Category Archives: gravel grinder
I’ve regretted coming up 6 or 7 miles short of a metric century at the Rocheport Roubaix a few weeks ago. The race was 55 miles, but the weather was bitterly cold – like in the teens with high winds kind of cold. My feet were frozen, and I was exhausted at the end of that race, and the warm cafe was too inviting, so I didn’t go out and ride the extra mileage to get credit toward earning my Cup O’ Dirt.
So, I really wanted to ride a metric century (62 miles for those of you who don’t want to Google how far a kilometer is) as soon as the weather turned halfway decent. But we weren’t just blessed with halfway decent weather last weekend. The weather was simply superb for early March.
Travis, Bob, and Jim joined me in Mokane to do the Cock Gobbler Ride. – 53 miles so we were planning on adding some Katy Trail miles to the end of the ride to hit 62 miles total. We met at the Katy Trail parking lot and took an obligatory pre-ride photo.
It was sunny but cool at the start of our ride. The first climb had us plenty warmed up. The gravel was super smooth and hardpacked, and the wind was at our backs. It just couldn’t get any better.
We soon found ourselves close enough to the local Casey’s General Store, so we obviously stopped for some delicous breakfast pizza, Spike Energy Shots, and other beverages and snacks. I may or may not have spilled Travis’s Monster drink, and I may or may not have sucked the spilled beverage off the sidewalk. No photos were taken, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.
We rolled out of the Casey’s parking lot onto the pavement for a short stretch before we got back onto the gravel. There were some good climbs, lots of laughs, a few deep conversations, and several pee breaks. See for yourself…
Shortly after this pee break, we found the remnants of an unlucky victim of last year’s Cedar Cross. We stopped for a moment of silence (and to take photos of course).
One other, uh… “highlight” of the ride was seeing a beautiful creek from a rural bridge. The breathtaking view brought us an immense feeling of peace and serenity. All felt right in the world until Jim said, “What the hell is that?!” We all turned to look, and we saw this:
At first we thought it was just some trash, maybe some old house insulation thrown over the bridge. But that wasn’t it. It took us a minute to realize what it was. Here’s a closer photo for you. See if you can tell what it is.
Look closely and you can see a tail, an ear, and at least two snouts of pigs along with intestines and other various organs, skin, and what not. Nasty. And this is a good reminder of why we should ALWAYS treat any water out of a creek, river, pond, or lake before drinking it.
After that, we were of course hungry, so it was great to find ourselves at the Hams Prairie Store, home of the world’s best hard salami sammiches. Or so I’ve been told. I have yet to experience the deliciousness, and since I had forgotten to bring any money, this ride would be no different. But Bob bought himself a sammich and shared it with me, and it truly was delicious. For those of you riding The Cedar Cross, make sure you get there early enough so they don’t run out of salami like they did when I first rode Cedar Cross!
Before long, we made it to the nuclear power plan near Fulton. Again, those of you who are riding Cedar Cross should be sure to stop for a photo here.
Sadly, Adam and Robby couldn’t join us even though they both wanted too. Adam had to work, which is only a marginally acceptable excuse. Robby had hernia surgery the day before, so that’s a little more understandable. The first thing Robby said as he awoke after surgery was, “Ask the doctor if I can ride tomorrow.” And that, ladies and gents, is why he is the mutha-effin’ Darkness!
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure and sheer joy of riding with Bob Jenkins, he often does some cool shit on a bike. Most of it scares the hell out of me, and I’m too chicken to even attempt it. He can stand up on his bike while hauling ass down a bumpy gravel road with his arms out wide à la Jack Dawson doing his King of the World bit in “Titanic.” Not that I watched that chick flick. And I definitely didn’t cry when I didn’t watch it.
Here is a series of photos of Bob “Jack Dawson” Jenkins working his magic. And yes, this is on pavement, but I assure you I have seen him do this flying downhill on gravel roads. And if you’re reading this, Mama Jenkins, I’m totally kidding. Bob would never do such a thing.
Toward the end of the ride, we were supposed to ride the Katy Trail for several miles. That wasn’t gonna happen. With the snowmelt from earlier in the week, the Katy Trail was way too soft. It was like riding through two inches of peanut butter, and I say that from experience.
So we altered the route, adding more gravel with stupid headwinds. The last few miles hurt, but we made it the full 62 miles. My first metric century of the year! Woo hoo!
Jim and Travis had other obligations, but Bob and I grabbed some beer and wings and headed over to The Darkness residence to surprise Robby.
It was great to see Robby after the ride. He was moving a little gingerly, but he’s one tough SOB. Every once in awhile, he’d just punch himself in the stomach to show us how many he is. Very impressive.
Sights were seen, farts were ripped, and many miles were ridden. And one century toward my Cup O’ Dirt is in the books.
Last weekend, Kate and I toured the gravel roads of Jonesburg. The following is a brief account of the awesomeness that took place.
The proposed route was roughly 25 miles, boasting scenic river views and glamorous upscale housing.
Since neither of us had saved the route ahead of time, (y’know, cuz we’re dumbasses), there was a bit of confusion as to the actual route. But like things usually do, it worked itself out and we were on course in short order. A bit of pavement led us to the beginning of Massas Creek road, which we followed to Tower road. Tower road lived up to its name with some nice climbs, but the scenery was worth the pain. We saw a lot of run down homes and unleashed dogs, but there were also a LOT of really nice homes out there.
I had told my wife we’d be doing this ride at a “training pace,” but that turned out to be a dirty lie. We did a fair amount of picture taking and non-race scheming, so time got away from us a bit. It was totally worth it though, because we found a LOT of cool shit…like this sun-bleached rib-cage for example:
Scenery abounds along this road. Check out this bridge..
The road cuts through a fair bit of National Forest area, and highlights some really great landmarks along the way, like the old house in the picture below. There’s a big “No Tresspassing” sign on it, so we didn’t walk inside and see evidence of fire damage and a pillow on the floor where someone’s been sleeping inside. But if we had walked inside and seen that, it would’ve been really interesting.
Further down the road we encountered a few more respectable climbs, but you’d never know it by the way Kate flew to the top and waited patiently for my fat ass to catch up. I’m gonna blame my sub-par performance on knobby tires, but it would’nt have hurt to be a few dozen pounds lighter.
And what’s the deal with all of these plastic bags on the barb-wire fence? Is that to keep horses away or something?
The downhills. Oh, the downhills. Toward the end of Tower road we began our descent toward the Katy Trail and it was a face melter. Fast and furious, I loved it. Here’s a shot of Kate before the big drop.
It’s really sad the way pictures do such an injustice to the beauty of nature. Anyway, when we got to the bottom of that rip-tastic downhill, we turned east onto the wet, soft Katy Trail. This was probably the only part of the ride I didn’t like. Riding the Katy when it’s soft just sucks. But eventually that part was over and we were on our way up Massas Creek road.
Massas Creek road is totally badass. There are times when it’s so rocky and loose you wonder if it’s even a road at all. There’s definitely a felling of remoteness.The creek crossings and rock formations are a visual treat, as was the bald eagle we saw overlooking the creek. No pics of him though; he blasted off as soon as he saw us.
This rock face was enormous, but you’d never know it from looking at the photo.
….And Kate got to try out her fancy new waterproof cycling boots in this creek. I took the easy way out and rode across.
The rest of the way back to the truck was almost all uphill, so that was a peach. And while we both could’ve ridden further, I think we were glad to call it a day. This route was fantastic, and I mean that. Total mileage was just under 29 miles, but that included some wrong turns and a few off-course exploring rides. This ride could easily be streched to 30-50 miles, and I think it’s safe to say we’ll be riding it again very soon. Hopefully next time we’ll see you there.
I would submit to you that there’s no greater form of cycling than Monstercross. Riding a quilted frankenbike across gravel, singletrack, grassy fields and (insert surface type here) is, in my opinion, as good as it gets.
On Black Friday of 2014, Dan Fuhrmann put together just such a ride. Links were posted, tape was hung and the party was in full swing. I think it’s worth mentioning that Dan accepted no money for his work, insisting that all he wanted was to “share this slice of heaven with as many people as possible.” What follows is a very brief description of the ride in hopes that you’ll be there next year.
Pulling into the parking area, I was surprised and pleased to see Travis had made it, along with Jim Phillips and a whole slew of strong, fast cyclists.
The ride started out on a bit of dirt road along the Piney River, which was incredible. The pace was brisk, but I did manage to chat with Travis for a few minutes before my first mechanical of the day.
A dropped chain early in the ride had me off the back quicker than usual, but I did eventually end up riding with Ron Chinn and Shawn Bleiler. Ron was obviously the strongest in our group, but he didn’t rub it in too bad.
The gravel eventually gave way to some double track/atv paths and was an absolute blast. There were plenty of mud/water holes and a lot of sandy spots. I will confess I did some walking, but that’s only because I’m a raging fatass. All of the roads/trails were rideable and very fun.
At one of the gravel/pavement intersections I saw a bit of animal bone that could not have been from a deer:
…and a few feet from there I spotted what I presumed to be a poached black bear’s hide.I would later learn from Shawn this was actually a legally-killed feral hog. If I’d only had racks on my bike I could’ve gathered the pelts and made a pair of ass-less chaps for Casey.
^^Look at the fat layer on that thing! –(TWSS)
The ride was full of kickass scenery and jeep-trails. I couldn’t help but wonder how Dan found all of this stuff and laced it together into such a great ride.
Not having ridden much leading into this weekend, I was a little bit smoked when I finally rolled into the Elbow Inn Bar and BBQ Pit, but a fried pork tenderloin sandwich and Stag beer had me refueled in no time. As always, greasy bar food after a hard day on the bike is pretty amazing. I have to say this was a fantastic ride and I would have been a fool to miss out on it.
But the real fun hadn’t even started, because as soon as this ride was over I was in the truck on the way To Sutton’s Bluff for a bikepacking weekend with Luke and Dave. More on that later.
That’s right! This is a new series here on the Virtus Blog. First, though, I have to give props for this idea to my favorite strength and conditioning blogger, Tony Gentilcore. He’s hilarious, entertaining, and super smart when it comes to fitness. And yes, I totally ripped the idea off from him.
This idea is simple. We’ll post some cool shit related to adventure that we think you should check out. This first installment will be focused on The Cedar Cross since it’s coming up quick, but there’s still time to register! It is a gravel race in Mid-Mo that is the perfect tune-up race for Dirty Kanza, and it’s one that you don’t want to miss. The race director isn’t half-bad either.
1. One Month to Go and Heavies Ride for Free – Bob Fuckin’ Jenkins
The Cedar Cross is the shit for many, many reasons. One of those reasons is our very own Bob Jenkins. A couple weeks ago, there was an ad on facebook basically making fun of an overweight rider, and it was despicable. Bob was moved to write this post and make Cedar Cross even more awesomer. Read it and see just how fantastic this race is going to be.
2. Cedar Cross 2013 Video – thebikeweiss
Okay, so this technically doesn’t require any reading, but you should still check it out. I don’t know the guy who made it, but it shows some great footage of the race from last year.
3. Cedar Cross 2012 Race Report – Casey F. Ryback
Here’s a great race report from our friend, Casey, from Team Seagal. It’s from the inaugural Cedar Cross way back in 2012. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll sign up for Cedar Cross 2014 and join in on all the fun.
Let us know what you think of the new series. Do you like it or does it suck? Should we continue or shitcan it?
Jim Smith’s MKT endurance cruise to St. Charles is nearly upon us. Below is the link from monster-bicycles.com, (proud sponsor of the Cedar Cross). Team TOG will be in attendance, and rumor has it they’ve pledged to pay for the first 7 rounds of beers. Kudos to those guys!
And now a word from this weekend’s Master of Ceremonies:
It’s October, which means beautiful weather, changing leaves, and a celebration of booze across Missouri vineyards. What better way to enjoy these than a weekend of riding and camping on the KatyTrail through Missouri wine country with old and new friends? Answer: There isn’t one.
So pump up your tires, knock the dust off of that tent, and join us for what promises to be a good time. This ride is open to anyone reading this, those not reading this, or anyone else that may hear anything about this….and those that don’t.
What: A ride on the KatyTrail with camping and merryment
When: Saturday Oct. 20-21
Where: The KatyTrail between Columbia, MO and St. Charles, MO.
Day 1, Oct 20: Columbia to Herman: 80ish miles (can be made shorter by meeting any point along the route)
I will roll out of FlatBranchPark in Columbia, MO around 7am and head to the KatyTrail via the MKT Nature Trail. I’ll head East on the KatyTrail to the North Jefferson City trailhead where I’ll pick up more riders around 10am. Anyone wanting to meet at any other trail head should just let me know. We’ll then continue east on the trail to Herman where we will camp and be merry.
Day 2, Oct 21: Herman to St. Charles: 65ish miles
In the morning after we break camp, those riders wishing to return to Jefferson City or Columbia will head back West on the trail, while I and anyone else wishing to continue onto St. Charles will head East.
Logistics: Though this is a group ride, it should be approached as a fully self supported ride. This means you should make plans on getting your own camping gear to Herman, as well as finding your own way home from your destination. There will be no sag support, bike shuttle, or aid stations. I’m sure we will be stopping at local businesses along the route to eat and refill water as needed, so bring some cash.
Riders should feel free to join in at any point along the KatyTrail to adjust the mileage for their comfort level. There are towns and trailheads nearly every 10 miles on the trail, so the possibilities are endless. Refer to www.bikekatytrail.com for details. There may also be some riders leaving from St. Charles on Sat. and returning on Sun. for anyone interested in that option.
Please leave a comment if you are interested in joining us, or with any questions or concerns. Hope to see you there!