Greetings Team Seagal Fans! As I sit here, in the A/C, my mid-section wrapped in saran wrap, feeling the pounds melt away, letting my body recover, the blur that is this past weekend is sorting itself out. After nearly 70 miles of hot 'n humid singletrack this past saturay, the only thing that I am really wanting is a Desitin enema. That, and another Pabst.
The Rapture in Misery is one of those races that we look forward to all year long, and hope to continue attending as long as it exists. Here at the Team Seagal Home Offices, there is a strong desire to want to have more people from the StL side show up for this race, as it has always been loads of fun on the trails that just put a huge smile on your face the whole time. And a noon start time is also a *very* nice way to start a race. What a badass race. Doug Long and Heartland/UFD East are excellent ambassadors for our sport.
4 Seagal soldiers received orders to be deployed up to Crowder State Park on a mission to lay waste to all that stood in their way. The Tropial Storm and I, Casey F. Ryback were to be launching a frontal assault in the 12 Hour Duo Class, while Sasha was going to attempt her 2nd 12 hour Solo race. Lawman was fresh from a recent vagina-flushing ride that removed any and all traces of sand from within his cavernous depths, and entered himself into the 6 Hour Solo Pentagon.
It would be pretty hard for this year's race to end moar tragically and full-of-shit than last year. Driving up through some very intense (possibly tropical) storms on Friday night, the TSM/CFR/Soon-to-be-Mrs.CFR Party Van (read: overloaded Nissan Maxima) arrived around 10:30 at the rendezvous point, which was literally only about 50 feet from the scene of the last year's crime. If the thought of the heinously epic race wasn't enough to get me all hot and bothered, I was further invigorated just to drive straight past the gas station/fireworks store that shit all over us last year. You know the one, it's located just north of I-70 on Hwy 65, next to an adult video store, and instead of fixing their toilets, they just ask you to throw your shitty tp in the trash can. So the thought of NOT giving the business felt particularly good. But I digress. We arrived to find Lawman and Sasha having already engaged in fraternization with some other jerks at the same campsite: Mashor, Greg Ott, Jason Pryor, Brian Busken, Z.P. and Adam Rybar, although the Holtman's were no where to be found. Word was that they got lost in the lobby of an Econolodge or something.
We hadn't even arrived before snapping the first of many wrists, this time using the chair which was strapped to the roof rack:
We arrived to find Mashor getting the E-Z-Up tend wired up to code, 120v outlets and all:
This was soon powering everything from battery chargers, to surround sound and lighting, to crock pots. All we needed were some shirtless gay Mexicans, and we would have had ourselves MFXC Dance Party No. 2.
Fortunately by the time we arrived, the rain had stopped, and it was the last precipitation we would see. Not that it would have mattered much underneath the sprawling Tent Town that was springing up at our campsite - there were so many tents that it would make the homeless dudes on the MRT jealous. It was getting so big, that there were suburbs. And to add to that, we couldn't leave the most interesting man in the world at home and not bring him to the party, so we log-jammed him into my trunk and asked him to stand next to the course, wishing racers on course good luck:
With a luxurious noon start time and the prospect of many night laps, excitement was building, as was the temperature. The Tropical Storm and I went to register, the process at which I was provided a few revelations. The first was that one lucky dude got the "666" number plate, which is my holy grail of number plates. There isn't a much more 'Metal' number plate than the one that holds the number of the beast. I mean, just listen to the Iron Maiden song of the same name, and you'll see. The other revelation was the team name that the 6hr Duo squad of Green Beans and Mike Best - "Columbia Steamers." He wouldn't define exactly what it is or how you perform this maneuver, but I can only assume that it is some variation on the old standby, the Cleveland Steamer, but with a "Missouri" twist. So perhaps this means that you have to be eating a slice of Shakespeares while doing it? Or perhaps it just has to be really humid at the time? I'd love to Nate to chime in and shed some light on this, or if anyone else has a theory...
Race day was also Mason's birthday And when our teammates give you a birthday gift, you had better be sitting down. Fortunately he was, which properly prepared him to receive his gift from Team Trail Monstor:Hopefully this will help him work on his Kegel muscles.
The heat was climbing further still though there was still no sign of rain, which was basically how last year's race started - very unassuming. However, there was one difference this year - we didn't have to run straight up a huge rocky hill, just around the field. I lined up very close to Sasha who was wearing the Stunner Shades to hide her eye of the tiger. Good thing, because she was ready to break some hearts and snap some fucking wrists. The start line of a big race is a very eerie place to be, and you pick certain things up about people. I saw Peat Henry and company, ready to embark on their first 6 hour race, saying that he just plans on pedaling for 6 hours. Good plan.
Doug Long blew the horn and we were off. I tend to hold my own on short runs like this, which helped keep me in the front of the main group of riders, and I believe, ahead of some riders who would be less confident pedaling through the first section of trail, "The Boneyard," at speed. This is one of the more lengthy and consistently technical rock gardens around. Kind of like the rock garden along the river at Chubb, but 5 times longer. I was fortunate to keep from getting hung up by anyone, despite rocks that were slicker than the bedroom floor after performing a "Columbia Steamer." It wasn't long before I found myself trading back and forth with our good buddy Joe Houston. He was laying waste to many an obstacle, and as we both crossed the dam, I realized just what will be the deciding factor of the day - managing the heat.
Riding the course on that first lap, I found myself recalling quite often that the last time I recall riding a given section of trail, it was pitch black, and in torrential rain.
Of course, we all had to make it through the first lap without going down, which I did. The whole course was still feeling the affects of the previous night's rain, and even the fire roads were slick in the turns. I wasn't the only person that I talked with that day (thought I was the person whom I spoke with the most) who said that the first lap was one of if not the hardest of the day. As I came through the staging area, there was a Tropical Storm warning going out on course, and no one would be spared. Even the Mennonite women were scared away. Seen coming through in the first couple of laps:
As the day progressed, the heat would really take it's toll on almost every person going out on course. As Masson and I were not in the Mario van Peebles class, we would take the advantage to change into fresh kits and possibly even hop down to the shower in between laps. My shoes and kits were completely soggy-soaked within 20 minutes, so being able to have a fresh kit/socks/gloves to start out each lap was excellent. I was sweating like a nun in a fleshlight factory, and electrolyte-replacement was key. After returning from my second lap, Soon-to-be-Mrs. Ryback presented me with delicious pickles, which I promptly put in me:
Spirits were still high despite the it being hotter 'n two rats screwing in a wool sock. I watched as the likes of Mashor, Greg and Todd had to take longer breaks than expected in the Tent Town cooling room before heading back out. Lawman was still sand-free:
Turns out that Peat cracked his frame within a lap or two. He managed to ride it through the next 4 laps, but on his last lap, the frame had had all the Free Awesome that it could stand, and gave up. He then had to hoof it for another 3-4 miles to get back.
Another kind soul that he met on course was generous enough to let Peat borrow his bike until the end, which he readily took advantage of. He had to admit though, that he did resort to utilizing the vast array of gears that he had available to him on the new bike.
Masson had one particularly strenuous lap, as it was at the hottest part of the day. Upon coming in, he started dropping truth bombs left and right, specifically that I would have to go out for two laps in a row. No problemo. I asked to have some bottles ready. It was on this lap that my laps started syncing up with Mitch the Mashor. He was in the Van Peebles class, and even though he had put in 2 laps more than I had at that point, he was, in true Mashor style, steamrolling through the Boneyard as fast as anyone else all day. We would trade on and off, and it was soon apparent to me, due to my unanswered-small-talk questions, that he had the iPod up to full volume and was probably jammin' to one of the following bands: A) Raffi, B) Hall and Oates, or C) DJ Poopenshaften. I would grind away up the climbs at a roughly 8.5 rpm cadence, and he would catch up and blaze past me in big ring on the fire roads. I felt my wrist start to fracture when Busken caught us both and handily left us for dead on the bottoms area. It was on one of these laps that I was slowly winching my way up the fire-road climb across the dam when Wendy came into view, and it was instantly apparent to me that she had developed a second Eye of the Tiger.
Mashor, seen here, mixing up some high octane race fuel, in his old-timey Playmate cooler:
Upon leaving on my second consecutive lap with headlight mounted, I once again was pacing with Mashor heading into the Boneyard. This was also that transitional dusk lap, where we both were entering into an exciting, yet unspoken game of "Who Can Go the Longest Without Turning Their Light On." We both made it past the big open field.
12 hour races are an interesting beast. You can get your nards handed to you in a paper bag during the day laps, only to have the game totally change in just a few short night laps.
The Tropical Storm and I sat in 5th/last place almost the whole day, only to keep shoveling coals onto the fire of the Pain Train after dark. To give you an idea as to how much solid night-riding experience and oppressive heat can make a difference, TSM's fastest lap was a night lap - over 16 minutes faster than his last day lap! A combo of those two things helped propel us to a spot where we were in contention to take 3rd place away, which happened on his last lap. He made the pass about 20 minutes in, and spent the rest of the lap being chased. He returned with about 11 minutes to spare, sending me out in 3rd place, on the last lap of the race - being chased by fresh legs on a carbon bike.
This would be my 7th lap, and my energy level was higher than any other lap. Flossing my way to the dam, I was looking back as much as forward to see if there were any headlights chasing me. Crossing the dam, I was scanning the shoreline for signs of lights, and suddenly had the idea to ask the guy at the refuel tent if, on my second pass through, he could tell me how much time separated me from the next racer. The next 2 miles were spent playing mental games, thinking about all the different possibilities and scenarios. Excitement was high as I rolled up to the tent the second time, only to be told that no one had come through yet! Woo Hoo! Of course, then I thought, in my state of fatigue, well what if he made a deal with the guy and he was lying to me, and the dude is only a minute back? I finally decided that he wouldn't do that. So I pedaled in a non-cramp inducing way to through all the different sections, and finally allowed myself to walk up the really steep fire-road climb up to the rocky left-hander.
My best thought was how this was a much better way to have a final lap than last year's, which was spent in torrential rain, flowing water on the trails, and only a desire that my brakes continue to work the rest of the lap. Instead of finishing up in a downpour of rain, I finished that lap with a downpour of beer from teammates!
second image courtesy of A. Rybar
After cleaning up a bit, we went to the award ceremony were we saw StL sweep the 12 Solo 30-39 category with Z, Busken and Mashor:
StL took 1st and 3rd in the 12 Solo 40+ with Greg Ott and Adam Rybar:
Sasha crushed her way to 3rd in her second 12 Solo!:
And TSM and I, CFR destroyed t'aints all the way to 3rd in the 12 Duo!:
Many amazing things happened at the awards ceremony. First, Sasha got a fucking Garmin as her prize. Seriously, a fucking Garmin. Secondly, I actually felt my mind's wrist get snapped the instant I learned that the fastest night lap was 51 minutes, and was set by Craig Stoeltzig on a goddamned 26" rigid fixed gear. I'll repeat that - a fixed gear. And he wasn't even beard-doping.
This year's race went off without a hitch, partially thanks to a very willing yak. And not just a smoothly-run race, as are all of the HSP races, but held on trails are are a blast to ride each lap! Doug Long has a true gem of a race-venue up in Crowder, what with bunk houses, showers, plumbing, a kitchen, and above all, motivation. The only thing this race needs is more people to show up!
The next morning my weekend was topped off with Super-Sonic Burritos, a chance to not give business to the gas station/fireworks store once again,(Pyro City is what it is called, I believe) and no sleeping bag to wring out due to torrential rain during the night. We all learned many things this weekend, such as different ways to combat nipple soreness. What a great way to spend a weekend - we all can't wait for next year!
We also can't wait for next weekend, as the Midwest Singlespeed Championships are taking place in Jeff City - look the fuck out, because it's on!
-Casey F. Ryback
p.s. apparently a synonym for 3-balled Tomcat is a "dog with two dicks." Thanks, Google.