|"We're not stalkers, we're fans..."|
I like football ok. I love a good football movie (especially if it stars Mark Wahlberg), and it was fun when the Rams won the
"Bring your bike," he advised, "You can ride the course." I liked that idea. Ever since watching my first cyclocross race last year I've been intrigued but too timid to try it out. Riding the course pre-race seemed like a nice, no pressure way to get my feet wet. Thoughts of bringing my bike led to thoughts of just riding to the race. It's only about 20 miles from my house, and I haven't been on my bike since finishing Thunder Rolls. With the Berryman Adventure rapidly approaching, it was time to get some time in the saddle. The fact that my son needed a car to drive to work just cemented my decision.
I had my own idea about the best way to go, but I also consulted the bike route function of Google maps. Once again, Google knew more than I did; its route was heavy on bike paths, included only a couple of road stretches (both far less traveled than my intended way), and was a mile shorter. Or would have been, if I were capable of following directions. :P
|Bike path 1|
|I like this bridge|
After leaving the bike path, Google directed me through refineryville. The roads were wide and relatively empty, but the scenery left a lot to be desired. And the smell? Oh, good grief. It ranged from bad to awful. I'm thankful I don't live in the olfactory shadow of the refineries.
|Imagine this on both sides for a looooooong stretch|
The refinery zone led me onto another bike path, this one on the levees along the Mississippi River. The first stretch, which I don't have pictures of, was in rough shape. Not sure if it's due to shifts in the levee or what, but the pavement was pretty cracked and torn up. The closer you get to Alton, though, the nicer the trail and the view get.
|Lock and dam 27 with the flags waving in the wind|
|Trying and failing to get a picture of the river in the background.|
|I love this bridge. I think it's so pretty.|
It always suprises me how enjoyable volunteering can be. You get to meet and see cool people, and it's nice to take the chance to give back every once in a while. It was fun to put faces to names I see on facebook or on race results, and because my bike clothes still go on over a nerdy girl who never quite feels like she belongs, especially at bike races, it was really nice to have a couple guys I totally admire as riders recognize me and say hi.
It was fun to get to watch the part of the race we could see from our registration table. I had slightly considered registering for the womens beginner race before my little commute was such a struggle, but seeing everybody ride the course reminded me why I'm still too timid to try it out. Boy, if ever a race style highlighted my weaknesses, this is it! Tight turns, all the dismounting/remounting...I'm so slow getting on and off my bike...it's ridiculous...and you should see the way these guys (and girls) jump on and go!
Still, while I was reaffirming my "no cyclocross, not yet" decision, I was also irritated with myself. Since when do I not do something fun just because I'll be bad at it? That would rule out pretty much every athletic thing I do (including the upcoming Prison Break race) and is so not the person I want to be. So...maybe...I'll think about racing one of the last two. Maybe.
And while I was pretty pleased with myself about riding to the race rather than driving there, two of the guys put me to shame. Peat and Anatoly rode about 38 miles to the race, raced TWICE, and then rode back home. Bad ass.