Black Friday Gravel Rally - Rolla-Style

Reported by Matt Hayes

15 riders finished the 30 mile loop

Lisa and I were headed down to my Grandpa's for Thanksgiving in Vienna, MO and towed our bikes along for a 30 mile gravel ride put together by Dan Fuhrman of Route 66 Bicycles. The ride was on Black Friday and the weather couldn't have been any more mild for late November.

We rolled up to the tiny river town of Devil's Elbow on the Big Piney and parked across from the Elbow Inn. The crusty old dive-bar exterior made it easy to discount as a "biker bar" but as I'm often told, looks are deceiving. More about Elbow later.

The silo after dropping out of the Kaintuck trail

Precisely at 10am a group of 18 or so riders left Elbow to ride a 31 mile clockwise loop encompassing low-use pavement roads, gravel roads, ATV paths, part of the Kaintuck trail and narrow fireroads that were a hybrid between the look of ATVs-on-Kaintuck and the feel of horses-on-Kaintuck. The dirt portions were a bit wet but only two areas would be considered bog-like. Three tall, steep punches to the gut precisely at the beginning, middle and end-of-middle portions of the ride ensured that the secondary helpings of our everything-plus-turkey dinner would be purged one way or another.

It was refreshing to ride with complete strangers who quickly became two-wheeled friends. I'm great with faces and terrible at names so my internal naming system now includes "just back from germany guy", "flower earrings gal" and "beer sales guy". By no means am I being disrespectful, it's just that I'm more of a landmark than street names kind of guy.

Rail trestle approaching Devil's Elbow

The no-drop ride full of single speeders, a couple of cross bikes, (er, not recommended on this loop) mountain bikes, and a vintage Barracuda with hybrid tires rounded out the two-wheeled train.

Wrapping up our route was a beer-lunch-beer stop at the Elbow Inn. This river side establishment located on old Route 66 has been around since 1929 and is a piece of roadside Americana.  We all sat outside on their side patio with Boots the cat hanging out to say hi and get some quality laptime. The beef brisket sandwich was awesome and the no-charge PBR cans courtesy of "beer sales guy" were a definite plus. Be sure to look up at the ceiling for some bra-tastic interior decorating ideas. Next time you are around the region treat yourself to some Elbow.

The final mile into Devil's Elbow along the Big Piney River

It's a great change of pace to ride with strangers-turned-friends on gravel and trails never traversed in unseasonably warm weather. It's all too easy to come up with excuses to not do something but I'm glad I took up Dan's Facebook invite.

The Elbow Inn serves up terrific smoked BBQ, cheap beer and bar cats.

Gravel rides are the new ticket to staying in shape outdoors (keyword: outdoors) during the cold, wet, damp, bog months of Missouri's wet season. Like I keep saying, I see a Surly Ogre (with fenders and drop bars) in my future.

Keep on keepin' on.

Track Link: GPS Track

Update 1: In Dev: GORC 3.0

This project started in early October and is being built after-hours and when I have the time.

Of course, it is much more complicated than I originally envisioned and I had already anticipated a steep climb.

Some features may or may not make it in the first generation of the new site but I'm trying with the help of Rob B. to make it happen.

The site platform will be Drupal 7.x with CiviCRM 4.x handling membership and volunteer hours. I'm also researching a good message board that can 'bridge' the user information so that we all don't need three sets of id/passwords to get around the site. The IPBoard looks promising and is the same one over there on

How committed am I to this project? Well, I've bought two books so far (about 950 pages total), joined the STL Drupal Users group, teamed up with Rob B and his technical skills and testing server environment, joined, CiviCRM and Issue Tracker (bugs). Spry Digital in St. Louis looks promising for technical framework issues regarding CiviCRM.

However, the club needs money to 'finish' the site's development concerning features and frameworks I may lack the time/expertise to develop. I would say that we roughly need $2,500 - $5,000 to completely finish the site.

Did I mention a site-wide Sponsor system will be in place?

Anyway, what I'm trying to convey is that this project has a long way to go. Once the content is in place, permissions and roles are set, bugs are fixed (yes, there are problems), the final step will be theming; as you can see below, I don't care what it looks like at this point in the project - I'm just happy it works.

Features, opinions, site flow, other mountain bike related sites that you like, send them my way via comment on this post.
Under active development: Some time next year you can touch

I enjoy doing this, I find it interesting. But, it is somewhat stressful knowing the club's modernization hinges on what I know and can do (and I know just enough right now to stay clear of programming code at this stage). With bike time on the back burner and working on this from 7pm-12am almost every night, it's easy to forget that this is a hobby task and not a job.
It'll be cool when it's finished. Especially the administration side.


GORC Gives Back at Cranksgiving 2011

GORC portrait in front of a tiny portion of the food items

Several GORC members showed up to St. Louis 2011 edition of Cranksgiving, the nation's largest satellite event by far. Originally started by bike messengers in NYC, Cranksgiving is a combination bike ride/food drive, with all proceeds going to local food pantries. It involves cyclists following a route that goes past a couple grocery stores.  There, they purchase food items that can be used to help others in need.

Matt hauled a BOB trailer filled to capacity

Lisa and Matt recruited additional members Randy, Kirby and Mike featuring JasonBoyd. Other GORC folks were present but I couldn't see them through the mass of over 600+ riders. After completing their 22 mile ride on cross/road bikes and stopping at 5 area grocery stores, all told St. Louis bikers donated 7,506 items - a record both locally and nationally.

Beer me up

What started at a microbrewery ended at a microbrewery and as you may guess some beer was involved, followed by copious amounts of Nicaraguan Fritanga. Consider joining another round of Cranksgiving next year, it's always an adventure.

Task complete

Bike parking