Category Archives: Monster Bicycles
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.
I have a confession to make. I’ve given up endurance sports.
For now anyway…
With endurance sports like Adventure Racing, there really isn’t an off-season. You can train and race year-round if you want. But I decided to take break, an off-season if you will. That’s right. I haven’t gone for a run or been on my bike in roughly two months. Maybe more.
***Cue the shrieking, alarms ringing, babies crying, and kittens dying***
Many people may consider this sacrilege, but I assure you I haven’t lost my mind. I simply needed a break from all of the long-distance stuff. So I’ve been lifting weights four times a week, doing some high intensity intervals here and there, and eating a LOT. Yes, I’ve gained weight. I’m okay with that. I wanted to get stronger, and I wanted to do something else for a little while. And I’m having a blast.
When it was time to sign up for the Castlewood 8-Hour Adventure Race, I knew I was out. But I also knew I would hate sitting at home, trying to get updates on how my teammates were doing. So my lovely wife agreed to volunteer with me at Castlewood. It would be the maiden voyage into volunteering for both of us, and I was excited she was coming with me. We dropped our amazing kids off at a friend’s house for the weekend, and we were on our way.
There was some confusion as to whether we were meeting at the Alpine Shop or at Bob’s house, but eventually we all ended up together. Then it was time for some carb-loading, because, you know… Volunteering is very strenuous. Becca and I would need our glycogen stores topped off, so we all went to Dewey’s. It was excellent, and we all laughed our asses off. The quote of the night was from our very own Bob Jenkins to the waiter: “Nope. It’s too late. You hurt my fat heart.” It was hilarious.
After stuffing our bellies, we went back to Bob and Cara’s new house (which is awesome by the way). Bob thought he would need a refresher course on plotting UTM points, but it’s kind of like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it. Well, that’s what I’m hoping anyway since I haven’t been on a bike in forever. Anywho… After Bob plotted the points with no problems, the team put together a stategery for the race.
Honestly, it was very strange to be observing instead of participating in the pre-race whirlwind: plotting, route-planning, gear packing, gear list checking, repacking, making fun of Adam (well, I might have participated in that last one). We all went to bed way too late, and the alarm went off way too early. Bob’s new house is very close to race HQ at the Wyman Center, which worked out great for this race. Even though we only had a ten-minute drive or so, we were still running late. Shocking, I know. But at least we were all organized and prepared come race morning:
We made it to the Wyman Center right on schedule which was 20 minutes after we had intended. We dropped the bikes off outside, and then we found our guest racer, Jim Smith of Monster Bicycle Company and Team TOG fame. How he was talked into tarnishing his reputation by racing with Team Virtus is beyond me. The race started at 7:00 AM with teams heading out on foot for a short orienteering section. Becca and I were given our orders, and we headed to the canoe put-in where racers were expected to arrive around 8:00 AM. There was only one problem, though:
The road to the river access was closed and chained. I called Gary, the race director, and left him a message. I was a little worried about missing the first racers, and since I had the puncher the racers needed to punch their passports, we really needed to be there. So in true adventure racing-spirit, Becca was ready to hop the fence and walk a mile or so in 10 degree weather. She didn’t even hesitate. So I threw some snacks, water, and hand-warmers into my pack, and away we went. Fotunately, we didn’t have to climb the fence. We simply walked down and around the fence and through some brush to the other side.
About three-quarters of the way to the boat ramp, we met a park ranger driving toward us in a truck. He asked if we were with the race, and we informed him that we had to park on the other side of the fence. Well, it turns out that the gate was unlocked after all. It just looked like it was locked with the chains wrapped around each other. Well, damn. I felt like an idiot, but it was clearly all part of my plan to give Becca a taste of the “expect the unexpected” nature of adventure racing.
I continued to walk since I was close enough to the put-in by now, and Becca hitched a ride back to the Virtus Van. I didn’t get another hundred yards before Gary pulled up and gave me a ride the rest of the way to the boat ramp at Checkpoint 13. Becca soon joined me after parking the Virtus Van.
It was cold. Very cold. Like 10 to 15 degrees cold. We set up shop on the boat ramp and waited. We were layered up, and we had plenty of chemical hand-warmers. Every 30 – 45 minutes I would start up a new batch of hand-warmers so that we always had a fresh supply to keep our hands and feet warm. It worked fairly well for the most part, although our toes got pretty cold from time to time.
At about 8:10 or so, the top four or five teams came in within a minute or two of each other. They all looked great as they quickly got their bikes in the canoes and canoes on the water. Other teams started to come in, usually in waves of 3 or 4teams at a time. It was a bit hectic as Becca handed each team their new UTM coordinates to plot and I punched their passports and wrote down their times. Our friends from Team TOG, Dave and Justin, came into the CP a little after 9:00. And it was great to see them.
And then at 9:15, we saw them. Our beloved team came into CP13, and they looked like they were having fun (shocking, I know). They said they had stayed pretty warm, and Bob had apparently been nailing the navigation – which nobody other than Bob ever doubted. Bob quickly began plotting the points using the UTMs we had given him as the rest of the team got their gear and bikes into the canoes.
Other teams were coming and going – punching their passports, plotting UTMs, packing bikes into canoes, carrying canoes… It was chaotic, but it was really cool to watch. Once Bob had the points plotted, they were ready to get on the river. Playing the “Girl-Card” that Robyn Benincasa has talked about, Kage did nothing while the guys carried the canoes to the water.
Becca and I both shed some tears, forming tear-cicles on our cheeks, as we watched our team push off into the frigid, unforgiving waters. We weren’t sure if we’d ever see them again. Well, that’s not true. But we knew how cold that paddle was going to be. I didn’t envy them at this moment.
Other teams came through our CP. One team got there, punched their passport, and turned around to ride back to Race HQ. He said, “There’s no way in hell we’re getting on that water.” Two or three other teams never made it to CP13 before deciding to call it quits. Eventually, there was only one team left that hadn’t yet made it to CP13.
We said good-bye to our new friend and race photographer, Travis Irvin, but not before he helped me carry a lone canoe up from the boat ramp.
The last team out came in around 10:45. That was about an hour after all other teams, but these guys really embodied the spirit of adventure racing. They lost their passport on the first orienteering section, so they had to go back and get a new passport and then do most of the first O-course all over again before moving on. But they didn’t quit. They just kept going. That’s pretty damn cool if you ask me. Big kudos to those guys.
On the way back to Race HQ, Becca and I grabbed some delicious soup from Panera Bread (although near St. Louis they’re still called St. Louis Bread Co.). Man, that soup hit the spot! We could feel it warming us from the inside. Then we went back to the Wyman Center to wait for teams to come in, plot more points for an optional orienteering section, and then finish. Becca and I were in charge of the food tables, carrying the pizzas, labeling the pizza boxes, removing empty boxes, etc. Teams came in, warmed up a bit as they plotted points, and then headed out to get more CP’s. We were happy to see Team Virtus roll in.
Bob plotted the extra points as the others filled water bottles. It seems when it’s really cold, even the insulated bottles won’t keep your water from freezing.
As Bob finished plotting the last few CP’s and planned a route to get a couple more optional CP’s, the rest of the team warmed up, ate some food, and got ready to head back out in the cold. Kage even had time to be a perv and sneak into the Men’s restroom. Here is proof:
It was really great to be at the finish to see the fast teams finish as other teams were still coming in only to go back out for more CP’s. And it was great to hear different race stories from our AR friends, new and old. I was a little worried that our team might miss the cutoff, but I shouldn’t have been. With ten minutes to spare, the team came running down the hill, literally leaping over a railing as they made their way to the finish line.
I couldn’t be prouder of the team. They ran a really great race. Congrats, guys. Big thanks to Bonk Hard Racing for letting us help out, and an even bigger thanks to my amazing wife, Becca, for volunteering with me. It was way more fun having her there with me. And no Virtus race report would be complete without at least one Maw Maw joke. So here she is after the race:
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!
I have big news, everyone: Our man Jim Smith, overlord of Monster Bicycle Company and proud sponsor of the Cedar Cross, is organizing a long group ride on the Katy Trail.
Ride deets are as follows:
Date of departure: 10/20/2012
Point A: Columbia, MO
Point B: Hermann, MO
Distance from A-B: Approximately 90-ish miles
Upon arrival at point B, Jim wishes for us to “camp and be merry.” I’m cool with that.
The next morning, we’ll resume travel in an Easterly direction en route to Point C
Point C: St. Charles, MO
For anyone who has never done a long Katy Trail ride, there’s a trip planner at www.bikekatytrail.com where you can find tons of info regarding places along the trail to refill water/buy food/take a crap, etc. There are towns and trailheads about every 10 miles, so you can customize this ride to suit yourself. The possibilities are literally endless.
You can bet I’ll be stopping in Treloar for delicious cheeseburgers and again in Augusta for a growler of their fabulous craft beer. This is going to be a great ride with great people, and you should be there. ALL are welcome.
Rumor has it that Jim is going to be giving away one of his custom-built titanium frames during this ride, but I might be making that up. Seriously, I’m totally lying about that.