While Looking for a Quarter-Century, I Found a Half-Metric


Huh? 🙂

This morning, I’d planned to ride before the temperature rose too much. However, at 6am, it was already 80, and only headed higher. I didn’t let that dissuade me from throwing everything in (and on) the truck, and heading toward Weldon Spring [MM 56] for my ride this morning. Given the heat, I had no idea what I’d be able to do, but at least I was trying, right?

As it ends up, I was just about the first person on the trail this morning, and the trail was much cooler than was the city. That was a blessing, and I revelled in it. As I sailed west, I busted through the nightly construction projects of every spider along the trail. They build these fantastic bullseye webs supported on nearly invisible silky threads spanning the width of the trail, and as noted in the Katy Trail FAQ, whomever is first along the trail, gets to eat the gossamer threads of nightly progress created by the best architects and construction workers on the planet. I got my fair share today.

I also got to see snow. Well, kinda. The cottonwoods are dropping their payloads now, and there are sections of the trail that are covered with the white cottony seeds. As I rode, I had to not only watch keeping my mouth open and eating a spider, or the stray japanese beetle, but I also had to dodge the floating seeds to keep from harboring a seed and wispy cotton in the back of my throat!

I reached Augusta [MM 66.4], and stopped for my traditional rest stop at the trailhead. I’ve been carrying fruit cups in my CamelBak to have at the halfway and completion points of my ride, and this morning’s was lucious. I put ’em next to the bladder, which I fill with ice before filling it with water, and by midway, they are cold and delicious. The advantage of those cups is that I don’t need any utensils — just tip it up, drink the juice, and coerce the fruit out of the cup. Darla also got me some fruit punch juice bags, so I added that to my midway revitalization. After the bold punch of the fruit cup, it was kinda bland, but was 6.75oz of fluid that didn’t cost me liquid for the ride, so that’s a good thing!

Thinking that I didn’t want to get too far from my homebase, I pointed the bike back toward Weldon, and pushed toward home. I travelled next to the farmers’ fields, full of youthful corn and other crops I couldn’t identify from a distance. The wildflowers are gorgeous now, and the colorful birds flit back and forth across the trail, almost like they’re trying to see how long they wait before getting a safe crossing ahead of my bike. Daredevils, I suppose. And how cool and eerie was the sound of a far distant train as I rode on the path once travelled by so many trains in across the first three-quarters of the 20th century. Hearing the whistle, I almost expected to encounter a ghostly spectre train rushing along with me as I rode toward Weldon.

I came up to Defiance [MM 59.1] again, and decided I needed a snack — I’d ridden 18mi, after all! — so I pulled off the trail, and walked my bike across the footbridge to the Katy Trail Bike Rental. I decided on a refrigerated Snickers bar and a glass-bottle of Starbuck’s Mocha Frappucino, and sat on a plastic chair on the shady porch, eating and drinking what seemed like the best food and drink I’d ever had. My gosh, what a boost that was. I sat there, and enjoyed the view of the trail, with the occassional cyclist going by, and that same big orange cat circling my feet, talking to me, almost imploring me to dig some unknown morsel from my pocket for it to enjoy. I had nothing for it this time — nor for it’s aloof also-orange friend — but I’ll remember next time to put a can of Pounce in my saddlebag, just in case I’m asked politely for a kitty-treat again.

Re-energized, with some sugar and coffee in my veins, I hit the trail, and cruised the rest of the way back to Weldon, which put me at 22mi on the day. That’s been a fairly typical ride for me lately, and despite my wanting to push my distance a bit, I hadn’t. I decided today would be different.

My goal lately has been to work to 25mi, and with my spirits high, my legs still springy and a shady part of the trail ahead of me, I figured I could find three miles in me to to hit 25mi this morning. That’s what the real cyclists call a quarter-century. A ride of 100mi is a century, so it only makes sense that’s what they’d call a quarter of that distance.

I travelled east from Weldon, down a very familiar part of the trail for me — this is the trail segment I cut my teeth on eight weeks ago, and one I still travel quite a bit. As I rode east, I noticed that the number of folks on the trail increased quite a bit. I guess the folks from St. Charles were making it down this far by this time of the morning. Considering I hadn’t seen hardly anyone on the Weldon to Augusta leg, this was quite a change. Along the way, I saw a gal standing in the middle of the trail, looking off toward the little segment of the river that follows along the trail. I stopped, and she pointed toward the water’s edge, and mouthed “There’s a deer!” In fact, there were two of them, little ones, out for a morning snack, no more concerned about us than we were about them. That was really cool, and made my morning.

By then, I was already beyond 25mi, and figured I’d carry on up to the I-64 bridge, just a couple of miles up the trail. I stopped at the quarry at the bridge [MM 51], and enjoyed my triumphant ride of 27mi…. and then thought about the fact that I had another five miles back to the trailhead! No worries, I climbed aboard the saddle, and pedalled happily toward Weldon again, taking my time at first, and letting my speed climb as I sped along.

I pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead, and saw the odometer — 32 miles! Those aforementioned real cyclists call 31 miles a half-metric. 100km (62mi) is a metric, so 50km (31mi) is a half-metric.

In my quest for a quarter-century, I ended up riding a half-metric, which is the farthest I have ever ridden on a bike. Even in my youth, I only remember riding 25mi, and that was for some charity work. Most of the time, I’m sure I rode way less than that. The funny thing about this really lengthy ride was that almost every time I looked down at the speedometer, I noticed I was between 13 and 15mph. What a fantastic speed, and how easy it came. I’m discovering that I tend to start slow, and build to a pretty good pace over a long-enough trail segment. Even with all the stops — rest at Augusta, shopping in Defiance, and some photography along the way — I still travelled the 32mi in just about three hours. That’s some good riding for me.

Notice I said I took photos. Well, I did. However, I had a casualty on the ride. My 4Gb microdrive failed in the camera. Ugh. Fortunately, there was nothing incredible on it, but it’s still a bummer. This is the second 4Gb microdrive to fail over the last two years. This one’s not in warranty, so it’s a really small coaster. I’ll need to look at some kind of high-capacity CF card to replace it. Shooting RAW, images from the 20D just take so much space — smaller cards are a challenge, too much card swapping.

Hardware failure aside, this was an incredible ride, on a most unlikely day — too hot! I can’t wait to see what the fall holds for me on the trail!