Tour of Hermann 2014

 Greetings, Team Seagal Fanboiz! After reading the hair-raising account from our Good Doctor, regaling us all as to how he and his fellow jerks assaulted the state of Arizona harder than his dog Taco assaults the kibble at the first twinge of the post-jenk munchies, I was inspired.

This weekend was certainly shaping up to be beautiful - a fact that I'm sure was appreciated by no one more than Jeff Yielding, the wily overlord of cycling in Hermann. Last year the weather was amazingly awesome with enough sun to almost cancel out the wind. This year was more of the same, sunny, and a little less windy. Energor surely has smiled on us.

What was the plan? The Tour of Hermann is more of a "fondo" than a race. It's a fondo on beautiful gravel roads around one of Missouri's most picturesque areas. Picturesque, and hilly. Very hilly. Let's put it this way - the roads go up and down more than Criss Angel's head during nap time in a kindergarten class. Anyway, after last year, I learned my lesson - that Hermann will go Commando on your legs:

 With that lesson in mind, I applied mountain bike science to a drop-bar bike in the form of an 11-34 cassette, then applied some PBR to my mouth, and proceeded to profit.

Saturday morning.

4:30 AM came early, but would ensure early arrival to properly prepare my mind, taint, and bowels for the upcoming onslaught. This is a another lesson learned by this weekend - being the first person to "christen" the porta-john is a double edged pork sword. On one hand, there is no line, you have all the fresh single-ply TP you could want, no pressure to finish in a timely fashion, and no splatter on the seat to wipe off. On the other hand, with no underwater turd-mountain built up yet, the chances of a chemical-water splashback are very real - I now know this first hand. Those kerplunks and the subsequent wetting of my cheek meat  from below had me remembering the movie "The Sandlot," and Ham's amazing cannonball that splashed water all over the sunbathing girls.

The other benefit of hitting the plastic shitting box early, is avoiding a line like this:

Saddling up, I was happy to see a healthy contingent of Jefferson City crushers, and was bestowed many a training secret from one Corey Case, specifically that of the Second Surge energy gel. That shit has enough caffeine in it to get even the Masson Storm himself wired. The sun was rising, much like my anticipation of the start, which couldn't start soon enough.

As we rolled out, forming into a fairly high-paced line down Hwy 19, I could only marvel at how freaking slow some people pedal - I call it the "pathlete's cadence." This is essentially when someone who doesn't know any better stays in the hardest gear, pretty much all the time, thinking it to be the best way to go fast and get a good workout. I see it all the time, dudes crushing out the Forest Park bike path at 10 mph with a pedaling cadence of about 15 rpm. It is the equivalent of maxing out when weight lifting, all the time.

Whatever, it was a beautiful morning, and I was enjoying the bobbing and weaving on the Katy Trail, as I weaved in and out of different groups, before turning onto the first climb of the day, an average paved climb that has you cresting and looking at a simply beautiful valley, one that belied the utter pain soon to come. Some rolling flats brought us to the first real gravel climb of the day, one that I think I'll call the "grosso cazzo bianco." It was just huge,  long, and unrelenting. And, to top it all off, the erosion "trails" going across and down the road kinda reminded me of engorged veins. By this point, Robo-Peat, despite our recent assassination attempt, had already passed me back on the Katy, and I was wondering just how someone could truly mount the grosso cazzo bianco on a singlespeed. Hell, whatever - it's all because the titanium hardware in his hip makes him lighter. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, the first loop wasn't too crazy, as the roads were very well groomed, and the climbs were just a handful, though they were harder than Criss Angel at tee-ball practice. During a short re-route on pavement, I was happy to see the steam from the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant rising straight up, not being bothered by the wind:

It was awesome to bomb back down to the Katy Trail, for it was easy riding back to the car, where I had waiting some tasty pancake muffin things prepared by the saintly Mrs. Crotch:
The only way they could have been better would have been with syrup.

After stuffing my over-sized head with Mrs. Crotch's muffins, I joined forces with the Nick "You think that muffin is good, try mine" Smith. It was game time, and had to roll out. We rolled for probably 20-25 miles, bullshitting and also watching bulls shit. (Good thing Rich Pierce wasn't there, because the way he attracts murderous wildlife, those bulls would have no doubt ran us over.) He pointed out some stuff I would have missed, like this glorious church steeple peaking out from the trees out in the middle of nowhere, which required a short break:

We had a good steady pace going, though I think we were both going faster than we would have, had the other not been right there. On this second lap, the roads got a little deeper in spots, requiring more brappage. Fortunately, my Continental Top Contact II's give zero fucks about anything in their way - something that helped out the moment Nick and I came across an erosion canyon on a bombin' downhill. There was a nice lady there who had already flatted, and was waving us down to curb our speed so that we wouldn't end up like her, but I had to brap the tires and plow through the canyon.

This loop found us really employing out seated climbing position, lest we risk spinning out (not baller.) This would only get moar challenging as the grade increased, and our muscles fatigued. No matter, the roads and hills unfurled before us, as our chit chat lessened and we stopped noticing the scenery as much:

As the hills continued on loop two, the distance between Nick and I stretched out a little bit as we settled into the best paces for each of us. But it wasn't long, before plopping back down onto the paved road that would take us back into town, which was a nice rest from the buzzing.

Rolling back into the staging area, I felt relatively good, but with an ominous sense of apprehension about going out again. I knew I could, but I knew that I was gonna get totally fucking equalized by the end. So that may explain taking a little too long of a rest before loop 3, where the temptation to engage in drinking and merriment was strong. I had to press on though, as I had missed most other people I knew who were going out for the 3rd already - all of 'em on Team Noah - those jerks!

Most people seemed to think the 2nd loop was the hardest, but I disagree - the 3rd I believe was the most soul-crushing. Heading down the road, my legs were fatigued, but still turning the pedals over. However, it wasn't long before I was feeling like Mr. Burns trying to decide between "catsup" and "ketchup...
..."I'm in way over my head."

The third loop was the hardest, because the hills were more rapidfire, and there was less mellow flat-ish roads in between them. One hill would crest, point your right back downhill, where you would coast right into the next one. Bombing down one hill in particular not too far along, my spirits were briefly lifted as there were a small herd of no-doubt-feral children cheering me on, hoping I would run over the sticks they had laid in the road. What CUTIES!

My smile was quickly rotated 180% once I reached the base of one hill in particular, Benson Road. I'm not sure how I summitted this towering peak, but I do know that I was watching the speed on my Cateye fluctuate between 2.5 - 2.6 mph, for about 10 minutes. The thing just never stopped - I was praying to Energor, asking him to give me the euphoria to continue.

One thing I couldn't help but notice though, despite my euphoria, and in between periods of reminiscing, was the abundance of trash - mostly beer cans - on the side of the road, in ditches. It was more annoying to look at than choppy internet-streaming footage of Spring Classic races from Europe. And anyone who thinks that there is a lot of trash in the city, doesn't realize just how much there is out in the middle of no where too. In fact, if I bet the overall amount of trash would be relatively equal if you looked just 50 past the road's edge. End rant. Start euphoria.

That third loop was a truly done Mario van Peebles style - solo. Passed one person, and thankfully was back onto the road home a little sooner than I expected. That being said, the paved road was no picnic either - the final two paved hills made me feel more defeated than a Japanese girl staring up at a tentacle monster.

Unable to pull a proper wheelie up the Stone Hill Winery driveway, I was euphoric at the application of the third sticker to my number plate:

Arriving back at Stone Hill Winery, it was clear that plenty of ladies were getting married, as the  supply of loud, drunk holsteins piling into their cars with ill-equipped suspensions was much higher than it was at 9 in the morning. Fortunately, I received a glorious prize from the man himself, Jeff:

After finishing up and shoveling some of the random food I had in my trunk down my throat-hole (old french fries, peanut shells, clipped toe-nails... still avoided the Clif Bars though) a meeting formed between myself, Maria, Robo-Peat, EK, Mr. Clarke, where we decided to re-convene as quickly as possible at Wings-A-Blahzin' for some fried pickles, prepared meat, and a Punch0r Special:
...A.K.A. a Stag - this time held in the most worn-out coozie I've ever seen, courtesy of Peat. (I still have mine, too - though it still has some "loft.") I felt like Cancellara after his Tour of Flanders success, immediately drinking a beer, as only a badass would. Once my food arrived, I ate it so fast that I think I could have gotten respect from Marines in boot camp. (Maybe.)

Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for a second day of euphoric ascents of the Hermann Hillsides on account of official Ryback family business, however I was pleased to learn of Sasha and Lawman taking my place. I was less pleased to see that Lawman somehow managed to puncture his "it's not fat, it's plus-sized" tire, and had to walk to the nearest oasis - out of air and out of PBRs, he procured the only other 12oz at his disposal, displaying true Superior State of Mind - I'm just thankful that 12oz was not a Lime-a-rita.

I am more than a little impressed at those who were able to complete all 5 laps, particularly Maria and EK, who ground up more gravel than a lovesick Crazy Jim. Nice work, we're not worthy:

In the meantime, continue to get super stoked at this upcoming season, and to help you get super fucking pumped, watch this extreme hardcore downhill freeride wreck:

Stay tuned, as there is moar to come:
-Casey F. Ryback


2014 AZ Training Camp & The Sedona Big Friggin' Loop

 Greetings Jerks!!! Doctor here. As I sit here in a jenkem haze on the eve of Prescott Monstercross, rubbing yak semen on my elbows and making offerings to Energor, I am still trying to figure out why I signed up for a 50 mile race with 8,000 feet of climbing. It did seem like a better idea than the 70 mile option with 12,000 feet of climbing. The only conclusion I can come to is that Spring Training has worked. You see, Northern Arizona was recently struck by White Lightening. I am not talking about moonshine or shitty chain lube, but one Jerko Toscani's whip loaded with jerks and baller single speed Konas!
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The Polar Express
      A three man strike force consisting of the aforementioned Nico Jerkscani, Jonathan Cold, and Orin "Tit Balls" Boyd piled into said vehicle for a record breaking 19 hour run into beautiful Arizona for the 5th edition of Spring Training. The jerks sped through the night in order to see the San Francisco peaks in time for breakfast.
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Breakfast Palace Omelette
     After a gut busting stop at Martanne's Breakfast Palace, where they have instituted the entirely covered plate policy, the jerks drove the last hour and a half into Prescott where they found a green building containing their Doctor hard at work.
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Ironclad Bicycles
The hardening process began immediately. Many IPAs and Coffee Stouts were consumed while I finished up the last of my work for the week. Once we were all about three deep we decided to go for a ride that would make all the rest of the rides of the week seem easy. Climbing about 1200 ft in 5 miles while you're drunk is no easy task, but Training Camp isn't about easy it's about hardening the fuck up. We got back to the shop 20 miles of trail later ready for some serious food and beer at Prescott Brewing Company. Somewhere downtown we discovered the Ladybug, the shop owner's car, looking good on the streets.
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The Boss' rig
     The 5th edition of Spring Training saw perfect weather throughout, temps in the mid sixties and sunny. This is the first year that no snow whatever was involved. Beautiful. Wednesday morning saw the Polar Express pointed in the direction of the 305 trail, one of the best trails in town in my opinion. Combined with the Salida Gulch loop you end up with a great 3 hour ride, which of course left us with a great hunger and powerful thirst for beer.
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Raijin at The Green Gate (305 trail)

       Bill, of Bill's Pizza fame, has opened a hamburger place called Bill's Grill. You can get as custom as you want. It's even enough food to put Titty down. Look at that monster of burger!

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Titty: Before and After

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Taco the Dog holding' on tight
     That evening we ventured to the campsites a mile up the road from my house, had a little fire and watched the sunset. My dog taco was very excited to have so much company in the back of the truck, her preferred mode of travel. The hardening process was going full steam at this point, with another great ride planned for Thursday.
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Sunset at the top of The Senator Highway

     Tim, the manager at the shop, single speeder, and honorary Seagal, wanted to take us on a ride in town Thursday morning, but suffered a nasty crash Wednesday morning out riding before work. With him sidelined and the Black Canyon trail only an hour away, the choice was clear. White Lightening was once again loaded with fancy single speeds and pointed south for some desert single track goodness. Black Canyon trail is totally different than Prescott riding. Not as much climbing, much twistier, more consistently rocky, and not a tree in sight. A great place to harden the fuck up.

     Anyone who has ridden with Jerkward much, has probably witnessed his uncanny ability to spot underwear and condoms in the wild. In fact at one point during the week I felt like Nico was my guide and we were out on a condom safari. Take this rare velcro equipped pair of BVD's, photographed at the bottom of the 305 trail. There was some speculation that these might belong to our very own C"rot"ch, but we were unable to guess how they may have traveled this far.
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Coach's BVDs
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Snake in the grass
     This condom was found somewhere near the aspen creek trail head on our first ride of the week. Jerkward clearly has some sort of 6th sense.
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Black Canyon Bloomer
      Here Jerkward has captured something much less likely to give you full blown aids, the bloom on a cactus at Black Canyon. Here you can also see how different the terrain is to the ponderosa pine forests of Prescott. Note the saguaro cactus in the background. Nice work! Nothing works up an appetite like going on condom safari for a few hours so we had no choice but to go back to Bill's grill to get totally fucked. After a nice easy ride on Friday we would be headed to the mystical land of Sedona for Big Friggin Loop.

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Titty and his Burger

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Coconino National Forest secret desert campsite
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Meet the Jerks
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Brahquitos in the works
    Some people like to taper down and rest a little before a big ride. Not at training camp. After a pretty good week of riding, 50 plus miles of Sedona was looming on the Horizon. My initial plan was to maybe dink a little bit less on Friday with an almost 8 hour ride the next day and all. That plan went out the window as soon as we got camp set up. Almost immediately fire was applied to brahquitos to soak up some of the beer. After chilling by the fire jamming some 90's hip hop we were mentally prepared for the task that lay ahead. We were ready to get totally extreme. Criss Angel at T ball practice extreme.
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You know which line in the trail Team Seagal chooses

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       Sedona offers yet another totally different environment. The terrain is rocky as a mofo, with beautiful red rock vistas around every corner. The riding is so fun that it really takes your mind off of how worn out you are by this stage of training camp. The trails are super technical, but oddly flowy at the same time. Sedona Big Friggin Loop is a bucket list ride for sure. For all you jerks that haven't been to training camp yet, start planning for next year now.

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Jerkward managed to capture some great photos during the ride to further entice you to join us next year.
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Dr. in Sedona
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    After a solid day of riding we were off to Flagstaff to visit Lumberyard brewing for some top notch food and BEER!!!  Another Training Camp in the books. The next morning it was back to the Breakfast Palace to get some Jerks carbo loaded for their drive home. I had so much fun during Big Friggin Loop I went to work on Monday and signed up for some Monster Cross. Now two weeks later my digestive tract has finally recovered, my liver has been battle hardened, and Superior State of Mind has been achieved! Until next time, get totally fucked!!!

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Doktor in the Chute