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Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Augusta, err….Treloar trip

 
 
On friday morning, Adam and I met at the crack of 9am to test our mettle against the forces of nature. Thunderstorms and rain were predicted for the entire weekend, but what else is new. The plan was to ride the MKT from North Jefferson to Augusta, drink a couple gallons of beer and camp. The next day, we’d get up and ride back to Washington to catch a train home. It was gonna be awesome, as long as we didn’t die in a freak hail-storm.
 

Mr Laffoon strikes his best "hero pose" as he stares off into destiny....or something.

  The trail was mushy from all the rain, but it’s not like you have to worry about tearing up the Katy Trail.  We were just excited to be outside doing something, and it seemed like we had only just begun when we rolled into Tebbetts.

I’ve ridden past this shelter several times, but never checked it out. Adam and I did a little investigating and found out that it’s open to anyone for only $5 per night. There are bunkbeds inside, along with a bathroom and refrigerator. Very cool stuff, and it’s good to know places like this still exist and aren’t completely vandalized.

Right across the street from the shelter is this fine establishment:

Well, I guess if I can’t bring my own soda, beer or “whisky” in the store, I’ll just go somewhere else. Seriously tho, if you were staying in the shelter, this would be a perfect place to grab some hot-dogs or something for the bbq grill. Hopefully, they’ll be open next time we roll through.

Back on the bikes and and moving westward, Mokane was our next stop. Anytime we’re in Mokane, it’s a rule that we have to stop at this place and get a sandwich.  It’s just one of those cool little stores that’s been around for a long time, and has never been re-furnished.. When you walk inside, you get a sense of history. Order a roast-beef sammitch with pepperjack on wheat. (No onions) It’s pure awesome.

Everyone in the store seemed  quite surprised we hadn’t been injured in “the hail-storm that came through town 5 minutes ago.”  We would’ve hung out longer to talk about the weather, but I had just bombed the restroom and we needed to get out of there fast.

Back on the bikes, the humidity was really starting to kick some ass. We took a few bridge photos, but the lens was foggy.

I’ve never been on the Katy after or during a hard-rain before, so I’d never gotten to see how much runoff passes along  and/or underneath the trail. At one of the bridges, we stopped to get a few shots of the fast-moving water. It was very cool.

10 feet off the trail-pic does NO justice

This shot was from the same spot, just looking the other way.

I believe the next town we rolled through was Portland. I just barely missed getting the “Administration photo”, but you can see how happy Adam is after re-applying  Chamois Butter. That stuff really does work wonders.

Ahhhh....

The weather was deteriorating rapidly, as is evident from this photo. This was taken in nearly the exact same spot 5 minutes later.

Well.....that happened quick

 

I believe we’ve mentioned the “Really Big Rock’ on the blog before, but Adam had never seen it. There was a goose nesting on top of it, which was amusing.

I'm always impressed with the size of this thing

By now, we were both pretty hungry. Rhineland was only a few miles away, so I wasn’t too worried about it…til Adam got a flat. It was one of those “ghost-flats” that you patch 3-4 more times until it finally holds air. Very frustrating. I mean, what kind of asshole gets a flat tire during a training ride anyway?

Adam was immediately fired from the team for slowing me down. Jerk

After we got the flat tire squared away, we made a quick telephone call to the microbrewery in Augusta to check on their hours. They were open til 9, so if we had any chance of getting there before they closed, we were going to have to quit dicking around. We decided to ramp up the pace, pushing past Rhineland to fuel up in Hermann instead.

Then I bonked and pretty much ruined everything. I guess I just wasn’t paying attention to my calorie intake and I ran out of gas. In my defense, I was pulling a bob-trailer on the wet Katy Trail..so let’s try to keep the ribbing to a minimum.

The Hermann gas station made money that day. I did my best to breathe while eating  3 blueberry donuts, 2 cinnamon-sugar pop tarts, a Jack link’s jerky stick, Monster drink and a bag of cheddar pretzel Combos. Oh, the glory.

Back to the trail we rode, and it didn’t take long to find more shitty weather and more cool stuff to take pictures of:

Just think how awesome this looked in real life.

I bet I’ve been on the Katy trail a hundred times and had no idea that it was home to so many beautiful waterfalls:

Believe it or not, this is one of the smaller ones. There are lots of purple and yellow flowers that dont seem to show up in the photos

The man-train was back up to speed now, but it was clear we’d be cutting this ride short if we wanted to play it safe. The thunder and lightning wasn’t really on top of us, but  it would be soon and the rain was really starting to come down. As luck would have it, we saw a small shelter next to the road, and decided to hide underneath for a bit.

Adam was fired from the team again for vulgar hand expressions

The rain started to die down a bit, so we loaded up and hit the trail once more. As we crossed through a small town called Treloar, we could see a small building with a neon sign in the window. Beer and hot-wings were only a short distance away, but we decided to push through to the next town. It would only be a few more miles and we figured we could outrun the storm.

Wrong.

I’d say we were about a 1,000 yards past Treloar when a bolt of lightning struck in the field right in front of us. That was all the convincing we needed to turn our asses around and go back to Treloar. There was a bar called Murph’s Place, or something like that. The menu revealed $1.50 draught beers, hot wings, cheeseburgers and more. It was time to get down to business.

After inhaling several beers, we took turns changing into dry clothes and ordered some food. The final pic of the evening was just as the sun was starting to set and ANOTHER storm was moving in:

I think we met every person in Treloar that night, and they were all very cool people. The cheeseburgers in that place were phenomenal, and the hotwings were pretty badass as well. Adam couldn’t finish his cheeseburger, so he was once again fired from the team. Leave no trace, Adam. Leave no trace. Adam would later violate the no-trace ethic once more, but that’s later in the story.

The fine folks of Treloar spent the evening buying us shots, draught beer and teaching us how to find morel mushrooms. There are some really nice people in that town. I don’t know how late it was when we finally left there, but I know we were both shit-hammered. We bade farewell to our new friends and got back on the trail. We found a suitable place to make camp and set-up the hammocks for the evening.

I know I slept well, but judging  from the pile of vomit on the ground the next morning, I’d say Adam had a rough night.

Fired again.

The only hitch we ran into during the night was that we had unknowingly camped reeeally close to the highway. We were basically forced to wake up early the next morning when people were roaring by on their way to work. At least we didn’t get pelted with empty beer-bottles.

Whoops

And so it was with wet clothes and pounding headaches that we re-mounted our trusty steeds and pedaled about 16 miles back to Hermann. I think we were both ready to be done with riding in the rain on a mushy Katy-trail, and we were definitely ready for some dry clothes. The miles ticked by slowly, and we eventually cruised into Hermann. from there, we made a bee-line for “Wings-a-Blazin” for some more  hotwings and microbrewed beer. It was the perfect finale for a really great ride.

We had an epic weekend and we’ll be doing it again, (weather permitting), on the weekend of May 21st. Make plans to be there so we don’t have to drink alone with this guy again.

Don't mind me, just drinkin' whiskey with Arminius

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Big year ahead

Bob pretends to read the map while waiting for Luke to figure out where we're going

Holy crap, this has been a busy year already!!  Between the non-race, The Lightning Strikes, Ava Brown Memorial 5k/half -marathon fundraiser, signing 2 new team-mates and a  new sponsor… we’ve been a bit behind with all this blogging business. But rest assured my friends, we’re working diligently to keep you up to speed. Race reports are forthcoming, and they WILL be worth waiting for.

Nothing like some ice-cold creekwater on your man-parts.

2011 has a lot in store for Team Virtus, not the least of which will be Zack’s attempt to complete The Trans-Iowa this weekend.

The Trans-Iowa is a 363-mile self-supported gravel ride across the entire state of Iowa, so try to send him some positive thoughts…or some Vicodin. Zack is one crazy bastard, but if there’s one among us who could finish this race, it’s him.

Here, we see Zack at one of his many training rides…eating some form of vegan food containing beans and peanut butter.

It kinda looks like a giant pop-tart...only disgusting

And let’s not forget about the Dirty Kanza. Early June will find us in the Flint Hills of Kansas trying to spin it out for either 100 or 200 miles, depending on who you ask. I’m probably just gonna pick up my free- t-shirt and park my fat ass at the pool. I think we’re all looking forward to this one…or dreading it.

We’re heading out on a nice little training ride for this one tomorrow morning from my place. If you’re not doing anything tomorrow, be at my place by 9am. Should be about 80-ish miles, and we can always use the company. You know you want to be there, so BE THERE!!

Sweat, Sunburns, and Suffering – The Ava Brown 5K Race Report

As the heat radiated off the asphalt, the sun mercilessly beat down on my sweaty, already sunburned back.  With roughly two miles left of my 13.1 mile journey, my iPod quit working.  Shortly thereafter my legs followed suit.  They literally just stopped moving.  I had no control over it.  It wasn’t like I just decided to stop running.  I simply had no say in the matter.  My legs had overpowered my mind and my will.  Bent over with my hands on my knees as cars flew by, I was compelled to lie in the shade and fall into a deep, cool slumber.  I had failed, but at that moment, nothing even mattered…

Blistering Sun

Now that you know how the story tragically ends, let’s go back to the beginning.  In case you missed it, Team Virtus decided to Run for a Reason.  And thanks to all of you Virtusites, we had the opportunity to raise a lot of money for First Candle, an organization working to advance infant health and survival.

Our original goal was to raise $100, but we surpassed that goal within the first few hours!  So we raised the bar to $500 (although I was personally hoping for an even grand). Before we even set foot on the race course, we had received pledges totaling $310, and we had a chance to raise a lot more depending on our performance.  For every person that Drew West, Bob Jenkins, and I finished ahead of at the 5K, we would raise more money.

My brother Casey also threw out a challenge for me.  He said he’d donate $2.50 (and his wife’s employer, Johnson & Johnson, would double that – essentially making it $7.50) per extra mile I would run after the 5K up to 10 miles total.  So basically, Casey was forcing me to run a half marathon, because we all know that the Virtus Code prevents me from declining a run-off challenge.

Team Virtus had 6 runners show up: Bob Jenkins, Cara Willoughby (soon to be Cara Willoughby-Jenkins we hope), Drew West, new Team Virtus member Adam Laffoon, my lovely wife Becca, and me.  Between the six of us, four personal records (PR’s) were set!  Bob, Adam, Cara, and Becca all set PR’s, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  Drew finished within less than 30 seconds of his time last year, and he finished higher overall this year – all without focusing on any speedwork.

Becca finishing the Ava Brown 5K

Becca has walked some 5K's before, but this is the first one she ran. She crushed it!

***NOTE: I apologize to everyone for wearing a stupid, hideous Packers shirt in the above photo, but a bet’s a bet.  Stupid Packers!!!***

I was on pace to set a PR.  My first mile was 7:05, and my second mile was 7:27.  I was shocked!  I knew that the 3rd mile had some brutally hard hills, though, and the temperature had to be in the 70’s.  My third mile was a pathetic 9:47.  Two people passed me on the hills, and it hurt me to know that with each one of them I was losing money for the cause.  I tried to catch back up to them, but I just didn’t have it in me.  I didn’t set a PR, but I beat my time from last year on this course by 31 seconds, and I placed quite a bit higher than last year.  I’ll call that a success.

And now for the results… They can be found right here.  Out of 195 racers, Cara took 93rd, Becca took 71st, Bob took 49th, Adam took 25th, I took 16th, and Drew took 8th place.  The pledges were only taken for Bob, Drew, and myself, though.  Altogether, the three of us beat… Drumroll please…

We beat 512 racers combined!!!!

So we raised another $587.00!!!  Add that to the $310.00 already pledged, and you get a total of $897.00 which completely smashed our goal of 500 bucks.

It was great to see some of our Team Red Wheel friends, Stoney, The Mitch, Corey, Noelle, Jessica, Chadwick, and Nikki at the 5K as well.  We all chatted after the race as we scarfed down some ice-cold water, bananas, and some delicious Panera Bread Bagels.

Finish of the Ava Brown 5K

L to R: Stoney, Cara, Robby, The Mitch, Corey, Noelle, Adam, Becca, Bob, Me (Drew was gone)

After the awards and many good laughs with good friends, it was time to head out on my 10 mile run.  Drew was going to go with me, but he had some family stuff come up and had to leave.  So I was completely on my own… C’mon, you didn’t think my team would leave me hangin’, did you?  Adam and Bob gamely joined me, and I can’t thank them enough.  And Adam was kind enough to let me change out of that stupid Packers shirt.

By the time the three of us headed out, it was ridiculously hot.  I’m talkin’ 85-90 degrees or so.  About 3 miles in, my nipples were getting pretty raw (probably an allergic reaction to the stupid Packers shirt I had previously worn).  I could either suffer bloody nipples or terrify any onlookers with my pale, flabby belly.  I decided to take my shirt off.  I tried to carry it for awhile, but it was becoming a nuisance.  So I threw it into the brush along the side of the road.  This, it would turn out, was a stupid idea.

By mile 4 or 5, Bob’s heel was destroyed, and the sun had become a relentless beast.  Adam and I ran ahead to a gas station about a mile ahead where we each downed a bottle of much-needed Gatorade (I feel sorry for the clerk who had to accept a 20 dollar bill saturated with my sweat).  As we were finishing the best drink I’ve ever had in my life, Bob caught up to us.  He was still in a lot of pain, and he needed to get home in time to go to a family wedding.

 

Gatorade Shower

I would have gladly punched Bob in the face for this to happen to me.

It became evident that Bob wasn’t going to make it home in time if he continued the run.  About a mile up the road, we knew Adam’s girlfriend was working at a BBQ fundraiser in the parking lot of Hyvee.  The new plan was for Adam and I to run there while Bob walked.  Adam would then get his girlfriend’s car and pick Bob up, and I would finish the 10 miles.

The Gatorade must have replenished me, because I felt unstoppable on the way to the BBQ.  I was running at a 9 minute/mile pace or so which is pretty darn good for me after running a hard 5K and 5 or 6 more miles on top of that.  Then I realized that I would see a lot of Becca’s co-workers at the BBQ, and I was a sweaty, shirtless mess.  For any of you ladies and gentlemen that laid eyes on me, I apologize.  I hope that you can someday erase that image from your memory.

Adam left in the car to pick Bob up, and I had a little over 3 miles left.  As I left the parking lot, I realized that I had absolutely NO sunblock on.  My shoulders and back were starting to feel the sting of the sun already.  Aside from that, though, I was feeling surprisingly good, so the last three miles were going to be no problem.  Right?  Well, you already know how this story ends, don’t you?  Uh… Not exactly.  I sort of took some poetic license with the intro to this blog post.  You know, for dramatic effect and all that.

It’s true that my legs quit on me, though – several times throughout the last two miles in fact.  And I truly had no control over it.  Whenever it happened, I really wanted to lay down and quit, but I would just wait 30 seconds and then continue running… and running… and running.  I somehow managed to run at 11.5 – 12 min/mile pace, but it felt like it was taking me FOREVER.  I eventually made it back to Memorial Park, and I made a couple of small laps around the pavilion until I hit 10 miles even. And then it was finally over.  No large crowds.  No cameras.  No medals.  But it was one of my proudest moments.

I got a drink and waited for my ride.  When I made it back home, Becca was sweet enough to run out and grab me two bags of ice and a rib dinner from the BBQ fundraiser.  I hopped in an ice-bath to sooth my aching knees and feet and to reduce the next day’s soreness that was sure to come.

***WARNING: Below is a nearly naked photo of me.  Prepare yourself!  You’ve been warned.***


 

Luke in Ice Bath with Ribs

Trying to not look cold

I later found out that Casey generously upped his pledge to $5.00 per extra mile I ran and Johnson & Johnson would again double that pledge for a total of $15 per mile!  That is incredible!  So, with the help of Bob and Adam, we raised another $150 for First Candle, and that brings our grand total up to:

 

$1,047.00!!!!!

 

That is simply amazing and very humbling.  Your generosity and support are unbelievable.  You all have hearts of gold.  You can submit your pledge online by going right here, or you can send a check to me if you’d prefer to do it that way.  Just send me an email, and I’ll give you my address.

From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of everyone from Team Virtus, thank you to all that raced, volunteered, donated, and kept Ava and Benji in your thoughts.  You all truly made this a very special event for us.  I can only hope that Ava and Benji were together up there smiling down on us as we were running for a reason.

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