Wow, it is now more than two weeks since my last ride. This has been a slow summer on the bike with totals in early August only 1,021 miles on the road and a meager 42,504 feet of climbing. But don't start feeling too bad for me - this pitiful showing is mostly a result of having committed time to several trips, the latest being my visit to Kenya with Global Hope Network International.
If I compare my riding to where I was last year at this time, I'm down about 1,000 miles. But it has been worth it. Kenya was eye-opening and the trip gave me yet another chance to consider what might be done to help others who, I am sure, would be glad to be able to have recreational riding time to give up.
Still, I am home, the weather is good and my bike clearly needs to get back on the road. What could I do, but take it out? So, I set out on a ride where I'll try to recover from the time off and the long trip. And I thought maybe you'd like to come along; you know, so you could work out some of the kinks yourself. So, let's get going:
After getting the tire pressures to the 100 psi mark, mounting the computers and loading the water bottles we are ready for an afternoon trip down the Mississippi River road to Stoddard.
It is an easy three miles through town to the highway and we are soon heading due south along the river. The road is fairly busy but the shoulder is wide and the wind, for the moment, is at our backs.
The road swings over to parallel the river about six miles out. Dark green foliage and blue sky frame the view of the Father of Waters. There is less traffic and it seems as if the two weeks off have not taken too much of a toll. Or maybe it's the 15 mph tail wind. In any event, we roll along, enjoying the view.
After passing through the small town of Stoddard, we approach the climb up County O. Here is where we find part of the crowd that has come out to watch us. They do not seem too impressed, though, and it seems best if we just keep going.
Now comes the climb, not one of the hardest in the area. The road goes up through the trees, providing a chance now and then to look down on the farm below or, over our shoulders, back to the river. The road goes up, sweeps to the right then back to the left.
Eventually lifts us to the high point from which we can see Stoddard and the river to the west and a sweep of Amish farms on the other side; it is a good place to get off the bike and loosen up for the descent.
Turning around, I see my favorite sign. This is a good descent, although about half-way down the pair of bends in the road need to be negotiate carefully. There is usually gravel on the road at the first and the second is steeper with a tighter turn. A Tour de France rider would have no trouble here, of course. But not because they are better riders than I am. No, they get to ride on closed roads that have been swept of debris. For us who REALLY ride, there are no such perks.
Things are different on the ride back. The wind is still blowing, but not in a helpful way. And while the road is the same, the views are different when heading north.
We ALMOST retrace our route, but the end of the ride does mean we'll have to eat, so there is one stop to make before going home.
And there you have it, a short 27 mile ride with only one climb. Not epic in any sense of the word, but a nice re-introduction to riding after a couple of weeks and a short jaunt to Kenya.