Did you know that it takes three hours to get to Hermann, MO from Webster Groves, MO? Neither did the members of the Hub women’s cycling team. Do we drive particularly slow? No. Had none of us been to Hermann before? No. Do we talk a lot? Well..yes. Katie and myself followed Steph and Alice down highway 44 towards Hermann. Somehow or another the exit for Hermann went completely unnoticed by the drivers of both vehicles. Did we catch it at the next exit? No. 40 miles past the intended Highway 100 exit, at Highway 19 in Cuba, it began to dawn on us that we may have missed our exit. We stopped to call Ashley and our suspicions were confirmed. Duh. Oh well. It was a nice day for a ride in the country and we still had plenty of daylight left to ride.
We made it to Ashley’s house without further complications. From there we embarked on the infamous Hermann road course. Within about four miles I remembered why I hated this course. Big long hill after big long hill. I thought back to the last road race that I had done in Hermann and how I actually became angry that there was another hill in front of me. Hills are my weakness and being confronted with one large hill after another gets pretty disheartening. Steph guided us up each and every one of these hills in a systematic fashion. We learned how to climb as a team. Very cool. It made it much more bearable. Thank you Steph. Katie and Ashley cruised up these monster hills with amazing proficiency. Can’t wait to see you guys in the Hermann Omnium! I flatted towrads the end of all of the hill excitement but my fears were diminished when Steph pulled out her Genuine Innovations CO2 tube. My life was saved.
We completed the road course and then decided to tackle the infamous Gutenberg. Gutenberg is somewhat of a Mt. Everest for cyclist. Frankly I am surprised that someone in Hermann has not come out with a tee shirt that says “I Did Gutenberg” I wanted to pee in my pants. “Just don’t look up.” I told myself. That is exactly what I did. I carried as much momentum as I could for as long as I could and then shifted into the easiest gear I had….I was really jealous of Ashley’s triple at this point. I made it through the really long first half and then looked up to see a very daunting and steep last 50 yards or so of hill. I only get out of the saddle as a last resort but I didn’t see any other way to make it up this last stretch. “Just do it man” I told myself and grinded my way up the hill. I am actually really glad that I wasn’t wearing a HR monitor but just to give you an idea Alice recorded a 192 on this final stretch. It was a road paved by Satan. Ashley and Katie, the resident Hub mountain goats, made it up the hill with much less drama than yours truly.
We took a couple of laps around the crit course and snatched a couple of photo opps from some Stone Hill Winery patrons. It was 4:30 ish. It was a beautiful day. We had another hour and a half of daylight. Hell yeah we were gonna keep riding! We headed over the bridge to a PERFECTLY flat stretch of highway that paralleled the Katy Trail. Cruising along in the mid 20’s with minimal effort we decided to ride until the road ended. IT WAS BIKE HEAVEN. When we reached the town of Bluffton and turned around, the party was over. HEADWIND! The twenty something miles of pure cycling nirvana became a living H*ll. No wonder we felt so invicible! Thank God Steph rallied the troops and got us into a circular paceline. Feeling in hands, feet, and a** were gone but focusing on the mechanics of the paceline was a nice distraction from physical pain. It was really what saved us.
We moaned a lot but made it back and headed for the cabin. The cabin was amazing. Rustic farm tools on the wall and a “moose lamp” gave the cabin a real authentic feel. Dinner preparations were another demonstartion of team work. I tackled the grilling of the steaks and Match bugers. Alice put together some rather tasty rosemary roasted potatoes. Steph whipped up an amazing spinach salad. Ashley whipped up an equally amazing fruit salad. Steph, it should be mentioned went the extra mile or so back to town to ensure that we were able to enjoy the Bread Co. asiago loaf that she had purchased. Way to take one for the team Steph!
We scarfed down the enjoyable dinner and then played a game of “what is the craziest thing that you have ever done?” The answers varied widely but were universally entertaining. Shortly there after we all jockied for the optimal bedding set up. Ashley grabbed the couch. Alice grabbed the “upper” bunk. Katie grabbed the “lower” bunk. Steph and I took the double bed and hoped that Chester the barn cat would come to hang with us at some point. When the lights went out they truly went out. COMPLETE DARKNESS. Wow. Things really are different in the country. For the first time in a long time I slept until the sun came up. Holy cow! I think we all racked up 9 hours of sleep that night. Dang!
The breakfast of champions and some Highlander Grogg was how we started out Sunday. Katie had Honeycomb cereal. Very cool. We had scrambled eggs from a farm two doors down. Can you beat that? Everyone concocted their various yogurt/cereal/fruit super secret combinations. After paying our dues and helping Ashley’s dad get some bookshelves through the window of her parents very cool new home, we headed out on the Hermann TT course. We practiced circular pacelines for quite a bit. Everyone’s concentration was taxed. Then it was time to let it all hang out and do some lead outs and attacks. HOLY COW. THAT WAS FUN! Alice suffered a rear wheel flat along the way. Thanks goes out once again to Genuine Innovations for the handy C02. It was a real team effort to get that stubborn Gator Skin back on. We employed what could best be described as a thumb relay. I think I pulled a thumb muscle. Anyway, the Hub prevailed over the Gator Skin and then it was time to play.
In a very free lance fashion, we made our way back to Hermann. I am hard pressed to think of anything more enjoyable. When you wanted to attack or sprint you did so. Ashley and I raced each other to a large tree a couple of hundred yards down the road. With the tailwind we were all hitting 35 plus on the sprints. Gotta love that! Like kids in a candy store. Phew. I hated to see it come to an end.
We packed up, had a nice lunch at “Wings” and headed back for the Lou.
Looking back on the weekend leaves me with a few thoughts….
Thank you Carrie for putting together such a killer plan for us.
Thank you Steph for leading us through the plan.
Thank you Ashley and family for the hospitality.
It was a weekend that I will not soon forget.
Dang I love to ride.
I am so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing team mates. My only hope is that I can pull my share of the weight for such a strong group of riders.
Bring on the 2010 race season! This is gonna be fun!