Each year bicyclists come to central Missouri from all over the state for BikeMO, the official ride of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, and choose between a century (100 miles), a metric century (100 km, or 62 miles), or a half-metric. Every 10 or 15 miles is a SAG* station with food and water. A SAG vehicle cruises the route and helps out cyclists who run into trouble.
This type of ride is common in some places, and a lot of fun. Northeast Missouri doesn’t have anything like it.
Until now. Saturday was the Hilliest FLATS Ride Ever, a fundraiser for the Forest Lake Area Trail System and the Community Fireworks Show. The Red Route was 27 miles down Boundary, Hwy 11, Hwy K to Novinger, then back to town on Old Hwy 6/ Potter Trail. Hwy K is awfully hilly, but going clockwise as we did, the steepest hills were descents.
The Blue Route was 7 miles in town and featured the three existing trails: Wabash Trail on South Osteopathy, La Harpe to the YMCA/ School Trail, Cottage Grove up to Steer Creek Trail, then back downtown on New St. past the pool. This was a hilly route too!
We planned the ride to start early, 7:30 a.m., because of the heat. My parents had come to town from Lawrence, KS for the ride. Mom wasn’t able to ride because of a bad knee, but Dad borrowed a tandem for us! After I rode a tandem during Biking Across Kansas, I suggested we try out a tandem, and he found one. Since the tandem was a heavy old single speed, we chose the Blue Route.
The ride started on time, but it was already pretty hot. About 20 riders went on the Red Route, and Dad and I led about 10 riders on the Blue Route. It was a few minutes into the ride when I finally realized that something was missing: my daughter had never arrived at the beginning of the ride! As the stoker on the tandem, it was easy to make a few phone calls, and I tracked her down. She found her way to Grandma, and was happy enough to skip the ride and go straight to pancakes.
We’d marked the routes well and no one else got lost. Dad and I powered the single speed up the hills, and were starting and stopping smoothly by the end of the ride. We were eating pancakes before 8:30 a.m. The Blue Route riders all finished, and the Red Route riders started coming in for their pancakes. The follow vehicle kept the Red Route riders safe on Hwy 11, and picked up three riders who had trouble on the ride (such as a flat tire). Everyone finished safely, had fun, raised money for fireworks and FLATS, and most importantly, ate pancakes!
*SAG probably stands for Support and Gear.