Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer 2009 Kickoff - A Weekend Warrior Adventure

~ 70 Pedaled Miles, Movie & Dinner, Drinks with a View and a Rockin' Train Ride Home - I Swept Myself Off My Feet!

A cold winter and a volatile spring.  Whether official or not - dust off the bike, pack the kit & declare summer - I'm going on holiday and off on adventure.  

Prior to this past Memorial Day weekend, thinking of getting on the saddle and looking for new routes, I came across a few articles describing Century Rides (100mi bike rides).  Sometimes things just get in my head... and stay there.  This was no different and the idea was quite exciting.  Logically, it made no sense.  The longest continuous bike ride I had previously accomplished was a 50k.  Though during a triathlon - but being two years ago - I haven't exactly kept a consistent cycling routine.  In fact, I had just gone out on my first ride of the year the week prior to this adventure - To the grocery store and back - and despite the fact that I took the scenic route... see above about logic. 

The Prep: Google is astounding.  With one night of research, mostly using Google Maps, I was able to detail a route way beyond left and right turns.  Though not flawless - I did encounter one significant error in planning - for the most part not only did the route match what I expected, but thanks to street view I could plan according to which road had a good shoulder and even see and prepare for holding up traffic on the bridge into Washington, MO which did not have a shoulder.  That being said, the night before I packed my kit for early departure.  Water & fuel including two delicious PB & Honeys, social cloths, phone, wallet, camera, pump, extra tube, chaffing stuff blah blah blah; I packed a lot and withstanding doubts early in the ride for the most part it all came in handy. 

The Ride:  First off, the conditions.  If they were any better they would have taken place in my imagination.  Departure occurred at approx 0645 from Clayton towards the Page extension.  Overcast and even a light drizzle at times - cool wet air is a good start.  Upon reaching the Page extension the sun began to shine through, but only at times, and the air was still brisk.  Before engaging the Katy trial I first made a detour to Crossfit St. Charles. The owner had recently moved and opened up a new facility and I thought to check it out.  This made a good pit stop to fill up on one of those PB & Honeys and get some fluids down. After a bit of socializing I continued on to the Katy trail.  Here is where I encountered my flaw in planning.  Rather than back tracking towards the main road to the Katy, maps showed a neighborhood backing up to the trail on a direct shot from my position at Xfit St. Charles.  Two miles through steep bluffs found only private homes and 'no trespassing' signs. I had the feeling they were directed at 'take a shortcut' types... that would be me.  Disheartened, I backtracked through the same bluffs and made the Katy with legs hurting and had a moment to myself.  This was the last abort point.  Bike the 20 miles back home the way you came or set out for what you came to do.  Lets get to Washington and figure it out from there.  

It became quite a trip from here on. I must say the 35 or so miles between Katy entry and Washington had me hurting and then some.  A smooth fine gravel trail intermittently populated, encased in a tree shaded bubble with but seldom looks through to the Missouri river flowing parallel to my labored pedals... an ever increasing sore bottom - Whatever, Ill walk normal next week, get to Washington and figure it out from there

Its a funny feeling to be so out of your element.  I told nobody about this try and I knew I would not make the full century.  But I was out there testing and reaping the rewards.  A stop or two to shake the legs and stretch the back.  A stop at Defiance, Mo for a fuel up, map check and relax.  The mind & body respond to different stimulus. 

Now my thoughts on iPods and exercising are quite entrenched.  For one, I like to hear and feel my surroundings while on the move, not drown them out.  Digging deeper, an article I heard on the radio recently concerned the San Francisco Transportation Department and how they train their employees to be on the lookout for joggers, suits with earpieces, moms and teenagers alike crossing intersections aimlessly while chatting or listening to the new deal.  Along with a very sad story in which a high school student, in tune to his MP3 at highest levels while walking home along his familiar train tracked route, failed to hear its signal; on the move my earpieces stay out.  However, encased in my Katy bubble and minus intersections and fatiguing quite; iPod on and favorite Trace album up; Keeping time to the beat while breaking out to visions of a bright sun beating down on vast farmland plains to my south, the homestretch to Washington, I continued with a renewed smile.  

Making a long story just a bit longer, I soon found myself in Washington, MO approximately 7.5 hrs later.  I admitted to myself then that my bike ride would go no farther that the present city, and calling on an article I had read during my ride research I made my way to Main Street and the local Amtrak station.  Train to Kirkwood, MO departing at 2015.  

Time enough for a layout next to the river.  Time enough for a change - 7.5hrs in bike tights and I was feeling... rather compressed - and with the help of internet via phone, a quick bike to the local movie theatre to catch a screening of Terminator Salvation.  I had high expectations that were not met, being quite a fan of the franchise, but a good entertaining movie none the less.  Time enough for dinner - Johnny G's - overlooking the river; where talk of American Cars roused the most feathers. Time enough for a drink at a bar - to my liking named Marquardt's Landing - situated across from the train station.  And when the train was delayed forty five minutes, time enough for another drink in my bike getup admist the entering night crowd.  Buzzing and on a delight, the train upon entering was quite the joyous atmosphere.  A sparse group of passengers returning and traveling from and to holiday stomps with families and friends. With beers to enjoy the ride - I too swaggered my way to the drink car and back - the swaying florescent cars and one time conversations laid a timeless aura over the days travel.  To and fro...

Thanks Bro for the ride home from the station. 

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