Night rider

No, not Knight Rider. Source
Sorry, running's another bike post, pretty much what you can expect at least through June 1.

One of the downsides of being on a team is when your teammates all live somewhere else.  That situation has left me spending a lot of time on the raod since I found Team Virtus, and while it's been totally worth it every time, all that driving gets old.  This weekend was a bit of a reprieve from all that, though, because Casey was in St. Louis for his son Austin's participation in the St. Louis FIRST robotics competition. Since teams from all over the world participate, it's kind of a big deal, enough so that the whole extended family was coming to watch.  With Luke and Casey already in town, it was the perfect opportunity for a ride, and with Chuck, Lori, Patrick, and Dave joining us, we had the makings of a fantastic group ride.

The robotics competition went on all day, so the guys couldn't start until 8:30.  That meant we'd be riding in the dark, but that's no big deal since we'll all spend plenty of nighttime hours in the saddle in just over a month. In fact, for me it was doubly helpful because a) I need the practice to get more comfortable with riding in the dark and b) I found out before Dirty Kanza that the clamp on my bike light doesn't fit my cross handlebars.  Good to know.

Night ride
Riding into Busch Wildlife while the sky looked like that 70% chance of rain was a good bet.
The group had 30-40 miles planned, and Patrick and I were supposed to meet Chuck, Lori, and Dave at 6:30 so we could get in some extra miles.  Thanks to me waiting til the last minute to find another set of straps for my bike rack, Patrick and I were 40 minutes late to meet the others and we only ended up with 7 extra miles before getting back to meet Luke and Casey at 8:30.  Once everybody was ready, we headed off down the Hamburg Trail.

Luke had to miss our March graveyard gravel grinder, so we took the guys past a couple of the cemeteries that were just off the trail.  It was just a hair spookier at night than it was during our rainy day ride.  We cruised down Hamburg and onto the Katy Trail towards Defiance, taking a little detour onto the Femme Osage loop and stopping for a snack up on top of the levee.  Then it was back onto the Katy until we got to Matson

Casey had wanted hills, so Chuck took us up Matson Hill Rd, a mile long climb that starts out gentle and turns into something steep enough that it made me nervous driving up in Chuck's jeep this summer (granted, I'm a proven chicken, so take that with a grain of salt).  I rode until it started to get steep and then put a foot down.  I doubt I'd made it the whole way up, but I wasn't interested in trying to when it meant I'd have to ride back down.  Chuck, Luke, and Casey ground their way to the top while the rest of us stood around at the trailhead and snacked.

Once the guys cruised back down, we hung out for a while, talking, snacking on Casey's delicious homemade trail mix, and taking some pictures.

Night ride
Team Virtus missing man formation.  It kinda looks like Casey's holding the invisible man's junk.  Awkward.

Night ride
Hanging out was fun, but it got chilly standing around, so we hopped back onto our bikes and headed towards Weldon Spring again.  The group split up before Lost Valley, with Lori, Patrick, and Dave riding up the Hamburg Trail and Chuck, Luke, Casey, and I riding the Lost Valley doubletrack.  Just getting to Lost Valley was a bit of a challenge for me.  We had to cross under a waist-level bar gating the road.  The guys got off their bikes and rolled them below the bar.  For whatever reason I decided to cross while straddling my bike and sort of limbo-ing underneath.

I'm not particularly flexible or coordinated, so this plan was moderately doomed from the start.  Scooting my bike below the gate and leaning way over to the side, I decided to grab onto the bar and kind of swing myself under and through.  As I put my weight on the bar, it moved slightly, pulling me off balance.  Now my feet were all tangled up in my toppled bike and all of my weight was on my arms as I clung to the bar to keep from falling.  My wonderful friends stood there laughing at me and looking for a camera before realizing I was the one holding it, but they did as if I needed help (affirmative) and rescue me from my predicament.  My face and stomach hurt afterwards from laughing so hard.

We rode into Lost Valley and then up the first climb, which was surprisingly not bad except for getting crop dusted by Luke the whole way up.  For whatever reason, I think that climb is easier on my cross bike than my mountain bike.  Of course we had to stop at the gate to play.

Night ride
Getting ready for takeoff
Night ride
Man in looks like it's going slow, but it feels fast as you come around.
Night ride
Bashing the stopper tree.
We all rode away with new bruises from slamming into the gate as it hit the tree on the other side of the trail.  Luke's was the most impressive; he managed to shave all of the hair (and some skin) off of a strip of his shin.  The doubletrack led back to a big descent, which the boys cruised down and I crept down.  Being a huge chicken isn't just a blow to my ego; it also steals me of the momentum I'd have climbing right back up the hill at the bottom.  Even so, while in March I only was able to ride my cross bike about halfway up that final climb, on this ride I made it within about 15 feet of the top and just kind of gave up. Lame, and yet encouraging. 

We met back up with the others in the parking lot, and our good intentions of riding an 18-mile loop at Busch Wildlife were derailed by a case of beer and good company.  We spent enough time hanging out and visiting that we could've ridden the extra miles, and eventually the clock hit 2:30 and we decided maybe it was time to head home.  I was really glad to have Patrick's company and conversation to help massive amounts of caffiene keep me awake for the drive, and I was even more glad to wheel my bike into the house and climb into my warm bed.

30 miles of gravel and fun friends.  What a great night.


  1. That ride looks like a lot of fun! BTW, if you want a spare headlamp (or one mount somewhere else to turn on when needed ) for DK200, you can borrow mine.

    That robotics competition was a big deal. On my way home Thursday I sat next to someone flying in from DC looking to find ways to secure funding for high school robotics teams. The cost to fund a high school team is just north of six grand!

  2. Ah, I miss night rides :) Though mine have never included beer! I'll have to come tag along for one of your sometime.

  3. 1st...what on earth is that anonymous post about? Yikers...looked like a foreign language! fun and humorous; even the crop dusting comment (which reminds me of the fun I have at working with 15 plus men!)! You have referred to yourself as "a proven chicken" but I never see that (or feel it) from reading your blog! LOL I see you as brave and courageous!

    Also...that first picture you posted today needs to be blown up and put on canvas! AWESOME photo; great colors, great subject matter, and could also be made into a wonderful black and white photo...

  4. Never apologize on my account for biking posts. My reports from Maine were 3-4 words for my runs and mostly about my bike rides!
    Where is the video of you on that gate? Yikers!
    I had a great ride today with my husband. This week was the best bike riding ever! Or at least in many months. So glad it's spring.

  5. Looks like you're getting all set for Leadville 100 mtb. Can't wait! :)

  6. I think we must hang out. I love how your life seems like a constant adventure! Great pictures and recap as always.


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