It might take me awhile to express how amazing our weekend at Ray’s Indoor MTB Park truly was. Even when I get around to writing about it, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to describe just how much fun we had – kidnapping Bob, the laughs, the road trip, the jokes, the great food, the laughs, the new nicknames, the laughs, and of course the riding. It was a weekend by which all other weekends will be measured, and in measuring, all other weekends will pale in comparison.
In the meantime, however, here is a video of some of our “outtakes” from Ray’s. Just remember, this video doesn’t even compare to how it really was, but you can tell we had a blast… even when we were screwing up (which we did A LOT!). Enjoy…
As you can see, there were no videos of Kage crashing her bike. That’s because her skills are far superior to ours… Or it’s because she is a crash ninja and only crashed when no one was there to witness it. You decide.
I’d like to thank my teammates for joining the celebration of Bob’s upcoming wedding. It couldn’t have happened without you guys.
And I’d like to tell Bob that we really do love you, man. Seriously. Good luck in your new life. Please don’t forget us. We’ll never forget you… And we’ll never forget this weekend.
It’s here, ladies and gentlemen. After a full year of anticipation, the second annual Martin Luther King Ride (MLK2) is THIS SATURDAY! Last year we simply had way too much fun (thanks to the Hoosier Daddies), so we’re doing it again. I can’t even tell you how awesome this ride/party was last year. I’m not kidding. It was amazing. Just go read the report linked above.
We’re meeting at the Berryman Campground Trailhead (Google Map Here) at 8:00 AM on Saturday, January 19th. We’ll probably roll out at 8:30-ish. Last year, there were some wickedly fast dudes who rode the entire 25-26 mile loop, but there were also fat, slow guys (Me) that only did part of the trail. So don’t be shy. It doesn’t matter if you ride 2 miles, 25 miles or no miles at all. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, veteran or newby, blue-eyed or brown-eyed. All that matters is you aren’t a douche bag and you want to ride and have fun with like-minded people.
The Hoosier Daddies made the first annual MLK Ride one helluva party, and they’re planning on doing it again. They’re bringing beer, brats, buns, plates, a grill, some tunes, and the oh-so-delicious blackberry whiskey. If you’re so inclined, bring a dish to share. That would be swell.
The weather looks like it’s going to be nearly perfect, so make sure you’re there. Leave us a comment to let us know you’re coming, or head over to the facebook event page to do so and get any last minute updates. While you’re there, be sure to like our team page as well. And leave a comment here or on the facebook page if you want to carpool with anyone. I know some people are looking for a ride to split the gas in the Jeff City area, so again, don’t be shy. Speak up!
We’ll have riders from St. Louis, Mid-Mo, Kansas City, Rolla, Springfield, and who knows where else. There is even talk of some people camping the night before and/or after. Single track, food, beer, cookies, camping, whiskey, tons of laughs… There will be something for everyone! C’mon. You know you want to be there.
Lastly, Here is a link to some trail info including a pdf of a trail map of the Berryman Trail: Click Me! So if you don’t want to miss the best ride of the year (so far), then we’ll see you on Saturday!
***NOTE: This race report was written by Luke and is presented in black text. Casey added some comments and are presented to you in Red, Bob’s comments are in Green, and Kage’s comments are in Navy Blue. Luke added a response or two in Purple. If you need to get caught up, you can read part 1 here.***
Trek Leg #1 – 7:30 AM Saturday:
It was go-time, and we set off jogging at a nice easy pace for the first quarter of a mile or so. We then slowed to our endurance trekking pace. As we left the pavement behind and headed onto the trail, we noticed a couple of people running back toward us. It was Team Tecnu, one of the top adventure racing teams in the country. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but I believe one of them forgot or dropped their passport. Regardless, I’d like everyone to know that there was a moment, however fleeting it may have been, when Team Virtus was ahead of Team Tecnu… And I have photos to prove it:
CASEY: So the eventual winner of the race (Team Tecnu) had to pass everybody in the race from this point. They went from last to first. I’d love to know when they regained the lead.
Luke: Great, Casey. Now you ruined it, and everyone knows we didn’t win the race. Nice going.
As we watched Team Tecnu fly down the trail ahead of us, we noticed that Casey was starting to fall behind. I asked him how he was feeling. “Not good.” I asked if it was his legs cramping up. “Yup.” It was literally 7 minutes into a 28-hour race.
Casey has had some issues with this in the past. In fact, the cramps flared up on him about 6 weeks before the race. It was bad enough to make Casey consider pulling out of this race since he was worried that he might not be able to finish it. He just didn’t want to be the reason for a DNF. He worked on his nutrition, though, and he took some time off from training. The cramps seemed to disappear, so we thought we were good to go for LBL. However, we knew there was a possibility that the cramping might rear its ugly head at some point during this race, but we never imagined it would happen so soon.
At the High Profile Adventure Camp last year, we learned from Robyn Benincasa that a true team works together and does whatever is necessary to keep moving forward no matter what. So, rather than poke fun at Casey and tease him like we used to do, we all gladly took turns carrying Casey’s pack for awhile, and we slowed our pace substantially. So there we were, just 7 minutes into the race, in dead last, moving really slowly… even by our standards. But we kept moving, and that’s the important part.
Casey seemed really pissed, but there was nothing more he could have done to prevent this. Bob, Kage, and I were fine with the pace, though. We just wanted to take it easy to see if things got better for him, but he was really beating himself up. Sensing that Casey was dwelling on something that was out of his control, Kage stepped in and worked her magic. You see, when Kage isn’t being a bad-ass on the trails, she is a special education teacher. She used her mad teaching skillz to talk Casey out of his funk. The diversionary tactics seemed to work, and Casey’s spirits brightened significantly.
Kage: To give credit where it’s due, Casey’s a much better conversationalist than my first graders. And it gave me a chance to ask him what I always wonder when I watch a fight: why would you want to do that? Honestly, I still don’t get it, but now I have his perspective.
Luke: We really could have used you at The Thunder Rolls two years ago when I morphed into Betty White.
During this slow trek (and throughout the whole race for that matter), Bob gave us quite an education. You see, he’s been watching a ton of Man Woman Wild, Survivorman, and Bear Grylls-type shows lately. He has a wealth of knowledge (or “knowledge”). Anytime there was a lull in the conversation, Bob would say, “In a survival situation…” And then he would drop a knowledge bomb on us. Here’s one of my favorites: “In a survival situation, you can dry out your own turd in the sun and then use it as a fire starter.” Here’s one more little gem: “In a survival situation, you can rip off the nail of your big toe to use as a makeshift knife.” It was edutainment at its finest.
Bob: One of these days when we’re lost in the Alaskan tundra and the only thing keeping us warm is dried, smoldering animal poo….you’ll thank me.
We reached Checkpoint (CP) 1 when we noticed two people running back toward us. We were shocked that there was anyone still this far back. It was half of Team Punisher. I’m not sure what happened, but they must have missed the CP, so they had to come back to get it. On our way to CP2, the same thing happened. Two of their team were running back towards us, but this time the other two showed up a few minutes later. We discussed where we thought we were on the map, but we soon took different routes as Team Punisher ran off into the woods and we maintained our slow and steady pace along the trail, hoping Casey’s cramps would vanish.
Team Punisher looked like they were serious runners and in top shape. Not to mention being the best dressed team. I’m still a little bummed we never found out what (if) he was wearing under that kilt. I figured they would beat us to CP2, but as we headed off-trail toward the CP, Team Punisher came over the ridge behind us. We arrived at the CP just ahead of them. Team Punisher then decided to take a direct bearing to CP3 while we opted for the trail and found CP3 fairly quickly. We never saw Team Punisher again, and we later learned that they had to drop out because of bike issues.
The only issue we had with the first 3 CP’s was judging our distance. We had been moving so slowly that we were always second-guessing whether or not we had gone too far or not far enough. Fortunately, Casey’s legs were feeling much better, and he was able to take his pack back. We were still moving more slowly than usual just to be safe, but we were at least moving a bit faster at this point.
CASEY: I was feeling better but I wasn’t out of the woods yet (both literally and figuratively). My legs were really touch and go for quite some time and they could have gone either way. If they seized up, our race was over. We kept moving and hoped the AR Gods would smile upon us.
On the way to CP4 and the first Transition Area (TA), we somehow completely missed where the trail turns. Actually, that’s not true. Kage actually pointed out the trail we should have taken, and for whatever reason, I thought it was the wrong one. So, this was my mistake completely.
Kage: Yeah, but I for one spent way too much time coasting and waiting for you to tell me where to go rather than taking responsibility for paying attention to what was supposed to be coming up next. I think your job would have been a lot easier if the rest of us had stepped up a little.
Luke: I blame Adam.
Fortunately, we saw another team hiking back towards us which made me double-check the map. Rather than back-tracking on the trail, we decided to bushwhack through the woods…
…and then we trekked along the beach and up to the TA and CP4.
We made it to the TA about the same time as the other team we saw that had taken the same wrong turn that we did. They rolled out before we did, and there was only one other set of bikes left at the TA – Team Punisher’s. Well, even with the cramps and a wrong turn, at least we weren’t in last place, right? We transitioned to the bikes fairly quickly, although we still have a looong way to go before I’d consider us a good transitioning team.
Bob: We suck at transitioning. We really need to work on that.
Bike Leg #1 – 10:19 AM Saturday Morning – 2 hours 49 minutes racing
We said good-bye to the wonderful volunteers, and we hopped on our bikes for some sweet single track. We were having a lot of fun… Maybe too much fun since we blew by the first biking CP. Casey and Bob had pulled off the trail to get some shots of Kage and I crossing a creek.
Kage:Luke’s too nice to say it (though not too nice to christen me MawMaw during the race), but he rode across the creek and I walked across the creek.
CP5 was located at a trail/creek junction, the very junction at which we stopped to take photos, and unfortunately, we never saw the CP. Four people, eight eyes, and we still didn’t see the CP even though we were literally standing two yards away from it. Doh!
CASEY: I actually noticed something on the tree as I rode by, but I kept going. I never for a second thought it was a CP. I didn’t know we were coming up to one so soon. I guess I should have known to keep an eye out for one. I need to do a better job sneaking peaks at the map and asking Luke what we are looking for.
Now in our defense, when a CP is placed along a trail or road, there is no orange and white flag. There is only a cable with a passport puncher hanging from a tree, a post, or a road sign. Still, we should have never missed this CP. Fortunately, we didn’t go very far before we caught our mistake. As we stood there looking at the map, Bob somehow managed to fall into, onto, and over Casey’s bike, cutting his leg in the process. Of course, I used my ninja skills to snap a few shots before he managed to get back to his feet. It was pretty damn hilarious.
Of course, nobody laughed at all, and Casey even helped Bob up. Once we made sure he was okay, we hopped back on the bikes and easily found the CP that never should have been missed.
Bob: As much as it hurt, I came away with a really cool scar…six separate chainring scratches that look just like a Steak ‘n’ Shake logo. Totally worth it.
CASEY: Not only did he cut his leg, he left skin and blood on my gear teeth…Gross! I later found out that in a “survival situation” you can actually use your own blood (or a teammate’s') to lubricate your chain. I guess Bob was just looking out for me.
The rest of the CP’s in the first bike section were easily found, but that doesn’t mean getting to them was uneventful. Kage’s bike was jumping gears like crazy. If you’ve never ridden when your bike does this, trust me. It sucks. We tried to adjust it for her, and then Bob decided to hop on the bike to see what he could figure out. After adjusting the height of the saddle on Bob’s bike, Kage hopped on it for a bit while Bob rode her bike. After a while, Bob managed to dial in Kage’s bike a little bit (although it wasn’t perfect), so they switched bikes back once again.
Kage: Now I want a 29er.
However, when Bob went to raise the saddle back up on his bike, the seat clamp wouldn’t completely tighten. Eventually, Bob just tightened it down as much as he could and had to leave the clamp open. So Bob was riding on a saddle that was too low, and every time he pedaled, his thigh would hit the open clamp. His seat also would shift side to side with each pedal. I imagine this created extra friction in the taint region. Way to suck it up Bob. It couldn’t have been fun or comfortable, but Bob’s a trooper. I never heard him complain, but watching him ride that bike from behind did NOT look like fun.
Kage: I felt like crap the rest of the day thinking about that bike seat…no good deed goes unpunished, Bob.
Luke: Again, I blame Adam.
Bob: My taint will never be the same.
The single track was a blast, and so far the storms were still holding off. During this bike leg, Casey crashed once (but somehow we never got a shot of it), and Kage crashed twice. Neither of them was hurt, and it provided some comic relief.
CASEY: I landed with much less grace than Kage did. It looked almost as if she was just sitting down for a rest. I, on the other hand, landed on the top of my helmet and did a complete somersault. Maybe as I age I’ll learn how to fall more gracefully (I guess you learn how to fall to prevent breaking a hip).
Casey’s cramps seemed to be gone. (They were gone only because I stopped talking about them. They weren’t too painful any more but felt like they might totally seize up at any minute.) We just hoped that they wouldn’t come back to haunt us later in the race. We got CP7 under a bridge, and then we hopped onto some old forest roads and then some paved roads as we made our way to CP8 to transition to the first paddling leg.
We made it to the TA at CP8 a little after 1:00 PM on Saturday, and there were several other teams getting ready to start their paddle. All but two (I think) were 12-hour teams, though, and it was here where we learned that Team Punisher had to pull out of the race. So, we were guaranteed to not finish last…
That is if we finished at all, and that was definitely not guaranteed. In fact, just making it to the TA at CP8 was a miracle with all of the problems we had already faced:
Cramps just seven minutes into the race…
Kage’s bike issues…
Bob’s saddle issues…
My sucking at orienteering issues…
All of this, and Casey hadn’t even quit the team yet.
To Be Continued…
Casey and his family have come and gone, and although my house is a little quieter, they are already missed. We made the most of our time together, though. We rode 14 miles of single track, over 75 miles of gravel together, and we spent the weekend with family for my grandma’s 90th birthday party. If you haven’t seen the video from our Dirty Jenkins ride, then I suggest you drop everything and do so right now! Below you’ll find some photos and a video from our mountain bike ride at Honey Run down at Lake of the Ozarks. Hopefully this will satisfy your insatiable hunger for all things Virtus until we get a post and video ready of our Boone-Doggle Ride (that Bob had to miss). Here you go… Enjoy…
Perhaps the best group ride that has ever taken place since the dawn of time went down this past Saturday. Seriously, it really was the best. If you don’t believe me, it’s because you weren’t there. And it all started on a whim on our team’s facebook page back on December 23rd, 2011:
This small little post got a decent response. It sounded like 4 or 5 people were interested in getting together for a ride on the Berryman Trail. So, I decided to throw up an short “Just for Fun Friday” post here on our blog to make it official by inviting everyone that reads this blog (all three of you) to the ride. That post also got a good response with a couple of “maybes” (Kage and Travis), and some “definitelies” (Kage’s brother, Jim, all the way from Wisconsin and four Hoosier Daddies). We also had a couple of new people commenting on the blog and showing some interest in the ride. Then Jim Davis posted our ride on the GORC forums. This drummed up even more interest with at least two more confirmed riders. (Thanks, Jim!)
At this point, this was quickly turning into the largest group mountain bike ride I’ve ever been on.
As the 14th of January drew nearer, I wrote another blog post with more details about the when and where for the ride. In the comments to that blog post, we had more riders interested, and we received a great lesson on why you should NEVER use UrbanDictionary.com to check your spelling (although, I don’t think anyone other than Casey needed that lesson).
And then the Hoosier Daddies made the ride even more irresistible with a blog post promising brats, burgers and beer. So between our blog posts, our facebook page, the GORC forum, the Hoosier Daddies, and any other site that posted a link to this ride, it had snowballed to around 30 riders that might show up. I was blown away.
So, on Friday the 13th, Bob and I headed to my sweet, little Grandma’s house in Cuba where we were meeting Kage and Jim. Now, my Grandma will be 90 years old on February 9th. She is blind in one eye. She is missing part of her femur and literally has no hip on one side. Despite all that, she still lives alone, and she still made us a feast of Teriyaki roast, rotisserie chicken, green beans, corn, salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh cantaloupe, strawberries (lots of strawberries actually), sheet cake (delicious), and of course her famous chocolate chip cookies:
The next morning, Bob and I awoke before 5:00 AM to sign up for the Dirty Kanza, and then we went back to bed. It wasn’t long, though, before the tantalizing smell of bacon filled the room. We all woke up to another feast of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, cantaloupe, grapes, toast, and of course more sheet cake and cookies. And my grandma actually apologized for not making the biscuits from scratch! Can you believe that?!? She lets me bring 3 of my friends to stay at her house, and she has the nerve to use Pillsbury Biscuits instead of making them from scratch?!?!? I apologize to Kate, Jim, and Bob for such inhospitable accommodations. But seriously, my grandma is an amazing woman, and I can’t thank her enough.
With the snow we had recently received and the temperature in the low 20′s when we set out for Berryman, I was really expecting a much smaller turn out than we previously anticipated. I figured we had 10 people between our group and the Hoosier Daddies, and I thought a few more might still show up. If there were 15 riders, I’d still be ecstatic. When we pulled into the parking lot, however, it was clear that people were needing a group ride as badly as I was.
The parking lot was packed, and although I didn’t take an official headcount, I counted 25 riders altogether. I couldn’t believe it! There were many friends that I had already met, and there were even more people that I had never met. If I never got a chance to actually introduce myself and say hello, I apologize.
I tried to get Bob to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance or our National Anthem, but he chickened out. He’s soooo worried about what people might think of him, because you know, “Image is everything” with us Virtusans. We quickly geared up and got our bikes ready. The Hoosier Daddies handed out maps to anyone that needed one (including me since I forgot to bring one), and more importantly they handed out some travel-size Blackberry Whiskey, courtesy of Bourbon Family Center. Big thanks for the whiskey!
After stocking up with maps and whiskey, we headed into the woods on the Berryman Trail. The faster riders naturally headed out first, and the slower riders (me) stayed to the back of the pack. The trails were snow-covered at the start of the ride, but as the day wore on, only the trails that hadn’t seen much sun stayed covered with snow and ice. The trails were surprisingly ride-able, though. My small back-of-the-pack group consisted of Kage, Jim, Travis, Aaron, Bob, and me. I knew I’d be too slow for Aaron, so I let him around me when I stopped to take some photos.
The first 5 or 6 miles of the Berryman Trail heading clockwise from the Berryman Campground has had a lot of work done to it. I’m not sure if it was the Ozark Trail Association or GORC or both, but I’d like to say a big “Thank You!” to anyone that has worked on this trail. It was a lot more fun and a lot more ride-able than it used to be. The creek crossings were so smooth. Take a look:
It wasn’t long before we needed to stop to shed some layers. Even though it was only 25 degrees or so, the sun was out, and we were staying warm. The only time I ever felt cold was when we stopped on top of a ridge in the wind (not very smart). We leap-frogged two of the newest Hoosier Daddies, Jake and Ryan. It was amazing that Ryan was actually present for this ride. Since it was cold and snowy, everyone thought he’d have to stay home because one of his kids might be “sick.”
I can’t tell you how much fun I was having. I love the Berryman Trail, and I love riding in the snow. So this was simply the best. We were taking our time, stopping for snack/whiskey breaks, photo opportunities, and to try to ride stuff that we didn’t think we could ride. To see some photos and videos of us you should check out Kage’s write-up (just let me make it clear that photos and video NEVER do justice to how cool or gnarly the trail is).
Travis needed to leave a little early, and Bob wasn’t really feeling it on a rigid singlespeed. In addition to that, free beer and BBQ was waiting for them back at the campground. They decided to kick out on a gravel road at around mile 8 or 9 to take the pavement back to the campground at mile 15. We made sure they had a map, and we made sure they really knew where they were going so they didn’t have a repeat performance of their last Berryman Ride.
Kage, Jim, and I decided to push on to Brazil Creek Campground. Since Jim had driven a wee bit farther than everyone else, and Kage had driven quite a ways as well, we wanted to get as much riding in as possible. The next two miles were mostly flat with some downhills, and we had a blast. After that, though, we hit some stretches that were destroyed by horses:
Some of the climbs had us off our bikes and walking, but there ain’t no shame in that. There were some fun downhills too. We even came across some sign that other riders had indeed made it this far.
Right before we hit the Brazil Creek Campground, there was a really fun stretch of trail that skirted along the side of the hills with nice, flowy ups and downs. Kage was in the lead, followed by Jim and then me. She flat-out rocked this section. I can’t even tell you the transformation I’ve seen in her. She hasn’t even been riding a mountain bike for a year yet, so I was very impressed. We flew through this section, and it was one of the best parts of the ride for me.
Once we got to the bottom, we crossed a creek without getting our feet wet.
We then took a snack break to keep Betty White at bay. We checked the map to make sure we could get back to the campground, and we set out on the pavement with hopes of burgers, brats, and beer awaiting our arrival. Unfortunately, the climb out of Brazil Creek Campground is brutally long and steep with a few false summits where you think you’re done, only to realize that the hill in fact keeps going on and on and on. To make things worse, Jim’s gears kept jumping around and locking up which made it even more difficult for him. But we forged on with our minds on the post-ride festivities.
As we finally reached the Berryman Campground, we could smell the food and hear the laughter coming from the pavilion. We had finally made it after 6 hours. I could not wait to get into dry clothes, drink an ice-cold beer, and eat a freshly grilled brat. Kate had other plans, though. Being a true blogger, she needed a photo by the Berryman sign. We quickly took a couple of photos and then made our way to our vehicles.
We got to our vehicles and began changing into nice, dry clothes. As we were trying not to freeze while changing clothes, a Hoosier Daddy (I think it was Ryan, but I’m not sure) actually brought each of us a cup full of Blue Moon beer with a freshly squeezed orange slice. Now that’s service!
Then I met my new best friend, Bruce. He had ridden his bike a few miles with his daughter and son-in-law (neither of them had ever ridden any single track before, by the way), and he then turned around to man the grill for the rest of the day. And man the grill he did!
He promptly had me fed with an amazingly delicious cheeseburger (and two brats… and another cheeseburger). I can’t even describe how tasty the grub was. And I can’t thank the Hoosier Daddies enough for providing the food, beer, grill, and and grill master. These guys made this event a party, and there was definitely a party atmosphere when we arrived at the pavilion. Here are a few shots from the par-tay:
I believe the gentleman in the red jacket above was actually supposed to be meeting a few of his friends at Berryman that day. However, they stood him up. So he did what any true mountain biker would do. He rode with us and stuck around for some free food and beer. I never actually caught his name, and I feel bad about that. But I’m glad he was able to ride with us and hang out afterwards.
Just when I thought the post-ride party couldn’t get any better, Justin and Bruce came up with the best thing ever. Justin dropped one of Kage’s delicious homemade cookies onto the grill. Before he could grab it, Bruce said, “Wait! Give it a minute.” After a couple of tries, they determined that two minutes on the grill led to a perfectly warm, chewy, and moist cookie. I have to say they were right. I think this is by far the most important accidental discovery since Penicillin.
As the fire died down and people started leaving, the conversation took on a much more serious tone. We bantered back and forth about Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, how the Spread Gun on Super Contra was waaaaaay better than the stupid Lazer, the proper way to shoot a deer, Martin Luther King on a mountain bike, and certain topics of which we will never speak again.
We also decided that the MLK ride has become a tradition. We know there has only been one MLK ride, but if you were there, then you’d understand how it has already become a tradition. If you weren’t there for the MLK Ride, I’m really sorry. Just make sure you’re there next year for MLK 2. It will be bigger and better, I promise. And if you were there, thank you for showing up!
The only thing that leaves me feeling badly about the ride is people thanking Bob and me. We really didn’t do anything. All we did was suggest a group ride. The Hoosier Daddies are the ones that made the MLK Ride what it was. They are the ones that need to be thanked. They are the party gurus. Not only are they gurus, but I now consider them all friends. Their philosophy when it comes to racing and training is right in line with ours: It’s all about the experience. I can’t wait to ride with or race against you guys again. Seriously… Thank you. You made the ride an amazing event that I truly look forward to next year.