This year’s Advance Winter Loop was full of surprises. The first one was in the parking lot of Cape Bike — I was chatting with a few early arrivals when a guy pulls up in a pickup truck, walks over, and says “Hi, I’m Ron.” I was thinking he looked familiar; with good reason. He’s Ron Rosati, the new provost of Southeast, and indirectly my boss. So that was nice, and he seemed to have a good time, and it was a chance to get to know him a bit.
Meanwhile, more people arrived, and we loaded up the bikes and drove out to Dutchtown. The second surprise was that there was barely parking place available in Dutchtown anywhere. The bait shop parking lot was full, the dirt road next to it was lined with cars, and more cars with bikes on them were pulling in. The most riders we ever had in the previous three years was 14 in 2008 (see post). This year we had 48.
I handed out the 15 copies of the ride directions I had made, and we advised people to stick with someone who seems to know what’s happening. By 10:15 or so we were on our way. The traditional stop at NUT junction took a while, as we’d become pretty spread out, but eventually we got everyone together for a photo op.
Actually, there were still two or three people to come. I’m instructed not to call them “stragglers”. They were “pacing themselves.”
I was so busy taking pictures that I wasn’t ready to leave when everyone else took off — it had warmed up, and I had to pack my jacket and strap it to the seat, etc. So I wound up hammering to get back into the peloton. I have to say this ride had more time with an actual peloton than any I’ve ever been on before. Stopping to regroup occasionally helps quite a bit with that. Of course, the next landmark after NUT junction is the hill on T, which shredded the peloton completely.
The great thing about this hill is that there’s a long flat stretch approaching it, so you can watch it rise up in front of you like a wall. Anticipation is half the fun. After that hill, though, the ride is almost entirely flat. See the map and elevation. Better yet, we had a headwind going south, so when we turned around, we had a tailwind coming home.
At Advance we all stopped at a convenience store to regroup again. Apparently it’s not common to see 50 cyclists at the Quik-E Mart in Advance, because pretty soon Madeline DeJournett from the local paper, The Advance North Stoddard Countian (I think) showed up to take pictures and interview me. She didn’t believe me at first when I told her the ride was called the “Advance Winter Loop”. “You made that up!” “Yes, four years ago.” I dragged Ron Rosati over and had her talk to him a bit — he was in great form and said nice things about the region, etc.
As I said, the ride back from there was flat and wind-assisted, so it was extremely pleasant. Here’s a bit of Missouriana — a little public sculpture outside Perkins, MO:
We got back to Dutchtown around 3, had a beer in the parking lot, and a bunch of us went to El Torero for an early dinner. A great ride. Next year I guess we should do t-shirts. Of course, it’ll probably be a blizzard next year and we’ll have 3 riders. Meanwhile, it’s time to gear up for the Cairo Wildcat Century.