Bike MS Recap

Bike MS – 1st Day

Well we’re done. This year’s Bike MS ride ended more with a whimper than not. Saturday was great! Perfect weather and even with our limited training this year, we still did well. The after ride party on Saturday night was fun too. We cleaned up on door prizes. But then there was Sunday, which was a bit of a washout. We got up at five and struck the tent in record time, which was a good thing, with flashes of lighting on the horizon and the deluge that began at six. Forty days of practice this summer paid off. We got soaked waiting around for the bike locker to open, but at least the camping gear was dry. We ate breakfast and waited around until seven, when it was pretty clear that they would not be letting anyone go anytime soon. So, we loaded the bikes on the car and headed for home, which we made, with just enough time to off load the Prius and not a moment to spare. It proceeded to rain for most of the morning.

Saturday was fun though. We did the team mass start and for one moment I was in the lead. Then slowly, but surely, they all passed us, along with almost all the other riders. Our route took us down to the river road that parallels the Illinois. We followed it north until Grafton and then veered inland and uphill. It was a killer hill. We both ended up walking it. On the second toughest hill, I walked, but Anne rode it to the top. I learned later that her mantra was, “Don’t puke. Don’t puke.” Which she didn’t. You go girl! We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and quit at lunch, which was conveniently back where we had started. I got my first professional massage, which I am still trying to figure out whether I liked or not. Dinner, then the team party and in bed by nine on a Saturday night. Sounds lame, right? Our team tent was the only one still going, when we left. Being so much closer to Saint Louis than Columbia, the old venue, it appears that most people left in the afternoon and never came back.  

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

The Friday of Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of the Gateway Cup bicycle races. This end of summer ritual is high season for cycling, what with the Bike MS ride occurring the following weekend. Last year, like many previous years, we had a dinner date with our friends Don and DJ. Last Sunday, having returned to town after a summer long exodus, I had a thought that I should ask them, if they wanted to meet us again this year. I was still planning on acting on this thought, when on Monday, I received word that Don had died on Sunday night. I was shocked. We had had lunched with him in May, just before we left town. I could tell that he had lost some cognitive capabilities, but he was still fully ambulatory and could converse. I learned later that very shortly after that lunch, his health began to rapidly deteriorate. He was 78.

I met Don in 1980, when I moved to Saint Louis. We both worked for Control Data and he was lead analyst at McDonnell Douglas, where we also both worked. Then, he would deliver my paycheck. We worked together off and on over the next ten years. Most closely as part of a sales team that was calling on the University of Illinois. I eventually left CDC, which by then had earned the nickname constantly diminishing corporation and we lost touch for a while.

Don reached out to me later, when he got into bicycling. I was going great guns with the sport then, but with his natural athletic abilities, he soon eclipsed me. Around Don, formed a cadre of former CDC employees and new friends that teenage Dave took to calling the Ons: “Dave, did anyone call for me?” “Yea.” “Who?” “I don’t know, one of the Ons (Don, John, Ron).”

We rode together almost every weekend. Mostly doing organized rides. On one of these rides, I was present when Don and DJ met. Another ride was the MS-150. We all joined the TWA charity bike team and when the company TWA folded, Don took the lead and reformed its members as Team Kaldi’s. His years in sales and his way with people made him a natural leader in this field. His first year out, the jersey that he commissioned won first prize for its design. He and DJ grew the team to the point that it was the largest team here in Saint Louis, both in number of people and in funds raised. It was the first team in Saint Louis to top a million dollars in funds raised, out raising all the area’s corporate titans. I was at the DeMun Kaldi’s when I first heard the news of Don’s passing.

We had dinner last night with DJ, at Polite Society. As you can tell from the photo, it was a dark and stormy night. As we walked back to the car, the only people still out were the racers, who were riding in the rain, and their immediate circle. All the fair weather fans had fled. Don always did right by me. He was a good man. He touched a lot of lives. He will be missed. 

Down on the Bayou

It is the morning of day four of Cycle Zydeco. Yesterday was tough, headwinds all the way. The wind got to everyone. One cyclist got into an argument with a volunteer and the cops were called. The pavement was as rough as ever. Anne got a blister on her palm from all the chatter-bump. We’re in sugar cane country now. We stopped at a plantation and the great-great-great granddaughter of its 1840s builder came out to greet us. Saw the still living oak where the real life lover protagonists of Longfellow’s poem Evangeline were purported to have met. Camped in the city park of New Iberia, which was throwing its Spanish festival. It’s not all about the French. Danced a little. Today is the last day of the tour. Motel tonight in Lafayette. We should have a tailwind.

New Orleans

Anne in the French Quarter

4/26/82 – We made it! New Orleans just like I pictured it. We finally kicked off from La Pace. 61 was the pits as expected. Once we got in the city and figured out our way, things worked out well. Canal (or Carnival) was unexpectedly nice. The French Quarter is nice, but expensive. Lot’s of nice stores, oysters and gumbo. Toured the Saint Louis Cathedral (pictured in the background), with killer oil paintings. Jackson Square is full of hawkers. The room is over priced ($38.50) at half the price. Called home collect. Ate well at Harry’s place and Gumbo Shop.

This post is another blast from the past. We’re still riding Cycle Zydeco in the present day. We’ll not be headed to New Orleans on this trip, but instead plan on driving the Natchez Trace. Check comments for any live updates.

Nottoway Plantation

Nottoway Plantation

4/25/82 – Thank God for Daylight Savings Time! We spent a lot of time (and money) and enjoyed it. The tour is good, as is the food. Riding the River Road was enjoyable in the early afternoon. Just after the Hermitage it rained briefly, getting us wet and muddy. Late afternoon and evening was press on regardless. It was dark by the time that we made the motel. In Reserve a sheriff’s car, through its loudspeaker, told us to get off the road and ride on the sidewalk, which was the pits! We cut up to 61 and used the shoulder instead. We spent $23.06 for lunch and $23.50 for the motel room. My Coke habit was up to $1.50 a day at this point. Anne always separated out my soda expenses in disapproval.

We are currently riding Cycle Zydeco. I pre-positioned this post in case poor cell coverage prevented me from posting is real time. I may miss a post or two. 

Last Week Tonight in Bicycling

Madison County Cycling

We biked a respectable 35 miles on Saturday. It was a beautiful day, with crystal blue skies. Our sense of respectability comes with our goal, riding Cycle Zydeco in Louisiana. This four-day tour comes with a nominal 40 miles of biking each day. I feel that we’ve trained hard enough now to do it.

We each wore matchy-matchy bike jerseys and jackets. We certainly turned some heads with our fashion, which is easy to do with our ‘rapid’ closing speed. Anne’s coordinated orange helmet worked way better than my contrasting red one, but then she is the diva after all.

We’ll up our game for Zydeco and festoon ourselves with some of our ample supply of Mardi Gras beads and artificial flower leis. Other cyclists will have way more in decorations. Cycle Zydeco does bill itself as the best party on a bike. I’m confident with our biking abilities, but I’m now worried about our dancing. The ride’s bill reads biking by day and dancing at night, every night. There is a class offered in Zydeco dancing, which we plan on attending. I hope that our stamina holds out, because it sounds like a whole lot of fun.