Greetings, Team Seagal fans. Due to circumstances beyond my control, my inability to be present at the (postponed) Broemmelsiek proceedings this Sunday, I was forced to procure other plans for a day's worth of riding over the weekend. And I had recently read a lengthy account from 1923 of a "tour" that the StL. Cycling Club had taken through Calhoun County. In that account, they spoke of quiet, pristine farms, undulating roads, and lots of euphoria. And with myself having briefly passed through there once before, I knew they weren't fibbing. So I decided that I needed to conquer that land in the name of Team Seagal.
If you don't know where this place is, it is essentially just across the river from Grafton, IL. If you have ever done a "two-ferry" ride stretching from IL into St. Charles County, then you have most likely passed through it - seen here. Bordered by the Illinois and Mississippi river, there is almost zero traffic.
I enlisted a trio of indigenous tribesmen to help me lay down a reign of terror over the narrow county, and neighboring Jersey county. 3 strapping young lads - Jason, Justin, and Nick were manning the forward cannons laying down suppressive fire and piloting the Pain Train, while I was in the lower level shoveling coal on the fire to keep it burning hot.
Our landing zone, or LZ, was in Grafton. We were quickly on our plastic horses, but before going to the ferry, we were first to take a loop inland a little bit, namely up Graham Hallow Rd in the first 10 minutes. That certainly punched my legs in the face. But once we were on high ground, the terrain rolled along pleasantly before we plunged into another valley, myself reaching 48mph (on a twisty descent I'd never been on) while Jason broke well into the 50's. I quickly slammed a Mountain Dew before we hit the another hill, the top of which I could not see until I was rolling over it.
Not many photos to speak of at this point, as we were man-training at an unstoppable pace, until we circled back around into Pere Marquette State Park, where they introduced me to Army Road, which has to be one of the coolest road descents in the greater St. Louis Metro Area - even better than Woods Rd.
Soon, we were at the Brussels Ferry, the landing of which was being over-run with some soda-thirsty bugs:
The ferry boat captain was most certainly an expert at snapping the wrist of the river - he coaxed that ferry from landing to landing as well as Criss Angel coaxes underage dudes into his van. Yeah, he was good.
Riding away from the ferry onto the roads of Calhoun County, I was regaled with many a not-so-tall tale of the God of Alton, and the ease of which he smashes all that stand before him. And this was even despite his age. One thing I learned on this trip was that in Illinois, you seemingly get faster and more locomotive-like as you get older. What a weird land this was.
We choo-choo'd down quiet country roads, past countless apple orchards and corn fields, past southern-plantation-style farms, and finally resting on a hilltop:
I allowed my guides remote access to the Team Seagal supercomputer, which we were able to use to plot out the next leg of our journey. This took us to the Golden Eagle Country Store, which I quickly learned was friendly ground:
After refilling with fizzy fountain drinks and homemade brownies, we got back on board the Pain Train: ...where we loaded back onto the ferry and started the last leg.
And by last leg, I'm referring to Springfield Road. "Hey, we gotta show the Coach Springfield Road - my Garmin registered 29% last time!" Not being one to back down from a stupid-painful hill, despite my 215lb body, I said "yeah, fuck that hill - let's go do it." So we reached the bottom of it, and my first thought was actually "Damn, it's a good thing I got a haircut two days ago so I don't have to carry all that extra weight up this mother fucker..." Then I took this photo: After you round the corner at the top of this shot, it flattens out to a false-flat of only 18%, then kicks back up to finish off whatever is left of your legs. Cresting the top of the hill, I was glad to know that all we had to do was roll our way over to Rte 3 where we would descend like exhausted madmen for like 2 straight miles back to our cars.
And thus ended my stay in that foreign land. I found their people to be hospitable, and their roads to be smooth-ish. Two things are for sure: it isn't as flat as you'd think, and we need to launch a full-fledged Seagal Assault onto Calhoun County, and push the boundaries of our known lands further north into the hill country, where we will keep the tradition of crushing the roads on a bike alive.
From my handlebar:
We crushed it like this "Strapping Young Lad:"
-Casey F. Ryback