Riding Jonesburg

Last weekend, Kate and I toured the gravel roads of Jonesburg. The following is a brief account of the awesomeness that took place.

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The proposed route was roughly 25 miles, boasting scenic river views and glamorous upscale housing.

Kinda made me homesick for Callaway County

Kinda made me homesick for Callaway County

Since neither of us had saved the route ahead of time, (y’know, cuz we’re dumbasses),  there was a bit of confusion as to the actual route. But like things usually do, it worked itself out and we were on course in short order. A bit of pavement led us to the beginning of Massas Creek road, which we followed to Tower  road. Tower road lived up to its name with some nice climbs, but the scenery was worth the pain. We saw a lot of run down homes and unleashed dogs, but there were also a LOT of really nice homes out there.

My view for most of the day: Dusty roads and Kate riding off into the distance

My view for most of the day: Dusty roads and Kate riding off into the distance

I had told my wife we’d be doing this ride at a “training pace,” but that turned out to be a dirty lie. We did a fair amount of picture taking and non-race scheming, so time got away from us a bit. It was totally worth it though, because we found a LOT of cool shit…like this sun-bleached rib-cage for example:

*Gasping sounds*

*Gasping sounds*

Scenery abounds along this road. Check out this bridge..

*Probable CP location at future non-race*

*Probable CP location at future non-race*

The road cuts through a fair bit of National Forest area, and highlights some really great landmarks along the way, like the old house in the picture below. There’s a big “No Tresspassing” sign on it, so we didn’t walk inside and see evidence of fire damage and a pillow on the floor where someone’s been sleeping inside. But if we had walked inside and seen that, it would’ve been really interesting.

 

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Further down the road we encountered a few more respectable climbs, but you’d never know it by the way Kate flew to the top and waited patiently for my fat ass to catch up. I’m gonna blame my sub-par performance on  knobby tires, but it would’nt have hurt to be a few dozen pounds lighter.

And what’s the deal with all of these plastic bags on the barb-wire fence? Is that to keep horses away or something?

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The downhills. Oh, the downhills. Toward the end of Tower road we began our descent toward the Katy Trail and it was a face melter. Fast and furious, I loved it. Here’s a shot of Kate before the big drop.

Proof that she's not quite yet over the hill

Proof that she’s not quite yet over the hill

It’s really sad the way pictures do such an injustice to the beauty of nature. Anyway, when we got to the bottom of that rip-tastic downhill, we turned east onto the wet, soft Katy Trail. This was probably the only part of the ride I didn’t like. Riding the Katy when it’s soft just sucks. But eventually that part was over and we were on our way up Massas Creek road.

Massas Creek road is totally badass. There are times when it’s so rocky and loose you wonder if it’s even a road at all. There’s definitely a felling of remoteness.The creek crossings and rock formations are a visual treat, as was the bald eagle we saw overlooking the creek. No pics of him though; he  blasted off as soon as he saw us.

We rain into a friendly local at this bridge. The Eagle was near here.

We ran into a friendly local at this bridge.

This rock face was enormous, but you’d never know it from looking at the photo.

Totally not a staged photo at all

Totally not a staged photo at all

….And Kate got to try out her fancy new waterproof cycling boots in this creek. I took the easy way out and rode across.

Handlebar mitt photoboming.

Handlebar mitt photoboming.

The rest of the way back to the truck was almost all uphill, so that was a peach. And while we both could’ve ridden further, I think we were glad to call it a day. This route was fantastic, and I mean that. Total mileage was just under 29 miles, but that included some wrong turns and a few off-course exploring rides. This ride could easily be streched to 30-50 miles, and I think it’s safe to say we’ll be riding it again very soon. Hopefully next time we’ll see you there.

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Virtuesdays are Back

The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.

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Being as I have moved to the St. Louis area, I suppose it’s time we established an East-side (of Missouri) Virtuesday tradition.

In addition to the weekly Thursday night ride, there will now be a gravel ride leaving from the Mound every Tuesday at 6:30. Distances and effort levels will vary, but the level of awesomeness will remain at a solid 10 out of 10…unless Chuck brings another flask of his homemade booze, in which case the Awesomeness will be elevated to 11 out of 10.

Tonight’s ride will be approximately 20 miles long at a moderate pace.

The only 2 requirements for these rides are as follows:

1.) If you’re a dickhead, don’t show up.

2.) We like to have a craft beer potluck after these rides, so bring a few bottles/cans of something to share with the group.

People of ALL fitness levels and body types are more than welcome to join us.

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Super shitty photo taken after last week’s ride

 

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Nine + the Super Century

I’m sad and happy, exhausted and energized. The Tour of Sufferlandria is over (you can start at the beginning right here). I’m sad because it’s over, and super happy to have finished it. I’m completely worn out after 9 straight days of suffering, my legs especially, yet I feel great, almost supercharged in a way. It’s weird.

Start of Stage 9 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

Ready to go. Rockin’ the old-school TV jerseys.

Adam and I went over to Robby’s house to suffer together. On tap for the final stage of the Tour was “ISLAGIATT,” the longest video in the Sufferfest lineup. “ISLAGIATT” stands for “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.”

I borrowed Robby’s Speed/Cadence Sensor and Adam’s Dongle again (see Stage 8 for that explanation), so I was fully hooked up to TrainerRoad for Stage 9.

I really liked “ISLAGIATT.” It didn’t feel like 2 hours even though there were 4 tough “climbs” and some attacks and fast spinning throughout. I even managed to hit 5 personal bests in Virtual Power!

All three of us were drenched with Holy Water, but we made it to the end, and finished our Tour. We finished “ISLAGIATT” with 31.52 miles.

Tour of Sufferlandria finale

The end of the Tour: 3 Virtusans and now 3 Sufferlandrians.

But our day was not over. For we had to continue on and finish the 4th annual Super Century. There were far fewer participants this year. As far as I know, it was just the three of us, my brother and teammate Casey in NY, and our friend and Virtusite, Christina.

That was kind of a bummer. There was very little back and forth on the interwebz via Twitter and Facebook. It was much less fun this year because of that. Although, it’s never exactly fun, but when we know there are more people suffering out there with us, it makes it a lot better.

We watched “Bicycle Dreams” to finish the Super Century, and it was really good. Those dudes and dudettes are nuts. The movie ended when we only had about a mile left. Almost perfect timing.

We stopped at the 45 minute mark for short break – to save our taints and refill our water bottles and to drink a delicious smoothie courtesy of Mrs. The Darkness – DELICIOUS! Then we stopped again at about an hour and 20 minutes in for the same reasons. Then we finished it up strong, although the last 8 miles or so were pretty shitty.

Super Century Complete

Super Century complete!

The Tour of Sufferlandria was so much more than I could have imagined. I’ll try to put together a recap post when I gather all my thoughts on the Tour in the next few days.

ToSfinish

It’s weird to not have a Stage to get ready for tomorrow. But this Tour came at the perfect time for me. I’ll take the next week to recover, and then I’ll take the following week to get ready for our first race of the year: The Rocheport Roubaix.

Soon, I’m heading back to Robby’s house for some hard-earned food and drink while watching the Super Bowl Commercials (since my beloved Bears decided to give someone else a chance at the Championship, I don’t really care who wins).

If you’ve followed along all through this Tour, you have serious issues. But thanks for reading.

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Eight (The One with Adam’s Dongle)

Holy shit, that was hard. Really hard. Adam and I just finished Stage Eight of the Tour of Sufferlandria, and it was terrible. Just awful. And it was also great.

If you wanna start at the beginning of this Tour, you can go check out Stage One. Or you can also go check out Stage Five – the one where I wrecked my bike on the trainer. But we’re here to talk about Stage Eight.

The Eighth Stage is the one I was most dreading. It’s also the one I was most looking forward to. Stage Eight is the Dame Alissa Memorial Stage.

Dame Alissa Memorial Stage at the Tour of Sufferlandria

From the Sufferfest Tour Page:

“Our youngest Knight of Sufferlandria, Dame Alissa Schubert, was killed earlier this year when she was hit by a truck while out cycling. Revolver was her favourite video. We dedicate this stage, the hardest stage ever to feature in the ToS, in her memory. We also dedicate it to her parents who also became Knights of Sufferlandria with Alissa. A true Sufferlandrian’s stage. Crush it.”

So this Stage had a lot of meaning for all Sufferlandrians. And it was of the utmost importance to ride this Stage with Strength and Honor.

But this morning didn’t start out so great. I had everything together and laid out before Adam arrived. Lots of water and Skratch Labs hydration mix, a few snacks, mostly-dry shoes, extra towels, etc. I thought I was ready to roll, but I was mistaken.

Preparations for Stage 8 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

I didn’t realize it yet, but something was missing.

I somehow lost my stupid Wahoo Speed and Cadence sensor that I was using to log each Stage on TrainerRoad. After all the suffering so far in this Tour, I really, really didn’t want to drop out of the TrainerRoad part of the Tour. Yes, I could still be an official “finisher” of the Tour without logging each Stage on TrainerRoad, but, to me, it would have felt incomplete.

After searching everywhere at least twice and even driving with Adam back to Robby’s house (where I last remember having it), we never found it. We even tried two bike shops for a new one. No luck. I was pretty bummed.

But at least I could still do the Stage with Adam and finish the Tour. That’s when Adam mentioned I could use his Dongle. No, not that Dongle. He had an ANT+ Dongle at his house. We went and got that to plug into my laptop so TrainerRoad could at least pick up my heart rate info from my Garmin HR Strap (which uses ANT+ instead of Bluetooth).

Fortunately, TrainerRoad is super easy to use with the Sufferfest Videos. After quickly figuring out how to use TrainerRoad on my laptop instead of my iPhone (which is what I had been using), we were back in business.

pre-stage 8 photo of the ToS

We were all smiles even though we knew it we were about to start suffering.

Adam and I mounted our steeds, and started video number one: “Revolver.” I had done this video once before, but it was done as a stand alone workout and not as the first of three videos and not after suffering for a week straight.

“Revolver” took us through 15 (or was it 16?) 1-min high intensity intervals with 1-min recovery spins in between. It started out fine, but by the last 5 or 6 intervals, we were deep in the pain cave and soaked with Holy Water.

end of part one of three of stage 8

Still smiling for the most part, but very sweaty and tired already.

Up next was “Violator.” Our transition to this video was probably a minute, maybe less even.

Again, I had already done “Violator” once previously but as a stand-alone workout. In this video, we had to do three rounds of short sprints ranging from 5 seconds to 15 seconds. Each round, the recovery periods were shortened which made it much harder.

The first round of intervals were pretty good. The intervals themselves hurt a bit, but there was ample recovery. Then the second round of intervals, with shorter recoveries, was harder. And the third round of intervals, with the shortest recovery periods – and I’m talking almost nonexistent recovery periods – really sucked. Man, that hurt.

The final two intervals had us going really hard for 15 seconds with just 15 seconds recovery. I remember thinking that we had to do those exact same interval ratio in the next video… FORTY EFFING TIMES!

end of Violater

Not so smiley any more.

We quickly filled water bottles and went potty, and then we started “Half is Easy.” This is a misnomer. I can’t recall any easy parts – even the recovery intervals felt difficult.

The stupid sprints just kept coming. Again and again. They wouldn’t let up. 10 minutes straight of sprinting for 15 seconds, “recovering” for 15 seconds. Then a few minutes recovery followed by another 10 minutes of 15/15 intervals. Pain, suffering, misery. It was terrible. But we made it.

End of Stage 8 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

We’re only smiling because we survived. Trust me, though. We were nearly dead.

And here’s a photo of Robby during his ride (he had to do it later than us and by himself – the poor bastard):

Zombie Darkness

This was taken when Robby still had two videos left.

As shitty as we felt at the end of today’s ride, we still felt great. That may not make sense, but that’s exactly how we felt. Our legs were completely fried, but were stoked for having done it.

Adam and I bro-hugged it out and said our good-byes. Then I slowly climbed the stairs out of my Bike Torture Chamber. I ate a ton of food and drank a ton of water.

I got an email to confirm that TrainerRoad did indeed record my suffering. So I’m still in it, baby! And that’s when I noticed, more than an hour later, that my legs were still acting a little funny. Take a look:

Does anyone else’s legs do this after a hard effort? Or is it just me? Seriously, I want to know.

So, we finished this stage. We have one stage left for tomorrow. I’m weirdly sad that this is coming to an end. It’s been so much fun. For real. Even though it’s been really hard, it’s been a blast.

Also, after the Stage tomorrow, we’ll continue riding until we hit a metric century to finish up the 4th annual Super Century! You should too!

Until tomorrow, suffer on, my friends.

Tour of Sufferlandria: Stage Seven (And a Super Century Reminder)

Robby and I did Stage 7 together today. It was The Sufferfest’s “The Rookie” where we had to go through three race simulations as Robby and I had tried (and succeeded of course) to make a pro team. This video is one of the newer options, and it provides some great point-of-view footage.

After the first six Stages (which you can catch up on by starting with Stage 1), my legs felt pretty good, all things considered. For whatever reason, this Stage felt like the easiest one for me. I’m guessing this is by design since tomorrow’s Stage and Sunday’s stage are going to be brutal.

Don’t misunderstand me when I say it was the easiest Stage of the Tour. We still suffered and lost a lot of Holy Water. So much so that I think I need to put a cover on my Brooks Saddle before tomorrow’s Stage. And I even managed to squeak out one medal for power on TrainerRoad on the final sprint.

The Rookie on TrainerRoad

It’s always better to suffer with a friend by my side. Sadly, we’ve been unable to ride with Adam thus far, but that will change tomorrow. Adam and I will be doing the most feared Stage (3 high intensity interval videos back to back to back) together tomorrow, but Robby will be on his own for this one because of other commitments.

End of Stage 7 of the Tour of Sufferlandria

Robby is drinking like an Orrin Gootin, and I’m… I don’t even know.

Then on Sunday, all three of us will be getting together on Sunday for the longest video in the Sufferfest lineup, ISLAGIATT (It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time), at 2 hours.

And then, to make it even harder and more stupid, we’ll continue onward until we hit 100 Km, or 62 miles – whichever comes first, to complete the 4th annual Super Century, or maybe it’ll be a Suffer Century this year since it comes at the end of the Tour. Anyone else want to join us for that? You know you want to.

Be sure to tweet and facebook at us by using #SuperCentury and/or #MyTaintHurts and/or even #SufferCentury. There really are no rules, but the idea is to suffer on your trainer together apart for a metric century on Super Bowl Sunday so we can all eat and drink whatever we want and not worry about it. So, there you go.

Let us know if you’re going to join us. And wish us luck for the next two grueling Stages.

Until tomorrow, suffer on, my friends.

 
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