2015 Tour of Hermann - C-C-C-C-CRUSHED IT!

Greetings, Gravelly Team Seagal comraderinos! What a weekend it was. For we had deployments in multiple sectors - The Castlewood Dirty Spokes mountain bike race, we had small strike team take the beaches at the Czech Festival, we had yet others on the Berryman blastin' out new nips AND singletrack, and still others (including myself, the Coarch) deeply entrenched within the bowels of the Tour of Hermann Gravel Challenge - a gravelly paradise that would make ole' Crazy Jim hungry.

The loops conceived by the ToH overlord, Jeff, are truly something to behold. Even if he wanted to make a relatively easy route involving very mild climbing, it would be nearly impossible to do so, given the terrain on which the Hermann region sits. That is, unless you just scooted your tender t'aint across the bridge and just did fun loops with the family up and down the Katy Trail all day long. Good luck with that though - your family probably already thinks you're a gigantic loser for riding bikes. I mean, let's be honest - we are huge dorks. To the rest of humanity, we look like this:

While Skeezy was busy getting back-handed comments and causing jam-jobs on the downhills at the surprisingly-dry Castlewood Dirty Spokes race, I woke my ass up well before the crack of dawn (inside the crack... of dawn?) to strap into the Crotch-Mobile (read: rusty Nissan) in order to be in the hamlet of Hermann with plenty of time for lift-off on Saturday morning. And after topping by the gas station for provisions and coffee, I set to planning my next summit attempt of Mt. Kohler - an attempt that wouldn't be realized until I reach the town of Hermann, or more specifically the Hermann Hardee's.

Having finished filing my morning paperwork, it was game on. Being the only one with our kit that day, I was charged with flying the stinky flag of doom alone. And having just freshly applied a liberal dollop of tingly t'aint balm to my undercarriage, I was ready to carry the flag all day.

The Paris Roubaix starting pits are a sea of 30mm FMB tubulars glued to carbon box-section rims and inflated to 63 psi, intermixed with more cushy layers of bar tape than there are beer snobs at your local mountain bike race. Well, gravel events aren't so different, but the tires are more like 40mm, the pressure dipping into the 30's, and there are a lot more hairy legs.

After a few kind words from JY, and we were off through town center. I was surprised at the speed at which our initial roll-out towards the Katy was moving - 22/23 mph, and I later learned that our boy Peat was choo-choo-ing at the tip of the spear with Butthead in the 28 mph range. Yowza! They were moving faster than technology in the eyes of that flat-pedal using, friction-shifting, boner of a retro-grouch that you don't want to talk to. So I was taking full advantage of the free speed afforded to me by the draft of other big hairy dudes, and by my still-working big ring. But it wasn't long before the pace-lining would come to an end, and we would be in the hills. So as we passed the big stuffed carnival bear in the rock-face, I knew the hills were upon us:
this is real, I swear. shut up.

The roads on the north side of the Missouri River seem to be more hard-packed, with a finer grit of gravel. Most of the time, they are so groomed to the point it could probably be suitable for one of those Rapha Vanity Races Gentleman's Races. So the first loop, while stacked with some gnarly climbs, flew by. For a brief period, I had a near-shitting-myself moment where I found my front Ultegra 6800 shifter stuck in the big ring. The thought of attempting this full day of climbing steep bullshit with a 50t ring had me thinking about committing seppuku by turning my bike over and impaling myself onto my grimy chainring. Fortunately, a swift kick from my carbon shoe sole put my chain where it belonged, and where it would stay for the next 130 miles, the small ring.

Arriving back at the car, we topped off bottles, ate some shit, got freshly-doped blood, and then proceeded to make like a fetus and head out. Loop two starts with one of the longest climbs of the day, it's only saving grace being that it is paved, which allows for some much-appreciated out-of-the-saddle-climbing time. Loop two and loop three are quite similar in fact, in that after the initial climb, they mellow out for a little while before repeatedly punching you directly in the nut-sack/v-hole. That isn't to say that there wasn't plenty of beautiful scenery. After the long cold months, it was a pleasure to see some great color out there - MANY big fields that were blanketed with a sea of these purple flowery plants:

I carried just enough food with me on the second loop to keep my from bonking before finishing back at the car, where I smashed a surprisingly delicious Gigi's turkey sammich on a pretzel bun. It was so satisfying, that I didn't need to eat much at all for the next several hours. Ooooo-fucking-weeee. That is good, because after pulling out for the third lap, I had plenty of time to think, rather than talk to the no one around me, and the last thing I wanted to think about was being hungry. Loop 3 I was Mario Van Peeble style, although I did briefly encounter some other people on their own solo mission, not to mention leaving olde man winter in my dust on one particularly long descent. The entire time though, I was counting down the miles until the most notorious climb from day 1 showed up: Bickmeyer Road. If you did loop 3, you remember it well - it was the only climb anyone talked about from that route. It was probably ten minutes of being in my easiest gear at about 3mph. After 80 miles. It was harder to ride up that hill than it is to listen to some douche-nozzle brag about their fucking downhill strava segments at Castlewood Park.

Camping in Hermann City Park is most excellent. Sitting around a campfire, we discussed many things, the least of which not being why anyone *cough cough Adam C. cough* would want to ride their singlespeed mountain bike (with trail gearing) down the Katy from StL all the way to Columbia. It is my belief that I would rather use the shitter immediately after post-Dos-Primos Borb Jorkins blows it up than do that ride on the SS mtb. Amirite?

Day two, reinforcements arrived from Team Seagal HQ in the form of Mr. and Mrs. Orin Boyd. It was certain to be a glorious day, though one loop was about all I had time for. The first loop was a rolling start of about 17 miles of training down the Katy in my granny ring:
It immediately got nice and climby once we exited the Katy, and never stopped until we got back onto the Katy, near the cliff-bear. Each climb was slow and steady, always keeping the cramps at bay. But the views and scenery were never ending, such as smoke from the Callaway Nuclear Reactor over the horizon:

...not to mention beautiful roads like this:

Over the course of loop 4, I was mostly a part of a loosely-congealed group involving a handful of Momentum d00dz, Snurb's inked co-worker Justin W and his buddy (both of whom are admirably training for the Louisville Ironman), Titty and his better half, not to mention a cool cat from Quincy, Jacob S, on his sweet, vintage TCX disc. There were several hills out this way that were simply brain-scrambling. It certainly helped to have some company of similar ability to stick with, especially once we returned to the Katy for time on the Wo-Man Train express:

Our grouplet coasted into Hermann City Park, oozing glory out of our pores, and most of the orifices. And what do I find upon arriving back at the park, but our good friend, Nico Toscani! He has been solo-missioning his way westward via the Katy Trail since early that morning. He truly is a massive jerk, and one who knows his frozen pizza.

What a great ride this was - near perfect, I would say. And what a fantastic deal! Two days of nearly 200 miles of supported riding available for $40? How can you beat that? There is even the chance of getting wine. Just in case, I brought plenty of Stag, that I will drink the fucking shit out of. What's next on the agenda? Only a little thing called the Cedar Cross! The most crunkenest time you'll evar have on a gravel road. Mr. Jorkins is a true honorary jerk, of the highest order. This much has nevar been in dispute, especially since his initial throwing down of the egg nog gauntlet, many moons ago. And as only a true jerk would do, his fantastic event, Cedar Cross will be one of the greatest things that you could ever imagine doing in your entire life. Bearing children included. Word is that Superkate, crusher of shit, is bring homemade cookies. Trust me when I say you want Kate's soft, moist cookies, bruh.

Unfortunately for me, my hairy wanna-be ass will be unable to attend the Ced0r Cr0ss, as a result of legitimately important family memorial on the same day. However, fear n0t. There are moar events this year to attend, and more things to crap all over. Rest assured, this year is becoming more and more full of victory as we speak. Additionally, both I and C-Dubs are becoming more and more full of turds as we speak, which will inevitably result in multiple summit attempts before the day is over. Now, I had better finish this fucking post before I start making grammar and spelling errors that autocorrect isn't able to account for, on account of a few too many of deez:

You still out there, Doctor?

Don't forget, as Sully in Commando sez, "Get fucked!"
-Casey F. Ryback

P.S. Look at who took 3rd at the Snake Creek TT, and made it to the Kona Cog - of Team Red Wheel, and and all-around nice-as-shit guy, Turbo! http://cog.konaworld.com/march-madness-with-kona-grassroots-rider-cory-rimmer/

Had he been on a Kona, who knows what would have happened.


Anonymous said...

Nice write-up. FYI, the picture of Turbo is from the Chickasaw Trace Classic.

New East Coast Syndicate said...

Truly stellar tale of cycling ventures and I am sure there will be moar to come (especially once I arrive).

harada57 said...