Burley Joe Dirt Ride – Gravel at its Finest!
On Sunday, January 17th, I headed down to St. James, MO for the Burley Joe Dirt Ride. Bob Jenkins and his girlfriend, Cara, along with 7 or 8 other Team Redwheelers also headed down there in a foggy convoy.
It was a cold and wet fog, the kind of fog that you can feel clinging to your body as you walk through it. There was even a little bit of ice on the ground here and there (just ask Cara who unfortunately slipped on the ice in Bob’s driveway). I was kind of hoping for a nice day since the forecast called for 45 degree weather and sun.
When we got to the parking lot, it was nearly full. There were probably 40 or 50 people there. I guess there was some important info given right before we rolled out that I missed. There was apparently a long ride (the Burley Joe Dirt Ride = 27 miles) and a shorter ride (the Joe Dirt Ride = 20 miles). We were told, although I missed it, that the orange arrows were for the long course, and the pink arrows were for the short course. I didn’t even know there were any arrows at all until about halfway through the ride.
So, after starting at the back of the pack, I passed a handful of people. Then I realized my left crank was loose (man, there are so many jokes I could come up with here…). I had to stop twice to tighten it down. A few people passed me during the maintenance stops, and I found myself completely alone for most of the ride.
At first I thought it sucked to be riding by myself. Then as I settled into a groove and the sun came out, I loved it. It was so peaceful, and the weather was simply perfect. I think I only saw two cars, and the scenery was unbelievable. The hills were painfully long and steep, but the views were worth the effort (although I had to get off and walk a couple of times).
Well, I had apparently missed the orange arrows that pointed the way to the longer ride, and I ended up doing the shorter ride. After passing a couple of people at the end, I rolled back into the parking lot in around 2 hours, and my bike computer said 16.25 miles. I was a little disappointed, so I just turned around and started to ride the short course backwards. I figured I’d ride 5 miles out and then turn around to get my total mileage around the 27 miles that I had planned on doing.
It was actually very cool to see the really fast guys coming the other way as they finished the long course. I soon ran into Nick and Corey finishing the long course. Corey decided to ride with me for a little bit in the opposite direction to see if he could find his girlfriend, Noelle.
We soon ran into Noelle and her riding partners, Dana and Pam. They had a couple of bike issues, but they were all rockin’ the short course.
We thought about waiting for Bob and Cara, but the ladies hadn’t seen them in quite awhile. We thought they may have turned back, so we figured we’d go ahead and turn back.
I had ridden 6 miles in the opposite direction, so it was 6 miles back to the parking lot. Apparently, my computer wasn’t working right at the beginning of the day, because everyone else clocked the short course at right around 20 miles. So, I ended up doing around 32 miles altogether in a little over 3 hours. Not bad for me.
We got back to the lot, and Bob and Cara weren’t there. We talked about the ride for a little bit, and while I was standing there holding my bike upright by the saddle, we heard an eardrum-shattering explosion. The ladies jumped back about 10 feet, and I may have wet myself – just a little bit. My front tire just exploded – literally.
The bead of the tire was completely shredded and the tube had a 6 inch gash in it where it blew out. I’m not sure what in the hell caused it, but I was very thankful that it didn’t happen while I hit over 30 mph on some of the bomber downhills!
After saying goodbye to Corey and his gang, I hopped in my Explorer and headed back out to make sure Bob and Cara were okay. I only got about a mile and a half when I saw them. Cara looked pretty cooked, but she was still smiling. She thought about hopping in the car with me, but I assured her that she was very close and most what was left was downhill. So she finished the ride. Pretty damn impressive.
So, all in all it was a great day. Perfect weather, fantastic scenery, huge hills, no traffic, and great friends. What more could a guy ask for?