Death By Hills 2014, In Memorium

Greetings, you Jerk-Ass Jerks. As I sit here trying to manage the two fleshy bags of lactic acid that stretch from my hips to my ankles, I reflect on a day that has become an early-season ass-kicker for many of us. I know that this date has been looming over my unprepared head for several months now, but now that it has passed, I feel a sense of relief, accomplishment, excitement, confusion, diplomacy, apprehension, euphoria, and furious hatred.

Nevermind that though - for, to be assaulted with hills the likes of which we see on this ride, means your legs become ready to mow shit down later in the year, much like Dutch, Billy, Hawkins and Mac did to the forest in Predator:
"Up in dem trees..."

(Fun fact, that .gif syncs up pretty well with Mortician's "Drowned in Your Blood.")

Back here, deep within the sprawling Team Seagal Worldwide Headquarters, we had been working hard to ensure a lack of precipitation. Because nothing rains on a parade of people on bikes like actual rain. Our efforts must have paid off, as the roads were drier than the inside of Criss Angel's whitey-tighteys after mistakenly hiding in the girls' locker room all day.

Gathering at Kehr's Mill and Clayton, it was clear that the numbers of the ride were not as high as I had been expecting, most likely due to the island-paradise-like conditions inside many people's gashes. But no matter, it isn't like total participation makes any difference one way or the other to a free group ride. So we rolled out our Train of Flesh and actually managed to stay together all the way down Clayton. Despite picking up a few extra riders en route, we made sure to send them back to the beginning for registration and then allowed them to catch up.
All photos courtesy of the fastest camera-slinger in the west, Nico
Continuing to the first hill, it was readily apparent to me that I was in trouble for the day. I would say that it took me several miles, and multiple climbs, before my legs found any kind of groove. Down Woods Road (Also known as Rocks Road) we climbed up my favorite hill of the day, Bartizan. Since this hill arrives early on in the ride, while everyone is still pretty bunched up, it is very much enjoyable to hear everyone's gnashing of teeth and unintended farts that get squeezed out while in the middle of a full-body tensing of muscles.

After some drama half-way up that hill was sorted out, we continued onto Mitch's Secret Training loop, where we were greeted by some encouragement from one Steve F., left in his absence while he was busy shredding Arkansas trails like a jerk. In an effort to present full transparency, I must admit that I did in fact skip Starwoods Dr. in the hopes of staying with the/any group after having been delayed unexpectedly at Bartizan. I know, this is highly blasphemous to skip a hill from our own ride. But it's done and over with, so I hope that this transgression can be overlooked this time.

As the miles clicked over, I was happy to see that there were little to no big issues with traffic, particularly on Alt Road, which is always a bit of a Japanese-style shit-show. The Allenton Loop did in fact present many people with reasons to doubt their courage, yet all that entered did leave victorious. Briefly regrouping at the Motomart by Six Flags, it was more than a little awkward how everyone was hanging out inside the place. No worries, as I had bigger hills to crush, loftier wrists to snap:
-Allenton Rd: snapped
-Scenic Loop: snapped
-Woodlawn Meadows, a.k.a. the "Goat Trail": snapped
-Melrose: snapped.

From the top of Melrose, we had some nice rolling pavement all the way to Hwy T, which lead us past the Bank of St. Albans (there is a lot of money in St. Albans.) and then up Bassett. Of course, 1/3 of the way up St. Albans affords everyone the chance to climb Cremin's Green!
The D9 Bulldozer is no longer there, but the switchback sure is!

Nevermind the fact that Cremin's is half-way up another hill, which is already huge in and of itself. No matter, that hill allows us to bomb down the other side, and affords us a close pass to a local monument of St. Louis Cycling history, one which we have visited before:

Bouquet Road: snapped, though the landscape has changed dramatically since the last time I visited - the powerline strip that crosses the road has been completely clear-cut, giving the hill a Mt. Ventoux-esque feel. (Not that I've ever fucking ridden that climb.) I can't help but think that all of those trees seemed to be much shorter than the power lines themselves, and now that they are gone, I can only imagine how badly eroded that hillside will be in just a few years.

Onward - we had to go crush the Wildhorse Creek Vallley flats, which meant a top speed run on Babler Forest Salt Flats:
proof that it can be done on a SS.
No word on if the shoes hanging from the powerlines last year were still there.

After a quick lap of Babler State Park, one dude Tokyo Drifting his fart-can'd NSX, we crushed out Doberman Hill, had some great service at the gas station at 109/WHC  Road, and then continued to snap the rest of the route before climbing the home stretch of Kehr's Mill towards victory.

What a great ride - I would like to thank my 11-34T cassette, XT derailleur, and extended jenkem high for providing me with the means to endure the continual assault on my quads. It was great to ride with lots of people from all over the region coming to ride some of the smoothest pavement around. I was also glad to see that our very own Roland Sallinger has progressed his fitness so far already, that he didn't feel the ride was hard enough, thus electing to install some bottom bracket bearings that were so completely roasted and packed with crunchy-style peanut butter, that extra wattage required to spin them (and his 40psi tires) all day probably equaled out to an extra climb or two by the end of the day. Nice work! Truly superior state of mind.

I was slightly disappointed to see that the closest we came to having a fat bike class were dudes on CX tires, however, I was then made happier upon learning of this early ancestor of the modern fat-bike - it was cool WAYYYY before it became cool:

This concludes today's session,

-Casey F. Ryback


Things to Keep in Mind for Death By Hills

Greetings, Early Season hardmen/women. DBH is nigh upon us, and while it and the 25% grades it brings may cause pre-cramps in the quads of the un-superior (or "inferior" if you're into the whole brevity thing) it shouldn't cause problems for those of us who have been gettin' totally "swole" all winter long.

Here in the Team Seagal Conference Room, we've been formulating a few... uh... format changes for this year's ride. Despite this not being a timed ride in any way, shape or form, why don't we offer time bonuses for those riders showing up with the right "attributes." For example, be sure to show up early to get weighed in so that you can get your "over-200-lb" time bonus. Additionally, if your name is Nico, or if you have ever offered to translate the most Ancient of Chinese Scrolls with an off-duty cop, you also get a time bonus.

Additionally, if your name is Peat, and your currently have a broken bone in your leg and/or hip area, then you get a big time bonus, regardless of whether or not you are riding. Or, if your name is Bob and you open your beers with a drill, then you get a time bonus. Or if you show up wearing a weight vest to give you the equivalent weight of one of your over-200 heroes.

Big time bonuses if you are show up blasting out your nips, or sick blast-beats like on my new favorite album:

However, if you piss and moan about every hill as you come up to it, then you get a massive time penalty. No wait - just don't come at all, because you'll be missing the point. No time bonuses for post-ride self-congratulatory back-patting, either.

Please remember, be waaaayyyyy more courteous to drivers than you normally would be - since West County doesn't normally have a group this large come through it on open roads - we will be impeding traffic in the middle of the day a lot more than is generally accepted as ok. This means stopping at stoplights, at least yielding at stopsigns, ect. So I'll stress this point: DON'T BE THE DICK WHO FUCKS IT UP FOR EVERYONE.  At the end of the day, I don't want to find myself saying what I heard every day of my childhood: "This is why we can't have nice things, Crotch."

Shit, that's just good life-advice anyway: "Don't be a dick." And I think Nico often offers up his own advice which happens to be the second part of that: "Don't fuck it up."

Don't be a dick and remember what you learned in school:

The hits keep coming. In an Furthering-Education series, we will now provide a how-to video what equipment not to use when attempting to go off-road:

I'd say that the biggest problem that dude will face on tight singletrack, (aside from the monstrous wheelbase, of course) is the ancient Rock Shox SID, which was already the most flexy fork on the market. That is, if it even still works!

-Casey F. Ryback


Death By Hills, Round 6

Greetings, Team Seagal comrades. While C-Dubs is keeping busy watching the 2-Man Luge over and over again, we finna be plannin' a ride. Death By Hills is here again, same place, route, time of day. So dial in your rear derailleur lower limit screw, and start massaging your quads. I've installed an 11-34 cassette on my wheel, just to assist in getting my gravity-challenged ass over all the hills. Key words: *ALL* the hills.

Where: Across the street from the Wolf Public House - in the big lot next to the gas station. Don't expect to get any food from the Wolf afterwards - they close at like 2.

When: February 23rd - same days as Froze Bro's.  Important to note: if the weather sucks for 90+ miles on the 23rd, maybe we'll try it again on the 2nd of March - which is the following weekend. Bad weathr could include rain, snow, and/or temps that are too cold.

Time: Clicking in at 9AM

Pace: Whatever - I'm going the only speed I know how to go - glacial. Some dudes will hammer, while others will pedal. If you're not sure where you're going, hang with someone who does know.

Route:  Garmin Link

-Start at Lone Wolf Coffee
-Head west on Clayton,
-Left on Thunderhead Canyon Dr.
-Left on Westglen Farms Dr.
-Right on "Village Plaza View Dr," toward the stripmall
-enter bike path opposite the parking lot
-left across black pedestrian bridge, crossing Hwy 100
-left after bridge
-hard right off of curb onto Old Manchester (across from the Jack in the Box)
-left onto Woods Rd. Descend and turn left up Bartizan, come back down, and continue down Woods.
-left onto bike path and ride south along Hwy 109.
-left up Old State for about .1 mile
-left onto Redtail Hawk Dr
-Then turn/veer left onto Johns Cabin Rd, which is a clockwise loop (Mitch's secret training loop) and will bring you back to Old State. (BUT not before making a quick left up and back down Starwood Rd!)
-Cross 109 at Old State, turn right up Alt Rd.
-Left on Forby.
-Right on N. Central Ave
-Cross over Hwy 44, turn right onto West Main St (in between train tracks.)
-left onto Wengler and start Allenton Loop, going CCW.
-Exit Allenton Loop to the left, go underneath Hwy 44, and climb Allenton Rd.
- right onto Scenic Loop Rd, going "Wrong Way." (may have to skip due to park rangers or police.)
-right, continuing on Allenton Rd.
-left onto Melrose
-right onto Hwy 100
-right onto Woodland Meadows Dr.
-right onto Old Manchester
-right onto Glencoe (through Rockwoods.)
-Go straight up Melrose
-Turn right (again) onto Hwy 100, cross over and turn left and continue on Melrose all the way until it descends to Hwy T.
-Left on T
-Left on Bassett
-Left onto Cremin's Green, out-and-back. Continue up Bassett.
-Left onto Old Manchester
-left onto Bouquet.
-Left onto Ossenfort (at the big white farm house)
-Cross T, and continue on Ossenfort.
-Continue straight onto Wild Horse Creek
-turn left up Babler Forest as an out-and-back.
-Come back down, and turn right onto Wild Horse Creek, climbing to Rieger.
-Turn left onto Rieger
-Right on Pond.
-left on Smith School Rd.
-Left on BA.
-left into Babler State Park. Once in Babler, turn right onto John Cochran Dr (CCW loop), turn right up Theodore Wirth Drive, and left down Guy Park Dr (past the pool). Turn right back up John Cochran Dr, climb up the first hill, and turn left at the bottom of the other side (also John Cochran Dr (be careful on the gravel!) and duck under gate to exit Babler State Park.
-Immediately turn right up Wild Horse Creek Drive (Doberman.)
-Turn right onto Old Eatherton.
-Left onto Orville.
-Right up Shephard.
-Left onto bike path alongisde 109
-Left onto Clayton
-Left on Strecker
-Right on Kehr's Mill
-(option to turn left into Saddle Creek Neighborhood and reconnect up to Kehr's Mill at top of hill)
-or take Kehr's Mill straight back to The Wolf Public House.

*Please take note of where to exit Babler State Park - it is not well marked, and easy to miss. It is at the bottom of the second climb, when you will pass by it at first, and then loop back around to it. It is not very well paved, and you will have to go underneath a metal gate.

NOTE: There are only two gas stations/refuel points on the route, so plan accordingly - first is the MotoMart next to Six Flags (~28 miles in) and the other is at the top of Wild Horse Creek, where it intersects with 109/Eatherton (~80 miles.) Plan your water/food consumption properly!!!

This year also marks the first year for an official Fat Bike Class. After months of lobbying for their own class in the CX races, they finally have an official class. Just know that if you show up on a moped/e-bike, I will stab you with my chainrings. So there you have it, show up if you want, just don't be an:

 Stay tuned, as there is more information

-Casey F. Ryback


Jerkduro #3: No go bro!

There might be plenty of pow pow out there of the white variety (and not the massive amounts that probably passed through the Packwood Estate in the late 80s, secretly coming up the Meramec River), but none of the brown kind. With that snow, ice, and more cold temps for Sunday I expect turnout to be pretty much zero again. So no jerks will be standing around in the cold trying to work cheap stop watches while wearing gloves.


-It's not a bluff view delivery this weekend


Ice-duro Jerk-ride. I mean, Jerkduro Group ride.

Greetings, Team Seagal Bandoleros! When it comes to doing shit on mountain bikes, what better time is there than when the ground is frozen? Almost none, that's what. Since the first Jerkduro got squished by poor conditions (since the freeze-thaw cycle is immune to yak semen, the active ingredient in our rain-preventing dance) we pushed it off to today, CX Worlds/Superbowl Sunday. And what luck, our ground was frozen solid, despite a full day of freezing rain yesterday.

I, Casey "Glacier" Ryback, awoke this morning to find that as I slept, a brown iceberg had cleaved off of the stinky glacier inside my colon. This was discussed with both our good Doctor and with C-Dubs, who bestowed upon me the glorious news that they were also commemorating the first Jerkduro, CX Worlds, and Superbowl Sunday with super turds in their toilet bowls. This had me thankful for the wonders of technology, which was, at that moment, allowing me to talk about pooping with two dudes who were each 1000+ miles away from me, in opposite directions. Truly, this is a great time to be alive.

Saddling up in the ole Maxima, with rusty weight-reducing holes, I mounted my not-cool-anymore 2.2" wide tire mountain bike to my ancient roof rack, and speedily made the journey out to the start of the Al Foster Trail, to see who would show up. Turns out, it was just enough dudes to make a nice man-train. The conditions would be treacherous, though. The Power Duo of Larry and Bryan rolled up, having just descended down the trail, and told a tale of reduced traction, unpredictable surfaces, and heinous epicnicity. I was stoked. So stoked in fact, that I had to pull up some recumbent stunt videos on my smart telephone just to calm the fuck down. Good thing I found this video, which turned my over-stoked status into uncontrollable laughter:


So our Bluff View Strike Force was assembled:  Nico "Gold Cans" Toscani, Orin "I put the 'Ti' into 'riding my Ti bike with tennis shoes' " Boyd, Gino "Delivering Pizzas to the Packwood Estate" Felino, Strove "thermal headgear?" Frodeman, Larry K, Bryan A, and myself, Casey "Sorry for the Smell" Ryback.

Since there weren't really many dudes having shown up, and since the racing against the clock in these conditions would have been pretty sketchy, we decided to make it a nice leisure-suit-larry ride to the top and back. But what a ride it was!

Despite traction that could be described as more slick than STLPAF Dave's downtube when it is sprayed with Pam prior to a potentially muddy CX race. Nevertheless, we were able to avoid serious jam-jobbage while choo-chooing our way up the climb on the way to superior glory:

From near the top, we reveled in all of Energor's Creation:

For once, the moderate rutting from people being dicks by riding the muddy trails was a bit of a help to us in the traction department. We rested briefly for translations and imbibing, just long enough for the sun to actually show itself for a moment. What perfect timing. It was here though, that I found out Strove's secret to making his psuedo-fatbike so light. In addition to buying a lots of boutique, expensive go-fast parts, he really sweats the details, like forgoing unneeded bolts:

On a dicey descent, one in which I executed a miserable pass on Jerkward and broke a tree, we found the ground to be less slippery than we thought. Back at the cars, a few of us headed out, while myself and PizzaTime headed out for Round 2. We rode back out, with plans for a hot lap of Stinging Nettle, Blue Ribbon, and finally, a victory lap of Blorff View.

We told these swans to get fucked, to which the responded "HONK HONK HONK," which I'm sure translates into "Don't turn us into sleeping bag insulation!"

We kept the party rolling, passing by all the major trail landmarks. We entered Blue Ribbon Trail, a loop which the Mayor disclosed he had not presided over in years. Pretty surprising, for a man of his political power. We embarked clockwise, and upon cresting the first hill, we took a moment for a viewing of someone's memorial just off the trail:

We pondered, reflected, and silently pressed on, which meant immediately taking the downhill to shred-town. Approaching the bottom, our tires clawed up to the top of the second hill, where we descended once again at Ludicrous Speed, under the tunnel, and back onto the Al Foster. One good turn of the Bluff View deserves another, so we ascended once more, though it was clear that the trail surface was becoming less "textured" and more "peep-show-floor-esque."

Slowly ascending, we did come across Geez0r and Thrash0r, engaging in illegal (in some states) acts. Geez0r was fresh onto some Goldilocks wheels, and telling tales of going faster than everyone younger than him. We discussed using our turds for added traction, and possible devices for deployment of said turds onto the ground surface. He knows that we are down, and will help finance this product's development.

Upon reaching the bluff, the second time, myself and ItsNotDelivery found our very first GeoCache. How exciting! It was even camouflaged. That didn't stop my eagle eyes from seeing it through the brush, much like Titty's Hawk eyes saw the fox down on the river banks. Oooooweee. Anyway, since we had nothing to deposit in the Cache besides turds, (and we didn't want to give away free jenkem to the next person to open the container) we made sure to sign the guest-book!
Actually, Pizza did leave a beautiful Schlafly bottle cap, probably with some coffee stout residue.

I think it was a success, even though there was no timing to be had. No worries. Beer and bikes once again came together, not unlike the pages of Criss Angel's copies of "Boys Life" magazine. And despite having to hit the brakes to keep my speed in check more often than Leg-Titty buys and/or sells a bike, we had a totally excellent ride.

Anyway, as a reminder, Feb. 23rd is Death By Hills, same place, time, route. More details to come.

-Casey F. Ryback