But it wasn't all roses and sunshine. For at the moment I awoke on DBH morn, and walked to the fridge to get some milk for my cereal, I was reminded of the previous night:
Still in a bit of a daze, I had to draw inspiration from several local crushers who are well versed with the starting-big-rides-hungover plan - people like Dr. Rolland Sallinger, D. Pri0r, H.H., all great riders to have gone on to great hungover-success before me. Fortunately, even though I came up short of the morning Triple Lindy, I still managed to pull off (or squeeze out) the minimum requirement of two summit attempts. Praise be to Energor.
And so it was to be, glorious mid-march weather in StL, and a great ride set to start. I arrived, admittedly a little nervous about what I was about to make my body do, but having summitted twice, I knew I had the foundation for a great day. So all that was left to do was set my internal soundtrack to some seriously inspirational steel-drum-laden tunage:
With the image of Arnold slaying the militia and saving Jenny with steel drums playing in the background, I couldn't be more set. So I was able to relax, and say hello to many cool people in the parking lot. A few simple words were said, and we rolled out at down Clayton Road, with a massive pack behind me:
Check out Pry0r's video of the group
For what it's worth (nothing) it isn't too often a group this size gets together for a ride in this town, without some greater cause to motivate them to do so or without being charged an entry fee. But we saw everyone in this group - dudes, chicks, d00dz on gravel bikes, a 26" mtb (Nice work, Barry), at least 3 bikes in the Singlespeed Division, a couple of tri/tt bikes, CX bikes, and plenty of go-fast road bikes. Thankfully absent: recumbents. It was a diverse, eclectic group.
Anyway, as we cruised down Clayton, it was clear that it would be a little while before my legs were properly warmed up and ready for business. Shit, I was still not used to even seeing them exposed this year - my legs were more pasty white than Buddy's ass. (yeah, think about that.) So the only thing to do was to employ a Superior State of Mind, because the mind controls the legs. The first big wake-up of the day was the notorious Bartizan climb. Quickly dispatched, we were onto the next one. Unfortunately, approaching the next one, our own Harlan Banks, a.k.a. Nad Snurb, pressed the "eject" button which removed himself from the ride by way of busted-ass rear-derailleur hanger. I am fairly sure his derailleur hanger got wind of what was in store for the rest of the day, and decided to become a juggalo - also known as a failure.
Doing Strove's loop, I had to make sure to achieve retribution for last year, where I elected to not climb Starwoods in hopes of catching back onto the group. It was just how I remembered it, covered in pavement that looked like Seal's face. Stopping to help out K. "Hollywood" W. as he finished fixing a puncture, we would end up riding together for the next 80 miles. Yowza. Our other riding buddy's came and went, and we just kept the pedals turning. Climbing up Alt Road, we got E.K. in sights, but once we crested past Hidden Valley's entrance, we lost her to gnarly descending skills, and wouldn't reel her back in until the ascent up Forby, where we would form a bit of a wo-man train that would choo-choo its way all around the Allenton Loop, getting many thumbs-ups from the locals, and into the first rest stop at the Six Flags gas station. Topping off water bottles and procuring provisions for the next 45-50 miles, a small, surgical strike force departed, one that would basically stick together the rest of the day - myself, Hollywood, Dr. Sallinger, JR and crampin' Chris. Oooooweee! What a great day!
Even though we were 30 miles in, it felt as though I had sweated out most of the hangover, and the legs were doing what I pay them to do - crush shit out all day long. And climbing up Allenton past the roller coasters, I got to get a glimpse of the Greensfelder Trail surfaces, where they cross the road numerous times - and I'll tell you they were softer than Criss Angel out for an afternoon jog in Forest Park behind the WashU women's cross country team.
Of course after Allenton Road comes the Scenic Loop:
|Jerkward has only one gear, and it ain't low|
Scenic Loop, and then onto Woodland Meadows, where we would find new meaning for the term "25% grade." Down through Rockwoods Reservation on beautiful pavement gave us time to munch on snacks, and ride for a few miles in the big ring for a change. We then came to the base of Melrose, where our band of merry men had the collective wrist snapped by a dude on a tri bike in nearly his hardest gear. Getting dispatched uphill by aero bars and a sleeveless jersey was more disappointing to me than a juggalo hearing his son say that he wants to go to college. I suppose we all must learn some humility from time to time.
Melrose leads to Hwy T, which then takes us to Bassett, which then takes us to the infamous Cremin's Green, or "The Green Monster." It was here that I witnessed probably one of the most amazing performances of the day - 50 year old David F. pass my wheezing ass in a standing high cadence like I was standing still. I was reminded of a this speed comparison video:
Climbing that hill, afterwards you feel like something was cleansed from your body, and you are now stronger for it. And descending that hill, you would be able to tattoo yourself with your blazing disc rotors.
Bassett Rd, what was left of it, hurt pretty badly after Cremins. Regardless, we jammed down the backside, took a pass on visiting the monument, and continued on through some seriously beautiful scenery:
|riders up the road|
|lone homeboy on the horizon|
We saw many things on the slopes of Babler Forest, all of them noteworthy. Here's a short list:
- the lead group, which was miraculously still together in a big way, leaving as we rolled up
- a fucking dead horse being mourned by a live horse:
- 2 door 1st-gen RAV4:
This one's for Jerkward
Wildhorse Creek Road looks even bett0r when being ridden by a murder of Seagals:
Climbing Wildhorse Creek Road was tons of fun, and by tons of fun, I mean a demon hell-ride. But it provide us all with the chance to descend Rieger, climb Smith School, and get totally served by the Pfriedman's who were serving up PBJs and water - something that may or may not have saved several asses, and fueled our lap of Babl0r State P0rk.
I should mention, that at this point in the ride, we lost count of the dead squirrel corpses that were strewn as far as the eye can see, across nearly every road we set tire to. I had been figuring that someone in the lead group was picking them off just up the road from us.
By this time of day, it was becoming readily apparent that if you were still riding, there was no need to think about cutting short the route. Personally, I was feeling more and more confident as the day went on. And even though each hill hurt, I was able to recover sufficiently before hitting the next one, which meant that I never totally blew up on any climb, and never experienced any sign of cramping. That's not to say the hunger wasn't coming on strong. By the time we crested "Doberman Hill" the rumblings were coming on just in time to hit up the totally awesome gas station at Eatherton and WHC, where we stocked up on some loot, hour-6 style:
Resting at that gas station affords a person a great chance to people watch. Sunday, being a supremely nice day, we had the chance to watch dozens upon dozens of doctors, anesthesiologist, lawyers, bankers and financial investors playing the part of "badass Harley guy" on their $40,000 hogs rolling past. Good times.
That gas station, as far as I am concerned, marks the end of the monster hills. Sure, there are some tough ones yet (Orville and Shepard) but by this point in the ride, they almost felt like formalities. The more stand-out thing was the beautiful weather, the amazingly smooth pavement on Orville, and the good company. So what if we never caught the lead group - they're a buncha jerks anyway.
There were only a few miles left, up Shepard, over to Clayton, where we then hung a leroy onto Streucker, another Leroy on Valley, and finally a Ralphie onto Kehrs Mill. For bonus points, we hung a final larry into the Mitch's secret Kehr's Mill Bypass. Oooweee.
Rolling into the empty lot, both myself, KW and Dr. Sallinger were all commenting on how we all felt surprisingly good, considering what we had just did. Good signs for a sure-to-be-gnarly season. And 90+ miles is a great start:
It was seriously awesome to ride with so many people yesterday. I hope the rest of the season can treat us as well as this ride did (except you, Snurb). Next up, some gravel and mountain shit.
Stay tuned, sucka!
-Casey F. Ryback