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What a day for a bike ride!Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at 1:51 PM
I happened on this happy group of 50 cyclists stopping in Advance Sunday afternoon on a ride from Dutchtown to Advance and back. Their leader, a college prof named Allen Gathman, called it the "Fourth Annual Advance Rally." (or something like that) It's a spontaneous gathering of three or four cycling teams from St. Louis and Cape.
It was just an ordinary Sunday, like any other Sunday, but the air was warm, the sun was shining, and the winter had come to an end. Congregations were filing from the doors of the churches in the tiny hamlet of Advance-upon-the-flat-lands. Children were laughing, birds were twittering in the trees, and the world had begun to awaken from that great long winter sleep.
Suddenly, from the north came minions of brightly-clad cyclists, their wheels spinning in the sunlight, their racing garb glittering in blindingly bright hues.
Far be it for the local paparazzi to let this group slip by, but she was ill-equipped to chase them down. Imagine her delight, when they alighted like butterflies in the Amerimart parking lot, where they sipped their nectar and traded travel tales.
"Take me to your leader!" said the local member of the 4th Estate, as she cornered two of the pretty creatures. They called to a nearby cyclist, who came over and introduced himself as the designated head of this motley crew.
"This is the fourth year of the Advance Winter Tour," said Allen Gathman, a professor at Southeast University.
"You're kidding! You made that up!" said the Advance reporter.
"Well, yes, I guess I did, but we really have been making this trip for four years," Gathman said. "Last year, we had only eight people to show up. This year we have fifty! I don't know what happened!"
This would seem to be one of those spontaneous explosions of energy which occur when people who are cooped up in their houses all winter are suddenly let loose into the spring air. Some 4-5 cycling teams came together from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau, eager to get out and get rolling across the countryside.
They met in Dutchtown, cycled to Whitewater, and from there they made their way along the back roads to Advance. No fanfare met them as they stopped for a break, before heading back to Dutchtown on State Highway 0, through the quaint village of Painton and along picturesque blue highways.
"It's been a beautiful ride," Ron Rosati said. "We've heard spring peepers, seen farmers working in their fields, and been greeted by friendly drivers."
The fifty cyclists represent a cross section of society. Their numbers include a brain surgeon, several university professors, and a veterinarian from St. Louis. Rosati is the new provost for Southeast University, on the job just one month.
I, for one, can think of no better way to enjoy the season than donning skin-tight racing silks and cycling through Southeast Missouri back roads with 50 friends, good and true.
As for those of us who are earthbound, we can still enjoy the sight of so much brilliant color and life, sailing through the drab brown of leftover winter.
From the remote reaches of North Stoddard County, this is your rural reporter Madeline, enjoying life on the fringes of civilization.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.