The searing summer heat gave way just in time for our annual bicycle ride across Missouri. A 10 year tradition for The Biker Babes, this ride often occurs on or around my birthday. And, apparently I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than accumulating an inch of trail dust on bike and body, sweating, hydrating, consuming trail snacks chased by a little trail dust, balancing electrolytes, trying to keep my bike upright and out of the ditches whilst swatting at mosquitoes for 225 miles or so. I love it!
The Katy Trail is like Missouri's very own Route 66 for cyclists and hikers, featuring Missouri's natural wonders, rich rolling farmland, scenic Missouri River bluffs, and wonderful little whistle stops.
Psyched for the ride, we did all the right things to prepare. Bikes checked out and well maintained, gear all ready, bodies well hydrated and all carbed up, we headed out from our motel rooms early on day one to hit the trail for a 73-mile ride. Knowing that we would be pulling plenty of long hills, we were ready to give it our best. We were ready to rock and roll.
We took the scenic route through town, another story altogether, before heading for the Katy Trail. And, then the unthinkable happened…a car turned into one of our riders at an intersection and we had a biker down. Shocked to our core, we imagined the worst.
Fortunately, our rider was okay, save for a few bruises. Not so, her bike. Before the ride had even started, we'd had a near miss and an ailing bike.
And the tone had been set for our four-day ride. Before the ride was over, we were to experience eight flat tires and a busted chain, a thunderstorm resulting in mud-caked bikes and bodies, a lost bike rack fixture, visits to three bike shops and two hardware stores, and a dwindling sense of humor.
On the morning of day four, it occurred to us that we seemed to have lost the spirit of the annual bicycle ride. We were mostly focused on the problems the ride had presented and nearly missed all the blessings and beauty along the way.
- We seemed to have forgotten the reason that we ride, which is to celebrate that we can.
- We had failed to notice that Missouri was giving us her most glorious four days to enjoy.
- We neglected to appreciate that our maintenance problems occurred in places where help was accessible, rather than the more remote spots along the 225-mile-long trail.
- And, most of all, we were forgetting that there were no injuries from the day one auto/bicycle collision.
The trail has always been a great place to clear the cobwebs and sort through life's challenges. We consider it a great outdoor classroom, a place to learn useful things and unlearn things that no longer serve us.
Reflecting on our ride at our favorite ice cream shop, we were reminded of all the things that are good and right in our lives and that our problems are much easier to solve when we remember the positives.
We left the trail promising not to let a single ice cream shop pass us by, and remembering that it's all good!