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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hello daylight-saving time!

four cyclistsTo celebrate the return of daylight-saving time and to celebrate the birthday of Doug Kaufman -- albeit three weeks late -- we rode our bikes 42 miles from Alton, Ill., to Pere Marquette State Park on Sunday.

This amazing crew -- Brad Weisenstein, Roger "The Answer Man" Schlueter, yours truly and Doug -- decided to ignore common sense and ride all the way to the park's lodge for lunch. Since most of us had very few outdoor miles in 2007, it would have made more sense to ride the 26-mile round trip from Alton to Grafton. But since it was such an amazing day and since we had an extra hour of sunlight, we decided to go for broke.

Before we left Brad's house about noon, Doug had tried to tell me that I should ride my mountain bike instead of my road bike. Yes, I knew from plenty of first-hand experience that taking a road bike on the trails along the Great River Road often means a flat tire, but I took the road bike anyway.

Not surprisingly, Doug was right. About 19 miles into the mile, I had a flat. We couldn't find a piece of glass or a rock in the tire, so I wasn't sure what caused it. Although the path along the trail is paved, there's usually lots of debris on it. I know the locals don't like it, but I can understand why a lot of the people who ride road bikes in that area take the road rather than the trail.

Brad already was in jovial mood before the flat, singing such '70s classics as "Cherokee People." I can't remember whether it was Doug or Roger S. who said that we needed a handyman to help me with my flat, but that inspired Brad to start singing "The Candy Man."

"Who can take a sunrise. Sprinkle it in dew. Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two? The Candy Man. ... The Candy Man can. The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good."

"Now you got that stupid song in my head," Doug told Brad.

Unfortunately, that song stayed in Brad's head, too, and he kept singing it much of the rest of the way back to Alton.

Pere MarquetteAfter a filling meal at the Pere Marquette Lodge, we pointed our trusty steeds back toward Alton. Now the trip back home took a bit longer than the trip to the lodge because of the wind, the fact we didn't have enough outdoor miles under our belts before this ride, among other things.

Those other things were a big flock of migrating pelicans that found a temporary home in the shallow waters of the Mississippi River near Piasa Harbor. I didn't get a count, but there were easily several hundred pelicans making their temporary home here before continuing north toward Canada. We also found a great blue heron or two, along with several other birds taking advantage of the sources of food.

orange jerseyFor a brief time, it was even warm enough for me to shed my jacket and show off my brand new orange jersey that Doug gave me for Christmas.

"At least you don't have to worry about any hunters shooting at you," Doug said.

Yes, but I will have to worry about people like Doug giving me lots of grief for this extremely loud orange jersey. Even with Doug shooting into the sun with the Illinois River in the background, you can see how bright it is. You can only imagine how it stands out in the sunshine.

The ride left my wrists, shoulders and butt sore and my legs tight, but all those things shall pass. As my old friend Linda Bowden once said, it was "shock therapy" to get all the cycling muscles back into gear. I'm looking forward to some good riding the next few weeks to get me ready for the Oklahoma FreeWheel ride in June.

P.S.: Thanks to Doug for providing the photos from this fine ride!

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Roger 2 comments links to this post 12:44 AM

Comments:
That orange jersey even outshines your yellow jacket -- that thing is brilliant!
 
Bright colors are good. The more visible you are to drivers on the roadways, the better. A driver just getting a glimpse of that jersy in the distance, going around a corner, or over the crest of a hill, could alert an unwary driver to your presence.
 
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