City Ride

On Sunday, Anne and I rode downtown to the Anheuser-Busch, now InBev brewery. This was the starting point for the Bicycle Fun Club’s City Tour. The registration tables were setup in the brewery’s carpool and alternative fuel vehicle lot. This seemed rather fitting, since bicycles certainly count as alternative fuel vehicles. We started the ride off heading north on Broadway. As we passed through downtown proper, a pair of Harriers (AV-8B) did a low-level flyover; this was part of Marine Week in Saint Louis. Continuing on, we headed into north Saint Louis. North Saint Louis is not the best part of town. We passed numerous buildings that were boarded up, or just plain falling down. Sprinkled in among this tableau, were a few well maintained homes, with immaculate front lawns. It being Sunday morning, many of the residents that were up and moving at that hour, were church people. There were two sights to see on this tour, the water tower on North Grand and the Velodrome. Here is what the water company had to say about the water tower.

Described as “the only perfect Corinthian column of its size in the world,” the Grand (“Old White”) Water Tower on 20th Street and Grand Avenue was built during the waterworks expansion led by Thomas Whitman (brother of poet Walt Whitman) following the Civil War. The 154-foot tower, designed by architect George I. Barnett, was completed in 1871 at a cost of $45,000. The tower is constructed of a brick shaft resting on a Chicago stone base and octagonal stone platform, topped with an iron capital cast in a leaf design. It was retired from service in 1912. In the 1920s and 30s, beacons placed atop the tower served as navigational aids to pilots seeking Lambert International Airport. Legend has it that Charles Lindbergh once used the lights to find his way home when he was lost in a Mississippi River fog. In 1933, after citizens objected to a recommendation that the monument be torn down, Mayor Bernard Dickmann came to the tower’s defense. “To wreck this tower would, to my mind, verge closely on an act of sacrilege,” the Mayor declared.

The Penrose Park Velodrome is an oval-shaped banked wall, asphalt paved, bicycling racetrack. It is one of only 22 in the country. It was built to replace a Velodrome in Forest Park that was torn down when Highway 40 was first constructed. Here is a nice piece on the Velodrome by KETC’s Living Saint Louis. I got out and did a couple of laps on the track. It did feel strange riding on the banked curves, but I never felt any slippage. We eschewed an extra mileage loop and drove due south towards the Central West End. Café Ventana the next rest stop was packed, so no coffee there. I had a sore throat, so I decided to bag the rest of the ride and head for home. Anne reluctantly accompanied me. We stopped for coffee at Forest Perk. There we met a nice couple from Peoria, who were in Saint Louis to visit their Marine son. They enjoyed Marine Week, because the various vehicles and equipment on display got their son talking about his tours in Iraq. Afterwards, I headed for home and got 30 miles. Anne held out and got 42 miles. I had ridden on Saturday, and then got 16 miles, so this gave me the most mileage for the weekend, but not the week, that would still be Anne’s. My weekend biking did power me to the lead of my fitness team, The Decibels, as part of the company’s fitness challenge.  

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