We got up this morning and headed to Nixa bright and early with the tandem on the back of the Jeep to ride the 40 mile route of the St. John’s Nixa Bike Ride. This free event offered routes of 12, 40 and 70 miles with stocked rest stops in Boaz, Clever, Republic and Battlefield.
We started the ride nearly at tailback. The women’s restroom line delayed Pam and Barbara, so we were among the stragglers leaving 5-10 minutes after the main pack. The problem with that is that they started the 12 mile family ride with us, and it was kind of a mess getting out of Nixa with all the novice riders.
We had ridden off and left Sam and Barbara within the first couple of miles, but Pam got a nice visit in with a teacher she worked with several years ago when she was still working as a teacher’s aide. By the first rest stop at Boaz, we had overtaken a good part of the rear guard of slower riders, but most of them caught us again as we waited for Sam and Barbara. They struggled with the hills between Nixa and Boaz, so I passed Sam the only energy gel I had with me. After another long port-a-potty wait, we headed east toward Clever, but soon dropped Sam and Barbara again on the hills. We wouldn’t see them again.
At Clever, the route leveled out a little and primarily consisted of long rolling hills that weren’t too bad to climb, but at that point, we got on the roughest chip and seal roads of the day. From Clever, we skipped the rest stop and headed North to Republic. On the way, we spent a little time riding with Bill and Meryl. This was the first time we had seen them out on the roads this year.
Stopping at the St. John’s Clinic in Republic for the third rest stop, we encountered Joe and Sue on their new tandem. We ended up leaving with them, and just as we headed east to Battlefield we got into a pack of fast riders from the 70 mile route. With fast riders and a tandem to draft on, we made really good time to the big hills at Wilson’s Creek. That was a fun stretch! We hardly pedaled and were cruising at over 25 MPH for quite a while. As we headed into the James River valley at Battlefield, we ended up dropping Joe and Sue and rode alone the rest of the way back. Heading into Nixa, we got off the route (translated as lost) and ended up putting a couple of extra miles on the bike before we wandered back the way we should have in the first place.
St. John’s furnished burgers and hot dogs at the finish, so we grabbed a chair and enjoyed lunch on them!
Overall, I thought we did great! We still had plenty in reserve after nearly 45 miles, and we never did struggle in spite of a pretty hilly route. The course had 2,294 feet of climbing, and we saw several walking up some of them.
Good times were had by all!