2011 Volunteer Appreciation Party

Cake from last year's party

This year it's at Creve Coeur Park following the workday on Nov. 5th. Now we've held these parties for the last 5 years, starting at Greensfelder, and moving to Cliff Cave last year. Strangely enough, the promise of free beer, food and cake(!) has not been enough to draw many additional people. The first few parties were in Dec. so it's understandable that many might not like to be out in the cold all day, but they've since been moved to an earlier date, so there are no excuses!
If you've attended a workday this year, or even if this is your first one, let us know you're attending by signing up here, and then come on out. Weather permitting, it will be a day of trail building, riding, and free food and beverage. What more could you ask for?-- well, maybe don't answer that one...

Berryman (Trail) Epic

First, I'll introduce myself. Hi, I'm MashOr or Mitch the Masher or just plain Mitch. I've been riding (and crashing) mountain bikes obsessively for over 20 years, building trail for almost as long, worked in various bike shops for over 10 years and generally like to tell people about whatever is going on. This past weekend was the Berryman Trail Epic or BTE, a 55 mile mountain bike race through some beautiful Ozark woodland all of which is part of the Mark Twain National Forest and I thought a few of you might wonder what it's all about.

Epic would be how most would describe the 24 mile loop that is the Berryman Trail. While lots of you have conquered this hidden gem in the Ozarks, many haven't taken the plunge. This loop is actually named by IMBA as an "Epic" on their blog. Each year the International Mountain Biking Association takes nominations and selects a few elite trail systems to be added to this list.

Now throw in an additional and spectacular 15 miles of the 45 mile Courtois(pronounced code-away) section of the Ozark Trail along with 16 miles of rolling gravel roads, and you truly have an epic day. Start that day with 250 other mountain bikers, and you have the BTE.

This is an event, I didn't say race because only a handful of people are actually racing anyone but themselves and simply try to beat their time from last year or out do their friends. Also, to encourage non-racer folks to get out and enjoy this annual gathering as its promoters provide us with a clean trail, places to refuel and a great atmosphere to test ourselves in.

This year the field was stacked with top level riders, weather was perfect and the trail conditions have never been better. The Ozark Trail Association has spent countless hours re-routing the west side of Berryman that is also part of the Courtois section of the OT, bringing it up to IMBA trail construction standards and much of this work has been completed since last year's BTE. Removed were sections of trail that followed creek beds and had developed into unsustainable washes that would rattle your teeth. Added are flowing sections of benchcut trail that crosses the same creeks as before, but on solid rock faces that will stand the test of time. The new trail adds a bit of distance to the loop meandering up and back down the valleys that the old trail passed right by. I didn't get a chance to see the work completed at the 2011 fall Mega Event , an OTA work day, due to an early exit from the race but that's a whole other story.

This new trail and the stellar conditions allowed a new unofficial course record of 4 hours 9 minutes to be set by Kansas native and long time pro Steve Tilford. Columbia Missouri's Jon Schottler, the 2010 and 2009 winner and previous course record holder, took 2nd. Locals Dwayne "Smiley" Goscinski and Jim Vandeven took 3rd and 4th respectively, while Garth Prosser, a Cannondale rider and super nice guy from Columbus, Ohio took 5th. From Illinois, Andy Gibbs claimed a top ten finish, some cash and a spot on the back of the t-shirt for next year's BTE. Official results haven't been posted yet so I'm not sure of the other top ten placings.

So, what's the point of this post? 1)To shed light on the vast amount of incredible trail we have available to us and the work that goes into taking care of such huge amounts of trail. There are plans to continue this work on the Berryman with a major re-route that will eliminate the only unridable section that drops you down 4 steep switch backs to Brazil Creek. The new trail will head over to hwy W on a less steep hillside and no longer will you have to cross the often deep Brazil Creek. This was tough to do in the winter time and keep dry feet. 2)To bring the BTE out to the masses that might not consider themselves racers but like a good challenge. And 3), to bore you with the first of hopefully many write-ups from this racer wanna-be, trail builder and master of mountain bike crashing.

Thanks for reading!


Brown County Breakdown, Yeehaw Edition

Both Lisa and I came to the conclusion in early August that we would again attend the Brown County Break Down in Nashville, IN the weekend of October 8th. Unfortunately the BCB always conflicts with the Burnin' 12 hour race.

Demo zone featuring Giant, Trek and Felt along with other component companies. Lisa fell in love with the small-frame 2012 Superfly 100 Elite. Uh-oh...

However, the BCB is so damn enjoyable, stress-free and awesome that I have no problem traveling the four hours to hang out with other like-minded midwestern mountain bikers looking for great food, fantastic blue-grass music and legendary flowy trails.

Yep, that's her new love. She said it handled well and felt really fast on board. I'd agree with that; we were hauling!

The Brown County Breakdown is HMBA's (Hoosier Mountain Bike Association) big fund-raising event for the year where they rake in upwards of $20K to fund their ongoing mechanized trail building at Brown County State Park and other local parks. The entry fee to the BCB is steep ($80-100 depending on sign up date) but you are rewarded with the above-mentioned music, food, beer, bike demos, raffles, and organized rides.

Lisa and I signed up for the 45 mile ride (on review of the GPS the 45 miler climbed 3,600 feet. The 100 milers got something like 9,000-11,000ft of climbing!!!!!). They also offer 25, 65, 80 and 100 mile lengths, however, the bulk of the 500+ attendees typically choose the 45 or 65 mile routes. The 80/100 milers are left for the racers because you really do need to haul butt... this year the 100 milers started at 8am and rolled in between 6-7:30pm... and remember, this ride takes place on a Sunday.

Yes, Sunday. That's the only bummer for us folks in St. Louis. After the fantastic 45 mile ride and buffet-style mega dinner you can revel in some top-notch bluegrass but take note - you have a 4 hour drive home with work awaiting you the next day. Ugh!

Start/Finish zone as we all get into our respective mileage groups. We rode Pine Valley, North Tower, Aynes, Green Valley, Hesitation Point, Walnut, Limekiln and some open-only-this-weekend trails.

The musical guests this year included Danny Barnes on Saturday night (fantastic genre-bending banjo player from Austin's Bad Livers who works solo now and has travelled with Dave Matthews Band) and the White Lightning Boys from Nashville, Indiana. This large bluegrass band rocked and filled the air with the yeehaw vibe.

Beer sampling on Saturday included Uplands Brewery and a newcomer called Flat 12. Both breweries were terrific. Had we arrived Friday night, we would have been treated to Big Woods Brewery, the local and talented microbrewery in Nashville.

The camping around the pool house with hundreds of other MTBers was just right due to the fantastic mild weather. And I can't forget to mention the hot showers all weekend! Other folks from St. Louis included Luke (newport) and his friends, along with Dianna (muleskinner) and her family. Both groups ended up on the 45 mile route.

The ride on Sunday lasted about 5 hours including all of our stops.

Riding on the new Green Valley loop? Check!

Banjo in them woods

Random fiddlers and banjos in the hollers playing to the passers-by? Check!

On top of Hesitation Point chomping on cookies (5!) and getting ready for some technical Walnut

Homemade cookies on top of Hesitation Point while listening to the Whipstitch Sallies? Check!

Tech on Walnut? Check!

Ripping it pump-track style on Limekiln? Double-double check!!

Drop in to the Nebo Cabin for refreshments and music? Check Check!

The Cabin at the 45 mile turnaround. In a tight valley, this cabin is quintessential hillbilly deluxe.

At the end of the ride we both agreed that we would most likely be back next year. The vibe, enjoyable people, organizational prowess, music talentness, tasty good foodness and shred-nastic trail wonderfondness adds up to one hell of an event.

To miss the Brown County Breakdown is a bummer, indeed. See y'all out there next year??!

Cranksgiving 2011 - Let's Make It A GORC GIVES BACK Event

Cranksgiving 2011

Date: 11/06/11
Time: 10AM - 1PM

Where: Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave
Host: St. Louis Bicycle Works for Food Outreach

Route: 25 mile loop from Schlafly Bottleworks

From Cranksgiving:
The Cranksgiving tradition has spread across the country, with events held in Los Angeles; Chicago; St. Louis; Madison, WI; and Des Moines, Iowa, among others. We are proud to say that St. Louis has the largest event in the country. Last year Cranksgiving hosted over 500 riders who collected over 4000 food items. This year we are looking for over 800 riders!

What happens at a Cranksgiving ride is that cyclists gather where they are given a shopping list of specific items needed by a local food pantry, plus a map of stores along a specific route (10 or 25 miles) from which to buy these items

A typical shopping list will have a dozen or so items, and maybe set back the riders $10-20. It's a terrific way to kick off the holiday season and be out on your bike, doing something good with the community alongside your fellow cyclists. Plus, it's an early start on burning off all the calories you'll be inhaling during November and December.

Cant ride with us but still want to help? Join us at the Handle Bar on Manchester at 8 p.m. on Nov 5th. New Belgium and PBR will be trading 4 cans of food for 1 beer!!

A huge thank you to our sponsors: Big Shark Bicycle, Rehab Care and Ameren.


From Seamonkey:
This is a great event to attend. Lisa and Matt and a few other GORCers rode the 25 mile route last year and had a wonderful time hanging out with other bikers. There are sag wagons to load your purchased goods if you don't want to carry them to the finish at the Bottleworks. We hauled a BOB trailer last year and it held everything.

Cranksgiving is on a Sunday - the day after the GORC Appreciation Party. I hope to see my other GORC friends at Cranksgiving. If you have a GORC jersey, plan on wearing it so the community can see the club doing what it does best - volunteering and giving back!

Look for info on the message board in the coming days/week.

See you there,


Link to BicycleWorks info.

A Busy Month

The next 30 days are going to be very busy. Ride your bike and help build some trail.
Coming up in the next month:

October 8th: Burnin at the Bluff
October 8-9th: Brown County Breakdown
October 14th: Moonlight Ride at Indian Camp Creek
October 15th: Matson Hill Workday
October 22nd: Cliff Cave Workday
October 22nd: Berryman Trail Epic
October 29th: Matson Hill Workday
November 5th: Creve Coeur Workday and Volunteer Appreciation Party

This Tagged along for my ride on the Berryman

(Photo from bugguide.net)

After I finished my ride on the Berryman this weekend, I took off my helmet and found this not-so-little fellow lodged under one of the vents. I've had a lot of spiders in there before, but this was definitely the biggest, the green and black part being probably close to the size of a dime! In case you're wondering, it's a Marbled Orb Weaver, and totally harmless- unless you're a fly. I was still happy to have been wearing a skull cap! It was quite strong. Had to help it out with a stick, because it couldn't be dislodged by tapping on the helmet.

img: Horsepower

Meeting in the stable: fast crabon is introduced to golden fibreglass.
Ignore the bucket of walnuts. Discuss.

Binder Lake

Last Tuesday I treated myself to some new dirt. Since Binder Lake in Jefferson City MO has been on my to do list for a while and BigJimMac was available for a few hours after work to give a guided tour, I couldn't pass it up.

The plan was to drive out, set up a campsite for myself, ride some, then fish the lake from a belly boat, then grab a night ride (which is quite legal at Binder by the way). Of course I was running late so the fishing portion got dropped. I was able to ride the Yellow Loop on the east side of the trail, 1 lap counterclockwise on a 29r and then a portion of a lap clockwise on a double-boinger 26r, after setting up my tent and hammock and making sure all my little baby beers were nestled snugly in their icy beds for later.

I liked the Yellow loop a lot. It's all singletrack with a hardpack dirt surface with a lot of forest floor debris on it (rustic!) and plenty of embedded rocks. Going ccw it mostly just winds, twists, and switchbacks up and down the hillside that is the eastern shore of the lake until you hit a little clearing at the northernmost point where you turn back and cruise a rocky shoreline trail back to the beginning... 4 miles-ish. There were some neat bits of well-done rock armoring done at a few of the drainages and the whole trail flowed nicely.

Then it was beer-thirty.

As the daylight faded, Jim showed up and we headed across the little dam at the south end of the lake. We rode north on the Dark Blue to Light Blue to Dark Green to Light Green (staying right/east) then looped back (staying right/west). It was dim on the way out and dark on the way back.

That big loop route on the west side was awesome. There were some man-made features here and there but the star of the show (for me) was the fast and flowy sections (and there were plenty!). There were a few spots that required you tuck your bars through some close-spaced saplings and quite a few tight-ish switchbacks but that just kept things interesting. Definitely going back to ride this again, fo' sho'.

Also worth mentioning, the campground was quite nice. It's more oriented for RVs and pop-ups but most of the sites had a flat spot suitable for a 2 or 3 person tent. Besides just a flat spot, you're getting a 2 car paved parking pad, a picnic table, BBQ grill, trash cans, Forest Service-style fire ring, a wooden canopy, water spigots every few sites, and (get this) hot showers and flush toilets in the newer-looking campground bathroom. Nice.

I was really impressed with Binder. Kind of a nice mixture of Brown County (hot showers, flush toilets and bike-oriented trails) and Council Bluff Lake (Ozark dirt and rock riding and... a, well, lake in the middle).