2013 Gateway Getaway
It’s so nice to be on a team where all I have to do is show up. Certainly there’s a little preparation that goes into pulling my biking and camping gear together, but it’s nice to be a part of a team that takes care of most of the other details. Bryan Sechrist, the captain of Team Christner, coordinates with other key contributors to the team to create a comfortable experience for rest of us. Friday night we had catered barbeque and three different home brews, plus the company of good people.
As it turns out, I didn’t ride with the team in any of the many team rides departing from The Hub in Webster Groves almost every Saturday morning. The truth is, it was such a busy summer that I hardly rode at all to prep for “the big ride.” Since my long-time riding partner Harold moved into the City, the geographic proximity we enjoyed all these years was no longer there, and so I found myself riding alone more often than not. Which, for a people-person like me, is never as enjoyable as sharing a ride with a friend.
Harold made plans to leave Columbia to go west after the event, so we drove down separately. As the timing worked out, we arrived at our camp site within minutes of each other, even though we never saw each other on the highway. The weather was nice, and once we pitched the tent we were able to relax in the team tent and have dinner, while test-tasting a rich barley wine along with a honey wheat and a hefeweisen. It was good to refamiliarize ourselves with our teammates from last year.
Saturday’s ride started out wonderfully, with a stiff tailwind that made it easy to ride 20 mph. As much as we enjoyed that, there was a gnawing dread to know that this would turn into a stubborn headwind that we would curse that afternoon. In fact, that headwind felt a bit like a blowdryer as temperatures climbed well into the 90’s after lunch. I don’t ever recall seeing so many un-sanctioned rest stops along the road, particularly at the top of the various hills we had to climb. So it was a test of fortitude, and it was a very welcome site to finally arrive at the finish line. After a warm shower and a free massage in the VIP tent, we enjoyed a nice evening back in Team Christner’s tent.
Sunday morning the storms rolled through, and delayed the start of the ride until nearly 8:30. Literally thousands of people were holed up in what is referred to as The Hub at the newly-renamed Central Missouri Events Center. There people sipped on coffee or
juice, and maybe had an extra pancake or two while we waited for the rain to pass. Given the late start and the anticipated heat and humidity that afternoon, a small group of us elected to shave off about 20 miles from Sunday’s 75-mile route by taking an obvious short cut. It just seemed like the sensible thing to do!
I witnessed a very disturbing accident on Saturday that reminds me how quickly things can happen, and the importance of riding predictably and keeping a comfortable distance between bikes. Two riders on the same team collided when the woman in front made a somewhat erratic move in front of her partner behind her, and in no time both bikes were a mangled mess of metal and bodies on the ground. The young woman was injured fairly badly, with bleeding from an unidentified source near the back of her head. The shock of the event left her confused and disoriented about what had even happened. Thankfully several cyclists who happened to be medics arrived on the scene within minutes of the accident, offering professional guidance about minimizing her movement and checking her vital signs. We stayed to offer shade and support (and my bandana for a makeshift bandage!) until the ambulance arrived. Needless to say, this was a slightly scary reminder about the importance of bicycle safety.
If you’ve read this far, I’ll thank you for taking the time to read about this ride that I’m so committed to. Over the years, I’ve heard stories about friends and loved ones with MS, and have added these names to my MS bandana as a reminder of why I ride. This debilitating disease affects the lives of millions of people, and I remain hopeful that we’ll eventually find ways to treat and ultimately cure people with MS. Thank you for your support if you have made a donation; if not, please consider making an online donation using the link below.
All the best,
P.S. For a little better idea of what the ride is like, check out my friend Harold’s video!