Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And they Call the Wind...Missouri

The Honeybees had a wonderful experience on the 9th of May riding 400K in Missouri. I call it wonderful because of the attitude of the riders we rode audax with was unbelievably positive and fun. It was as if we were riding with 8 John Lees or 8 Glen Werners clones. The reason their attitudes were so remarkable is that we had an unrelenting headwind for over half the 400K.

The course was incredibly pretty with everything being lush and green. The trees were huge with wildflowers and redbud trees in bloom. The hills were never ending, but we felt it was good for us to ride in different terrain. Flat areas had less trees and therefore the wind was unabated so it was a wash.

The group of 8 had a couple of unique characters. We began the ride in the back of Dale's car as the cold wind gusted outside. Brent asked me who Dale sounded like and I realized quickly that his voice sounded like Val Phelps (good friend). It was comforting in kind of a strange way to think Val would be accompanying us on our journey.

Brent and Spencer (Klaassen)

Then there was Spencer the "Wonderman". I dubbed him that when I realized that he was doing this on his fixed gear and he always rides this way. He thinks nothing of it and has done our Last Chance on it. Except for the hair color, he looked and acted a lot like Bob Fourney, another amazing cyclist. Spencer gave us the local history of northern Missouri, including relocated towns, Amish country, and Civil War lessons.

Amish couple riding to town

Speaking of interesting, the most "Colorful" of all was Dan. He prided himself in taking the skill of wheel sucking to a new level. With him it is almost an artform and he swells with pride when others pointed out that he does nothing but suck wheel. Brent tried to diplomatically tell him that if one wishes to sit one one's wheel all day, it is common courtesy to take even a short pull every once in a while. "Oh no" Dan responded in his thick Cajun accent, "Why would I want to do that. I might get tired!" We wondered when we first saw him and he exclaimed "Hot dog a tandem" as he jumped on our wheel, why the others in the group chuckled. "You go Dan" they said and he remained our shadow for most of the ride.

Riding at night in a strange place it is important that one learns the terminology. We saw something big dart out with glaring eyes in the dark. "Rat" was called out (biggest damn rat I ever saw) but soon found out it was a possum. There are also very friendly sheriffs on this route as two of them stopped to shine a light on our group when we flatted at night. I could tell they were all watching out for us as we traversed their county.

All in all the Missouri 400K was a blast! We met some characters, covered some miles, shared some stories, and found out randoneering in a new place can be quite rewarding and fun. You should try it!

Rando trash gathering at fine dining establishment

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