No, not that kind of virgin. I’ve got four kids, for cryin’ out loud. Get your mind out of the gutter, would ya? I’m talking about 100-mile virginity. You see, I was a virgin to century rides up until a few days ago.
I was supposed to get my first century done at last year’s Dirty Kanza, but that didn’t work out too well. With this year’s DK200 coming up in just 5 weeks (HOLY CRAP! 5 Weeks?!?!), I thought it was about time I got my first century out of the way. So Bob and I planned on doing a slightly modified version of a mostly flat 100-miler to Booneville and back that Stoney Cranmer, of Team Red Wheel fame, put together.
A couple of friends that were going to come just couldn’t make it (Kage and Travis), but our friends Aaron Lackman, Justin Nemeth, and Dave Baettie met Bob at the N. Jefferson Katy Trail right on time. Since my lovely wife and I decided to let our oldest daughter open her presents on her 10th birthday before going to school, I was unfortunately running late. As I sped the Virtus Van towards the Katy Trail, the skies did not look promising.
I rolled into the parking lot, and tried to get ready as quickly as possible. The weather was a cool 60-ish degrees, and although it looked like it would rain at any moment, we were staying dry as we rolled out on the Katy Trail. My plan was to maintain a 12 mph pace which is what I plan to ride at Dirty Kanza. The first 15 minutes or so, we were hovering around 13 mph, so that was close enough.
It wasn’t very long into the ride when a kamikaze squirrel scurried out in front of Dave, Aaron, and me. It was a big, fat, brown squirrel, and when it saw us, it sprinted straight down the Katy Trail, panicked, bolted left, right, then left again. Dave nailed it with his chain ring and then rolled over it with his back tire. It was amazing! It happened so fast, and Dave barely even felt anything. And the squirrel actually got back up and ran off into the woods, apparently unharmed. Bob and Justin missed the show.
Riding onward, we passed the first stretch of the Katy Trail that runs right next to the Missouri River, and we were happy that there was no head-wind.
It was pretty clear at this point that a 12 mph pace was going to be too slow for everyone but me. So I told everyone else to go to hell, and they dropped me. No, that’s not true. They stayed back with me for the first half hour or so, but since I was feeling good and the weather was perfect, I picked up my pace to around a 14 to 15 mph average.
I’m sure the other guys could have gone even faster, but this was a “time-in-the-saddle” ride: a ride to work out the kinks in our nutrition and hydration plan for Dirty Kanza and to get our taints, backs, and arms used to being in the riding position for hours at a time.
A few miles before Hartsburg, there was a really rough patch of the Katy Trail. We didn’t see it in time, and we just smashed right over the ruts on our cross bikes. No big deal… Until we made it into Hartsburg, and I realized that two of my water bottles full of my precious e-Fuel had fallen out of my Minora. Again, this wasn’t too big of a deal on this ride where I can get water at every stop on the Katy Trail. At Dirty Kanza, though, this would have been a costly mistake. I’ll make sure they are more secure for the DK200.
After a couple of the guys refilled their water bottles, we hopped on some flat gravel roads.
We kept riding, talking, laughing, and having more fun than anyone working or going to class that day (Kage). The clouds were beginning to dissipate, and we were having a really good time. My new Revelate Designs Tangle Bag, on its maiden voyage I might add, was awesome. I had a Camelbak hydration bladder in there along with my bike tools, money clip, and a snack or two. It was really nice to have nothing on my back.
As we rolled along, I noticed Bob was employing a new technique to keep his legs fresh while on his bike. I was quite impressed, so I snapped a photo:
Everyone was feeling good, and we kept riding. When we got near Cooper’s Landing, Bob decided to take an alternate route, so he took the gravel while the rest of us stayed on the Katy Trail. He always marches to the beat of his own drummer.
We all laughed at the weather man. It was supposed to reach record-high temperatures today. No way. It was in the 70’s and there was a light, cooling breeze. This ride was going to be a piece of cake. We just kept putting miles behind us as we talked and laughed.
When we reached McBaine, we headed out on some pavement. Again, this was Stoney’s route. We rode some pavement onto some more pavement. There were no good views, we weren’t near the river, and we had no idea why Stoney would add this stretch of pavement to the ride. But then we saw it… The Big Ass Tree. And Stoney’s route made a lot more sense.
Now, I had heard about “The Big Ass Tree” before, and it looked like a pretty big tree as we rode towards it. I’ll be honest with you, though. I wasn’t really impressed. But then, as we got closer and closer, I began to realize just how big this tree really is, and let me tell you, it is a BIG ASS TREE! And it just seems so out of place. There is nothing around it. You really just need to see this thing to truly get a sense of how big this mo-fo is. Here are a couple more shots, but photos never do justice:
I guess “The Big Ass Tree” is not it’s official name. It is also referred to as the McBaine Famous Bur Oak Tree, but I prefer “Big Ass Tree.” Don’t you?
We said good-bye to the Big Ass Tree and hopped back on the Katy Trail. It wasn’t long before a we saw a DNR truck parked in the middle of the Katy Trail. As we got closer, we saw a wonderful sight. Lisa had found my water bottles and tracked us down. Big thanks to you, Lisa, wherever you are.
This time when I put my water bottles back into the cages on the Minora, I bent the cages in to make sure the bottles stay put. I had no more problems losing the bottles. I might use a simple strap or something similar at Dirty Kanza to make extra sure they stay put.
Lisa left us, and we jumped back on the bikes. I looked up just in time to stop before running over Aaron who had crashed. Apparently, Bob completely cut him off (unknowingly if you ask Bob, but the jury is still out on that). Aaron couldn’t get unclipped, and he just toppled over. It was his first crash on his new Salsa Vaya. Aaron has cat-like speed, though, and I only managed to get a shot of him after he hopped back up to his feet.
Between McBaine and Rocheport we had a ton of fun and saw lots of cool stuff. Here is just a small sampling. We saw:
And then on the other side of Rocheport, we rode through the tunnel:
The sun was out in full force now, and the temperature was definitely rising. From Rocheport to Booneville was my least favorite part of the ride. There was a strong headwind for the last 10 miles, the scenery wasn’t great, and the Katy Trail seemed to stretch on forever and ever. We were all still feeling pretty good, but this part of the ride was just dragging on.
We eventually rolled through New Franklin and Franklin, and we soon found ourselves crossing Boonslick Bridge into Booneville.
We were all hungry, so we stopped at the Riverside Diner for some grub. After all the crap that Bob has given Adam about not eating any gravy in the past, Bob had the audacity to not order any gravy. Of course, I shamed him into adding a side of it, and Bob proceeded to dip his double bacon cheeseburger into the gooey gravy goodness.
This would end up being a bad idea for Bob, but we’ll get to that in a second. We paid our bills, jumped back on our bikes, and we rolled out again. The route back to Jefferson City included a little bit of pavement and gravel with some climbs. Even though it had gotten pretty damn hot and humid, we were still feeling good, so we jumped off the Katy and onto the pavement.
The hills hurt more than we had anticipated, the heat was getting to us, and Bob’s stomach was not really cooperating after eating all that gravy. I’m not sure what he was thinking when he ordered that, but maybe he’ll know better next time. Anyway, after a few miles of gravel, hills, and heat, we decided to jump back on the Katy Trail to finish the ride.
The hills and the gravel were a nice break from the monotony of the Katy Trail, but we were glad to be back on the flat, smooth surface anyway. We rode back through the tunnel on our way to Rocheport, and we decided to take a break under its cool, breezy shade.
Bob’s gravy was trying to find it’s way back out of him one way or another, so we decided to take it a little easy for awhile. We made it into Rocheport and stopped for another break. I was starting to feel the effects of the heat and the miles at this point, so I was more than happy to take another break. I dumped a water bottle of cold water over my head, and, after the initial shock, it felt wonderful.
Aaron needed to get home by 5:00-ish, so he needed to pick up the pace. Justin decided to keep him company, and Dave decided to stay back with us (even though he could have smashed us and left us in his wake). So we said good-bye as they rolled onward, and we rested a bit longer.
We soon got back on our bikes and started riding towards Jeff City once again. Bob seemed to be feeling much better at this point, but I was starting to fall apart. By the time we hit Hartsburg (only 10 – 11 miles from Jefferson City), I was really hurting. I had a pretty bad headache, I was starting to slow down, and I couldn’t even think about eating anything. I’m pretty sure I got behind on my hydration, and that is a BIG no-no.
I was carrying plenty of water, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t drink enough. Maybe it was because the morning temps were fairly mild and the riding was fairly easy. Or maybe it was because I was having too much fun riding with my friends. I don’t know what happened. Usually I stay on top of that kind of thing. All I know is, if that happens at Cedar Cross or Dirty Kanza, my race will be over.
The last stretch of the Katy Trail from Hartsburg took forever. And I mean for… ev… errrrrr… We’ve ridden that piece of the Katy countless times, so I knew each and every little landmark. I kept thinking we’d never make it back to the parking lot. I was wrong, though. We made it back just a bit after 6:00 PM for a total time of 10 hours and 20-ish minutes. Actual riding time was 7 hours and 54 minutes. The total distance ended up being 102.29 miles.
Aaron had already left so he could be with his family, but Justin was still hanging around. I wish I could have stuck around longer than I did, but I needed to get home since it was my daughter’s birthday. On top of that, I felt like dried dog poop, so I bid adieu to everyone and headed home.
By the time I got home, my headache had gotten worse, and I couldn’t even finish my dinner since I felt like puking. Let me repeat that. I, Lukas Lamb, could not finish my dinner… after riding my bike all day… for over 100 miles… Um, yeah. I’m pretty sure I was severely dehydrated and possibly on the verge of heat exhaustion. On my way home, I realized that I had only urinated once all day. That’s just stupid. When I finally went to the bathroom at my house, my pee was a dark, brownish-yellow. Not good at all.
So I learned a BIG lesson: Carrying enough liquid isn’t enough. You actually have to drink it to prevent dehydration. Now, that’s pretty obvious to most, isn’t it? Well, it was obvious to me before this ride, and I still managed to screw it up. It won’t happen again… I hope.
Anyway, it was truly a great ride. Not only was it my first century ride, but it was Aaron’s first one as well. It might have been Justin’s first century too, but I’m not sure on that one. So, I’m no longer a century virgin. If all goes well this weekend at Cedar Cross, I’ll get my second century in. And if everything goes perfectly on June 2nd at Dirty Kanza, I’ll lose my bi-century virginity too. I can’t wait!
Okay, so you may have heard that we (Bob, Robby, and I) are heading out to Kansas in a couple of weeks for the infamous Dirty Kanza 200 mile gravel road race. Bob is riding it solo, and Robby and I are forming a dynamic duo the likes of which has never been seen!
I’ve been told that the only way to get ready for this race is to get LOTS of time on the saddle… ideally in a sauna, but that’s a little unrealistic (although I used to take the stationary bike into the sauna while wearing a plastic suit and winter clothes to make weight, but that’s neither here nor there). So last week, we planned a long night ride on the Katy Trail from Jefferson City to McBaine and back.
We met around 8:30 or so at the paved pavilion, and Adam couldn’t make it. Therefore, he was once again fired from the team. Robby showed up in a jersey that pre-dated Red Wheel Bike Shop:
We headed out around 9:00 PM with our sites set on McBaine. To be honest, if we made it that far and back then it would be my second longest ride ever. Seriously. That’s probably not good since I’m signed up to ride half of the DK200 in a couple of weeks.
The evening was beautiful even though rain was in the forecast. We had a decent headwind, but it was no match for Team Virtus. We arrived in Hartsburg in what seemed like no time at all.
It was there in Hartsburg that we discovered something that all Missourians should be proud of. Our modest little Katy Trail is a Rails to Trails Hall of Famer! And I wanted to get photographic evidence of this fine accomplishment, but Bob had to go and ruin the moment…
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of flats (I think I need new tires), and as we rolled into Cooper’s Landing, I got yet another one. How many Virtusans does it take to change a flat? Two apparently:
After fixing my flat, we rolled on out, headed for McBaine. There was lightning in the distance, but so far Mother Nature was cooperating with us. We made it to McBaine with no more problems. We stopped for some photos to prove that we did, in fact, make it to our destination.
After a little break and a snack, we headed back toward Jefferson City. If you’ve ridden the Katy Trail much, then you are aware that it is somewhat of an anomaly. No matter what you do, you always ride into a headwind. Seriously. The wind was in our faces on the way to McBaine, and now that we had turned around to ride back home, the wind had shifted. We were once again riding into a decent headwind. It never fails.
The ride back to Jefferson City was uneventful, but it was a great time. I was definitely ready to be off my bike, though. My ass was done! The Katy Trail is a different kind of difficult for long rides. Many people assume the Katy is too easy since it’s so flat. I beg to differ. Yes, it’s flat. But that is part of what makes it difficult. There are no breaks. You don’t get any downhills to rest your legs. You don’t get any turns to break up the monotony. You just have to keep pedaling… and pedaling… and pedaling… I think it’s great training for the Dirty Kanza, but I may be delusional.
We made it back to the paved pavilion in Jeff City at around 2:00 AM. Our actual riding time was around 4 hours. Not great, but not bad. It was a great ride, but I was ready to be done. I felt pretty good during the ride, but it definitely didn’t give me a ton of hope for success at DK200. We’ll see.
So there you have it. Just another training ride for Team Virtus. We’re doing another long Katy Trail ride tomorrow, so let us know if you wanna join us. We’re trying to re-create the magic from Bob and Adam’s last Katy Trail ride, although that might be impossible. We shall see.