Saturday is the Tour de Corn ride. This is NOT a race. It is held in the bootheel area of Missouri - the area is part of the Mississippi River flood plain and is therefore FLAT. It is also HOT. For the little town of East Prairie, MO it is a major event and everyone in the community participates.
One of the things that impressed me last year is that even though they have a pretty much captive audience, the town businesses do not try to take advantage of the influx of visitors - menu prices are the same as they are all the time, prices on gas, water, food and other supplies stay at their non-ride levels. They welcome the business that the ride brings into the area, but they aren't tempted to take undue advantage of it.
The entire community supports this event, which benefits a variety of charities. People stand along the roadside cheering, they make cookies for the SAG stops, they man the SAG stops, they provide comfort and encouragement, they even change their driving patterns as roads are closed or partially closed for the ride.
Last year was the first time I did the ride and I rode 67 miles, which was a personal best that stood for a loooong time. This year I am post Southern Tier and my feelings are quite different. I had originally planned to do another Century, but I will be traveling with a less experienced rider (planning to do the 35 mile ride) and she will have to wait for me to finish. The weather in this area will either be HOT, or HOT and STORMY - last year the temp was in the high 90s by mid-afternoon. And I won't have a riding partner. The 65 mile ride poses the same conditions.
People asked me before and during the tour how I thought the tour would change my riding after it ended. I, of course, had no idea - I figured I would either hate cycling and never do it again or I would want to do more and more of it. It isn't that simple.
What changed is how I think about cycling. I now have nothing to prove, to myself or others. I have done a century. And a whole big bunch of metric centuries. I don't need to do it again just to prove I can - I proved that. What I am finding is that I am no longer doing any riding that isn't FUN. I am willing to work hard to achieve new goals but that effort and achievement have to pay off in pure enjoyment.
And now it comes down to the ride on Saturday. If I think I can have fun doing the 100, I will. If I think the 65 is more fun, I will do that. What I am thinking right now though, is that I would rather ride with Sally and enjoy her achievement of a personal best - it would be FUN. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Pictures to follow if I can get my new phone to cooperate.