Category Archives: Adam gets fired from the team

Ride Together, Die Alone Redux: The Cedar Cross Race Report

***NOTE: The title of the blog post was completely ripped off from my race report of last year’s Dirty Kanza, but since I wrote it, I give myself permission to steal it.***

On Friday evening as Bob, Cary, and I were weed-eating the single track portion of the Cedar Cross course, Bob said to me, “Hey, you may want to seriously consider bringing a headlamp on race day.”  Since Bob is the mastermind behind Cedar Cross and knows the course like the back of his hand, I threw a headlamp into my bag as I headed to race HQ on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately, I am quite stupid.  I thought there was no way I’d need a light, so right before the start of the race, I decided to throw my headlamp back in my van.  Twelve brutally difficult hours later as the sun had set, I realized my stupidity knows no bounds.

Cedar Cross Gravel Grinder

I registered at the check-in table, said hello to a lot of my cycling friends, and then promptly fired Adam for showing up at the last minute with his son’s helmet that was way too small for his big melon.  Once I made final preparations (and threw my stupid headlamp back in the van), we walked over to hear Bob’s words of wisdom before the race started.  I can honestly say it was the funniest pre-race speech I’ve heard.

Bob's speech at Cedar Cross

“I swear, it’s THIS long.”

Here is a Garmin link to the Cedar Cross course if you want to see it or follow along.  I’d like to point out that this is NOT my Garmin link.  I was MUCH slower, and I wasn’t wearing my Garmin.  Anyway…

The race would start out on pavement with a lead car showing us the way.  I made my way to the back of the pack along with Adam.  It was already in the 80’s and humid, but that’s perfect training for the DK200 in a few weeks.  Bob said go, and all 120-ish racers rolled out with hopes of crushing the 112 mile course.

It was less than a mile before the race doled out its first set-back of the day. Just 0.8 miles into the race, our friend Jim Smith from Monster Bicycle Co. got a flat tire.  Adam and I made sure he had everything he needed, and we kept going.  We knew that Jim would catch up to us soon enough.  Unfortunately for Jim, this would not be his last go-round with bad luck.

Flat Tire at Cedar Cross

Big calves and a flat tire.

Adam and I made it to the gravel with only a few people behind us, one of them being Jim.  It wasn’t very long before we saw our friend, Dave Baettie, pulled off to the side of the road.  Somehow he lost a screw to one of his bottle cages.  I handed him my bike tool since Adam couldn’t find his (Fired again!), and I took a pit stop in the brush.  As Dave took his bottle cage off, Jim came up behind us.  It was good to have him back in our group.

At mile 3, we began our first climb, and it was brutal.  At the start of the climb, I heard someone’s tire spin out.  When we got to the top, there was no Jim Smith.  We assumed he had spun out and walked the hill or had just fallen behind.  Later I found out that Jim had his secondflat tire within the first 3 miles of the race.  That’s some pretty terrible luck.  I feel bad for leaving him, but I really didn’t know he had had another flat.  I just thought he would quickly catch up to us again.

Dave rode on ahead of us as Adam and I found ourselves on familiar ground: The Dirty Jenkins ride.  We’ve ridden this stretch of gravel many, many times, yet we still love it.

As the sun beat down on us with no shade in sight, we rolled on.

Gravel on the Cedar Cross

That little speck in the distance is Dave.

We passed a handful of riders and caught up to a few more as the miles were easily ticking by.  It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the entrance of Mark Twain National Forest.  It doesn’t look like it is public land, and without Bob Jenkins, a lot of people would have never known you could ride there.  With double track though open fields, a pond or two, and a bit of single track thrown in, this stretch of the Cedar Cross course is just really cool.

Cedar Cross Double Track

This part was marked with Kansas City Chiefs balloons, but Bob SHOULD have used balloons from the greatest team of all-time: The Chicago Bears.

At one of the cattle gates around mile 15, the Hoosier Daddies were volunteering, and by volunteering, I mean they were handing out ice-cold beer and water.  We caught up with a few more riders and our friends Travis Hammons and the Boos Bros here as they enjoyed the frosty beverages in the shade.  It was also here where Jim Smith caught up with us and informed us of his second flat.  Unfortunately for Jim, this still wouldn’t be his last go-round with bad luck.

Hoosier Daddies at Cedar Cross

The Hoosier Daddies know how to volunteer!  And Travis looks WAY too happy.

It was hard to say good-bye to these guys, but after one cold beer (or four if you’re Kyle Boos), we rode away in a “pace-line” through the fields.

Cedar Cross Fields

Another cool stretch of grassy fields through Mark Twain National Forest.

Not long after the above shot was taken, we descended a rocky, rooty hill with lots of sticks and branches scattered about. As I came down the hill, I saw a rider off his bike.  I realized it was Jim Smith pulling a stick out of his spokes.  Unbelievable.  Two flat tires, and now this?  The cycling Gods were not smiling down upon Jim, but I guess it’s better to get all of your bad luck out of the way at a free race instead of the Dirty Kanza.  He said he was just going to walk back up to the Hoosier Daddies and get a ride.  Bummer.  I would later find out that this STILL wouldn’t be his last go-round with bad luck.

Jim Smith at Cedar Cross

Man, that sucks.

I caught up to the group, and I stopped to get a shot of them as they rode through my favorite piece of this part of the ride: a long, flowing downhill through the tall grass.

Riding through Mark Twain National Forest

Look closely and you’ll see the line of riders in the distance.

We left the National Forest, and we jumped back on some gravel roads.  This stretch of gravel had a few wet-weather creek-crossings and one low-water crossing.  This particular low-water crossing can be very slick, but before I could yell out a warning, Travis and Kyle splashed right through it.  Well, Kyle splashed right through it, but Travis wasn’t so lucky.  He fish-tailed like a mo-fo, and just when I thought he was going to pull out of it, he crashed and slid on his side through the water.  It was awesome to watch!

Crashing at Cedar Cross

Travis fought the concrete, and the concrete won.

Adam and Derrick missed the show because they stopped to pick up one of my water bottles that had bounced out of its cage on the rough descent.  The top of the bottle was destroyed, though, and I had lost my eFuel in that bottle.  I used a simple strap to secure the other bottle after that, and I had no more problems.

Here’s a shot of Adam showing Travis how to do it:

Adam riding a low water crossing

Adam was almost re-hired for showing up Travis… almost.

I was feeling really strong as we rode the gravel on Clinkenbeard, Ginn Ln, and Barnes Chapel Rd.  It kept getting hotter, though, and we were sweating buckets.  Soon we found ourselves turning onto the single track at the trail head.

Gravel before the singletrack at Cedar Cross

Still feeling good… for now. (Photo Credit: Nicole Stacey)

We hopped onto the first section of single track.  Although it was muddy, the first quarter-mile or so was rideable.  After we crossed the creek, though, things turned to crap in a hurry.  You see, horseback riders completely destroy these trails no matter how much time and effort we put into maintaining them.  It’s a shame, too, because these trails could be incredible.  But it is what it is, and there’s not much we can do about it.  Trust me.  Trying to maintain these trails is a losing battle.

I didn’t get any photos of this section because I was too busy trying to survive.  I tried riding what I could, but that wasn’t much.  Riding was only marginally faster than walking, and the energy exerted just wasn’t worth it.  So I pushed my bike the last mile and a half or so.  Even pushing my bike was completely exhausting, though.

And then we got to the “Staircase of Pain” where we saw Jim Davis sitting and talking with Mr. Race Director himself, Bob Jenkins.  He was there to get some photos of all the suffering.  Just take a look at this:

PHOTO OF THE STAIRWAY COMING SOON!!

After the “stairway” completely drained what was left of my energy, we pushed our bikes up a hill to find our friends from the Hoosier Daddies again.  It was great to see them.  I stopped for a quick pee-break before I grabbed another beer.  Uh-oh.  My pee was a dark yellow.  Not good at all.

So, I did something I never thought I’d do: I didn’t follow the Virtus Code that mandates no “free beer shall be refused.”  I would hereby like to propose an addendum to this part of the Virtus Code: No free beer shall be refused UNLESS you are at risk of sever dehydration leading to cramps during a race.  All those in favor say, “Aye.”  All those opposed say, “Nay.”  Okay, the “Ayes” have it.

Beer at the Cedar Cross

I can’t believe there was any beer left after the Boos Brothers and Jim Davis were there.

I had been drinking a lot of fluids, but with this kind of heat, humidity, and energy expenditure, I guess it was enough.  I was worried.  We were only 30 miles into this race, and I was in trouble.  Then I remembered that Bob said there was a Peach Snapple in his truck for me.  I’m a Diet Peach Snapple addict.  This, however, was the full-sugar variety, and it was just what I needed.  I slammed the delicious Snapple and a couple of water bottles from the Hoosier Daddies.  Hoping to recover, I rested a few more minutes than I normally would have at this point.

We said good-bye once again, and we rode off onto S. Millsite Rd.  I’ve been on this road before and there are 4 nasty dogs here.  In fact, the Cue Sheet for this race warned racers: “Watch for Four Pissed Off Dogs.”  People thought Bob was kidding when he recommended dog spray, but these dogs are the reason for the recommendation.  I love dogs as much as anyone and don’t like to spray dogs, but these dogs are vicious and not to be messed with.

By the time we got there, though, the dogs were no threat at all.  They were either worn out from terrorizing all the racers in front of us (which was a lot), full from eating some of the racers in front of us, or they had been sprayed so many times by the racers in front of us that they didn’t dare mess with us.  Regardless, we only heard one of them bark a wimpy, little bark as we simply strolled right by them along the gravel road.

A few miles later, we began riding past  the “Cranky Old Bastard’s” place.  He literally has this weird sign in his yard stating that he will shoot you if you mess with him.  I’ve never stopped long enough to read the entire sign or get a photo of it, because I don’t really want to find out if he’s bluffing.  As we rode past, he yelled out to us.  I thought to myself, “Please don’t stop! Nobody stop!  Nobody stop!”  But then Jim Davis stopped, so we all stopped.  He asked us how many more riders were coming through so he could let his dog back out.  And then he apologized for making us stop our ride.  Um… What?!?  I couldn’t believe it.  Maybe the faster riders had sprayed him with dog spray, too.

Anyway, we rode gravel for 4 or 5 miles.  I’m sure it was a little unsettling for some riders to ride past a Dead End sign with 90 miles remaining, but that’s exactly what we did.

Dead End at Cedar Cross

The Cedar Cross doesn’t care about Dead Ends!

For those of us that ride gravel around Jeff City, we knew where this “Dead End” would take us.  For a car, it is indeed a dead-end.  On a bike, however, you get to cross the very cool Rutherford Bridge over Cedar Creek.

Rutherford Bridge at Cedar Cross

This is the ONLY way across Cedar Creek for miles and miles and miles.

From the bridge, we hiked our bikes up a big, muddy hill and started riding more gravel, a bit of pavement, and then more gravel.  Somewhere along the way, Travis and I lost Adam, but we didn’t realize it until we turned onto CR 326 and ran into our friends Aaron Lackman and Justin Nemeth along with a couple of guys I didn’t know.

It was brutally hot by now, and the two guys we didn’t know didn’t seem to be doing too well.  I thought about waiting for Adam, but we had discussed this very scenario earlier in the day.  We both agreed to go on without the other if one of us dropped off the back.  Since it was only a few more miles until the manned checkpoint and bag drop, we rode on, hoping Adam would catch us there.

When we got there, we saw probably 8 riders sitting in the shade, resting and refueling before heading out on the last of the two stretches of single track.

Bag Drop at Cedar Cross

It was great to see Bob’s smiling mug.

The gear drop couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  Knowing there was less than 20 miles to go before I could resupply my water and food, I had been pounding my water and food since my last stop at the end of the first section of singletrack, and I was running precariously low.  Drinking ice-cold water was heavenly after chugging hot water and e-Fuel for so long.  Big thanks to Mo and Chadwick for volunteering there!  There was another guy helping out there, too, but I don’t remember his name.  Regardless, thanks to him too!

Some of the riders looked like they were feeling pretty fresh, others looked a little rough, and some looked like they wanted to die.  Kind of like this poor guy:

Overheating at Cedar Cross Gravel Grinder

He looks miserable. I have no idea if he finished or not.

I was just beginning to worry about Adam as he rolled up.  He seemed to be doing well enough.  He didn’t look fresh, but he didn’t look like he was dying either.  He said he was going to chill there and fill up with water.  I gave him what was left out of my drop bag since he forgot to pack one, and I headed back out with a handful of riders including Travis, Aaron, and Justin.

I was dreading this next section of singletrack.  I had helped Bob and Cary Maloney weed-eat and clear the trails on Friday, but Bob had gone back out there to find that horseback riders had already trashed part of them.  Bummer because they were in great shape less than 48 hours earlier.  If this section of trail took as much out of me as the first section, then my ride might be over.

Aaron Lackman at Cedar Cross

Aaron at the top of a climb.

Justin Nemeth at Cedar Cross

Justin near the top of the same climb.

Fortunately, the trails were in much better shape than I expected.  They weren’t great, but there were some fun, rideable sections to go along with the muddy, destroyed-by-horses sections.  I exited the single track feeling good.  Travis seemed like he was starting to struggle a bit, though.

We ended up playing leapfrog with Randy and Dana from Team Red Wheel on the next several miles of gravel, and for whatever reason, I was starting to feel really good at this point.  I must have finally caught up with my hydration and nutrition.  It’s a good thing, too.  Standing between us and the Hams Prairie Store 20 miles away were lots of big hills.

Being on a singlespeed, you either ride hard up the hills, or you get off and push your bike.  There really isn’t much in-between.  So at the start of every hill, I had to go up ahead of our little 6-person group and then wait at the top so they would catch up.  I’m definitely not a good climber by any stretch of the imagination, but I had no granny-gear with which to spin up the hills.  Believe me, if I had it, I would have gladly used it.

At the top of one hill, I waited for the group.  Then I waited some more.  After a few minutes, I thought something must have gone wrong, so I turned around and went back.  Thankfully, they were just around the corner and not all the way back down the brutal hill.  Everyone but Travis was pulled over talking to Randy’s girlfriend (or was it wife?).  Travis had fallen off the group, but it would have been suicide to ride back down the hill for him.  Fortunately, Randy’s girlfriend/wife said she’d drive back to check on him for us.  Big thanks to her.

So we continued on our way.  I kept riding ahead on the climbs and waiting at the top.  Again, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying I’m a good climber.  In fact, I kind of suck at hills.  If I could have gone any slower up the hills without walking, I would have.  The only problem with riding ahead and waiting was the heat.  It was really starting to get to me.  Sitting at the top of each climb in the blazing sun with no breeze was terrible.  After one long, slow climb, I just couldn’t bring myself to stop.  The thought of stopping as the sun torched my skin was too much.  Since the others were still together, I decided to just cruise on, knowing that I would soon see them at the Hams Prairie Store at mile 69-70.

Riding Solo Gravel at Cedar Cross

Riding solo and feeling good… for now.

I was feeling the best I had all day long, and I was having a great time.  Shortly after crossing Hwy 54 at mile 63-64, however, I started to fall apart.  My legs began to feel heavy.  My head started hurting.  I even felt a little queasy.  I drank as much as I could, but I was afraid of vomiting which would have only made things worse.  It was mind-blowing how fast I went from feeling great to wanting to die.

I thought about waiting in the shade somewhere for the group behind me, but I knew I only had about 7 more miles to the Hams Prairie Store.  Those seven miles really hurt, though.  I hated every damn pedal stroke.  I eventually made it to the store at 5:35 PM.  Many of the top riders were already done with the entire course at this point, and I still had 40+ miles to go.  What a bunch of show-offs.

I walked into the store with my head pounding, and my guts churning.  The air conditioning was the bomb diggity, though!  There were other riders coming and going, but all I wanted to do was order some food, get a drink, and sit down.  I ordered a hard salami sandwich, but they were all out since Bob recommended to everyone that they order one at this store.  Damn.  I was looking forward to that.  It didn’t really matter since I wasn’t sure I could even eat anything without vomiting.  So, I ordered a roast beef and Colby cheese sandwich, grabbed two Powerades, and sat down.  There was only one problem.  I just couldn’t eat or drink any of it.

Food at Hams Prairie Store during Cedar Cross

It looks delicious now, but at the time it looked foul.

Fifteen minutes after I arrived, Aaron and Justin showed up.  They didn’t look good, but they looked better than I felt.  I think I had only eaten two bites and drank two swallows as they sat down at my table.  Things weren’t looking good at all.  I felt like absolute dog crap.

If I would’ve had a support vehicle there, I would have thrown in the towel.  I was really bummed.  I kept picturing Bob at the finish line, an ice-cold beer in one hand, a delicious homemade brat courtesy of the Hoosier Daddies in the other hand, laughing his ass off at how much pain I was in.  So, I texted him.  I remember texting him, but I didn’t really remember what I had written until I looked at my phone at the end of the race.  We normally try to keep this blog PG-13, so if you’re offended by foul language, you may want to skip ahead.  Here is the text conversation we had.  And please remember that Bob and I are very close friends, and I was a bit delirious at this point in the race.

Text to Bob Jenkins at Cedar Cross

Another text to Bob Jenkins at Cedar Cross

And now the world knows that Bob has agreed to ride the Cedar Cross course on his GT Peace 29er singlespeed.  I’m going to hold him to it.  Anyway, back to our story…

Aaron and Justin ordered some food, and I was still trying to force myself to eat and drink.  Another rider came over and sat down on the bags of dog food by our table and starts talking to us.  This guy looks like he had just been on a 5 mile leisure ride.  His name is Keith Clark, and he was determined to finish the ride since his wife had told him he was too old for this kind of thing.

Then in walked Kyle Boos.  He, too, looked a lot fresher than I felt, and he had consumed a 6-pack of the Hoosier Daddies’ free beer.  Very impressive, and kind of disturbing too.  Kyle ordered his food, took a leak, ate his food, and left before I finished half of my sandwich.  I was struggling.  I got some encouragement from my facebook friends, but I was really having doubts.  Every gulp and bite I took just didn’t want to stay down.  It reminded me of how I felt at the Tour de Donut, only 10 times worse.

Struggling to eat at Cedar Cross

This is me hurting and trying to swallow food without puking. (Photo Credit: Aaron Lackman)

I received a text from Adam saying that he was cramping up pretty badly back at Hwy 54.  He and Travis were pulling out of the race.  I wanted to join them, but I was starting to feel slightly better.  Eventually, I was able to finish my sandwich and drink both Powerades.  I grabbed two more Powerades to pour into my water bottles, I paid my bill, and I headed back out into the heat… an hour and 15 minutes after arriving at the store.

Fortunately, it was probably 5 to 10 degrees cooler than when I had arrived.  That was fantastic!  I knew there was one more climb left, but it was an SOB of a climb.  After that climb, though, it was all flat.  Having ridden those flat gravel roads that lay ahead of me, I knew the wind could be terrible.  But I had checked the forecast earlier, and the wind was supposed to be at our backs.  So I was confident that if I could make it to the top of the next climb at mile 76, then I could probably finish this race.

There was a group of 8 of us leaving the store.  One guy only rode far enough to hit 75 miles on his bike computer, so that left us with 7.  I didn’t get everyone’s name, but there was Aaron, Justin, Keith, Tony (who joined us on the Cock-Gobbler 50+ mile gravel grinder back in March), and two other guys.  We headed out towards the killer climb that no one wanted to face.  Of course the toughest climb of the day the last climb of the day.  Thanks, Bob!

I was starting to feel quite a bit better by the time we got to the climb at mile 76, and for a split-second I thought about trying to ride all the way up.  With more than 30 miles left, though, I figured I’d better play it smart and push my bike up it.  It was the only hill I walked (other than the singletrack and the “staircase”).  Two in our group rode the whole thing, one of them being Keith, and I was quite impressed.

It wasn’t long before we rode up on one of the coolest parts of the race: The Nuclear Reactor and Cooling Tower in Fulton.  Keith, who was wearing a Wind Power jersey, asked me to snap a photo of him with the tower in the background.  That’s pretty funny.  A few others stopped for a photo-op, myself included.

Nuclear Reactor and Cooling Tower at Cedar Cross

I wanted to hold my bike up over my head for this pic, but I was too damn tired.

Shortly after leaving the nuclear power plant, we had the pleasure of riding down what Bob referred to on the Cue Sheet as a “Totally badass downhill” and it was indeed BAD-ASS!  Thankfully, we made it down the hill before it got completely dark.  As we hopped on the Katy Trail at around mile 84, it was getting very dark, and everyone that had lights started using them.  I, being the complete fool that I am, did not have one, though, and I was very glad to be in this group.

We rode the Katy Trail and then hopped onto CR 4000.  A few guys in our group were talking about taking the Katy Trail the whole way back, and it was very tempting.  I just couldn’t let myself do it after coming this far, though.  I had ridden this gravel before, and although it can be tough, I knew I could make it – especially since the wind was supposed to be at our backs.

After a short stretch of gravel, we wound up back on the Katy Trail, but something didn’t feel right.  Then we started having trouble following the cue sheet from this point on.  I broke out my phone to pinpoint our exact location, and this confirmed my fear.  We had unfortunately gone right when we should have gone left onto CR 4010.  A LOT of riders must have done the same thing since there were a ton of tire tracks going the way we had gone.

So after riding 100 miles (only the second time I’ve ever done so), we had a decision to make.  The two riders whose names I never got rode on ahead, so I assume they took the Katy Trail all the way back.  Tony’s rear-end was killing him, and he had to work the next morning.  So he understandably opted for the Katy Trail as well.

***UPDATE: I received an email from one of the two riders that rode from Hams Prairie to the Katy Trail with us.  His name is John Porter, and his friend’s name is Mark Cody.  It turns out that they rode a few miles of “extra credit” earlier in the day, and since they had to drive back to Kansas City and work the next day, they rode the Katy Trail to the finish line.  Kudos to those two for finishing up around 11:00 PM even though they knew they had to drive 2 – 3 hours.  They didn’t get home until 2:30 AM.  That had to be rough.  It was great riding with them, and I hope to see them next year. ***

For me, there was only one choice.  I had to go back.  I said I was going to go back and ride the full course, but I told the other guys that I didn’t expect them to go with me.  I was ready to ride the last 16 miles PLUS the 2 or 3 miles we had gone off-course by myself… in the dark… with no light.  But I couldn’t have been happier when Keith said, “I’m going with you.”  Aaron and Justin both said they were in as well.  Holy shit.  These guys were awesome riding partners.

We turned around and got back on course.  The gravel on 4010, however, was fresh and loose.  It was NOT easy riding.  But we put our heads down and kept the cranks turning.  Together.

Several miles of gravel led us to a short jaunt on the Katy Trail led us to CR 4015.  Once we turned west onto CR 4038, the headwind slapped us in the face hard.  A storm was blowing in fast and furious, and just like Bob planned, after 106 miles of riding, we’d be riding into a vicious headwind and trying to beat the storm the last 10 miles

It was not fun.  At all.  But again, we just put our heads down and kept the cranks turning. Together.

The lightning show was pretty impressive, but I really hoped we didn’t get caught in the storm.  We kept getting closer and closer, but it seemed to take forever.  But then finally, we rode under Hwy 54 and soon found ourselves riding toward the finish line to cheers of the few remaining riders, friends, and family still there at around 11:10 PM.  Fourteen hours and roughly 116 miles after we had started.

The cheers grew louder, and then we were completely soaked with sprays of warm beer as we crossed the finish line.  Together.

It was incredible.  I couldn’t believe it.  We had done it.  Together.  We were officially Cedar Crossers.

I hugged Bob (after flipping him off), high-fived everyone I could see – Travis, Kyle, Derrick, Emma, Adam, Cara, Jim, Bob’s Mom, my fellow riders… It was a great moment.  One I’ll never forget.

Although the lights to the pavilion had been turned off, there were still deliciously hot baked potatoes (courtesy of Bob’s amazing Mother!), sour cream, and loads of butter.  I had a couple of notes from my wife and kids that almost brought a tear to my eye.  Unfortunately, they had to go home earlier since it was a school night.  I never dreamed I would be finishing that later.  In fact, I think I told my wife that I should be done around 8:00 PM and if I wasn’t, then it meant I probably wasn’t finishing.

And then the storm hit.  We had made it in just in the nick of time.  It was a perfect ending to an unbelievably great day.

But wait… It gets even better.  Jim Smith from Monster Bicycle Co. handed me this:

Last Survivor Award for Cedar Cross

This is the trophy that I am most proud of. And it’s useful, too!

I didn’t even realize that technically my tires were the last to cross the finish line, but I’m glad they did.  I almost feel bad for winning this prize since the four of us really finished together, but I don’t feel bad enough to give it to someone else. 🙂  I freakin’ love this flask.  I immediately filled it with Blackberry Whiskey (also courtesy of the Hoosier Daddies) and tried it out.  Nothing ever tasted so good.  Huge thanks to Jim, who ended up having an even worse day than I thought.  Seriously, go read his report.  It’s ridiculous.

Monster Bicycles Co. Last Survivor at Cedar Cross

I slept with this flask that night. Seriously.

We sat around reminiscing awhile as Bob called a bunch of people who had never checked in.  He wasn’t sure if these people were still out on the course, on their way home, asleep in their beds, or dead.  After a little while, though, the rain had let up a little, and it was time to go home.

This was definitely the hardest race I’ve ever finished, and it was one of my favorite races of all time.  It was brutally hard.  I wanted to quit several times.  I hated Bob for a little while.  But it was all worth it.

I’d like to thank the awesome sponsors of this race, the even awesome-er volunteers, and especially Bob Jenkins.  I know everyone that took part in the Cedar Cross appreciates all that Bob did, but I don’t think anyone realizes what Bob actually put into this race.

He has worked tirelessly for months on this race: planning, scouting, weed-eating, lining up sponsors, getting permits, more scouting, hating horses, more weed-eating, blogging, riding the course, re-riding the course, more scouting, more schmoozing with sponsors, more weed-eating, more hating the effing horses, driving the course, more re-routing the course, answering countless questions via email that could have easily been answered by simply reading the damn blog, meeting with the Jeff City Tourism Bureau, checking the weather forecast every half hour during the week leading up to the race, worrying that even one of us coming to the race might not have an awesome time, marking the course, re-marking the course, hating the damn horses even more, and then worrying his ass off on race day until every last one of us made it back safely, and the list goes on and on and on…

And do you know how much money he made from this race?  Not a damn cent.  In fact, Bob sunk a lot of his own cash into this race to bring us the best damn gravel race Missouri has to offer.  That’s just incredible.

Bob has said to me several times that “we” are doing this or “we” did that, and he has referred to this race as “our” race.  I just want to make one thing clear.  The Cedar Cross was, is, and always will be Bob Jenkins’ race.  And don’t let him tell you otherwise.

So, Bob.  Thank you.  I’m proud to call you my friend.

And to those that raced, thank you.

And to those that finished with me, a giant thank you!

And to those that missed it, make sure you’re there next year.  This thing is going to be HUGE next year.

Boone-Doggle Gravel Grinder Recap

Four men (and Adam), perfect weather, and 55 miles of gravel goodness.  That basically sums up the Boone-Doggle ride back in February.  Casey was in town, and Robby Brown, Adam Laffoon, and Aaron Lackman joined us for some fun.  We met at the commuter lot near the Katy Trail, and Adam was promptly fired for not wearing his team jersey.

Knowing that I was trying to lose some weight to avoid eating dog food, Robby was kind enough to bring breakfast:

Robby with Donuts

Breakfast of Champions... Sumo Champions, that is.

Robby, and Adam had taken a day off from work to ride with us.   Unfortunately, Bob Jenkins was unable to fake an illness find anyone to fill in for him, so he had to miss perhaps the best group ride in history.  Aaron, had to work later in the day, so he was going to ride the first half of the ride with us.  Oh, and he was kickin’ it old school on this:

Early 90's Trek Mountain Bike

Although it was a bit chilli at the start of our ride, the weather was beautiful… Especially for mid-February.  We rolled out on the Katy Trail under overcast skies.  Casey was pretty excited to ride the Katy Trail which seemed odd to us.  I guess we just take it for granted since it’s in our back yard and we ride it all the time.

Bridge on the Katy Trail

Bridge on the Katy Trail

We soon hopped on some gravel, and I’ll be honest.  I just wasn’t really feeling it.  My legs felt dead, and I felt weak.  Hoping I just needed to spin my legs out a little to warm up, I kept riding.

It wasn’t long before we passed the exact spot where we found Falcor two years ago.  And then we rode a monster hill.  Well, I should say that everyone but me rode the hill.  I got about halfway up when I had to get off the bike and walk.  I just had nothing in my legs.

When I finally caught up to the other guys, I told them I might just turn around.  I didn’t want to slow them down.  They talked me into at least continuing until we reached the gas station in New Bloomfield at roughly mile 24 where I could ride back with Aaron if I needed to.  I agreed, and after downing a Honey Stinger Waffle, a Foosh Caffeinated Mint, and half a bottle of my go-go juice, I started to feel a little better.  After another 15 minutes or so, my legs started coming back.  I’m not sure if I was run-down from being in a caloric deficit or if it was just one of those mornings.  I was just thankful that I was back to full-strength.

Gravel Grinder with Team Virtus

After more gravel followed by a bit of pavement, we soon found ourselves in the booming city of New Bloomfield.  This was just under the halfway mark, and it was a planned rest/refuel stop.  It was also the point at which Aaron had to leave us so he could make it back to work in time.  Since I was feeling much better, I decided to keep riding.

Bikes at a gas station

We got some odd looks here.

After saying good-bye to Aaron, we bought some snacks and beverages.  We talked about how much fun we were having and how Bob was totally missing the best ride ever.  Since Bob was at work instead of having fun, and since he was also trying to lose weight to avoid eating a can of ALPO, we decided the right thing to do would be to send him a pizza.

Ordering a Pizza

Look at Robby's face. We were laughing our asses off.

We ended up ordering him a Large “All the Meats” Pizza from Papa John’s and had it delivered to his workplace.  They wouldn’t let me leave a tip over the phone, but they said that I could just add the tip on the receipt.  I was a little worried that Bob would leave the delivery person a 50 dollar tip, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

With some food in our bellies and our water bottles filled up, we headed back out for more sweet, sweet gravel.  The sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature neared 60 degrees.

Gravel Road

Part of the ride had some very fresh, loose gravel.  It’s always cool to ride some virgin gravel, but it makes it much more difficult to ride since it is so rough.  Now, when I say it was fresh, I mean it was still being smoothed out as we were riding.  Seriously.

Fresh Gravel

We kept riding, talking, laughing, and waiting to hear from Bob after he received his free lunch.  The anticipation was killing us.

**What do you think he’ll say to the delivery person?  How many slices do you think he’ll eat?  He’ll either eat all of it out of spite, or he’ll give it away and stay strong.  Man, I can’t wait to hear his reaction!**

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I received a text message from Bob.  Here is how it went down:

Bob's Text Message

Thankfully, Bob “only” gave the driver a $5 tip.  It was more than I would have normally left, but it was worth every penny.  We laughed our asses off again.  Later he said he was pretty confused when the delivery girl showed up asking for Bob.  When he heard that I had already paid for it, he figured it out.  And then he ate half of the pizza.  In all honesty, though, I felt kind of bad for sending the pizza.  It was hilarious, but we really did miss Bob.  It’s just not the same without that guy.  I can’t quit you, Bob Jenkins!

Anyway…  Shortly after getting the text from Bob, we rolled into Tebbetts, MO.  The Turner Katy Trail Shelter is there, and it’s a really cool place where Katy Trail riders can stay.  Unfortunately it was closed, so we didn’t get to check it out.  We took a short break, ate some food, and then headed back out onto the gravel flats near the Missouri River.

Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO

Even though this was still fun to ride, it was definitely the worst part of the ride.  The wind was simply ridiculous as it always is when I ride the gravel flats.  It was in our faces the entire 15 miles or so back to the cars.

Gravel Flats near the Missouri River

The Gravel Flats

At one point, we passed some big mounds of dirt where some kids were four-wheeling.  Casey was literally almost run over by a four-wheeler, and in the process of trying not to die, he ran into Robby Brown.  I’m not sure how Robby, who is basically half the size of Casey, didn’t crash, but he somehow managed to stay on his bike.

Now, it could have been an honest mistake.  The kid may not have seen us coming.  I could have forgiven that, but then the kid turned his four-wheeler around and sprayed Casey and Robby with dirt as he pealed out.  This was inexcusable.  In my younger days, there would have been a physical altercation.  But these were just stupid teenagers who had no idea how close they came to being beaten to death.  Remember, Casey is an MMA figher.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a video of one of his fights (and yes I get a little carried away with the yelling).

It could have been a much more entertaining story, but we did the mature (and less fun) thing and just rode away.

four wheeler mound

Right after this was taken, Casey was nearly run over by a four-wheeler, and Robby was nearly run over by Casey. I'm not sure which would have been worse.

Shortly after this, Casey and Robby dropped Adam and me pretty quickly.  In our defense, they had gears while we were on single speeds.  I doubt I could have kept up anyway, though.  The wind was just killing me.  Adam and I kept looking at each other in disbelief of how strong the wind was.  It was perfect training for the Dirty Kanza 200.

Long Gravel Road Ride

This was the last time we saw Robby and Casey until the end of the ride.

I really can’t tell you how great this ride was.  The weather was perfect, I got to ride with some friends, I got to ride with my brother which is a rarity, and the scenery was simply beautiful.  Join us on the next ride, wont’ you?

Even though photos never do justice to how cool it really is to be out there, I’ll leave you with a few (and there is a video coming soon, too):

Farm on a Gravel Grinder

Clouds and Gravel

Aaron on a Gravel Grinder

Casey on the Boone-Doggle

Luke and Robby on the Gravel Flats

Pretty Gravel

TNT

We already have Vir-Tuesdays, and now we have TNT… Thursday Night Throwdowns.  That’s right, this Thursday night is the first of many TNT’s.  Bob posted it on the Team Red Wheel blog, and I thought I’d post it here as well.

TNT with Team Virtus

I hate to admit it, but Adam is the one that actually realized that “Thursday Night Throwdown” could be shortened to TNT.  In fact, he made a lame (yet funny) joke about how these training rides would be “dynamite!”  He’s fired for not letting me think of it, though.

I thought we should call it “Trinitrotoluene” but nobody agreed with me.  So, TNT it is, and “TNT” is pretty fitting since whenever Team Red Wheel and Team Virtus get together, you’re guaranteed to have an “explosively” good time.  Wow… That was worse than Adam’s joke.

Anyway, tomorrow night we’ll be doing a Katy Trail ride.  Meet at the N. Jefferson Lot (the one right on the Katy Trail, not the commuter lot) at 8:15.  We’ll probably roll out by 8:30 for a ride to Hartsburg and back (with perhaps a fried pickle or two if the bar in Hartsburg is still open).

Night Ride on the Katy Trail

Riding the Katy Trail will clearly make you "Freeky" Strong.

So come join us for a 20 mile night ride on Thursday.  You can go at your own pace, and the trail is flat and smooth.  So you don’t have to worry about “blowing up” on this ride, and it will definitely be a “blast!”  Damn!  It’s still not funny, is it?

Dirty Kanza Group Training Ride #1

We have 5 Virtusans stupid enough to do the Dirty Kanza 200: Bob Jenkins, Robby Brown, Adam Laffoon, Casey Lamb, and me.  The four of us that live in MO (which excludes Casey) decided to do our first group training ride this morning in preparation for DK.

Unfortunately, I had to be at work by 11:30, so we had to meet fairly early at 7:oo AM.  When my alarm went off, I was pissed at the alarm clock.  Then I looked outside to realize the weather man lied.  Instead of 45 degrees and partly cloudy, it was completely overcast with a light mist, temps hovering around 35, and lots of nasty wind.  I was pissed at the weather man.  All I wanted to do was go back to bed.  Then I remembered that Bob, Robby, and Adam agreed to meet me.  I was pissed at the idiot that suggested this ride.  Wait… That was me.  What was I thinking?

If I wasn’t meeting up with my team, there’s no way I would have gotten this ride in.  So I dragged my chubby buttocki out of bed, loaded up my bike and met the fellas at the Katy Trail Pavilion/Commuter Lot.

Getting ready to ride

It looks like Robby is giving us a glowing middle finger as Bob just laughs.

Ready for some gravel

Adam was fired for refusing to pose for the group photo above.

We headed out on a mile or two of pavement before we would hit the gravel.  There was a really strong headwind, and the light mist made it really cold.  I was really wishing I was not on my bike at that moment.

Riding Pavement before the Gravel

See the small droplets? Yeah. They were COLD!

We soon found ourselves on the gravel, and I started to warm up.  We talked, joked, laughed, and made fun of Adam.  I was finally glad that I was on my bike with my pals.

It wasn’t too long before we came up on some heavy machinery.  It’s a Virtus rule that Adam must pretend to drive any type of tractor/heavy machinery that we find.  Bob and I yelled ahead for Adam to come pose for a photo, but he and Robby pretended not to hear us.  So Adam was once again fired from the team.  Bob and I decided to take some photos anyway.

Riding a Bulldozer

That ain't Adam. That's me wondering where the hell Adam is.

Bikes and a Bulldozer

Now that's a sweet photo, huh?

While we waited for Robby and Adam to realize that we weren’t behind them, Bob decided to do some serious planking.  Check it out:

Planking Bob

Picture Perfect Planking Practice

Eventually, Adam and Robby came back to see why we weren’t right behind them.  Adam then begrudgingly posed for the photo that should have already happened.

Adam in a Caterpillar

Adam back where he belongs.

It wasn’t long before we were back on the gravel riding back into the vicious wind.  We had all warmed up by now, and we were having fun.  The wind sucked, but it was good training for Dirty Kanza.  Anytime there was a frozen puddle, Bob tempted fate by riding as fast as he could through the middle of it.  I kept waiting for the ice to break and reveal a deep ditch, sending Bob flying through the air to fall flat on his face.  Sadly, I was disappointed every time.

Bob riding ice on gravel

He never crashed. Dang it!

The ride was great, the wind was harsh, and the miles were flying by.  I don’t need to go into great detail, so I’ll just share a few photos with you…

Haunted Bridge in MO

Riding Across the Haunted Bridge

Gravel Hills

Serious "Hill" Training

Bob riding gravel

Bob, protect that MELON!

Bob dropped his chain

Bob ripped his new pants and dropped his chain, so we had to wait for him.

Gravel Grinder waiting for Bob

Still waiting for Bob...

Drink break on a gravel grinder

And still waiting for Bob...

After 35 minutes… Okay, it was only a minute or so, we hopped back on our bikes.  We soon found ourselves back at Highway 94 after 10 miles of riding.  This is where Bob had to leave us because he wanted to stay employed.  As we said our good byes and shed a tear or two, we noticed a truck coming by salting the road.  Seriously.  I guess the weather man was WAY off.

Salt truck

What?!?!? I told you it was cold.

Bob decided to hop on the Katy Trail to hustle back to his truck so he wouldn’t be late for work.  However, there was a deep ditch with a lot of water in it preventing Bob from crossing.  As Bob put it, “There’s an effing moat there!”  So he had to ride pavement for just a bit before hopping on the Katy.

Bob climbing out of a ditch

Bob hustling back to the pavement.

Robby, Adam, and I made our way on the Katy Trail into Tebbetts, MO.  We then hopped back on the gravel to make our way back to the commuter lot and our vehicles.  There was one stretch of gravel where the wind was absolutely sucking the life out of my legs.  Fortunately, we decided to stop for a snack break by the Missouri River at about the 20 mile mark.

Honey Stinger Break

Adam tries to buy his way back onto the team by sharing a dee-lish Honey Singer

Riding by the MO River

It was a cool spot for a break. The only thing missing was Bob. Where was he?

Before we got too cold by the river, we started on our way again.  We were feeling pretty good, and  with the wind finally at our backs, we were once again making good time.  There was plenty of cool sites to hold our attention.  Like this little creek crossing:

Creek crossing while training for Dirty Kanza

Robby points out the creek with his Lobster-gloved hand.

It wasn’t long before we were back on the Katy Trail for a short stretch before getting back on the gravel.  All was going great, and I was going to be done with plenty of time to make it to work on time.  Until we got about a half a mile from the Haunted Bridge where I got a flat tire.  Bob is usually the one to get flat tires, so I normally don’t have to worry about it.  With him gone, however, I guess I had to take one for the team.  Fortunately I always carry an extra tube, and Adam had CO2 for me (again, he was trying to buy his way back onto the team).

Flat tire while training for Dirty Kanza 200

Bummer!

I quickly had a new tube in place, and was ready to roll.  But then I heard a dreadful hissing sound.  Damn it!  I guess I had a bad tube, or I missed something in the tire that had punctured my new tube.  Robby and Adam were on cross bikes, so their tubes wouldn’t help me.  With about 7 miles left, I was going to have to walk my bike back and risk being late for work.  Robby volunteered to haul ass back to the parking lot and come back with my van, and Adam volunteered to walk with me.

Walking across the Huanted Bridge in MO

Fortunately, it must have been too cold for the ghost to bother us as we walked across the haunted bridge.

I was glad to have Adam’s company on the walk.  Between that and letting me use his CO2, I guess he’s back on the team.  Now, don’t worry.  It won’t be long until he does something Adam-like and winds up fired again, I assure you.

After walking just under 2 miles and 35 minutes later, Robby arrived with my van.

Hitching a ride on a gravel grinder

Robby to the rescue!

I loaded up my bike and climbed into the warm van.  Adam decided to ride the last few miles back to his car.  I would have liked to stay with Adam, but I was running short on time.  I had to get going, so Robby and I drove back to the commuter lot.

It was a great ride with great friends.  On more than one occasion, my mind wandered to Casey.  I’m VERY fortunate to have my friends and teammates so close.  It’s so much easier to train and push yourself when you can do it with your team.  Casey, however, has yet to find a group of like-minded people to train with in NY.  It’s gotta be tough to train for Dirty Kanza by yourself.  If anyone can do it, though, it’s Casey.  When he wraps his brain around something, he’s a very determined dude.  I guess I just wished Casey could be here to train with us.

Anyway… What was supposed to be a 32 mile ride, ended up being a 24.5 mile ride, a 1.9 mile hike-a-bike, and about a 6 mile car ride for me.  The route was relatively flat, but with the wind and the rough gravel, it’s an ass kicker.

Thanks to Bob, Robby, and Adam for riding with me.  And thanks to Robby and Adam for helping me out at the end.  It was a great day.

And by the way, I made it to work in plenty of time.  Bob, however, was just a few minutes late for his job.

So, there you have it.  Our first group training ride for Dirty Kanza is in the books.  Our next scheduled group ride is the Super Century on February 5th.  Wanna join us?  And we’ll keep you posted if we plan another ride before that.  Until then, Buh-Bye.

The Inaugural MLK Ride – And Oh What a Ride (and Party) It Was!

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:

The Start of the MLK Ride

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:

Granny Great Lamb

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.

Parking lot at Berryman CampgroundBerryman Trail Parking Lot

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!

Whiskey for the Berryman Trail

Justin made everyone VERY happy. Just look at Phil’s face in the background.

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.

Switchback on the Berryman Trail

Bob and Travis riding a switchback which was a lot tighter than this photo makes it look.

Kage and Jim riding the Berryman Trail

Jim and Kage (aka – Denny)

Icicles on the Berryman Trail

Bob riding by some cool icicles. (I had to look up how to spell “icicles” and I did NOT use UrbanDicitonary.com)

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:

Smooth Creek Crossing at Berryman Trail

Bob didn’t need his full suspension bike for this section.

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.”

Jake and Ryan from the Hoosier Daddies

Jake and Ryan enjoying a nice whiskey break.

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.

Map Check on the Berryman Trail

Do NOT go to the Four Points this time!!! (Photo Credit: Kate “Taller than Me” Geisen)

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:

Horse Damage on the Berryman Trail

This stretch obviously needs some work. I hope to make it to the next work day out there.

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.

Wahoo on the Berryman Trail

Josh from Team Wahoo made his mark.

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.

Near Brazil Creek Campground on the Berryman Trail

The rocks across the creek allowed us to keep our feet dry.

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.

The climb out of Brazil Creek Campground

This photo only sort of shows how long and steep the hill was.

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.

Finishing at the Berryman Campground

‘Twas a great ride, but we were glad to be done.

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!

Hoosier Grill Daddy

Hoosier grill daddy? Bruce, that’s who!

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:

Post-ride Party

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.

Beer at Berryman

Left to Right: Aaron, Phil, and a “Wicked fast dude” whose name I didn’t catch.

More fun after Berryman ride

The fire was fantastic. The smoke was not.

Pony Keg at the Berryman Trail

This is the only kind of horse I like to see at the Berryman Trail… A Pony Keg.

Group shot at Berryman

Unfortunately, some people had to leave before I thought about getting a group shot.

Hoosier Daddies at the Berryman Campground

Todd and Justin from the Hoosier Daddies.

Laughing at the end of the Berryman Ride

L to R: Phil, Bob, Jim “EBW” Bacon, Wicked Fast Guy, and Dave.  They were all laughing at – er… I mean with Bob.

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.

Grilled Cookies

Grilled cookies were amazing! If you missed it, I’m so sorry.

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.

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