I’ve regretted coming up 6 or 7 miles short of a metric century at the Rocheport Roubaix a few weeks ago. The race was 55 miles, but the weather was bitterly cold – like in the teens with high winds kind of cold. My feet were frozen, and I was exhausted at the end of that race, and the warm cafe was too inviting, so I didn’t go out and ride the extra mileage to get credit toward earning my Cup O’ Dirt.
So, I really wanted to ride a metric century (62 miles for those of you who don’t want to Google how far a kilometer is) as soon as the weather turned halfway decent. But we weren’t just blessed with halfway decent weather last weekend. The weather was simply superb for early March.
Travis, Bob, and Jim joined me in Mokane to do the Cock Gobbler Ride. – 53 miles so we were planning on adding some Katy Trail miles to the end of the ride to hit 62 miles total. We met at the Katy Trail parking lot and took an obligatory pre-ride photo.
It was sunny but cool at the start of our ride. The first climb had us plenty warmed up. The gravel was super smooth and hardpacked, and the wind was at our backs. It just couldn’t get any better.
We soon found ourselves close enough to the local Casey’s General Store, so we obviously stopped for some delicous breakfast pizza, Spike Energy Shots, and other beverages and snacks. I may or may not have spilled Travis’s Monster drink, and I may or may not have sucked the spilled beverage off the sidewalk. No photos were taken, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.
We rolled out of the Casey’s parking lot onto the pavement for a short stretch before we got back onto the gravel. There were some good climbs, lots of laughs, a few deep conversations, and several pee breaks. See for yourself…
Shortly after this pee break, we found the remnants of an unlucky victim of last year’s Cedar Cross. We stopped for a moment of silence (and to take photos of course).
One other, uh… “highlight” of the ride was seeing a beautiful creek from a rural bridge. The breathtaking view brought us an immense feeling of peace and serenity. All felt right in the world until Jim said, “What the hell is that?!” We all turned to look, and we saw this:
At first we thought it was just some trash, maybe some old house insulation thrown over the bridge. But that wasn’t it. It took us a minute to realize what it was. Here’s a closer photo for you. See if you can tell what it is.
Look closely and you can see a tail, an ear, and at least two snouts of pigs along with intestines and other various organs, skin, and what not. Nasty. And this is a good reminder of why we should ALWAYS treat any water out of a creek, river, pond, or lake before drinking it.
After that, we were of course hungry, so it was great to find ourselves at the Hams Prairie Store, home of the world’s best hard salami sammiches. Or so I’ve been told. I have yet to experience the deliciousness, and since I had forgotten to bring any money, this ride would be no different. But Bob bought himself a sammich and shared it with me, and it truly was delicious. For those of you riding The Cedar Cross, make sure you get there early enough so they don’t run out of salami like they did when I first rode Cedar Cross!
Before long, we made it to the nuclear power plan near Fulton. Again, those of you who are riding Cedar Cross should be sure to stop for a photo here.
Sadly, Adam and Robby couldn’t join us even though they both wanted too. Adam had to work, which is only a marginally acceptable excuse. Robby had hernia surgery the day before, so that’s a little more understandable. The first thing Robby said as he awoke after surgery was, “Ask the doctor if I can ride tomorrow.” And that, ladies and gents, is why he is the mutha-effin’ Darkness!
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure and sheer joy of riding with Bob Jenkins, he often does some cool shit on a bike. Most of it scares the hell out of me, and I’m too chicken to even attempt it. He can stand up on his bike while hauling ass down a bumpy gravel road with his arms out wide à la Jack Dawson doing his King of the World bit in “Titanic.” Not that I watched that chick flick. And I definitely didn’t cry when I didn’t watch it.
Here is a series of photos of Bob “Jack Dawson” Jenkins working his magic. And yes, this is on pavement, but I assure you I have seen him do this flying downhill on gravel roads. And if you’re reading this, Mama Jenkins, I’m totally kidding. Bob would never do such a thing.
Toward the end of the ride, we were supposed to ride the Katy Trail for several miles. That wasn’t gonna happen. With the snowmelt from earlier in the week, the Katy Trail was way too soft. It was like riding through two inches of peanut butter, and I say that from experience.
So we altered the route, adding more gravel with stupid headwinds. The last few miles hurt, but we made it the full 62 miles. My first metric century of the year! Woo hoo!
Jim and Travis had other obligations, but Bob and I grabbed some beer and wings and headed over to The Darkness residence to surprise Robby.
It was great to see Robby after the ride. He was moving a little gingerly, but he’s one tough SOB. Every once in awhile, he’d just punch himself in the stomach to show us how many he is. Very impressive.
Sights were seen, farts were ripped, and many miles were ridden. And one century toward my Cup O’ Dirt is in the books.
Last weekend, Kate and I toured the gravel roads of Jonesburg. The following is a brief account of the awesomeness that took place.
The proposed route was roughly 25 miles, boasting scenic river views and glamorous upscale housing.
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.
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:
Scenery abounds along this road. Check out this bridge..
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.
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?
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.
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.
This rock face was enormous, but you’d never know it from looking at the photo.
….And Kate got to try out her fancy new waterproof cycling boots in this creek. I took the easy way out and rode across.
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.
The more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
And here’s a photo of Robby during his ride (he had to do it later than us and by himself – the poor bastard):
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.