Posts Categorized: Fitness

To Creve Couer Park

After days at the gym, playing tennis, and cycling I had one request for this weekend’s ride. Keep it short. When I scoped out the trek, it seemed like a nice route biking north on Midland and following it all the way to the park. Maps and reality do not always go well together. The road turned into highway with no shoulder, lots of traffic and single lanes. For the most part it was okay, but not that pleasant. The bright side was making it to the park; it’s a large amount of land and offers a lot to see and do. We biked around the lake, had flashbacks to the 90’s due to the number of rollerbladers and nearly hit a few small children weaving around like drunks on their tiny bikes. Be prepared for slow, congested riding on the trail around the lake. In the end, I won’t be repeating this ride again, the traffic is annoying and biking past strip malls, gas stations, and fast food places lacks the aesthetic I usually go for (giant Jesus signs and adult novelty shop billboards are a popular addition to most Missouri roadways). What made the trip exciting though is that I tested out my road tires. Speed rules!

Route Map

— Mobile post

West County Ride

Meant to post this much sooner and actually have a compelling write up involving lightheadedness, jerks in a Porche honking and giving us the finger, the smells of fresh cut grass and diesel gas, never ending ascents, fast descents, spasmodic quads, beautiful weather, the taste of lemon-lime Gatorade on a parched throat, sprawling strip malls and gated communities, followed by downing water on my front porch, laying down in the sun with the breeze blowing and exhaustion solidifying my muscles. But all you get is this short description and a map of our ride. Next time will be better.

Riverfront Trail – Completion

This Sunday I revisited the Riverfront Trail. It was gorgeous weather, nothing like last week, and an all around fun ride. Biking from U. City we covered roughly 43 miles and crossed the river into Illinois. There are a few spots full of debris, and some ugly crossings over the roads, and this delightful obstacle where the path washed away. Made me think of Shel Silverstein and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Along the Riverfront Trail

I’ve heard the words, you should know better, often in my life and I’m sure I will hear them through the many stages I have yet to go through – marriage, fatherhood, aging, and death. These words have been spoken mostly from a place of love, so I harbor them no ill will, but more a grudging acceptance. You’re right. I should know better.

On Sunday, there was no one to speak these words to me, which is not a justification because if a family member or girlfriend spoke them, there are strong odds I would have ignored them. Stubbornness is one of those qualities that cuts across the grain. Tasks are accomplished, goals are achieved, but not everything that can be done should be done. These thoughts weren’t in the forefront of my mind on Sunday. Instead, I was thinking about the scrapped bike ride on Saturday because it rained for an hour and the roads were slick. I was thinking of being out on my road bike, feeling the wind against my face and the motion of my legs propelling me over the cement through neighborhoods in decay, among the canyons and cobbles of downtown St. Louis and along that wide meandering waterway, the Mississippi. Afterwards, there would be the sore legs, wobbly and light from use, exhilarated to have logged twenty-five to thirty miles. These were my thoughts. Forecasts and weather patterns predicted by excitable men in ill-fitting suits often turn out incorrect or caution us against the outdoors. Without television or Internet, I looked out the window and thought it looked alright out.

We biked through the Delmar Loop, the skies grey overhead and followed the road east toward the river. Storefronts transformed from buildings bustling with people to boarded up windows, vacant lots, signs weathered from years of humidity, freezing winters, and neglect. Somewhere we hung a right, turned again and caught Washington, passing the shell of a church it’s interior open to the sky as if it had been transplanted from a French village after World War II, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Fox Theatre, then the moment passed and the vibrant spike of life dipped back towards the melancholy trough of poverty and disuse. We climbed a long, slow hill, broke the top of it and descended into downtown where people packed the streets on a Sunday to participate in the festivities of the All-Star game, their cash spent on beer, mini-helmets, and baseballs for the kids. It began to drizzle, but we were so close.

The trail was paved and began among a cast of old industrial buildings along the waterfront. Rusted, corrugated, and looming, the buildings don’t let you forget this is an urban area even as the Mississippi crawls by on the East. We began to cycle on the trail, a smooth surface of asphalt separated with a painted line down the middle. The trail danced with the floodwall, a huge concrete barrier well suited for keeping out water or invading hoards from across the river. Passing through the flood gates, there was an ominous feeling, what if those gates were to close? It was easy to imagine. Sirens would wail. Lights would flash. Metal would grind in slow motion. Water full of tree limbs and debris would breach the banks; cyclists would be swept down toward Memphis, the Gulf, a warm flux caught between islands and cruise ships.

As we pedaled, the warm rain continued lightly, leaving our skin damp. We topped a berm, the earth piled against the wall, and paused. To the west stretched a storm-front gusting in from the plains. The wall of clouds appeared flat, a cross section of greys with a highlight of muddy yellow, perhaps from the sun edging along the outskirts. Beneath these clouds, the city sprawled in shadow. We pedaled on.

In the long run, maybe I did know better. That voice came from within this time. We should turn around. Continuing on with the mindlessness of nature the storm roiled nearer, we looped around, the sounds of the river shifting from right to left. Within moments the heavy rain started. A downpour opened over us. Then the wind hit. With the added speed, the water felt like hundreds of needles driven into our exposed skin. Trees thrashed. Leaves swirled. Water pooled on the trail, soaked into our clothes and shoes, forced us to tilt our heads against it and squint. Still, we pedaled on. Urgency fueled with fear. When we topped the berm again, we were thrown into the full force of the storm. The wind swept up over the weedy grass of the exposed hill, visible by the spray of water which flicked with the contours of the earth. It hit me and I felt fear. Not of closing flood gates, but of riding a metal frame through a thunder storm, of blowing off my bike and breaking an ankle or hearing the crack of a collar bone. I shifted into the wind. My body pitched at an angle, the drops popping on the plastic of my helmet. Gusts blew and I counterbalanced. Should I get off my bike and jog it off the hill? This idea was overridden by the desire to escape the storm as quickly as possible. I pushed myself. Hoped my friend was behind me, because looking back would have been one action too many. We rode down the hill, passed through a floodgate and were on the other side of the wall. An older man, much smarter than us stood in a niche, sheltered from the wind and rain. We passed by him, his gaze tracking our movements. Life on this side of the wall was different. The wind broke against concrete and steel, barred, it offered us a brief respite though the rain still managed to drown every inch of our skin. Our clothes heavier from the water stretched on our limbs.

At last, we ended up along the landing back in St. Louis. An emergency sign informed that the area was closed. We pedaled up the steep hill into the city, and stopped at the first bar we saw. With little deliberation, we locked the bikes, walked into the dark room. The Cardinals were losing to the Cubs in Chicago, the scene sunny and removed on the TV. We sat at a table near the door, thankful the floor and stools were solid wood as puddles formed from our dripping clothes and shoes.

We ordered beer and a platter of fries, our money soggy but still good. Nasty out there, the waitress said, made it in just in time. Yeah, we replied, shaking our heads as the scene replayed for both of us, and lightning cracked between the buildings. I drank my beer, thankful for a roof over head, for a friend with whom to toast my glass, thankful for a tomorrow when a loved one once again tells me the words I should heed.

Bike MS: Express Scripts Gateway Getaway 2009: New Bike

For those of you who know me, you know I’ve been talking about getting a new bike for months now. I currently have a Specialized Hard Rock, which I use as a commuting bike having stopped mountain biking after I left Tennessee.

For the MS150 ride, I’d like to get the Motobecane Fantom Cross Pro. Definitely need a road bike, and the cyclocross bikes seem the best for the kind of riding I’ll do in the future.

Good Day

Woke up at 5:30 and went jogging. Not writing, I know, but managed to shuffle out of bed, lace up the running shoes, start the coffee and head out for a quick jog with some friends. My knee has been bothering me a little bit again, so I’m trying to take it easy. Last year, I ended up injuring or straining my knee and it took a while for the recovery.
It’s in the 70’s this morning and should be in the 80’s for the day. Let’s hope it stays this way before the summertime heat settles in the bricks and concrete of St. Louis.