Meet Me In St. Louis

We were told that the hundred mile ride from Taylorville, Ill to St. Louis was ‘too hard’ and that we would all get a ride part way to spare us the trubb.

This didn’t sit well with  Andrew Wilhelm, the tri-state jr. track champ (sorry Andy– Rachel ‘outed’ you with some prying on my part), nor with Georgie from Tokyo who is determined to ‘complete’ the ride –as in, no time in the van. Same with Philippe Guillerm the French artist.

I had to go because that particular crew (oh, don’t forget the “greatest bicycle messenger in the known world” Corey from Philly) would be the ultimate bunch to do a century with. I could just sit in the back and file my nails while they did all the work.

We had perfect weather and a pretty decent tail wind the entire five-six hour ride through cornfields and country byways. The routing is either getting better or we’ve just been lucky.
Averaged about 19 mph the whole way and I learned yet again how sore one can get–where it feels that you’re sitting on a knife blade, your crotch wounded from the hourslong pressure, and your legs unable to respond when some fool has to charge up the tiny little freeway overpass (that’s what counts as a hill in  Illinois).

And then, convinced you’re cooked, you shift position, or eat something, and voila! New Woman.

This cycle exhilaration/exhaustion cycle rolled over at least six times today.
We pulled into St Louis never having even seen the others–we got off track , but more likely we also stayed ahead of them since we left at 7 thirty and they all had a leisurely breakfast at the campsite on Taylorville reservoir.

It proved to be a godsend. We pulled in at one thirty under a dark, very low sky. Just after we scooted our bikes into the Marriott Residences on W. Jefferson St (airconditioned to the point of pain, especially to this ol’ wombat who simply prefers ‘natural air’ even if it IS a bit stuffy and humid)  the skies dumped about an acre/ft of water per square meter (how’s that for mixed measurements?) in a deluge befitting an angry deity.

Knowing I hadn’t stolen even as much as a mayonnaise packet in days, I serenely floated up to my room which had only one bed, made tea, drew a bath, and pulled the plug on the refrig (too much noise, plus it’s empty frgwdssake), hid the TV remote in the dishwasher since some fools have to have the TV on even when they’re not watching it. And of course turned off the thermostat and opened the windows to their 2 inch limit.

I’d worry about the implications of that one huge bed for my three roommates later when they came in hours later, soaked through, and furious that there seemed to be only one kingsize bed.

The wet rodents got their own room (miracle!) and all of us scrambled downtown to get into the City Museum, the wildest, weirdest museum you can imagine–the brainchild of a guy (Bryan Reckamp told me but I forgot) who got lots of help to do over a seven story warehouse as a maze/bas-relief/dinosaur sculptural wonderland, where you crawl into everything, climb over, under, and even slide down (seven stories, whee!). I am sure language cannot do it justice.  Bryan thanks for taking us there. And thanks for sharing your family with us too, by the way. I especially liked the history bit, the ‘losers’ of the Prussian war for democracy in 1846 or something. 
We also had a very fun event at the Fink Plamingo, a chic bowling alley close by…met all the Javelin people and had a blast sampling the best food of all the 42 below events thus far.
When I asked Bryan what St. Louis food was most well-known he said fried ravioli. I refuse to believe it.

Two days prior, I rode sweep with Andrew from  “I forget-the-hell-where” to Champaign/Urbana. 

Mostly stayed on track but even then got lost, discovered “Chanute Field” where Charlie’s mom Carol met Bruce Cunningham at a dance.   They married while Bruce was still a fighter pilot and she got to see what single motherhood ala military wife is like. Luckily she had great parents to help out.

 Carolwent to the Uni. of Illinois there in 1943 or so, majored in French and Lit (hmm …French Lit was my major too.

Maybe men really do marry their mom?

Carol, no offence but this also means you’re a (well-disguised) lunatic..

So I got to trot thru Cunninghistory (even rode thru Hammond Ill., the spot BC fled as a seventeen yr old future airman) while getting lost.
Our hotel was so far from town I actually hitchhiked in and was picked up by the very generous local  (Cindy OConnell by name) who first took me to the bike shop (Durst Bicycles) to fix my Shimano clickpedals. Instead, they GENEROUSLY GAVE ME A USED PAIR… THANK YOU JOE!!! JOSH!!! Et al..

Then she toured me thru the campus so I could fire off some pix to Carol, and I forced her to let me treat her to lunch (‘let the record show that Jacquie has bought food a time or two in the year 2009) at Fiesta, a presumed non-chain (I’m allergic to franchises, along with all my other weird allergies like work, responsibility, and decorum).

It’s late. I’ll have to brag about being “team support” for a pair of young racers at the Tour De Champaign another time. But I might forget, so I will say that instead of riding from Champ/to Taylorville, three of us rolled into town for a race. I met people from the bike advocacy group who had the most magnificent articulated bus painted neon yellow with blue/purple silhouettes of about eight different riders, each a real person–a paralyzed war vet, a pregnant mom with little girl behind on a trail-a-bike, a tricycle recumbent woman who’d been dain bramaged but refused to be told ‘no more cycling’, and yr basic  commuter dude, etc… incredible.  The artist, Joyce er…um…(help!) Mast (I FOUND SOMETHING FOR ONCE IN MY PURSE!) is a sixty-plus woman of regal –no shit, a truly noble presence–carriage, told me all about what inspired the artwrk, and how she’d taken her daughter every year for 18 years on bike tours…and I mustn’t forget the lovely man next to her, damn it, what was your name? Dave? Mike? Ugh. Well, if you write me I will write back.
All these lovely people are melding into one giant benign Presence, the “One” that the sufis are always talking about.

SIgh. Life is wonderful.

Chdot, can you stick some links in here, maybe some maps, scheme up a graphic for me? I wish I could send pix…
Yrs, truly. The mind of the wombat.

~ by jacquiephelan on July 13, 2009.

8 Responses to “Meet Me In St. Louis”

  1. Wow, fantastic stories Jacquie. Sounds like quite a time and brings back memories (mostly fond) of my own cross-country trips. Stay safe, Paul

  2. you always make me smile, jacquie.

  3. Yep, your stories always bring a grin to my face.

  4. Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my stomping grounds and the Land of Lincoln!

  5. Jacquie,

    Sorry to bother, since you are having such a wonderful time. I tried to see if you would be riding through MT on your north route. I couldn’t find a detailed route map from the 42 web site. As always your comments and stories are the best cycle narrative going.


  6. […] Phelan is riding and writing her way across the country, as only Alice B. Toeclips […]

  7. Jacquie,
    I can’t believe that I stumbled across your fabulous blog while
    looking up a friend’s photo stream on flickr! I’m so excited to
    learn that you are making your way across the U.S. via your trusty Cunningham bicycle, bravo!! I’ll pass along your blog website to your bikee friends at the Coffee Roasters…you are missed! Keep that great smile on while you forge westward; your adventures will be worth a book, that’s for sure. Meanwhile, were collecting Fairfax fog banks for you, catching them as they cascade over Loma Alta…shall we send some fog
    via pony express so you can get a whiff while negotiating those
    logging roads? We long for your screamin’ bike stops here in Marin but happily we can read all about them on your blog. Cheers! BJ Snyder

  8. Hi! I feel very blessed to have met you tonight at Smokin moes. I googled you as you suggested and I stumbled upon this blog. I have to say, one of my absolute favorite places on this planet is the City Museum. You are right, there are NO words to do justice to the glory of this fountain of youth!

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