This has been an atypically chilly spring for our area, but this weekend seems to have been a breakthrough of sorts with reasonable temperatures and sunshine, which has been in short supply lately. Because of Dirty Kanza, I pretty much have one day each weekend reserved for the bike, and that day was Saturday.
I started out with 30 miles on the Great River Road with my friend Kristen. It was pavement, not gravel, but the Mississippi River views are beautiful and the company was good. It was good for my ego, too, as even with a decent headwind on the way out I felt comfortable. We’d hoped to ride to Pere Marquette Lodge, but that plan was short-circuited by river flooding. Annoying. We were flying with a tailwind on the return trip, and our shorter miles made it possible for me to meet Chuck and Lori in Weldon Spring to tack on some gravel miles.
I actually got there earlier than planned (crazy, I know), so I had a few minutes to get ready while I waited for our meeting time. I spent most of it trying to figure out how to put on my new Garmin Edge 500 (happy birthday to me from all my wonderful family and friends who gifted me with money and bike shop gift certificates :D) before finally sort of figuring it out (still put the mount on sideways). Lori handed Chuck off to me and headed home.
|This was so pretty in real life.|
The wind was getting progressively stronger (I think it peaked at 20-25 mph), and after some route discussion we decided on Busch Wildlife. Because it’s a network of gravel roads around the many lakes, we’d never be stuck riding into a headwind for too long.
|Snack break. This made me laugh.|
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and it felt great to finally ride comfortably in just shorts and a jersey. We did our best to ride every possible road we could find as well as some short stretches of singletrack.
|Loved this short trail|
Heading down a service road we passed a couple at their truck. The road dead-ended shortly after, and on our return trip we were obviously interrupting a romantic moment…or one that was going to get romantic pretty quickly. Oops.
|Old bunker we passed while exploring|
We did our best to eat about every hour. I was also testing out some of the beet juice powder samples I got at Cedar Cross. I mixed it with lemon-lime gatorade powder that I had on hand, and while the taste didn’t really float my boat it wasn’t bad either. I have other friends who liked the taste plain, so maybe I’ll try it that way. And I will be trying it again, because as we found ourselves at the far back of the park shortly before our designated time to meet Lori, I felt great climbing the hills. Now, these aren’t monster hills or anything, but I was maintaining 17+ mph pace going up, and that’s not characteristic for me. Maybe it was just a good day, or maybe there’s really something to that beet juice. Stay tuned…
Because we were running late, we took a shortcut back to the Mound. Remembering a short, steep dirt hill I’d had to walk on our night ride, I downshifted so I’d be able to ride up it. Chuck coached me from in front, “We’re both going to downshift, then pedal fast and ride right up that.” I was all in, right until it looked like he was riding straight up a wall. And this is so stupid, because it’s barely more than a mound of dirt; I don’t know why it gets in my head, but I slowed down, got about halfway up, and put my foot down. Lame.
I really ought to quit wimping out on “scary” stuff, because the same type of thing always happens. We were riding back to the parking lot, and as we made our last turn (on the flat crushed gravel path) my wheels dug into some deep, loose gravel and I went down. At least if I fell on something trickier I’d have a better story.
|Laughing at myself, not with myself.|
Since I landed in the grass, it was a pretty easy fall as they go. Walked (rode) away with a bruised hip and a lot of laughing as Chuck and I cracked up over my crash about 50 feet from the parking lot. On possibly the easiest terrain ever. Typical.
|So close to making it back with no bruises.|
My stomach was pretty crabby when I got home, but J was in the driveway waiting to go for a bike ride. Earlier in the week we’d gone for a bike ride and his rear wheel started locking up. Seeing as it’s a Wal-Mart brand bike that we bought at a yard sale and has non-working hand brakes (the coaster brakes do work) and weighs as much as my mountain bike, I didn’t think it was worth fixing. I posted on Facebook about the bike’s demise and asked is anyone knew of a cheap boy’s bike available. Within the evening, three friends had offered him a bike , and the second one worked out.
|Look out…now we have two people in the family in love with bikes.|
He was delighted when he tried it out. “This bike is so light!! It’s so easy to pedal!” He’s all about riding his bike now, and though I really wanted to sit down and relax, I couldn’t tell him no. We rode laps for a couple miles in our neighborhood and then headed home when he wanted to. I only ended up with around 57 miles for the day instead of the 100 on the plan, but I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. That said, I’m hoping for another day just as nice this coming Sunday, when if the weather cooperates I’ll follow a 3-hr mountain bike race with some more gravel miles. 18 days and counting to Dirty Kanza…