Recipe for Adventure

A holiday like Columbus Day, which grants some of us a day off of work without the family requirements of the major holidays, is the perfect opportunity for adventure, and we had all the right ingredients this past Monday: a jazzy theme, great company, a fun plan, and seized opportunity.  Despite all this, I just about rolled over and went back to sleep when it was 37 degrees at my 5:45 a.m. wake-up call.  After a long weekend of back-to-back runs, a day at Six Flags, and a bike race, I was tired and tired of being cold.  I also knew I’d regret staying home, though; nothing motivates me like the fear of missing out.

Columbus Day of Discovery was to combine bike riding (voyage) with geocaching (discovery).  Patrick picked me up once I got J dropped off at school, and we met Chuck and Lori near Weldon Springs.

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Chilly morning!

We set off on our bikes towards the Katy Trail, and I immediately regretted only bringing a hat that I knew wouldn’t fit under my helmet.  Thankfully my braids hung over my ears and kept off the worst of the wind.

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Freezing, but having fun!
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 After a quick map check, we headed off in search of our first geocache.

My only previous geocaching experience was in town with Jeff, and since neither of us really knew what we were doing it didn’t last long.  This could very easily have gone the same way, but after we all searched and searched, Patrick eventually figured out the sneaky hiding spot.

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Chuck documenting our find.

(First) mission accomplished, we pedaled off down the Katy Trail.

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I’m going to be spending a lot of time here next weekend.

On our way to the next cache, we had to stop and play.

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The guys went first…
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…which meant that Lori and I were basically obligated to go…
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She got a lot further than wimpy me.

That mission accomplished, it was onto the Hamburg Trail and a decision to make.  Chuck gave us our alternatives: “We can either ride a long, easy climb or go through Lost Valley with a couple bigger climbs.”

Lori and I opted for the long, easy climb, but then Chuck explained, “I want to ride through Lost Valley; I was just giving you a choice.”

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So we “chose” Lost Valley

As not excited as I was to ride up a couple long hills (because I’m a wimp and a slacker), it was definitely worth the climbs because Chuck made a great discovery.  As we rode up the first hill he suddenly stopped and ran over to the side of the road.  Because the man loves trail artifacts, I figured he’d just seen something funny he needed to photograph and kept riding.  All of my attention was focused on maintaining some forward motion on the hill and steering around the bike he’d dropped in the middle of the road.

Chuck’s discovery was totally worth riding back downhill for, though.  Turns out the gate we pass every time we ride that hill isn’t tied down, making for a fun ride.

Since the video is uploaded to facebook and I don’t know how to embed a facebook video in the blog, you’ll have to click the link to check it out.  I think it’s totally worth the detour, though.  I laugh out loud every time I watch it…and you’ll be able to see that I’m every bit as wimpy as I always claim to be.

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Near the end of my ride

Gate video on facebook  — seriously, these pictures don’t do justice to how fun this was!

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Physics in action: experimenting to see if greater mass = greater speed

Once we were finished playing on the gate we rode to the location of the next cache and wandered around in the woods until Patrick figured it out. Our one shining moment of teamwork was when, lacking a compass, we worked together to shoot a bearing to the correct (approximate) spot, but mostly it was Patrick finding the caches while I wandered aimlessly.

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Kind of like this

Finished with Lost Valley, we headed back down the Hamburg Trail to Busch Wildlife, but we had to stop at the Mound for some proofreading and stair climbing when Lori, who went to high school just down the road, mentioned it was the highest point in St. Charles County.

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Pretty sure the word they’re looking for here is “inclement”.
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First the stairs…
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Then the hill at the top…headed to the peak at those stones you see to the right of the walkway.

I jogged up part of the stairs and then broke into a run slightly faster jog trying to beat Patrick to the very top, but I lost.  It was pretty windy up there, and we had a decent view, but most importantly we went somewhere new, which is what a day of discovery is all about, right?

After a circumnavigation of the entire Mound, we rode to Busch Wildlife, where the roads weren’t quite matching up with the mapped route we had.  Stopping at a grassy road (really more of a field between two wooded sections than a road), Chuck guessed that was the way we needed to go, but no one was enthusiastic about taking that direction…until, still basking in the cyclocross afterglow from the previous day’s race, I decided it looked kind of like part of a cx course (not really) and started making fun of Chuck saying that he was afraid of getting his bare legs itchy from the grass.

Basically I goaded the guys into taking the road.  We got to see about a dozen turkeys take flight in front of us, which was very cool, and it was actually a pretty fun ride…until the road dead-ended at the bottom of a hill.  Oops.  My bad. 🙂

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Lori at our turnaround point.

Between our route-finding issues and growing hunger, we decided to bag the rest of the Busch ride in favor of finding our last two caches and getting some lunch.  One was kind of sneaky, but Lori walked right up to the other one.  We finished up our adventure with some tree-walking…

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…my first ride down stairs (just a few of them)…and a short jaunt down highway 94 (a little scary) back to the parking.  We rode somewhere over 20 miles, found 4 geocaches, and laughed like little kids.  What a great way to enjoy a day off work! Finishing up with lunch at Qdoba was the perfect end.

Well, that’s not true.  The perfect end was the nice, long nap I took when I got home. 🙂

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