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.

A Perfect Day!

A Woman Outstanding in Her Own Field

We drove to Collinsville, IL, just across the river and enjoyed a wonderful day of cycling in the country. We biked to Edwardsville and back, with a little extra backtracking to retrieve a lost water bottle. Bonus miles! The field of yellow flowers that Anne is standing before is rapeseed and is grown for its canola oil. We rode in Madison County that has literally hundreds of miles of rails-to-trails bike paths. I had to invoke Google maps to navigate their labyrinth around Edwardsville and when we exited the paths in downtown Edwardsville, Google dumped us on a brick paved street, pavé. One nice feature of these trails are their numerous tunnels that cross under busy thoroughfares and facilitate car free cycling. There is no need to dodge traffic. We counted eleven on our route. They are usually very dark, especially while wearing sunglasses on such a brilliant day so that diving into one is almost like taking a leap of faith into a black hole. We lunched at Foundry Public House. Anne had a flatbread dish, while I had a burger and Greek fries, which are cooked with olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, and grated Mizithra cheese. Yummy!

Bridge Birthday Bash

Dandelions at Night

Dandelions at Night

Saturday night, we made it to the botanical gardens for the second iteration of the Chinese lantern festival. I liked these dandelion sculptures when I first saw them during the day, but they are positively glowing at night. We both took plenty of photographs at the festival, so expect to see more of them.

Today was another big bike riding day, with Trailnet’s Bridge Birthday Bash, held at the old Chain of Rocks Bridge. We did the long route for 53 miles. I am finally beginning to believe that we will be able to do our big Michigan bicycle ride this summer, without dying. The Mississippi River is in full flood, but we crossed it, twice. A number of the trails along the river were flooded, but we were able to detour around them. It rained and we got wet, but we persevered. At ten minutes to three, we were the last two riders to finish, but we finished and Anne is happy, so I’m happy too. It’s just that my butt isn’t very happy right now, but it will get over it.

Hamel’s Haven

"Weezy's Route 66" Menu Cover Showing Hamel, IL, Mid-20th Century

“Weezy’s Route 66” Menu Cover Showing Hamel, IL, Mid-20th Century

Big bicycle day today, 50 miles and still feeling fine and hoping to do it again tomorrow. We rode the bicycle trails of Madison County today, which include many bike bridges, but also many bike tunnels too. We put-in at the Collinsville trailhead and then rode through Glen Carbon, Marine, Hamel and Edwardsville and then back again to the car. We had lunch at Weezy’s Route 66, which is a bar in Hamel. I took a photo of their menu, for the picture with this post. The building on the right is where Weezy’s is now. It shows an electric trolley passing through town. This trolley must have hauled tourist from Saint Louis out into the country, for a little fresh air. There are the remains of this elevated trolley line that started in the near north side of downtown Saint Louis and crossed the Mississippi on the McKinley Bridge. Part of it has already been converted to an elevated bike trail and there are plans to do the rest of the line and make it into something like NYC’s High Line someday. We also saw Kaldi’s team members Bob and Evelyn, who were also out on their bikes in Madison County. The weather was so beautifully cool today and dry too for a change. Anne called it cabin weather.

OMG, Strife Tried to Kill Me Today

Strife on the Nickel Plate

Strife on the Nickel Plate

OMG and I don’t mean the usual, “Oh My God” use for this acronym, but instead are referring to Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Those OMGs had a bit of a dustup down in Waco a little while back. Where more than a few cyclists were lost at the Twin Peaks that day. I guess that’s why our little gang’s enforcer, Strife, launched our death march ride today. Maybe she had a tribute ride in mind? Maybe she was just getting all fury road? I don’t know. When Strife says ride, I don’t ask where to, but instead just throw my leg over the cycle, get my motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, in whatever way it comes, with her. We were born to be wild! But then we got old. Our little ride today, turned into a real three-hour tour. We’re too small a gang to have a cool name like the Diablos or the Cossacks, after all it’s just Strife and me, but when we ride we’re always ready to rumble. Our little OMG is not so much a motorcycle gang as it is a MCT-cycle gang. The MCT stands for Madison County Trails, where there are hundreds of miles of rails-to-trails bike routes. Still, you don’t want to find yourself down some dark Madison County bike path, trapped between a bollard and us. I’m just saying.

Getting Out Of Town

1955 Chevy Belair Hood Ornament

1955 Chevy Belair Hood Ornament

Yesterday, Anne was off from school, so she had arranged a visit with Sharon, a friend from her Corps of Engineers days. They went to Kimmswick, a boutique Mississippi River town, south of Saint Louis. Anyway, it got her out of the city for the first time in a while and she liked it, she really liked it. Today, after Dave left to hang with his buddies and it was time for us to go bicycling, Anne announced that she wanted to get out-of-town again. We loaded up the bikes and headed across the river to Illinois.

We put-in at Collinsville, rode up to Edwardsville, circled round to Horseshoe Lake and then back to Collinsville. We saw fellow Team Kaldis members, Bob and Evelyn on the trails. They were doing the same loop as we were, only in reverse. Horseshoe was overrun with coots. When we got back to the car, there was a vintage car show getting underway at the neighboring Culver’s, a fast-food place. After we ate, we toured the cars. This show will make for a great warm-up for tomorrow’s annual Easter car show in Forest Park.