Sunday, April 11, 2010

The 300 Kilometer Brevet in Edwardsville

An early morning start heads the riders down the road and out of town. One of those red lights is on the bike of Johnny Bertrand. Although you might not know him, most of these riders do. My RUSA number is 5169. Numbers are assigned sequentially as riders join. His number is 2. In fact, he is a founding member of RUSA. (And he translated all the rules and documents for us from French to English. Not bad for a Kentucky boy.)

Today I'm not going to work on my skills in the paceline - I'm going to work on my laugh lines. Which reminds me that Mick Jagger once said that he wasn't wrinkled, those were laugh lines. To which David Bowie replied, "Nothing is that f#@*ing funny!" (Those under 30 can google Mick Jagger and David Bowie to find out who they are.)

My 200 kilometer posting was too grouchy, according to some. In fact, Mike McKee's rebuke included the reminder to gratefulness, "At least you were riding your bike!" He is right. At least I'm riding my bike. Today, I'll try to have fun, and not worry about keeping up. I have about 13 hours to work on that.

The main group heads away, happily discussing today's ride. I wave goodbye, although I'm not sure any one was looking back.

Now we ride solo. Just me and my cue sheet. Notice the time on my watch. I'm only 30 minutes into a 13 plus hour day.

"Although we might start out with others, it usually ends up just us.
So when we’re climbing the hills or holding the curves or motor pacing a big GreyHound bus,
we know we can count on each other, Through the thickest and thinnest it will be
a club where all the riders have the same name,
The Boy Scout, Fat Boy, The General, and me.

From The Boy Scout, Fat Boy, The General, and me. By Miles Stoneman

In Grantsfork, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen can get their bait for fishing. And if, while they are there, Lex Luther once more threatens the planet with Socialized Health Care, Clark can slip into this phone booth and become Superman. (Not that he can do anything about Socialized Health Care, but that's another story.)

"And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all creatures that move on the ground, everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food. And it was so." Genesis 1:30

Without grass, we would all die. Thank you God for grass.

At a gas station in Pocohontas I caught up with the group. They probably had stopped so that the chicks could pee. Or maybe they all needed to, because the dudes were embarrassed to pee with the chicks along. That's the problem with coed riding groups. If chicks wanna ride with us, it's time they "man up" and pee on the side of the road just like we do. (And look the other way when we need to pee.)

Earlier, a car approached me and the driver was waving. At least I think he was waving. He had his hand open with all 5 fingers showing. Maybe he meant I was 5 minutes back from the main group.

Then a car approached me and the driver gave me the peace sign. Or maybe she was indicating that I was only 2 minutes behind the others.

Then this car passed after honking constantly through a curvy no passing zone. As he went past, he indicated that I was only 1 minute behind the leaders. Although I wasn't sure how he would know since he came from behind me. Maybe that's not what he meant after all.

13 miles to Breese, the next control stop. Unfortunately, it's 13 miles on the Jamestown road. (Sounds like a good ballad title, huh?)

Now that a new START treaty has been signed with Russia, all these missile silos will have to be dismantled. And this region is peppered with them. I guess the upshot is that the route will be safer for cyclists, now that Russia will no longer need to target these silos with their ICBMs.

Looks like this is the regrouping point where all the slower riders (me) catch back up to the main body. They left soon afterwards. I thought I heard someone say, "That old fat guy is OK. We can leave now."

Mr. April.

This Blue Heeler was happily running beside me on my left for a couple of miles. Unfortunately, every time a vehicle approached from behind, he would run to the right, right past my front wheel nearly causing me to wreck. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that he could either run to my right or not at all. He moved over.

I'm not sure of the brand these cigarettes are sold under, but it's probably, "Jolly Green Giant Cigarettes".

By now you can see that we've played this game all day. The riders in front set a fast pace, but spend too much time resting at the stops. And I catch up to them every time. One of the riders here said that a group had just left, and I could still catch them if I hurried. I wasn't planning to try.

George. He had waited at Okawville so that we could ride together. I, however, was feeling like crap. I had nausea so bad, that even thinking about eating more of my liquid diet, let alone a Clif bar made we want to pull over and throw up. I knew from experience that all I could do was continue to ride and let it pass. But between that little nuisance and the wind, I was in no mood to set a blistering pace.

After about 20 miles of my pace, George indicated that he wanted to ride a little faster, without me, of course. He pedaled close to me and shouted to be heard above the wind. His parting words reminded me of the movie "The Last of the Mohicans"

"If we get separated, I'll meet you in Oakdale!"
"Do you have everything you need?"
"Good luck!!"

I'm neither a complete nubie nor a doddering old man, but he seemed to think I was one or the other. Oh well.

Why would you buy fence posts, when any tree limb is perfect for fencing? There were miles and miles of these "natural" fence posts. In fact, I'm not sure I saw a manufactured fence post on the entire route.

The Country Kitchen in Oakdale. The last control stop on the route. By the time I reached this location, I'd spent about 9 hours fighting the wind and listening to it roaring in my ears. Outside of Oakdale, I had run out of water and I was dehydrated. I was so exhausted when I arrived that I purchased 6 bottles of water to refill everything and refuel, but I forgot to have the proprietor sign my Brevet card. That would have caused all of the suffering to have been for nothing. Fortunately, he asked if I had a card he needed to sign. Only 60 miles or so to go now, and most of it will be north or north west and the wind will be less of a factor. By the way, they serve freshly made fruit pies. I passed on the pie and ate a Clif Bar instead.

This bank is for sale. It's located in the town of Marine. See the metal box on the side of the building which has been helpfully labeled "Burglar Alarm"? I believe I wouldn't want to indicate to thieves the location of the device they should disable first.

This is not a very narrow road, it's a "multi-use path". It's about 5 miles long and helps you avoid the busiest roads in Edwardsville. Some would call it a bike path, but all pedestrians, runners, and non-motorized users are welcome. Notice the non-motorized turkey in the middle ahead. We need one of these around here (not the turkey, the bike path).

You won't see this sign very often. Usually it's a "truck on cheese" sign. This "bike on cheese" sign is refreshing. Maybe it's a "sign" of the future of transportation. Here's hoping.

Another ride in the books. Aside from a hamstring cramp which threated to attack me in the last few miles, I managed to hold it at bay, and a little bit of chafing on my bottom, I'm no worse for the wear. Now to regroup. In just 4 weeks I'll have to ride this far and 62 more miles to get done. Oh boy.