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Boone-Doggle Gravel Grinder Recap

Four men (and Adam), perfect weather, and 55 miles of gravel goodness.  That basically sums up the Boone-Doggle ride back in February.  Casey was in town, and Robby Brown, Adam Laffoon, and Aaron Lackman joined us for some fun.  We met at the commuter lot near the Katy Trail, and Adam was promptly fired for not wearing his team jersey.

Knowing that I was trying to lose some weight to avoid eating dog food, Robby was kind enough to bring breakfast:

Robby with Donuts

Breakfast of Champions... Sumo Champions, that is.

Robby, and Adam had taken a day off from work to ride with us.   Unfortunately, Bob Jenkins was unable to fake an illness find anyone to fill in for him, so he had to miss perhaps the best group ride in history.  Aaron, had to work later in the day, so he was going to ride the first half of the ride with us.  Oh, and he was kickin’ it old school on this:

Early 90's Trek Mountain Bike

Although it was a bit chilli at the start of our ride, the weather was beautiful… Especially for mid-February.  We rolled out on the Katy Trail under overcast skies.  Casey was pretty excited to ride the Katy Trail which seemed odd to us.  I guess we just take it for granted since it’s in our back yard and we ride it all the time.

Bridge on the Katy Trail

Bridge on the Katy Trail

We soon hopped on some gravel, and I’ll be honest.  I just wasn’t really feeling it.  My legs felt dead, and I felt weak.  Hoping I just needed to spin my legs out a little to warm up, I kept riding.

It wasn’t long before we passed the exact spot where we found Falcor two years ago.  And then we rode a monster hill.  Well, I should say that everyone but me rode the hill.  I got about halfway up when I had to get off the bike and walk.  I just had nothing in my legs.

When I finally caught up to the other guys, I told them I might just turn around.  I didn’t want to slow them down.  They talked me into at least continuing until we reached the gas station in New Bloomfield at roughly mile 24 where I could ride back with Aaron if I needed to.  I agreed, and after downing a Honey Stinger Waffle, a Foosh Caffeinated Mint, and half a bottle of my go-go juice, I started to feel a little better.  After another 15 minutes or so, my legs started coming back.  I’m not sure if I was run-down from being in a caloric deficit or if it was just one of those mornings.  I was just thankful that I was back to full-strength.

Gravel Grinder with Team Virtus

After more gravel followed by a bit of pavement, we soon found ourselves in the booming city of New Bloomfield.  This was just under the halfway mark, and it was a planned rest/refuel stop.  It was also the point at which Aaron had to leave us so he could make it back to work in time.  Since I was feeling much better, I decided to keep riding.

Bikes at a gas station

We got some odd looks here.

After saying good-bye to Aaron, we bought some snacks and beverages.  We talked about how much fun we were having and how Bob was totally missing the best ride ever.  Since Bob was at work instead of having fun, and since he was also trying to lose weight to avoid eating a can of ALPO, we decided the right thing to do would be to send him a pizza.

Ordering a Pizza

Look at Robby's face. We were laughing our asses off.

We ended up ordering him a Large “All the Meats” Pizza from Papa John’s and had it delivered to his workplace.  They wouldn’t let me leave a tip over the phone, but they said that I could just add the tip on the receipt.  I was a little worried that Bob would leave the delivery person a 50 dollar tip, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

With some food in our bellies and our water bottles filled up, we headed back out for more sweet, sweet gravel.  The sun broke through the clouds, and the temperature neared 60 degrees.

Gravel Road

Part of the ride had some very fresh, loose gravel.  It’s always cool to ride some virgin gravel, but it makes it much more difficult to ride since it is so rough.  Now, when I say it was fresh, I mean it was still being smoothed out as we were riding.  Seriously.

Fresh Gravel

We kept riding, talking, laughing, and waiting to hear from Bob after he received his free lunch.  The anticipation was killing us.

**What do you think he’ll say to the delivery person?  How many slices do you think he’ll eat?  He’ll either eat all of it out of spite, or he’ll give it away and stay strong.  Man, I can’t wait to hear his reaction!**

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I received a text message from Bob.  Here is how it went down:

Bob's Text Message

Thankfully, Bob “only” gave the driver a $5 tip.  It was more than I would have normally left, but it was worth every penny.  We laughed our asses off again.  Later he said he was pretty confused when the delivery girl showed up asking for Bob.  When he heard that I had already paid for it, he figured it out.  And then he ate half of the pizza.  In all honesty, though, I felt kind of bad for sending the pizza.  It was hilarious, but we really did miss Bob.  It’s just not the same without that guy.  I can’t quit you, Bob Jenkins!

Anyway…  Shortly after getting the text from Bob, we rolled into Tebbetts, MO.  The Turner Katy Trail Shelter is there, and it’s a really cool place where Katy Trail riders can stay.  Unfortunately it was closed, so we didn’t get to check it out.  We took a short break, ate some food, and then headed back out onto the gravel flats near the Missouri River.

Turner Katy Trail Shelter in Tebbetts, MO

Even though this was still fun to ride, it was definitely the worst part of the ride.  The wind was simply ridiculous as it always is when I ride the gravel flats.  It was in our faces the entire 15 miles or so back to the cars.

Gravel Flats near the Missouri River

The Gravel Flats

At one point, we passed some big mounds of dirt where some kids were four-wheeling.  Casey was literally almost run over by a four-wheeler, and in the process of trying not to die, he ran into Robby Brown.  I’m not sure how Robby, who is basically half the size of Casey, didn’t crash, but he somehow managed to stay on his bike.

Now, it could have been an honest mistake.  The kid may not have seen us coming.  I could have forgiven that, but then the kid turned his four-wheeler around and sprayed Casey and Robby with dirt as he pealed out.  This was inexcusable.  In my younger days, there would have been a physical altercation.  But these were just stupid teenagers who had no idea how close they came to being beaten to death.  Remember, Casey is an MMA figher.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a video of one of his fights (and yes I get a little carried away with the yelling).

It could have been a much more entertaining story, but we did the mature (and less fun) thing and just rode away.

four wheeler mound

Right after this was taken, Casey was nearly run over by a four-wheeler, and Robby was nearly run over by Casey. I'm not sure which would have been worse.

Shortly after this, Casey and Robby dropped Adam and me pretty quickly.  In our defense, they had gears while we were on single speeds.  I doubt I could have kept up anyway, though.  The wind was just killing me.  Adam and I kept looking at each other in disbelief of how strong the wind was.  It was perfect training for the Dirty Kanza 200.

Long Gravel Road Ride

This was the last time we saw Robby and Casey until the end of the ride.

I really can’t tell you how great this ride was.  The weather was perfect, I got to ride with some friends, I got to ride with my brother which is a rarity, and the scenery was simply beautiful.  Join us on the next ride, wont’ you?

Even though photos never do justice to how cool it really is to be out there, I’ll leave you with a few (and there is a video coming soon, too):

Farm on a Gravel Grinder

Clouds and Gravel

Aaron on a Gravel Grinder

Casey on the Boone-Doggle

Luke and Robby on the Gravel Flats

Pretty Gravel

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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.

Snow, Ice, Mud, Blood and Bikes

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten out there for a nice, somewhat long, gravel ride with teammates and friends.  Zack set this ride up, and at first it seemed like it would just be three of us.  Then more people said they were in, too, which was very cool.  The more the merrier!

group gravel ride

Look closely and you'll see everyone (excluding me since I took the photo). You can just barely see Stoney's and Bob's heads in the background. Also, this is the only photo of Barry (farthest left) since he took off like a bat out of hell.

We had planned on riding this route.  Well, I planned on cutting that ride short to begin with since I had to be back for a birthday party my daughter was going to… And because I’m a wimp.  We decided to slightly alter the route since the Katy Trail was covered in a foot of snow.  We had to ride on Highway 63 for a short distance instead.  We had no problems, though.

I won’t bore you with too many details.  I’ll just say that the weather was terrific.  Although, the roads were pretty muddy in spots and icy in others.  It was a ton of fun.  You should have been there!

I’ll leave you with some fun facts from our ride, followed by a few photos and then a photo montage.

Now on to the Fun Facts…

Participants: Zack Lamb, Bob Jenkins, Adam Lafoon, Barry Vollmer, Matt Stacey, Stoney Cranmer, Don Daly, and Luke Lamb.

Distance: Bob, Adam, and I rode a total of 26.36 miles.  The rest of the group wimped out and decided to keep riding for a measly 30 more miles or so.  In fact, they’re still out riding as I type this.  What a bunch of cream puffs!

**UPDATE**: Zack, Matt, Don, and Stoney made it 55 miles including a 2 mile hike-a-bike section in over a foot of snow (photos at the end of this post).

Number of Crashes: Two.

Rider with the most crashes: Bob Jenkins with two.

Riders in Shorts: One – Bob Jenkins

Rider with the Most Bloody Knees: Bob Jenkins

Now, on to the photos…

Bob crashing his bike on ice

Don points out Bob's first crash in case any of us missed it.

Bob's bloody knee

The aftermath of Bob's fall (although it would get worse after the next crash).

 Zack Riding his Cross Bike

Zack

Adam riding gravel

Adam

Stoney riding gravel

Stoney

Dong Daly

Don

Group Ride on Snow and Ice

Roads either looked like this...

Wet, muddy road

...or this.

 

Fenders on bikes work

Don't think fenders work? Zack was the only with a fender, so check out his ass (middle) compared to Don's and Stoney's.

Adam's Muddy Camelbak

Adam's new Camlbak... Well, it was new before this ride.

Muddy Adam, Bob, Luke

A Muddy Good Time.

 

Bob's Bloodier Knee

This is what Bob's knee looked like at the end of the ride. I'm sure it won't get infected. (Click on photo to get a really good look)

 

 

Now on to the Photo Montage…

 

Here are some Photos from the long riders’ Hike-a-Bike…

 

Hike-a-Bike in Snow

This could not have been easy. (Photo by Matt Stacey)

Zack and Don Hike-a-Bike

Zack and Don making their way through the snow. (Photo by Matt Stacey)

Cross bikes in the snow

Cross bikes in the snow... So pretty. (Photo by Matt Stacey)

 

 

Burley Joe Dirt Ride – Gravel at its Finest!

On Sunday, January 17th, I headed down to St. James, MO for the Burley Joe Dirt Ride.  Bob Jenkins and his girlfriend, Cara, along with 7 or 8 other Team Redwheelers also headed down there in a foggy convoy.

Foggy Convoy

It was a cold and wet fog, the kind of fog that you can feel clinging to your body as you walk through it.  There was even a little bit of ice on the ground here and there (just ask Cara who unfortunately slipped on the ice in Bob’s driveway).  I was kind of hoping for a nice day since the forecast called for 45 degree weather and sun.

When we got to the parking lot, it was nearly full.  There were probably 40 or 50 people there.  I guess there was some important info given right before we rolled out that I missed.  There was apparently a long ride (the Burley Joe Dirt Ride = 27 miles) and a shorter ride (the Joe Dirt Ride = 20 miles).  We were told, although I missed it, that the orange arrows were for the long course, and the pink arrows were for the short course.  I didn’t even know there were any arrows at all until about halfway through the ride.

So, after starting at the back of the pack, I passed a handful of people.  Then I realized my left crank was loose (man, there are so many jokes I could come up with here…).  I had to stop twice to tighten it down.  A few people passed me during the maintenance stops, and I found myself completely alone for most of the ride.

Gravel Road Ride - Burley Joe Dirt

Self-portrait near the top of a long, hard climb

At first I thought it sucked to be riding by myself.  Then as I settled into a groove and the sun came out, I loved it.  It was so peaceful, and the weather was simply perfect.  I think I only saw two cars, and the scenery was unbelievable. The hills were painfully long and steep, but the views were worth the effort (although I had to get off and walk a couple of times).

Joe Dirt Gravel Road Ride View with Bike

typical scenery on this gravel road ride

Well, I had apparently missed the orange arrows that pointed the way to the longer ride, and I ended up doing the shorter ride.  After passing a couple of people at the end, I rolled back into the parking lot in around 2 hours, and my bike computer said 16.25 miles.  I was a little disappointed, so I just turned around and started to ride the short course backwards.  I figured I’d ride 5 miles out and then turn around to get my total mileage around the 27 miles that I had planned on doing.

It was actually very cool to see the really fast guys coming the other way as they finished the long course.  I soon ran into Nick and Corey finishing the long course.  Corey decided to ride with me for a little bit in the opposite direction to see if he could find his girlfriend, Noelle.

Scardick on Joe Dirt Ride

Corey "Scardick" Case

We soon ran into Noelle and her riding partners, Dana and Pam.  They had a couple of bike issues, but they were all rockin’ the short course.

Noelle on the Joe Dirt Ride

Noelle

Pam and Dana Joe Dirt

Pam and Dana

We thought about waiting for Bob and Cara, but the ladies hadn’t seen them in quite awhile.  We thought they may have turned back, so we figured we’d go ahead and turn back.

I had ridden 6 miles in the opposite direction, so it was 6 miles back to the parking lot.  Apparently, my computer wasn’t working right at the beginning of the day, because everyone else clocked the short course at right around 20 miles.  So, I ended up doing around 32 miles altogether in a little over 3 hours.  Not bad for me.

We got back to the lot, and Bob and Cara weren’t there.  We talked about the ride for a little bit, and while I was standing there holding my bike upright by the saddle, we heard an eardrum-shattering explosion.  The ladies jumped back about 10 feet, and I may have wet myself – just a little bit.  My front tire just exploded – literally.

exploded bike tire

Shreded Tire after the Explosion

The bead of the tire was completely shredded and the tube had a 6 inch gash in it where it blew out.  I’m not sure what in the hell caused it, but I was very thankful that it didn’t happen while I hit over 30 mph on some of the bomber downhills!

After saying goodbye to Corey and his gang, I hopped in my Explorer and headed back out to make sure Bob and Cara were okay.  I only got about a mile and a half when I saw them.  Cara looked pretty cooked, but she was still smiling.  She thought about hopping in the car with me, but I assured her that she was very close and most what was left was downhill.  So she finished the ride.  Pretty damn impressive.

Bob and Cara at the Joe Dirt Ride

Bob and Cara

So, all in all it was a great day.  Perfect weather, fantastic scenery, huge hills, no traffic, and great friends.  What more could a guy ask for?

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