having ridden here back when the 1990's style of riding was the only style. Settling into a small strike team of myself, Strove, Pete, this other guy from CoMo on a 26" and a few other dudes, we agreed to try and keep our group together at least to the 4 big, pissed-off dogs that were noted on the cue sheet. Fortunately, by the time we got there, they didn't give a fuck anymore, presumably because enough dudes had sprayed the shit out of them with dog spray.
Miles rolled past, climbing endless hills while seated lest I stand and spin my rear wheel; something you learn with a singlespeed is how to keep your legs moving at very low cadences. The heat was the word of the day, with hardly any wind to speak of, and hardly any clouds for the first half of the ride. We eventually made our way to the second piece of singletrack, which was muddy as fuck. The ground was more soft than Criss Angel at Roxy's on the East Side. As a singlespeeder, I was doing a lot of pushing.
Then, as if to say "Fuck you! Ha Ha Ha Ha!" We crossed a creek, clamored through the muddy banks, and found ourselves clawing our way up this sadistic hike-a-bike, which had been dedicated to Jeff Yielding. It reminded me of the hike-a-bike/run-up that we had originally planned on including in the 2009 CXmas course, but removed at the last minute due to potential legal issues. I pictured Bob standing at the top peering down, hands-in-fists on his hips looking like this:
The heat continued, and, I feel, was the major factor that caused people to pull out or not. I was amazed at how little water and tubes some people would carry. By the time I hit Old 54, felt like Kramer when he was tanning with butter:
Leaving Hams Prarie, I pressed a little bit to try to latch on with Jacob Rohter and the 26" mtb guy from Columbia from earlier. Steve from Jeff City was still along for the ride, as he had done since mile 40 when I helped him fix his flat and gave him my second tube. He was looking more spry than me, but wouldn't go any faster because he didn't know where he was going and didn't know how to fix anything.
I was looking forward to passing the nuclear plant, but we had to hit this ripping descent and the hardest climb of the day first. Another two miles and this thing came into view:
Pretty cool to ride past something like that.
Before long we were gearing up for the final "badass downhill" of the day, which would drop us to the Katy. Totally awesome, and since it had cooled off, I was feeling good about it. Once onto the Katy, we started to form a bit of a man-train, to keep the pace a little higher and get our swollen asses back a little more quickly. Turning off the Katy and over into the field roads, we traded "punches" with the Dynamic Duo of Todd and Karen Holtmann, who were looking strong. Choo-choo-ing all around those flats, up onto the levee, past plenty of dudes fishing in the irrigation creeks, and more than a little uncertainty in regards to whether or not we were actually on course, the four of us were on the final stretch that would leads us to the 54 overpass and onto the end. It was me, weird Jeff City Steve, Jacob, and the Columbia 26" dude. The Holtmann's had passed us earlier while I changed my 2nd flat tire, but this is where we slowly pulled our way back up to them. They latched on for a few miles, and I ended up as the Cleveland Steam-powered locomotive at the front of our Victory Man-Train. I turned on cruise control for the last several miles. We even came across Steve Friedman who seemed a little dazed. He latched on as well for a little bit, but the next time I looked back, he and the Holtmann's had peeled off, leaving our man-train with only 4 man-cars. Once I got the Capitol Building in sight, then the airport lights, it was all over. A little jog over Hwy 54, around the corner, and then a sprint for the finish, because the crowd always loves a sprint finish.
The pavilion was full of camaraderie, Tall Grass Beer, and tubed-meats. And those tubed-meats were fucking delicious, cooked up by some good dudes. But honestly, I could have been eating a bowl full of cooked santorum with a side of smegma and it probably would have tasted good. Watching the rest of the finishers find their way to the end was a thoroughly enjoyable. Tons of great people there to greet them as they rolled in.
It doesn't get much better than that! This race/ride pretty much defined what "grass-roots" means. And Bob Jenkins, seen here:
...is pretty much one of the best dudes you could meet. Or meat. Which is odd when you think that a guy who is such a good person to know can hate people so much that he would think to put them through such a tortuous course as the one we did today. Watch him with his nieces and you'll see what I mean! I think we're all glad that we've been able to have him come to our events, and setting the bar very high early on for egg-nog consumption.
Speaking of that, I ran into Adam Hemplemann, (living in infamy here) and let him know that I have a shitload of expired nog that he is welcome to if he would like:
|These are sitting on my back porch, still.|
I got some cool shit courtesy of Backcountry Research, who donated nearly $1000 worth of shit to the cause):
There was a ton of cool shit up for grabs. Jim at Monster Bikes provided a custom flask to the last person to cross the line, totally awesome.
Finally, there was a donation bucket at the table before and after the ride for the Callaway hills Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter. I didn't make it around to putting any cash in the bucket, but I have proof that I put in an online donation:
You can donate to the shelter as well - http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/MO133.html
I know there were a lot of people who didn't make it for various reasons, so I don't think it quite hit the 170-200 mark, but that's alright because it doesn't cost shit! Lets hope that next year it goes down AT LEAST as well as this year, and gets even bigger. And hopefully Bob's doesn't have a heart attack because of it. There are plenty of other stories to be told, between Boyd, Mrs. Boyd, Wendy, anyone in my man-train or man-wagon. Definitely felt like I was part of something special.
My garmin link.
-Casey F. Ryback