2012 Midwest Bike Swap this Weekend

Man, you remember those good old days in the K-Mart?
It's about time to go CraigsList on your biking neighbors...
Where else can you see cranks listed for $120 and barter until you
walk away with them for $50 plus a water bottle and feel good about it?

At the Swap Meat, that's where!!

(below reposted from Trailnet)

2012 Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet

Sunday, January 29, 2012 Bike Swap
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Gateway Center
One Gateway Drive
Collinsville, IL 62234
$5 entry fee
The 2012 Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet is your chance to revel in all things bicycle. You will have access to bike shops, nonprofits, individuals and other bicycle related businesses, each featuring a unique display of products and information.
The Expo is your chance to catch a sneak peak of next season's bicycle goodies, search for that hard-to-find bike part, or find a great deal on your next bike. The Expo will also feature a silent auction and the popular bike corral.
A Classic Bike Show will also be taking place at the Gateway Center. For a $5 admission fee (and $5 fee for each show entry) you can display your classic bicycle and compete for trophies in several catagories.
The 2012 Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet is presented by Trailnet.

Have questions? Contact John at john@trailnet.org or 314-436-1324 x106
Interested in being a vendor at the 2012 Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet? For more information or to register for a booth, please call John at 314-436-1324 x106 or email him at john@trailnet.org.
If you are interested in volunteering for the 2012 Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet, please call John at 314-436-1324 x106 or email him at john@trailnet.org.

SIUE Workday- Sat. Jan. 21st, 2012

Just a reminder about the SIUE workday coming up this weekend. I was looking for something in the blog archives, and came across this old post where I was goofing around with Google Earth and some old photos of the Mississippi River Festival site and SIUE today. There's a lot of good stuff in the archives in case you have some time to waste. Funny to see breathless talk about the "new" trails being worked on: the Rollercoaster, Dogwood's makeover, Bangert, Broemmelsiek, Indian Camp Creek etc.

Separated at Birth?

Invest in PBR! 
(photo from teamseagal.blogspot.com)

Ride Report: Franklin County Foothills

Somehow I managed to get off work early and to my house by 2pm. I'd explored in my truck and by satellite imagery some far roads out west and today was the day to ride the loop I christened the Franklin County Foothills. This 37 mile ride packed 2,700+ feet of climbing and on the cross bike I was determined to get worked over.

Intersection of Fiddle Creek at Highway T

Fiddle Creek awesomeness

Mission accomplished. After two previous days of riding (see below posts), this is the one that snapped by legs off after the 33rd mile. This ride is 90% pavement, however, a key connector road is gravel and over 2 miles long so skinny tires are not recommended! Grand Army Road is currently gravel but it looks like Franklin county is widening and shoring it up in preparation of its initial chip-n-seal coating probably sometime this year.

Starting from my house on the Allenton Loop I rode over to Fox Creek, up Old Manchester to Little Tavern and then tackled Highway T.

Definitely a century home on Fiddle Creek - looked to be
lifted right out of old St. Louis

Grand Army signage. Being the only gravel road on
this 37 mile route I assume it lost out in the paving wars of 1973

Note to other riders: Highway T, the two lane road that goes past St. Albans country club is not for the faint of heart. I know roadies say riding T is no big deal but I have to say it kept me on edge the brief times I was on it. The climbs are heinous and force you to sprint up them before a car rolls up (over) you on a blind curve. The fact that a guy in a Prius coming in the opposite direction rolled his window down and blew out his eyeballs screaming 'get off the road' did not add to my afternoon delight.

Once off of Highway T and on Fiddle Creek Road the country life rolled back by my side. The low use road followed meandering fields and past century homes. This road will connect you to Grand Army that heads into the sky right out of the gate. The gravel road is in excellent shape and you could almost imagine riding a road bike on it but it's too remote for me to have a double flat an hour before sunset.

Attention! You scoundrels are going to earn your legs or
fall in the ditch trying. I got some rear scratch on this climb.

More twists on Grand Army

Grand Army turns to pavement at the intersection of Thiebes and continues back to Highway T. At the peak height on Grand Army you can see the Labadie power plant and the cliffs across the Missouri that are, in fact, part of Klondike Park. If only bicyclists could get across the river at Highway 40 or the Washington bridge the riding options would be virtually limitless.

Grand Army looks to be getting groomed by the road
crew types for a possible ungravelling sometime in 2012.
Or they are just making it buff and wider, hard to determine.

Grand Army gets old chip at Thiebes

Back on Highway T and doing my own version of Gold Sprints I checked left onto Decker road very near the town of Labadie. This road took me past some sketchier looking homes and a few chained dogs that wanted so badly to drag me into the ditch. Decker ends at Highway 100 in Gray Summit. Wanting to keep my skin, I bolted down 100 after the last car went by and turned left 500 feet down the road at Hogan. This road follows Highway 44 all the way back to Pacific.

You're looking at one of the top polluters in Missouri.
But... you wouldn't be reading this either (no electric for me)
so I don't know what to say other than solar fields someday?

Another clearer view of the Labadie power plant.
You can see Klondike Park in the distance.
Oh, to be so close yet so far
away from St. Charles county trails! 

From Pacific, I simply followed Old Route 66 back to my house. Whew! The ride opened my eyes to even more possibilities. I'm currently building a low-use route (as much as possible) from my house to St. Clair and it's clocking in around 37 miles one way. This route definitely has gravel stretches so I suppose the cross bike will need to be ready for some action again.

Welcome to Labadie, Missouri. This is taken from Decker Road.

BONUS: GPS Track starting from Greensfelder parking lot (32 miles - slightly shorter route)
You will need to go to gpsies.com/convert.do to convert the gpx track to a .crs course file for your garmin device.

Ride Report: 2012 Joe Dirt Gravel Ride

The third Missouri Gravel Grinder event of the yearly winter gravel series took place near St. James, Missouri just south of Meramec Springs State Park. To everyone's surprise, over 70 riders made the trek from all over the state to attend the Joe Dirt ride on Sunday, January 15, 2012. This 27 mile social ride was hosted by Route 66 Bicycles and its shop owner, Dan Fuhrman. Several mountain biking scenes showed including St. Louis, Rolla, Jefferson City, Columbia and around the Herman area.

Dan promised beer and cookies to all finishers and that was just the icing on the cake. The hilly all-gravel route was a mountain biker's reprieve; the warmer 45 degree weather was wreaking havoc on Missouri's singletrack so the best way to stay in shape and not die of boredom in your basement was to attend this gravel ride.

Phelps County gravel near
Meramec Springs State Park

Lisa riding into the distance

The roads were gracious enough not to be wet or sloppy, though, a few short spots were definitely mush. The beautiful country roads followed meandering creeks, crossed several low-water bridges and climbed onto several long ridges. This relatively short gravel ride (in the gravel world!) injected 2,400+ feet of elevation into your January legs.

Somehow even with my nice little fancy GPS I managed to get Lisa and I briefly lost on two short stretches so we rode off the back much of the day. This wasn't a bad thing as we could do our own pace and check out the scenery.

I'm showing my Pacifico bottle as a scale reference:
Rob Ballou ordered a small Dos Equis at La Cabana
in St. James and this is what came
to the table and nearly broke the edge off.

Once back at the parking lot, we changed clothes and scavenged some remaining Miller Lite and PBR beers. The homemade chocolate chip cookies hit the spot and we chatted with Jason Zoll, Molly, John Cozad, Rob Ballou, Peat Henry, Steve Friedman, Stephanie McCreary and the list goes on.

We all caravaned to La Cabana in St. James for some copious amounts of Mexican. Rob ordered a simple draft beer but it was worthy of a cameo in Beerfest. Our table discussed the DirtyKanza200 and by the end of dinner I was still convinced it is not for me!

Dan Fuhrman, Samantha and Peat Free Awesome
rounded out our table.

Our Joe Dirt group inhabited the
entire back half of the mexican restaurant.

Saying our goodbyes, we all went our separate ways but everyone knew that these big group outings are what makes our bike scene so great.

See you on some gravel when the weather is meck.

Ride Report: 2012 Berryman Social Ride

Three weeks ago a simple post was placed on the GORC site from Jim Davis who was cross-linking a blog post from Team Virtus. Until that post, I had not heard of this adventure race team. Turns out Bob Jenkins was part of this crew and he had thrown the idea of a Berryman Social Ride into the wind - then it took flight.

No big deal - until the the post was relinked across several sites. On the day of the ride, Saturday, January 14, 2012 the cars kept shuttling in to the Berryman Campground lot. A few GORC folks showed up, including Dave and Jim Bacon and a couple others whose names escape me. Twenty-Five riders suited up, greeted each other and took off clockwise on the Berryman.

A cold morning of 23 degrees greeted riders from all over the state.

About 25 riders set off together for a social ride put
together by Team Virtus based near Jefferson City

Lisa and I took our time and enjoyed the inch of snow covering the woods and tread. I admired the new reroutes on Berryman and they are definitely a good thing! I used my GPS to place waypoints on my track to pinpoint downed trees and trail sections that needs some GORC love. This was my early reconnaissance on the eastern side of Berryman as GORC is working on an agreement with the Ozark Trail Association to take care of this half of the Berryman.

The big news on the trail is that there's a new reroute that skirts the deadly switchbacks into Brazil Creek campground. The reroute skirts the hillside and plops you out directly across from the trail continuation on the paved road. There's even a spur trail that will take you into the campground. However, there's at least two spots that won't work in the long run due to fall-line into a small creek crossing - but maybe it was not complete when we rode it.

The Hoosier Daddys out of Sullivan brought a BBQ pit,
brats, burgers and a pony keg of Blue Moon.
Now that's a social ride!

We tried to burn the logs as close to our face
as possible - it was chilly for sure! 

When we arrived back at the campground the Hoosier Daddys from Sullivan were grilling up burgers and brats on their own BBQ pit and had even brought a pony keg of Blue Moon. We thanked them and they said they never went on any big ride without the pit and keg - my kind of people!

We spoke about the upcoming CedarCross endurance cyclocross race with Bob Jenkins and he is the perfect guy to pull this adventure off. Some sponsorship is coming in and he revealed tidbits about the singletrack sections - it's going to be a good time.

By the way, Bar Mitts rock!

How Bike Wheels Are Made

From the MO Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation site.

Extruded, shaped, cut, treated, welded, anodized, drilled, laced, trued. Now you know.

2011- The Year in Review

Another busy year for GORC. With 19 official workdays, not to mention some impromptu ones, as well as a lot of unpublicized individual efforts, it's hard to keep track of everything. Here's a summary what went on this year, and I'll try to point out the plans for each of the trails in the coming year.

SIUE - 2 workdays. 0.3 miles of new trail.
1/15 - minor reroutes, and armoring of areas which were becoming troublesome to deal with. Announcement of the opening of additional area for building of new trails.
12/10 - first 0.3 miles of trail in the new area south of the Morris bikeway.
What's up for 2012: Continued expansion south of the bikeway and development of new area east of University Dr.

Greensfelder - 4 workdays. 1.25 miles of new trail.
2/26 - 0.5 miles of new trail on the Deer Run trail descending from Scenic Loop Rd. to Eagle Valley trail.
4/9 - Greensfelder- armoring of Deer Run trail in preparation for Greensfelder Challenge race. Armoring and maintenance on Eagle Valley trail behind Visitor Center.
9/24, Greensfelder - Worked on rerouting trail at the north end of the Green Rock just inside the park boundary that was encroaching on private property.
11/12 - completed reroute on Green Rock.
Greensfelder Challenge race was held in May as a fundraiser for GORC (Thanks DRJ and United in Dirt!).
What's up for 2012: completion of Deer Run descent from Scenic Loop to Eagle Valley. Work on new Beulah trail branching off from DeClue.

Matson Hill - 3 workdays. 1.1 miles of new trail.
3/12 - Matson Hill- construction of 0.6 miles of new singletrack branching off from the Oxen Mill trail, and opening a new section of the Hayes property addition.
4/23 - Matson Hill- canceled due to rain and mud.
10/15, Matson Hill - continued with work extending trail up the hillside.
10/29, Matson Hill - Up, up and away. Continuing up the hillside of the multi-switchback climb.
What's up for 2012: Continue heading southward towards Duke Rd. Matson will eventually have more than 10 miles of singletrack!

Indian Camp Creek - 2 workdays.
3/26 - reroutes, maintenance, and armoring projects.
6/4 - National Trails Day. Maintenance on the Ridge Trail.

Cliff Cave - 2 workdays, 0.8 miles of new trail.
5/21 - work on addition to Spring Valley trail which will complete an inner loop within the main SV trail.
10/22 - worked on completing inner loop of Spring Valley and rerouted some problem areas.
Tons of unofficial work put in by Kevin Ginther, Steve Ludwig and others. The official stats don't do justice to this.
What's up for 2012: Completion of Spring Valley inner loop.

Castlewood - 2 workdays.
6/4 - (moved from 5/14) - National Trails Day. Maintenance on main trails at the front of the park.
11/19 - reroute on Cedar Bluff trail, and maintenance.

Rock Hollow - 2 workdays.
9/17- worked on creek crossings which will show the contractor who wins the bid to complete the trail what level of work needs done.
12/3 - continued work on creek crossings.

Creve Coeur - 2 workdays, 1 mile of new trail.
11/5 - (GORC Appreciation Party) - 0.5 miles of new trail and Volunteer Appreciation Party complete with donation of Stone Beer from Major Brands! Thanks to all GORC volunteers.
12/17 - completed 0.5 miles of new loop trail giving it a total length of 1 mile. There is now 4.25 miles of singletrack at CCP!

Lost Valley - No official workdays, but the trails got a lot of much needed maintenance attention thanks to Greg Ott, Mitch Johnson and Larry Koester.
What's up for 2012: replacing doubletrack with singletrack, and lots of it!!!

In additon there were many events throughout the year that GORC members participated in: Ouachita Challenge, Syllamo's Revenge, trip to Taos, Brown County Breakdown, Berryman Trail Epic, Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, and numerous mountain bike and cyclocross races.

Matt Buckley took over as head of the GORC chapter of the National Mtb Patrol. Look for them out on the trail, or at a race.

This year also has something different with a bike (donated by Ballwin Schwinn) being raffled off to those who participated in 2 workdays. The drawing is January 4th at the monthly meeting.

It was a great year, and we hope to continue to add new trail, and keep what we have in good condition. None of this could be done without your help, so please continue to volunteer whenever you can.
See you on the trails!

Winter Alt Riding: Gravel Grinders

Editors Note: This piece was written before Missouri decided to give us the best winter present ever so far - little precipitation and mild weather. But all good things must end and when they do this little piece will come in handy...

As you know, winter can be tough in the Midwest. Whereas, if you are currently living in Crested Butte you pretty much figure it out in about a week that you aren't going to be mountain biking as the snow gets deeper and deeper, here in the middle (North/South) middle (East/West) midwest the weather can play tricks on the outdoor-oriented adventurers. It can be wet and sunny or dry and cold but never dry and wet...

Well, that's not true either. With Missouri's typical freeze/thaw cycle there are days when you can ride the trails and days when they are best left alone. Sometimes you can't seem to figure it out... How can it be 40 degrees and the tread is firm at Greensfelder but at freezing temperature and slimy over at Broemmelsiek?

Since I don't have a degree in metro-astrology I'll pass on the explanation and simply give you a web link to a trail riding workaround that:

A - keeps you in shape and actively riding while at the same time;
B - sparing our treasured local singletrack from getting squished, mashed, and otherwise smeared up by rutting mountain bike tires getting their groove on.

These links offer a training tier that will lead your mind to gravel enlightenment:

a riding series which will prepare you for the
which prepares your soul for the final gravel atonement while your dying corpse is in a ditch hiding from a tornado and your dehydrated brain is contemplating why you thought the
was a good idea.......

Image courtesy cedarcross100 

I guess I should back up a moment and mention the gravel concept. A few years back some of the locals and rural-locals started putting together gravel road rides - hence the name gravel grinders. Many people use these rides to prepare for life-altering events like the DirtyKanza200, the Leadville Trail 100 or the inaugural CedarCross100 taking place just outside Jefferson City, Missouri. 

The bigger picture here is that you can make your own gravel grinder. No, the whole route doesn't have to be gravel. Yes, some gravel or dirt that's not a dedicated singletrack trail must be included or it's a /gasp/ road ride.

Image courtesy cedarcross100  

With online services such as mapmyride or everytrail you can pretty much zoom in on an area and layout a tentative gravel route - usually the roads show up super white in color. For instance, out where I live, I could ride some road to get out towards Gray Summit and hit up Grand Army road from Spring Valley road which are both gravel routes.

Out in St. Charles, you can grind gravel all day on the KATY or through Busch Wildlife, the Hamburg or parts of Lost Valley. I ask everyone to steer clear of true gravel 'trails' like the Hamburg or KATY if the conditions are mush - stick to the gravel roads because if a car can drive on them then you can't mess them up! Pretty sure it's physically impossible to wreck an 8 foot wide vehicular road with a non-motorized bike.

The best steed for this type of adventure is a cyclocross bike. If you don't own one but have a 29er, buy some narrow mtb or burly hybrid tires and you have the start of your very own franken-monstercross. Put some dirt drop bars, switch the triggers out for bar end shifters, maybe go 1x9 or single, maybe even hook up some Jones H-Bars and you'll be a true-blue tourer type.

Image courtesy cedarcross100  

There's nothing like exploring little used gravel roads at a medium pace and checking out the scenery. Usually these gravel roads come with low-tech water crossings, chase dogs, free-range chickens and the occasional ATV convoy. These are not bad moments unless you are dragging the dog with your ankle.

And logging roads count. And fire roads. Heck, you can ride for days around the Ozark National Forest just on fire roads and old logging roads without even being on a signed piece of singletrack. The secret is out; if you open your mind up beyond singletrack you can epic real easy, real fast. There are other states that would beg to have what we have just 1-2 hours outside of urban St. Louis.

Image courtesy cedarcross100   

I understand it's not really mountain biking on a piece of singletrack. But sometimes, you just have to give the local trails some time to dry up and ready themselves for the upcoming year.

I hope I have many of you thinking about the possibilities.  I'll see you out in the backcountry.