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Thursday, June 2, 2016

May 2016

Another semester and academic year came to a close.  It's always bittersweet.  My plant field biology class was really just starting to bond.  After final exam week and commencement, I've begun working on the house.  I started with some little things, then progressed to some exterior painting.

Savannah and I had been planning to go on some big bike rides this summer.  We had already committed to the Pedalers Jamboree.  We also wanted to bike the week-long Big BAM this year, but we would need road bikes for that.  One day Savannah found a used racing bike at the local bike shop, and it was just her size.  She got a good deal on it (Felt ZW95). Then I had to intensify my search for a road bike.  After following several dead ends, I found a really nice on on Craigslist for a good price.  I never owned a Fuji before, but this one was a high tech machine.  I didn't even know how to shift it at first. Bikes have changed a lot over the years.

We've been taking regular training rides to try to get into shape.  On one of our first ones, she rode into a cloud of gnats.  I think she got a mouthful.  I managed to dodge them.  After we both got our road bikes we set out on a 22-mile paved route, but we hadn't gone a mile before she got a flat tire.  Fortunately, I had prepared in advance by mounting a pump on my bike and carrying a patch kit.  We had the flat nearly fixed when Savannah turned the pump a bit too far and broke the valve stem.  Game over.  I rode home, brought back a vehicle, and carried her and the bike home.  While we were wheeling them back into the basement, I said, "Watch out for that dog turd."  We decided to switch to our mountain bikes.  While we were wheeling those out, Savannah ran over the dog turd with her front tire, which was also flat.  Clearly, it was not her day.  She hosed off the tire, we fixed the flat and were on our way.

We often comment on the roadkills.  There are the usual raccoons, opossums, and odoriferous skunks.  There are quite a few cats these days, and the occasional snake.  Usually, we play music on a bluetooth speaker driven by my phone.  I have a playlist of bicycle-related songs to give us motivation.  After those ran out, I was playing my list of dog related songs when we were, ironically, chased by a couple of dogs.  A big yellow lab joined me on the road.  He was kind of heavy, so I thought I could outrun him, but he kept pace pretty well.  He had some aggressive growls and barks going, but I yelled at him and he whimpered and broke off pursuit.  But his buddy was a much faster white dog on the other side of the ditch, and I was sure I couldn't outrun her.  I yelled some more, and I guess the owners were yelling too, and she gave up.  All the while, "Dog Eat Dog" (the Adam and the Ants version) was playing.  More irony.  After that, my legs were kind of toasted, but we had mostly tailwinds after we got to La Grange.  I got a gatorade at the Casey's, since I had left my freshly filled water bottle in the kitchen.

I spent one day out at Lowell's.  We tried and failed to repair two lawn mowers.  So we went fishing.  The bite was pretty good, and I was catching a lot of small bass.  At the end though, and good 18-inch lunker bit my lure and made my day.

Rainy weather was forecast for the Pedalers Jamboree.  I wanted to outfit our bikes with fenders, but new ones are costly, and I didn't have time to make nice wooden ones.  Like a timely miracle, a member of the Quincy Bike Club had a stack of them to give away.  She let me pick through them and get enough to outfit all our bikes.  I picked up some mounting hardware from the local bike shop and was able to get a complete set of fenders installed on Savannah's mountain bike before we left.  It required some modification, fabrication and exasperation.  On a test ride, she didn't like the way they rattled and asked me to take them off.  I convinced her to try them for a day at least.  Sheesh.  My mountain bike has 29-inch wheels, so none of the regular fenders would fit.  There was a chromed steel stubby thing that I was able to mount on the front fork.  I knew it wouldn't block much, but it was better than nothing.

We headed down to Boonville with the motorhome pulling the Lil Egg.  We parked in the lot of the Isle of Capri Casino, which is only a few blocks from Kemper Park.  There are no hook-ups, but we stayed for free.  We wandered the town and had a beer. Savannah cooked dinner in the RV. Without shore power, we could not use aire conditioning, but it was cool enough at night.  On Saturday morning we had a light breakfast and loaded all that we would need into the Lil Egg. I had realized early that I had forgotten to bring any biking shorts with me, in spite of having 4 or 5 pairs.  Fortunately, Savannah had an extra pair that were too big for her anyway.  They fit me a little funny, but did the job.  I guess I was cross-dressing all weekend.  The bikes were already on the roof rack.  We drove to Columbia, unloaded the bikes and parked the car.  We began at the official start, where I ran into Mike Dennehy, the tour organizer.  The beginning of the ride is always the best, as it is cool, shaded, and the path is paved.  We got off to a much earlier start this year than last.  I also have a bluetooth speaker, which we used to blast our specially curated playlist of biking songs.  The first act we saw was a one-man band called Dance Monkey Dance in Huntsdale.  He was pretty good, even with a trombone.  On to Rocheport!  On the way, we stopped to see the champion burr oak again.  In Rocheport we saw a band I like a lot.  Currently called Hounds, they were Clock Work when I saw them last year for Big BAM.  They rocked.  We had lunch there and moved on.  At one point, we stopped and I helped a guy fix a flat on his bike.  He had a pump and I had a patch kit.  Having just fixed one recently, I was in good practice.  I found the hole in the tube and completed the repair.  We saw them later and the tire was still holding air.

We arrived at New Franklin so early that the band wasn't playing yet and the beer tent wasn't set up.  It gave us a long rest.  Two ladies came rolling in with custom bikes.  One was decked out in a wine theme, with corks glued to everything and an actual small cask on the rack.  Her costume was complete with a Carmen Miranda-style hat full of fruit.  She actually dispensed free wine to people.  The other was a mermaid theme, with the front end of a manikin on the handlebars and a whale tail on the rear.  Finally, we heard the Royal Furs, who were a pretty good rock band.  The lead singer was a tiny thing, and she played the theramin, which you don't see every day.

We rode into Boonville a little tired, but in much better condition than we had last year. We were so early that we took a nap, though a fairly sweaty one.  We had leftovers from the night before, and headed over to the park.  The first band, the Mighty Pines, was already playing.  We had a couple of beers and some pie and ice cream.  The second artist was a woman named Flint Eastwood.  She was a great singer with a lot of passion.  She liked to get the crowd involved.  Then came Shrub, a reggae band from Ohio. They had actually parked their RV next to ours at the Casino.  We didn't have much appreciation for their sound though.  Next came a fire artist, who was good and funny, but we couldn't see much of him because of everyone standing up front.  Finally, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band came on.  They're a funk band with maybe 6 or 8 people on stage, including a horn section.  Unfortunately, by then the night had turned quite cold and clammy.  We heard a few of their songs, then walked back to the RV to crash.  We could still hear their bass parts through the windows.

We slept well and got up in plenty of time to make the pancake breakfast at the park.  When we got back to the RV, the drummer from Shrub was wandering around looking for their RV.  When he found it wasn't there anymore (we had seen them leaving the park at breakfast), he called somebody and didn't sound happy.  We saddled up and headed out again on the Katy Trail.  I felt pretty good but probably pushed it too hard.  By the time we got to Rocheport, my butt was hurting and my knees were complaining.  The Missouri River had come up even more overnight and flooded the grounds, the stage was sitting in two feet of water. They ultimately pulled it out with a tractor. They set up the sound equipment on dry ground, and the band played on.  Two guys named Steve.  One was a really good acoustic guitar player, the other a singer.  They were quite good, and we saw their whole show.  That gave me a good rest, and I felt pretty good for the next 10 miles.

The rising Missouri had flooded parts of the trail.  Savannah kept perfectly dry with her fenders, while I got splashed.  We saw lots of aquatic turtles in the adjacent wetlands, and even a box turtle on the trail.  Some parts of the trail were lined with thick stands of spiderwort, as well as some white beardtongue.  I also found that when covered with sunscreen and sweat, swarms of tiny gnats that you encounter will just stick to you. I am a giant sticky trap.  When we got to Katfish Katy's at Huntsdale, we were disappointed to learn that they had no food tent.  We got bananas and snacks to tide us over.  They also had some great lemon shandy.  The band, Jenny Teator and the Fevers, was really good.  Too bad we were roasting in the sun.  When their set was done, we took off again.  As we approached Columbia, the battery on my bluetooth speaker finally died,  only 5 or 6 songs short of the complete playlist and a few miles short of the end.  Tragic.

We arrived triumphantly in Columbia, and looked around in a bike shop before we loaded up the car.  We stopped at a Taco Bell for a lunch of about the quality one expects from Taco Bell, and highballed it back to Boonville.  It didn't take long to hook the Lil Egg back up to the RV and get out of town. I started getting sleepy around Moberly and Savannah took over driving.  We arrived home smelly, but no worse for wear.

The next day, Memorial Day, the Quincy Bicycle Club was having a bike ride in support of cancer patients.  Stacey hauled me down to Hannibal so I could ride while she ran errands.  There were a lot of people there to take the ride, including my camera club friend Terry.  We joined the middle distance group for a planned 32 miles.  For the first 10 miles my legs felt pretty tight.  Then we had a rest stop.  I felt really good for the next 10, including a stop at the cemetery to pay respects at the grave of the woman for whom the ride was in memory.  The last 10 or so were very hilly.  The downhills were some of the fastest I've done in quite a while, but the uphills were the slow grind in first gear type.  Stacey picked me up, we got lunch and went home.

Savannah and I have done some training rides since.  We're still battling her flats, even after we got a new set of belted tires.

Next month: the Big BAM and the Big Move.

This month's photos: flowers, dogs and birds: