Perhaps the best group ride that has ever taken place since the dawn of time went down this past Saturday. Seriously, it really was the best. If you don’t believe me, it’s because you weren’t there. And it all started on a whim on our team’s facebook page back on December 23rd, 2011:
This small little post got a decent response. It sounded like 4 or 5 people were interested in getting together for a ride on the Berryman Trail. So, I decided to throw up an short “Just for Fun Friday” post here on our blog to make it official by inviting everyone that reads this blog (all three of you) to the ride. That post also got a good response with a couple of “maybes” (Kage and Travis), and some “definitelies” (Kage’s brother, Jim, all the way from Wisconsin and four Hoosier Daddies). We also had a couple of new people commenting on the blog and showing some interest in the ride. Then Jim Davis posted our ride on the GORC forums. This drummed up even more interest with at least two more confirmed riders. (Thanks, Jim!)
At this point, this was quickly turning into the largest group mountain bike ride I’ve ever been on.
As the 14th of January drew nearer, I wrote another blog post with more details about the when and where for the ride. In the comments to that blog post, we had more riders interested, and we received a great lesson on why you should NEVER use UrbanDictionary.com to check your spelling (although, I don’t think anyone other than Casey needed that lesson).
And then the Hoosier Daddies made the ride even more irresistible with a blog post promising brats, burgers and beer. So between our blog posts, our facebook page, the GORC forum, the Hoosier Daddies, and any other site that posted a link to this ride, it had snowballed to around 30 riders that might show up. I was blown away.
So, on Friday the 13th, Bob and I headed to my sweet, little Grandma’s house in Cuba where we were meeting Kage and Jim. Now, my Grandma will be 90 years old on February 9th. She is blind in one eye. She is missing part of her femur and literally has no hip on one side. Despite all that, she still lives alone, and she still made us a feast of Teriyaki roast, rotisserie chicken, green beans, corn, salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh cantaloupe, strawberries (lots of strawberries actually), sheet cake (delicious), and of course her famous chocolate chip cookies:
The next morning, Bob and I awoke before 5:00 AM to sign up for the Dirty Kanza, and then we went back to bed. It wasn’t long, though, before the tantalizing smell of bacon filled the room. We all woke up to another feast of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, cantaloupe, grapes, toast, and of course more sheet cake and cookies. And my grandma actually apologized for not making the biscuits from scratch! Can you believe that?!? She lets me bring 3 of my friends to stay at her house, and she has the nerve to use Pillsbury Biscuits instead of making them from scratch?!?!? I apologize to Kate, Jim, and Bob for such inhospitable accommodations. But seriously, my grandma is an amazing woman, and I can’t thank her enough.
With the snow we had recently received and the temperature in the low 20’s when we set out for Berryman, I was really expecting a much smaller turn out than we previously anticipated. I figured we had 10 people between our group and the Hoosier Daddies, and I thought a few more might still show up. If there were 15 riders, I’d still be ecstatic. When we pulled into the parking lot, however, it was clear that people were needing a group ride as badly as I was.
The parking lot was packed, and although I didn’t take an official headcount, I counted 25 riders altogether. I couldn’t believe it! There were many friends that I had already met, and there were even more people that I had never met. If I never got a chance to actually introduce myself and say hello, I apologize.
I tried to get Bob to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance or our National Anthem, but he chickened out. He’s soooo worried about what people might think of him, because you know, “Image is everything” with us Virtusans. We quickly geared up and got our bikes ready. The Hoosier Daddies handed out maps to anyone that needed one (including me since I forgot to bring one), and more importantly they handed out some travel-size Blackberry Whiskey, courtesy of Bourbon Family Center. Big thanks for the whiskey!
After stocking up with maps and whiskey, we headed into the woods on the Berryman Trail. The faster riders naturally headed out first, and the slower riders (me) stayed to the back of the pack. The trails were snow-covered at the start of the ride, but as the day wore on, only the trails that hadn’t seen much sun stayed covered with snow and ice. The trails were surprisingly ride-able, though. My small back-of-the-pack group consisted of Kage, Jim, Travis, Aaron, Bob, and me. I knew I’d be too slow for Aaron, so I let him around me when I stopped to take some photos.
The first 5 or 6 miles of the Berryman Trail heading clockwise from the Berryman Campground has had a lot of work done to it. I’m not sure if it was the Ozark Trail Association or GORC or both, but I’d like to say a big “Thank You!” to anyone that has worked on this trail. It was a lot more fun and a lot more ride-able than it used to be. The creek crossings were so smooth. Take a look:
It wasn’t long before we needed to stop to shed some layers. Even though it was only 25 degrees or so, the sun was out, and we were staying warm. The only time I ever felt cold was when we stopped on top of a ridge in the wind (not very smart). We leap-frogged two of the newest Hoosier Daddies, Jake and Ryan. It was amazing that Ryan was actually present for this ride. Since it was cold and snowy, everyone thought he’d have to stay home because one of his kids might be “sick.”
I can’t tell you how much fun I was having. I love the Berryman Trail, and I love riding in the snow. So this was simply the best. We were taking our time, stopping for snack/whiskey breaks, photo opportunities, and to try to ride stuff that we didn’t think we could ride. To see some photos and videos of us you should check out Kage’s write-up (just let me make it clear that photos and video NEVER do justice to how cool or gnarly the trail is).
Travis needed to leave a little early, and Bob wasn’t really feeling it on a rigid singlespeed. In addition to that, free beer and BBQ was waiting for them back at the campground. They decided to kick out on a gravel road at around mile 8 or 9 to take the pavement back to the campground at mile 15. We made sure they had a map, and we made sure they really knew where they were going so they didn’t have a repeat performance of their last Berryman Ride.
Kage, Jim, and I decided to push on to Brazil Creek Campground. Since Jim had driven a wee bit farther than everyone else, and Kage had driven quite a ways as well, we wanted to get as much riding in as possible. The next two miles were mostly flat with some downhills, and we had a blast. After that, though, we hit some stretches that were destroyed by horses:
Some of the climbs had us off our bikes and walking, but there ain’t no shame in that. There were some fun downhills too. We even came across some sign that other riders had indeed made it this far.
Right before we hit the Brazil Creek Campground, there was a really fun stretch of trail that skirted along the side of the hills with nice, flowy ups and downs. Kage was in the lead, followed by Jim and then me. She flat-out rocked this section. I can’t even tell you the transformation I’ve seen in her. She hasn’t even been riding a mountain bike for a year yet, so I was very impressed. We flew through this section, and it was one of the best parts of the ride for me.
Once we got to the bottom, we crossed a creek without getting our feet wet.
We then took a snack break to keep Betty White at bay. We checked the map to make sure we could get back to the campground, and we set out on the pavement with hopes of burgers, brats, and beer awaiting our arrival. Unfortunately, the climb out of Brazil Creek Campground is brutally long and steep with a few false summits where you think you’re done, only to realize that the hill in fact keeps going on and on and on. To make things worse, Jim’s gears kept jumping around and locking up which made it even more difficult for him. But we forged on with our minds on the post-ride festivities.
As we finally reached the Berryman Campground, we could smell the food and hear the laughter coming from the pavilion. We had finally made it after 6 hours. I could not wait to get into dry clothes, drink an ice-cold beer, and eat a freshly grilled brat. Kate had other plans, though. Being a true blogger, she needed a photo by the Berryman sign. We quickly took a couple of photos and then made our way to our vehicles.
We got to our vehicles and began changing into nice, dry clothes. As we were trying not to freeze while changing clothes, a Hoosier Daddy (I think it was Ryan, but I’m not sure) actually brought each of us a cup full of Blue Moon beer with a freshly squeezed orange slice. Now that’s service!
Then I met my new best friend, Bruce. He had ridden his bike a few miles with his daughter and son-in-law (neither of them had ever ridden any single track before, by the way), and he then turned around to man the grill for the rest of the day. And man the grill he did!
He promptly had me fed with an amazingly delicious cheeseburger (and two brats… and another cheeseburger). I can’t even describe how tasty the grub was. And I can’t thank the Hoosier Daddies enough for providing the food, beer, grill, and and grill master. These guys made this event a party, and there was definitely a party atmosphere when we arrived at the pavilion. Here are a few shots from the par-tay:
I believe the gentleman in the red jacket above was actually supposed to be meeting a few of his friends at Berryman that day. However, they stood him up. So he did what any true mountain biker would do. He rode with us and stuck around for some free food and beer. I never actually caught his name, and I feel bad about that. But I’m glad he was able to ride with us and hang out afterwards.
Just when I thought the post-ride party couldn’t get any better, Justin and Bruce came up with the best thing ever. Justin dropped one of Kage’s delicious homemade cookies onto the grill. Before he could grab it, Bruce said, “Wait! Give it a minute.” After a couple of tries, they determined that two minutes on the grill led to a perfectly warm, chewy, and moist cookie. I have to say they were right. I think this is by far the most important accidental discovery since Penicillin.
As the fire died down and people started leaving, the conversation took on a much more serious tone. We bantered back and forth about Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, how the Spread Gun on Super Contra was waaaaaay better than the stupid Lazer, the proper way to shoot a deer, Martin Luther King on a mountain bike, and certain topics of which we will never speak again.
We also decided that the MLK ride has become a tradition. We know there has only been one MLK ride, but if you were there, then you’d understand how it has already become a tradition. If you weren’t there for the MLK Ride, I’m really sorry. Just make sure you’re there next year for MLK 2. It will be bigger and better, I promise. And if you were there, thank you for showing up!
The only thing that leaves me feeling badly about the ride is people thanking Bob and me. We really didn’t do anything. All we did was suggest a group ride. The Hoosier Daddies are the ones that made the MLK Ride what it was. They are the ones that need to be thanked. They are the party gurus. Not only are they gurus, but I now consider them all friends. Their philosophy when it comes to racing and training is right in line with ours: It’s all about the experience. I can’t wait to ride with or race against you guys again. Seriously… Thank you. You made the ride an amazing event that I truly look forward to next year.
**NOTE** This race report was written by Casey and is presented in black text, Luke’s comments are presented to you in Blue, and Bob’s commentary is given in Red. Casey added a response or two in green.
The Berryman 36 hour adventure race has been part legend and part icon in my adventure racing world. You see, this is where it all started. This was the first Adventure Race Luke did, which would eventually lead to me doing my first adventure race. Berryman was the mother of all races, a “real ass kicker”. I’ve wanted to do this race since half way through my first adventure race, the Inaugural Truman Lake Adventure Race. This was before Team Virtus even existed, and I was racing with Luke and Drew, who also happened to be Luke’s first Berryman partner 11 years ago. I heard all about their adventures, mishaps and everything they did wrong and would do differently “next time.” Their discussion made me desperately want to complete the Berryman someday. Last year I couldn’t find a partner for the 36 hour race. I could have made the trip for the 12 hour kiddy race, but I had my heart set on the grown-up race.. the “real ass kicker”, the 36 hour version.
Bob: Kiddy race? MF’er, I’ll kill you.
Luke: I’m with Bob. The 12-hour race is an ass-kicker as well.
Casey: I am calling you out right here on this blog Bob. Man up, train you butt off, and enter the 36 hour race next year.
Bob: Challenge accepted.
Earlier this year, I looked for a partner once again for the 36 hour race. However, I was only having luck finding people willing to do the 12 hour version of the race. This race must be a real S.O.B. since I couldn’t find anybody to race it with me. Luke and Drew were planning on racing the 36 hour Berryman again in 2011 as a duo in defense of their divisional victory last year. I guess I would have to wait another year before tackling this iconic race. I didn’t give up all hope, but I had realistically explored all the possible partners I knew of. I wasn’t too excited about racing for 36 hours with a stranger that I met online, so I decided I’d have to wait at least another year.
One day back in June, though, I received a call from Luke. He asked me if I was still interested in doing the 36 hour Berryman. I said “absolutely” and then asked who I would be teaming up with. He answered with himself, that he needed a partner to race with. What happened to Drew? Was he injured or was he just afraid to get his ass really kicked? He told me that Drew had an untimely family conflict that weekend. Luke knew I had been chomping at the bit to try the Berryman, so he called me. That decided it. Luke and I entered in the 2011 2-man division of the 36 hour Berryman Adventure Race. Even though I felt like the last kid picked for dodge ball at recess, it was finally happening. I was going to tackle the race, the myth, the legend, the real ass kicker…the Berryman Adventure.
I then checked my calendar and realized that I would be spending the week before the race in Sin City with my wife, my best friend, and his wife. We had planned to see if everything that happens in Vegas really stays there. I considered cancelling the trip, but since it was all prepaid, I’d lose too much money. I decided to take the trip, have a good time, eat, drink, and be merry, and then recover in the 6 days before the race. I figured that no amount of debauchery and fun could possibly annul months of preparation. Could it? Well, time will tell.
Luke: I couldn’t wait to hear all of the stories from Vegas. With 36 hours to race, I knew I was going to hear every detail about the tranny hookers, face tattoos, random babies named Carlos, a naked Asian man in the trunk of a car… Or was that a movie?
Casey: I took it a little easier than that. I did get to meet Sugar Ray Leonard in person. I also got to paddle the Colorado, which was a blast (report in the works). Oh yeah, I did see a naked Asian man but he wasn’t in the trunk.
So, I spent the rest of the summer training my ass off and racing whenever and wherever I could get the chance. You see, even though I was Luke’s second choice, his back-up if you will, I still didn’t want to let him down at the race. I wanted to make sure I did all that I could in preparation for the big day. I wish I could tell you that everything went as planned, that I was in the shape of my life, and that the Lionheart Adventure Race (our other “big” race of the year) was a great race and got me ready for the challenge. Well, shit happens; I’m not as young as I used to be, I had a couple of injuries, Luke hurt his ribs again, and the Lionheart was disappointing (so disappointing that Luke is still working on the race report). Overall, I put in a good summer of training and felt ready to race and hoped that I would not be the anchor of the team and let Luke down. I had to prove myself worthy of his choice as a partner for the race.
RACE DAY – Pre-Race
Around 9:00 AM on race day, Luke and I were in his living room sorting through gear, checking required gear lists, and trying to decide what was and was not needed. We planned on finishing packing and loading the van before lunch and then catching a quick nap (while Oat Boat took his) before we headed to Steelville for the race. The nap was going to be much needed since the 36-hour-racers were led to believe the race was starting Friday night and there would be no chance for sleeping once we arrived at the BASS RIVER RESORT for check-in.
As we were packing, we realized that we were missing some very important required gear. Luke, the nice guy that he is, had lent his map case and map tool to Bob, aka “Bobby Let Down” or “BLD” for short. Not a big deal, right? We’d just call him and ask him to bring it to the race and then we could catch our nap. Well, BLD doesn’t believe in modern technologies and conveniences like deodorant, underwear, chamois butter, cell phones, or even land-line phones for that matter. Who needs those silly training distractions that Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell came up with? They probably invented them just to distract BLD from his intense training schedule.
Luke: In Bob’s defense, I didn’t actually lend the map case and map tool to him. I just thought they may have ended up in his gear box from the last race, which, as it turns out, was true. So it was actually my fault for waiting until the morning of the race to pack and for not knowing where my gear was. However, not being able to get in touch with Bob was a huge pain in the ass. I think we need to get sponsored by AT&T or something to get that man a phone.
Bob: For the record, I had the map and UTM tool ready at the campsite.
Luke: That’s true. You would not have let us down, so I’m not sure we can use your new nickname… But it just sounds so good! I think we’ll keep using it.
Well, it appears that BLD did it again, he let us down. We had no idea whether he would bring the gear to the race or even if he had it any longer (ask him what happened to the pack raft Luke lent him). Our race was in jeopardy. Was the inability to plot points or keep our map dry (not to mention a potential time penalty for missing mandatory gear) worth gambling on the likelihood that BLD would actually show up at the race with the gear we needed? Would he come through for us this time or would history repeat itself? As George Santayana put it in his often bastardized quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Luke and I were able to remember the past and feared we’d repeat it if we left it in BLD’s hands.
Bob: What “history” was everyone afraid of repeating?
Casey: Doesn’t this picture of Bob look like a Will Ferrell character? Like maybe a gay lumberjack or a psychotic trapper about ready to break into song and dance or maybe the perfect cheer?
I told Luke that since I was planning on buying a larger map case anyway; that we should just run out and pick one up just to be safe. While we were at it, I could grab a couple of pairs of socks. Luke then told me that the nearest place to find what we needed was about 4o-45minutes away at the Alpine Shop in Columbia, Missouri. Seriously? Isn’t Jefferson City the capital of the great state of Missouri? You cannot buy a map case or Injinji socks anywhere in the capital city?
So we thought about it and mulled it over for a while as we packed up the rest of our gear. If we made the quick trip to the Alpine Shop we’d have no opportunity for a nap. However, if we showed up without the required gear we would have a bad race and have kicked our own asses before the event even started. Could we trust BLD – the loveable, cuddle-able, forgetful Bob to come through and show up with Luke’s borrowed gear? The answer was a definite, Hell No! Not BLD. So we threw Otis into the van and headed off to the Alpine Shop. Upon arrival we quickly found what we needed. I would have loved a chance to peruse around the shop and check all the gear out, but we had a race to get to. We drove back to Luke’s house and stopped for some Lutz BBQ on the way (this is becoming a tradition for Luke and I whenever we race together in Missouri).
After we each ate half a pig, we finished packing and then loaded up the Virtus Van. As we prepared to leave, the school bus pulled up to drop off my nieces. We said goodbye to Luke’s daughters and then hopped into the van and headed to Steeleville. We both sighed with relief as we pulled out. Somehow this always happens. No matter how early we get to a race or plan to leave for a race, we always end up frazzled and short on time. We hoped that we had everything and that the drive would be uneventful.
Bob: You know, I read a quote somewhere that said,” Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Our hopes were answered and the drive went smoothly. Were the tides slowly starting to change? We pulled up and were greeted by a wannabe-cop-park-ranger wearing a plastic badge who seemed to have a crappy attitude. We received strict instructions about how to properly register our car at the main lodge. As we pulled up we were greeted by BLD and his partner for the race, Travis Hammons (of Team Offroad Medics fame). Luke and I quickly signed in and grabbed our sweet-ass Columbia fleece jackets and our swag bags and then headed back to our van.
As we approached the van, another Mickey Mouse Park Ranger stomped over to meet us and inquired in a short, irritated voice if we were the owners of the two unregistered vehicles. Luke owned up to being the owner of the van. We were once again instructed how to register the van and where we had to go to do so (that’s 5 two-lettered words in a row). He also expressed the urgency with which we needed to do so. As we walked towards the van, Park Ranger Mickey gave us the stink eye with one hand hovering near his revolver.
Well, since Team Virtus respects the law so much (and fake park rangers too) we all piled into the Virus Van to ride up together. However, there were only 2 seats available in the van due to our bikes and gear taking up the rest of the van. If it wasn’t so urgent that we get our van registered we could have taken the time to unload it a bit. However, since the fate of the world seemed to depend on us getting the van registered within the next five minutes, we thought outside the box and found a way to get it done.
Luke drove, Travis made sweet love to my sexy bike in the back of the van, and BLD and I shared the front seat. The problem with this is we both more than fill up the entire front seat by ourselves. It was like trying to get a loaf of bread into your glovebox or 10 gallons of water into a 5 gallon container, it just doesn’t work. We tried a couple different configurations and nothing seemed to work. Time was running out. We couldn’t fit side-by-side, front-to-back wasn’t an option either due to the kayak paddles in the floor board. So, we decided the only way to get it done was for me to ride on BLD’s warm and comfy lap. Well, since the world was going to end if we didn’t register our van within the next 3 and a half minutes, I took one for the world and hopped onto BLD’s luxurious lap. Let me tell you, Bob did not let me down; it was an enjoyable ride down the road to the main lodge.
Luke: I may have alternated between pushing the accelerator and the brake several times just to see the look on Bob’s face when this forced Casey to rock back and forth on Bob’s lap. However, Casey seemed to rock back and forth a little longer than necessary each time I hit the brakes. Regardless, it was fun to watch.
Bob: I’ve been to strip clubs where people paid money to get dry-humped like that.
Casey: I can’t believe that I didn’t make any tips. I could have used them to pay for parking.
We arrived at the main lodge with 90 seconds to spare. It looked as if the world wasn’t going to end, that we’d get the Virtus Van registered properly and promptly. It looked as if Team Virtus was going to save the world once again (Bob and Luke saved it once from a demon by singing the greatest song in the world. They even wrote a song about the experience, you should have them sing it to you sometime).
We waited in line hoping we’d make it in time. I watched the clock on the wall as precious time ticked away. Tick…Tick…Tick…Would we make it in time. Beads of sweat broke on our brows. I checked the door expecting a grumpy ranger to come storming in to announce that our time was up.
Suddenly, fate smiled on us and we were waved over to another line and quickly explained our mission and its urgency. They helped us and charged us $22 dollars to park there for the weekend even though we wouldn’t be camping. Seriously?!? I guess they had us by the short and curlys, didn’t they? I mean, we had to leave the van at the resort, and they knew it. We even could have had our own campsite for another $20. Well, we planned on racing the whole weekend and figured we might as well save our $20, so we decided to forgo the campsite. We registered our van, purchased dinner tickets and headed over to the prerace meal.
We met up with our friends from Team Wahoo at dinner and had the opportunity to meet a real life Facebook creeper. We met Kim who was familiar with our team site as well as our Facebook page. However, she hadn’t “liked” us yet (maybe she really didn’t like it, but she seemed to know too much to have just stumbled on the page once by accident). Luke called her on it and she promised to “like” us as soon as she got home (we’ll see). We had an enjoyable dinner and then headed back to Team Virtus/Offroad Medics Campsite.
Luke: So Kim had seen our facebook page, read some of the stuff, and then decided NOT to like us. Ouch that hurt. That really hurt. Since then, though, she has completely redeemed herself by not only “liking” us, but actually commenting on our facebook page. So, we feel much better about ourselves now.
Casey: If there are any other “Kims” out there, you know who you are, click on the little box and “like” our facebook page.
I’ll admit our site was pretty sweet. We had our own picnic table, a huge grill (thanks to BLD), two tents, and a rain fly set up over the picnic table (set up in a very peculiar way that only BLD can do – it was lashed to his truck. We unloaded our gear and caught up for a while as we tidied up camp and began to unload the van. Before you knew it, it was time for the pre-race meeting. It was here that I finally got to meet the original broodmare herself, “KAGE” – formerly known as Kate or Super Kate (be sure to read her race report right here because it’s awesome), and her brother, Jim.
We sat through the meeting, the raffles (none of us won anything, it must have been rigged), the free throw-outs (we were too lazy to get out of our chairs and try to catch anything), final instructions and guidelines, and then it was finally time to get our maps. I headed up to the pavilion, waited in line, and grabbed our maps. We were told we’d get the passport at the start of the race. Luke and I headed back to camp to plot our CP’s, plan our route, and get our race faces on. The race would be starting in just a couple of hours… at 11:00 PM on Friday night.
Luke: Man, that nap would have really helped us out…
Casey: I agree. BLD should have stayed up all night to make up for us not geting our nap. I really wWish we could have napped, even just a little…
To Be Continued…
**UPDATE** – Part 2 of the Berryman Adventure Race Report can be found right here. Buckle up. It’s gonna be a wild ride!