Category Archives: gravel grinder

Get Some Dirt in Your Chamois This Saturday Morning

I’d like to do a longer ride Saturday morning. This gravel-jam will begin at approximately 730 am in beautiful Mokane, Missouri. This may or may not be a scouting ride for parts of the Cedar Cross.

Shitty weather will not be grounds for ride cancellation. The only thing stopping me will be the Hams Prarie gas station…their sandwiches are delicious.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/73295094

Don’t forget dog-spray and gummi bears…and your ipod. and chamois butter. and gummi bears.

The Dirty Jenkins Training Ride

As some of you may know, Casey is in town from New York.  Since the weather has been great for this time of year, we rode 14 miles of single track down at the Lake of the Ozarks, and then on Tuesday we decided to do the Dirty Jenkins Ride with the creator of the ride himself: One Mister Robert L. Jenkins III (or Bob to you and me).  Casey, Austin (my nephew), and I all met up with Bob and had an absolute blast on this ride.  Here’s a little video from the gravel ride for your viewing pleasure.  It’s at least worth watching from 1:40 – 2:50 and then again from 5:19 – 6:10.

Since Wednesday is supposed to be even better weather, we’re riding again to prepare for Dirty Kanza and Cedar Cross.  Adam and Robby actually took a day off, and Casey and I are meeting them for a 50+ mile ride with some decent climbs.  Here is the route we’re planning on doing if all goes well.  Bob couldn’t fake being sick get someone to cover his shift for him, so he’ll miss out on the most bad-ass ride ever.  It’s not like a 50 mile ride would help him avoid eating dog food, right?

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 Cedar Cross is Picking Up Some Sponsors

Greetings, Virtusites!!! As I slowly recover from my Hoosier Daddies-induced hangover, (Damn that was fun!), I realize it’s been longer than 5 minutes since I mentioned the Cedar Cross. As you all know by now, we are bringing you 2 non-races this year: The Cedar Cross and….the CAC.

**I will now pause for ten seconds while everyone says “The CAC” out loud and laughs among themselves.**

When you put a race together hoping for 5-10 riders, it’s easy to promise free beer and food at the finish line. But when 60+ people register… you check your wallet and suddenly it’s difficult to control your bowels. I’m in waaay over my head, so I started looking for sponsors.

Enter, Backcountry Research:

Bricks were shat and my pants were ruined when I heard from the president of BackCountry Research.  For those who don’t know, Backcountry Research is the company that brought us the Awesome Strap, (among other things). He thinks the Cedar Cross is “legit” and has pledged to “hook us up awesomely”. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am to say that The Cedar Cross is officially listed on BCR’s race calendar. Please go to their website and buy something right now. Seriously, do it. I did.

Did I mention we’re also sponsored by Foosh? I guess I’ve been using Foosh mints for about a year now, and I love them. Jason Kensey is the fonder of the Foosh empire, and I’m happy to say he’s a supporter of the Cedar Cross and Team Virtus. Everyone I know that’s tried Foosh has loved it, so you’re probably no different. Foosh is like an Altoid mint with more caffeine than a Monster or a Red Bull. Yep, they’re awesome.

Red Wheel

My buddy Nick Smith, (owner of RedWheel Bike shop), was also quick to lend a hand. Not only will he be racing in the Cedar Cross, he’s also giving me a STEEP discount on one of these babies to raffle off on raceday:

Is your mind blown yet? It damn well better be. But wait, there’s more…

I also landed a pretty sweet discount on some Chamois Butt’r.   200 of the sample size ‘butter packs’ were sold to me for $60. So, everyone should be able to go home with a minimal amount of taint destruction. No need to thank me.

As if all of this wasn’t already overwhelming enough, I recently received an email from the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau. It seems they’ve heard the buzz surrounding Cedar Cross and they want to help out. I’m pleased to officially announce that the Cedar Cross will Start and Finish at the North Jefferson Commuter Lot/Paved Pavilion. This will be VERY convenient for you out-of-towners.

I’ve got a meeting with these fine people on Feb 3rd, and I’m really hoping they decide to let us use the pavilion for free. There is also talk of discount rates at local hotels and I’ll have more on that after the meeting.

I guess that’s all of our sponsors for now, but I hope to announce many more in the future. If you know anyone who wants to help make this a better event, please let me know. I think it’d be great if everyone could take home some kind of souvenir.

This will be an AWESOME RACE!!! I can’t wait for May 6th.

Forgotten Trails

Hopefully by now, you know we’re putting together the most badass Monstercross ride/race of all time.  This sort of thing takes a lot of time to coordinate, and a whole lot more elbow grease to make sure the course is ready on raceday. In addition to gravel roads and National Forest land, The Cedar Cross will traverse several miles of what I have come to call “forgotten” singletrack. This trail system, for whatever reason, seems to have been completely forgotten, which is both sad and exciting. Sad because so few people know these trails exist, and exciting because SO FEW PEOPLE know these trails exist!!

Today, Pepper and I set out to clear one small section of the race course. Here’s what went down.

On South Mill site road, there’s a trailhead just to the side of the road right before it becomes someone’s driveway. I suspect this piece of trail is forgotten because it’s fairly remote and just a bit hidden. This photo was taken while standing on the trail looking out at the road.

Trailhead, my ass. Keep a watchful eye for the grey diamond on the tree.

From here, it’s a short downhill to yet another hidden trailhead. I’m not kidding, it took me 30 minutes to find it the first time I was out here. The trail goes almost straight down into a semi-dry creekbed.

Where I'm standing, it's dry.

This is where the work started. Can you find the trail in this picture? 

It's frickin' shameful, isn't it?

A  bit of heavy lifting and one broken rake later:

  

Pepper is such a camera whore

This is what I came up with for the water crossing. The water should pass under these rocks and roll off the trail. I’m still a beginner at this type of thing, so if anyone has a few pointers, I’m ready to learn a better way.

All flat-rock, water would be coming right-to-left

 I bet it took over an hour to clear a piece of trail that people  will ride in about 30 seconds, but it’ll be worth it on raceday.

After clearing “Pepper Hill”, I turned my attention Northward. Check out this Before/After shot:

The dog doesn't even know where the trail is..

 ***Leaf-blowing sounds***

Well how about that 🙂

Obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done, but this course is  going to be worth it. There will be no admission fees, but there WILL be prizes for top finishers, manned SAG stops, bbq at the finish and a special SHAT trophy for the one racer who truly earns it. I’m still trying to nail down the race-date, but it I’m hoping to make it happen on March 25th

This race will be awesome.

Two tired, hairy animals.

 
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