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A Monster of a Group Ride

 

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. 

Justin and Aaron at one such “kiosk”

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.

 

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34 Year Old Virgin

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.

Cloudy Skies

Forecast was no rain and possible record-high temps.

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.

Katy Trail Near Jefferson CIty

L to R: Aaron, Dave, Bob, Justin

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.

Justin Nemeth

Justin’s future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades.

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.

Gravel Grinder in MO

The rain was still threatening, but it hadn’t let loose.

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:

Stretching while on the bike

Yes, he is stretching while riding his bike. Now that’s talent!

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.

Katy Trail and Gravel near Cooper's Landing

Aaron and Bob and the Missouri River

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.

The Big Ass Tree near the Katy Trail

That’s a big tree.

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:

Big Ass Tree near Columbia, MO

L to R: Bob, Dave, Aaron, Justin

Luke and The Big Ass Tree Burr Oak Tree

Notice the empty Minora Water Bottle Cages

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.

Lisa from DNR

Thank you!

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.

Aaron after his crash

WTF, Bob?!?

Between McBaine and Rocheport we had a ton of fun and saw lots of cool stuff.  Here is just a small sampling.  We saw:

Turtle on the Katy Trail

Turtles

Cliffs on the Katy Trail

Cliffs and Caves

Blood on the Katy

Blood

Explosives Shelter on the Katy Trail

Bob groping an old Explosives Shelter

And then on the other side of Rocheport, we rode through the tunnel:

Tunnel near Rocheport on the Katy Trail

It was nice and cool here.

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.

Boonslick Bridge

Almost halfway!

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.

Dipping a burger in gravy

You’re welcome, Adam.

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.

Climbing a hill on a cross bike

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.

Gravel Grinding in MO

Gravel road back to the Katy Trail

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.

Dave under the bridge

Dave was so cool! …Get it? We were cooling off in the shade, and I said he was “cool.” Get it?

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.

Bob laying down on the Katy Trail

I, too, assumed this position for a few minutes, and it felt great!

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.

cyclo computer on a century

First Century: CHECK!

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!

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

TNT

We already have Vir-Tuesdays, and now we have TNT… Thursday Night Throwdowns.  That’s right, this Thursday night is the first of many TNT’s.  Bob posted it on the Team Red Wheel blog, and I thought I’d post it here as well.

TNT with Team Virtus

I hate to admit it, but Adam is the one that actually realized that “Thursday Night Throwdown” could be shortened to TNT.  In fact, he made a lame (yet funny) joke about how these training rides would be “dynamite!”  He’s fired for not letting me think of it, though.

I thought we should call it “Trinitrotoluene” but nobody agreed with me.  So, TNT it is, and “TNT” is pretty fitting since whenever Team Red Wheel and Team Virtus get together, you’re guaranteed to have an “explosively” good time.  Wow… That was worse than Adam’s joke.

Anyway, tomorrow night we’ll be doing a Katy Trail ride.  Meet at the N. Jefferson Lot (the one right on the Katy Trail, not the commuter lot) at 8:15.  We’ll probably roll out by 8:30 for a ride to Hartsburg and back (with perhaps a fried pickle or two if the bar in Hartsburg is still open).

Night Ride on the Katy Trail

Riding the Katy Trail will clearly make you "Freeky" Strong.

So come join us for a 20 mile night ride on Thursday.  You can go at your own pace, and the trail is flat and smooth.  So you don’t have to worry about “blowing up” on this ride, and it will definitely be a “blast!”  Damn!  It’s still not funny, is it?

Just for Fun Friday – The Flood is Coming Edition

As Bob and I were running on the Katy Trail this morning (although Bob was a half an hour late because he “sent me an email changing the time to 6:30 instead of 6:00” that I never received), we talked about how the Katy may be underwater within the next few weeks as the Missouri River rises.  We then discussed how we should paddle on the Katy Trail if it does indeed become flooded.  Bob even came up with a great name for the event: “Rails to Sails.”  Pretty good, huh?

Talking about paddling during the impending flood made me think of the time we had way too much fun paddling a flooded Cedar Creek.  In case you missed it, below is the video. Check it out:

 

 

The last time we paddled Cedar Creek, we ended up walking a few extra miles since we (Bob) left the keys at the canoe put-in.  To read all about it, you can go here (seriously, it’s worth a read).  It was an incredibly fun day (even with the mishap regarding the keys), and we really need to get back out there for some more paddling fun.  And Robby has promised us that he would join us next time, and NOTHING will stop him.

Until next time, Toot-a-Loo.

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