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Monstercross pre-ride:

It has long been a goal of mine to put together a kickass Monstercross course. Over the last several months I’ve scouted most of the gravel in Callaway county and a large portion of the Cedar creek trail. This is all in hopes of creating a 50 and/or 100 mile course. This report is a chronicling of our most recent trip into the unknown.

Mountain Feedbag and ipod: required gravel-riding gear

Sunday’s scouting ride was supposed to be 40-ish miles long…more on that later. Adam and I rolled out from Dos Primos at around 9am, and it wasn’t long before we were riding North on County Road 363.

Familiar territory, this is the first leg of the Dirty Jenkins

The weather was absolutely magnificent. Seriously, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the high-temp was only going to be around 80 degrees. Perfect weather for anything, except working or cleaning the house. Laundry be damned, we had more important things to do.

Adam's got a fancy system for his earbuds

For those unfamiliar with the Cedar Creek trail system, do yourself a favor and print this map.  (It’s a friggin’ nightmare to find online.) A combination of singletrack and gravel roads, the trail system is largely unused. When you’re out there you almost never run into another person. The trails are pretty nice, save for a few sections that have been horse-trampled.  From 363, we turned left onto 364 and followed it all the way to the National Forest entrance. Once you’re through the gate, you get ride through stuff like this:

What, this doesn't impress you?

Follow those tracks for a while and you’ll eventually come to this opening:

That yellow dot is Adam leaving me behind. What a dick.

From that hill, it’s only a short ride until a steep piece of downhill singletrack drops you onto the gravel of Burnett School road. Burnett School road becomes Shelton road as it snakes Northward. This section is almost all uphill, but the view on either side of the road is a welcome distraction from the effort you’re putting forth to get up the climb.

Adam climbs Shelton road like a hoss

About 100 yards before you get to Hwy Y, theres’ an area on the right that has been mown down. This is actually a part of Cedar Creek trail, which was put there to keep people from having to ride on Hwy Y. Very thoughtful, in my opinion.

This connector puts you straight across the street from "Bob Veach Rd."

That connector will put you straight across the street from Bob Veach road. Bob Veach Road is a relatively flat piece of gravel with a few rolling hills. It goes almost straight North for several miles.

Not a single cloud in the sky.

There are a few nice houses and a couple of families who are really into horses. It’s not uncommon to see people out here just riding around on horseback.

17-ish miles into the ride

Eventually you’ll see a sign for Clinkenbeard rd. This is where you wanna hang a left.

You dont wanna miss this turn. Trust me.

Clinkenbeard has a few more climbs, but nothing too earth-shattering. Eventually, you intersect Engelwood road, where you turn right and immediately turn left onto Johnson Cemetry rd. At this time you will be promptly attacked by two asshole dogs. Bring your dog spray or a pistol, I know I will next time.

Johnson Cemetery rd runs into Ginn Lane, where you take a left. Ginn Lane has got some nasty climbs and a twisty downhill that’ll streak your chamois if you don’t tap the brakes. This is a fun road.

A pretty pic, but we all know pics dont do justice

Barnes Chapel road leads you to the Moon Loop Trailhead, and this is where Monstercross truly begins.

Moon Loop is marked with Yellow Diamonds

***A little bit of history on the Moon Loop: When the US Forest Service took ownership of this area in the 1930’s, the area was so eroded that it looked like the surface of the Moon. Hence the name “Moon Loop” . ****

Anyhow, Adam and I made our way into the woods and commenced the taint-bashing experience that is riding a cross bike on singletrack. The first 100 yards or so is pretty bumpy, but then it opens up.

Ahhhhh...the glory of MONSTERCROSS!!!

The “open-air” type of trail soon ends and you find yourself riding through a very nice piece of our National Forest.

It doesnt get much better than this.

Every good cyclocross course has barriers, and this one will be no exception. There are a number of “barriers” out there, and when this race finally happens you will come to love each and every one of them.

"Natural" barriers

A run-up is a staple item for any decent cross course, so it’s only natural that a Monstercross course has one or two of them. We crossed a dry creek, and on the other side is a steep “run-up” past the old Mill Site.

Fat guys don't enjoy run-ups

Towards the end of the trail, Adam smacked a hidden log and went for a little trip over the handlebars. It was awesome, and I made him stay in the thorns until I got this picture.

I may or may not have laughed my ass off.

Truly great race-courses don’t happen on accident. It takes a lot of careful planning and scouting….and getting lost. Somehow, we wound up back at the trailhead, having done the entire loop instead of only the first 3 miles like we’d planned. To say I was frustrated would be a serious understatement.

We were both running pretty short on water at this point, but we got lucky when we found the water spigot in front of Barnes Chapel Church.

We would've been pretty screwed if we hadnt found this water.

By now we were both feeling a bit drained, so we opted to alter the route. There would be no more scouting of virgin trail today, the smart thing to do was take our candy asses back to the gravel and head for Highway J. Along the way, we stopped to take a leak, (read: I had to walk the hill) and Adam found a McDonald’s cup with 2 Monopoly stickers still on it. He was rewarded with a coupon for a free 1/4 pounder with cheese.

Proof that only assholes win at Monopoly

After crossing Rutherford Bridge, we took a left and headed up county rd 354. This is a super-shitty piece of road that we will not likely include on raceday. The one highlight to this piece of road is when you get to ride past the home of a very “Shrek-like” guy who REALLY doesn’t want you trespassing on his land. Check out the sign in his front yard.

Wow.

I’d really like to get a closer shot of that sign, but I’m pretty sure this asshole is just dying for an excuse to shoot someone. Just in case you’re curious, this is how it reads:

Property owner will shoot to kill any man woman or child dispensing weaponry toward this property

Said owner will engage and subdue anyone dispensing weaponry within 150 yards of said property

No Trespassing

Unwelcome domestic animals are killed

No aid now available to distressed National Forest visitors

Someone must have really pissed that guy off. The funny thing is that I’m pretty sure he spent more time working on the sign than he did on his house. One whole side of his house doesn’t even have siding on it, just plastic-wrap.

Once we hit Highway J, we rode pavement all the way back to New Bloomfield. I dont know about Adam, but my ass was dragging pretty bad at this point. I must’ve eaten a bad snack or something, because my stomach was all kinds of messed up. When we finally made it t0 a gas station, I got some beef jerky and Coca Cola. I thought the sugar would calm my stomach down…I was wrong. I walked out of the gas station and promptly vomited 2 cans of coke and a bag of beef jerky. And while that was disgusting, it was even more disgusting that Adam took no pictures. I think you know what that means.

After I got all the puking handled, we were back on the road…headed for that glorious plate of shrimp nachos at the end of the rainbow. At the end of the day the cyclometer showed 56 miles, but that doesn’t account for any of the hike-a-biking or tree-hurdling we did out there.

Paved roads are so much easier to ride than gravel

It was a day full of triumph and failure, but the greatest shock didn’t happen for me until we got to Dos Primos. I ordered a pitcher of beer and my beloved shrimp nachos….then couldn’t eat or drink any of it. After barfing jerky and coke, the prospect of a followup performance with shrimp and beer was too much, even for me. Luckily, Adam fell short on the photo-taking once again..thus saving me years of embarrassment.

The next day, I went out there and figured out where we went wrong. We missed the connector, but if the trail were better marked, we wouldn’t have had any problems.  I have since “re-marked” the connector, and am looking forward to scouting/pre-riding this course again very soon. When this race-course finally comes to fruition, you better be there and you better pack a lunch.

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Over and Out – Local CX Series Comes to an End

Well, the Thursday Night Cyclocross Series here in Mid-Missouri has come and gone.  I’m sad to see it end, but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to race locally instead of driving for several hours just to race for 40 minutes.  Aaron Smith from the Respect the Ride Foundation put on a great series of CX races here in Jefferson City.

Mid-MO CXThe series started back on Thursday, October 21st (back when there was still some daylight after 4:30 PM).  Every Thursday thereafter, excluding Thanksgiving, the races took place up until December 2nd.  I’m happy to say that I raced in every single one of them.  Well, “race” might not be the right word, but I at least participated in every event.  And if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s participation.  I never placed highly in any of the races, but I only took last place once (I would have been last more but Bob let me beat him once and left early once).  More importantly, I had an incredibly good time at every race and got to ride and “race” with good friends and good people.

Every week, more and more people came to race.  We had racers from Columbia, Owensville, and even as far away as West Virginia (our friend Scott from Forum Dental Adventure Racing used to live in Rolla and happened to be in Jeff City on business one Thursday).  After week  3, the courses changed every week which only added to the fun.

It was also after the third race that Barry Volmer (of Team Red Wheel fame) and I realized we were the only two that had made it to every race in the series up to that point.  We had joked that the person who makes it to every race was going to win an SUV provided by Respect the Ride Foundation.  I was definitely not going to beat Barry in any race, so the only thing I could possibly do better than Barry was show up to every race…

 

Barry CX

My arch nemesis, Barry.

At the end of every race, I would tell Barry to make sure he missed the next race so I could win the SUV.  He wouldn’t listen, though.  He just kept showing up.  I then posted on the Team Red Wheel Blog before the November 18th CX race:

“Barry, the race has been canceled tonight so don’t bother showing up. BTW, I’m coming for you!”

Now, that was meant to be a joke.  I just assumed anyone that read it would know that I was just trying to mess with Barry so I could win the SUV.  To me, it was an obvious joke.

Then Barry responded with:

“…Hey, and why wasn’t I notified of the cancellation?  Hells Bells.”

I just assumed that Barry was joking around since he ended his comment with “Hells Bells.”  I mean, who says “Hells Bells” anyway?  Well, apparently he really thought the race was canceled and so did everyone else until our friend Stoney later posted that the race was still on.  I felt really bad.  It looked like I was really trying to trick Barry when that wasn’t my intent at all.  But wait… It gets worse.

Our very own Bob Jenkins had made arrangements for someone to fill in for him at work so he could race.  When he heard that the race “was canceled” he told his fill-in to forget about coming into work.  So Bob could no longer race because of me.  Man, I’m such a jerk!  I felt horrible.  What I thought was a harmless taunt towards Barry ended up ruining Bob’s night.  My clever little “joke” made me more of a jackass than usual (if that’s possible).

 

Jackass Luke

Hello. My name is Luke, and I'm a jackass.

I apologized to Bob several times, and I also posted an open apology to everyone on the Team Red Wheel site.  Barry, being the fatherly (or is it grandfatherly?) kind of guy he is gave me these sage words of wisdom:

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, once we practice to deceive.”

Bob simply replied with this:

“It’s alright, I’m not mad. All I ask is that someone else take my place as glorious victor through turn 1.

I’m looking at you, Dragon. (Dragon is my nickname from the first race I ever did with Bob)

The important thing is that we get as many people out there for local cyclocross as possible. Tell all your friends, we need to support this thing. Somebody take some pictures, for crying out loud.”

So I promised to TRY to get the hole shot and take turn one for Bob.  I’ve never been close enough to even see who gets the hole shot, but I had to at least try to go for it since I ruined Bob’s night (I’m still sorry, Bob.  Please forgive me).

 

Bob Gettin Ready for CX
Bob at an earlier CX race in the series

In an email, I asked Bob for some advice on how to get the hole shot and take turn one.  He replied with this:

“All you have to do is start on the front row, push off hard and spin like a madman. Wobble a little bit and people will slow down because they think you’re gonna wreck.”

Sure Bob.  It’s just that easy, huh?

So, on the frigid evening of the 18th of November, 10 men and 3 women toed the line in the dark.  My plan was to pedal harder than I’ve ever pedaled in my life.  I didn’t care if my lungs exploded or my quads spontaneously burst into flames.  I was going to do everything I could to take the first turn for Bob.  It was highly unlikely I’d get it, but I was ready to hurt myself trying…

And that’s exactly what I did.  The gun went off, and I flew off the line.  A couple of guys were just a little quicker than me, so I mashed down on the pedals with even more fury.  I passed one guy, and as I miraculously passed Christopher “the Champ” Bopp, I felt a shooting pain in my right adductors (aka – groin).  My bid for the hole shot was over.  I had failed, and I had let Bob down.  But then… I remembered Bob’s words of wisdom.

I began wobbling side to side so vigorously that I thought I really was going to crash.  Mud was flying, sweat was pouring, I was hurting.  I continued to pedal as hard as I possibly could, and Chris actually backed off a little bit.  It was just enough for me to take the first turn leading the pack.  It worked!  It sort of looked like this:

 

Hole Shot

Sort of...

 

As I made the turn, I shouted at the top of my lungs, “That was for you, Bob! I can’t quit you!”  Okay, I didn’t actually yell “I can’t quit you.”  The rest of that is true, though.

After making it through turn one, I actually had to stop and get off my bike.  Every single rider passed me.  I almost turned around right there, but I would have felt like a bigger jackass for quitting a race that I ruined for Bob.  So I just rode on slowly.  My leg slowly started feeling a little better on the flats and downhills, but the uphills were terrible.  I came in dead last, but I finished the race.  I guess that’s what I get for trying to be funny.  Karma can be a real female dog, if you know what I mean.

Anyway… That was the second to last race in the series.  After that race, Barry Vollmer and Chris Bopp were actually tied for first place in the series standings with 540 points.  Believe it or not, I was in 3rd place with 410 points (again, I’d like to point out that I was one of only two people to show up to every race).

The final race, on December 2nd, was going to be a showdown between Chris and Barry.  Eleven men, including Bob this time, and two women showed up for the grand finale.  I had no plans of going for the hole shot, and I’m not sure who got it.  I wasn’t really feeling it for this race, and neither was Bob.  We still rode hard (sort of), but we didn’t set any course records. As we came to the second to last climb, Bob got off his bike and walked.  This is also known as the “Letting-Luke-Finish-Ahead-Of-Me-So-I-Don’t-Have-To-Smash-Him-If-He-Decides-To-Have-A-Sprint-Off-At-The-Finish-Line” maneuver.

As I was flying down the last descent, I heard a loud “PING” and then a lot of clanking.  I looked down to see my rear derailleur flopping around wildly.  Bummer.  I hopped off my bike, and turned around.  I didn’t see Bob, so it was pretty clear he wanted me to finish ahead of him.  I would later learn, that he had turned his light off, and when he saw me stop, he actually hid in the trees until I moved on.  What a guy.

As I carried my bike up the last climb, everyone was yelling for me to run.  So, I sort of jogged/hobbled up the hill and crossed the finish line.  I then learned that Chris came in second with Barry right behind him (Barry however raced the entire series on a single speed – yeah, he’s a badass).

So Chris won the series with 675 points, and Barry took second with 660 points.  I maintained my third place standing in the series with 475 points. I’ll be the first to admit that my riding ability had nothing to do with taking 3rd in this series.  It’s just amazing what simply showing up on a consistent basis will do.  It was pretty cool to take third place even if it was by “just showing up.”  But hey, I’ll take it.  Others could have raced in every race and easily beaten me… But they didn’t.

It was nice to be rewarded with a third place finish, but that’ not all.  No, no… There was no SUV for Barry and I to fight over.  There was a prize for both of us, though, since we were the only ones to participate in every race.  Aaron handed Barry and me each an envelope.  Inside was $50.00 provided by Jefferson Bank.  Huge thanks to Jefferson Bank for the prize money.  This was amazing and very unexpected.

 

Aaron Smith fro Respect the Ride

Aaron Smith "reflecting" on a great CX series... See what I did there?

Barry and I  also received a really cool photo of us from a previous CX race (well, I got a photo of me, and Barry got a photo of him).  In the corner was written: “MVP – Most Valuable Participant – Lukas Lamb.”  Now how cool is that?  Another huge thanks to Aaron for the photo.  Here, take a look:

 

Luke with Photo of Luke

I don't own a scanner, so this is the best I could do.

There was some really nice swag handed out to the top three and then everyone else.  The swag was donated by Red Wheel Bike Shop and The Hartsburg Cycle Depot, so another big thank you goes out to those guys.

Aaron and Respect the Ride did a superb job with this series, and I had a really great time at these races.  It was nice to have cyclocross in our own backyard right here in Mid-Missouri.  Aaron says he’ll do them again next year, and I know I’ll be there.  He’s also planning some more events for the spring.  Check back on this site or on his site for details in the future, and make sure you’re there.  Seriously, you don’t want to miss these events.  They’re close, they’re affordable, and they’re an absolute blast!  I’ll let you know if they’re ever canceled, too, so don’t worry about that.

Until next time, mes amis… Au revoir.

CX Finale and Moonlighting Bob

Seasons greetings to all of you loyal Virtusites!  It’s Christmas (and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and anything else you may celebrate) time.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that tonight is the final cyclocross race here in Jefferson City at Binder Park, brought to you by Respect the Ride Foundation.  The race starts at 6:15, so bring your light and come on out for the grand finale in the series.  The top two in the series standings will be decided tonight between our good friends Christopher Bopp and Barry Volmer.  Much fun will be had, and schwag will be given away!  Don’t miss it.  Check out the info right here.

I’ll be there for sure.  Bob should be there as well.  With Christmas coming, though, Bob has been moonlighting at the mall this year for some extra cash.  If he can find a fill-in to work for him, then he’ll be there for sure.

 

Bob as Santa Claus

Bob goes all-out for his second job as Santa

It’s only 5 bucks (for a great cause – bicycle education and advocacy), and the race is always a really great time.  Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.  And if you’re lucky, Bob will let you sit on his lap.  We hope to see you there.

$5 buys a lot of pain…and fun

This last thursday marked the 2nd edition of local cyclocross racing in Jefferson City. I missed out on last week’s race because of work issues, but was super psyched to toe the line last night with about…9 other people?

How it went down:

I rolled into the parking lot just as Luke was getting registered, and it wasnt long before Barry and Bopp showed up. There was also a vanload of dudes from Walt’s bike shop and a CBC rider in attendance, so as far as I’m concerned the race was a sucess.

Why there weren’t more TRW racers there is a mystery to me; I would have to think that by now everyone knows about this race series. I’ll just assume that any TRW cross racer not in attendance for a $5 race at “our park” is intimidated by my blistering speed and good looks.

The course had quite a bit of straightaway with minimal winding turns.  Not exactly the kind of cross course we’re accustomed to, but there was enough to keep everyone entertained. Mostly it was smooth grass with a few good climbs, a full-sized pair of uphill barriers and a triple set of short barriers.

Link to course layout

Aaron fired his starter pistol and the race was underway. I was unable to get clipped in right away, so I lost some ground early. Given the competition, I knew I only had about 5 minutes worth of “badass” in me, so I decided to make the most of it.  I sprinted until I was even with the 1st place rider, (Mizzou guy), and politely explained to him that I’d like to take the lead at least thru turn 1.

He graciously moved his skinny ass out of the way and I took the lead. Classy guy, I say. I enjoyed approximately 3 seconds of cyclocross glory leading the group into turn 1, but picked a really stupid line way too far  inside and wound up having to swing wide off the course to keep the rubber down. This drew much laughter from the “peloton”, but I managed to make my way back onto course in 3rd position behind Mr Vollmer.

Not long after that, Chris Bopp came whistling past me… just like old times. I couldn’t help but smile and think back on all the CX races we had done together in the past, those really were some good times.

Hard to believe that was in 2008

I still think he shaved his eyebrows for that race, but I’m not sure why.

Then I saw Bopp do something I hadn’t seen him do before during a race: He washed out his front wheel and bit the dirt right in front of me. I mean to say his bike went one way and he went  the other… it was really a sight to behold.  This drew many more laughs from the “peloton,” (and myself), but I knew he’d be bringing the thunder now. The Bopper is always faster after he wrecks.

I was having a great first lap, running 2nd and within a few feet of 1st. The triple set of barriers was coming up and I have to admit I was completely unconcerned with them. The plan was to bunny hop and sprint…it didn’t happen. I cleared the first one, but somehow managed to go OTB on the next…landing a perfect Tencious D powerslide.

Ok, so maybe it didn't look this cool

Ouch on the knees.

Oh well, being in front was fun while it lasted. After that, I took my rightful place in the lineup…no-man’s land. It never fails, I’m always really far ahead of the guys behind me and really far behind the guys in front. I raced hard anyway, because you never know when someone else might crash:)

Nearing the start/finish line, I remember lamenting the absence of beer handups and drunken fanfare. Lo and behold, Nick Smith jumped out of  the bushes and sprayed me down with delicious Keystone Light. That shit was cold….although I’m not sure how he managed to somehow only douse me in the crotch. It all seemed a bit pre-meditated if you ask me.

Anyone seeking to know proper beer-douching etiquette may refer to the photo below. I’m sure we all remember the day this photo was taken because it was the Rim Wrecker, (my first mtb race) where  I dominated Corey Case.

Those really were the glory days

Lap 2, Nick’s beer spraying precision got a little better, dousing me in the face and jersey. I even got some beer in the mouth..not bad work. When I came around for lap 3, we had all the kinks worked out and I received a 1/2 FULL can of Keystone.

I do love cyclocross.

5 laps came and went. I have no idea who won, but I think everyone had a good time. Results should be posted soon at respecttheride.org.

I’ve already put in a time off request so I can compete in this week’s race. I’m bringing a case of beer, a fire pit and the uncanny ability to have an awesome time getting my ass kicked by strangers and friends.

Binder–Thursday nights at 615–$5

Be there

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