Summer Solstice on the MCT Trails - The Missourian: Feature Stories

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Summer Solstice on the MCT Trails

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Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 10:04 am, Wed Jun 25, 2014.

Social media offers lots of opportunities to stay in touch with far-flung friends. It was interesting to read about how some of them spent Saturday, the summer solstice and longest day of the year.

Our young English friend Nell, back from her stint in New York City, turned flower child and was communing with a hippie group in the Ozarks. “Peace out, Nell.”

Across the pond, Gretchen Hausmann, a former Washingtonian who has lived in California for years, visited Stonehenge — that would have been quite the experience.

Spark and I didn’t spin our wheels with nothing to do on the solstice. We headed for Edwardsville, Ill., to cycle on the Madison County Transit Bike Trails. The MCT has seven loops of varying distance, in total about 100 miles of paved trails. Loops like these are the best because you get to see different scenery riding to and from your starting point.

We’re not remotely close to pedaling half the distance the MCT covers, but always feel challenged to rack up more miles than we normally do riding back and forth on the Rotary Riverfront Trail. It’s too easy to stop there when you feel tired — instead of having to push on to get back to your car.

The loops can make you loopy though. Last year we were riding with my sister and brother-in-law and misread the trail map. We ended up going 30-plus miles, a ride that felt like we were in the Sahara Desert, a hot wind gusting and our water bottles running low. We finally happened upon an oasis, a gas station stop for bananas and water, hoping the sustenance would ward off leg cramps.

Though Edwardsville sounds like a long way, the drive really isn’t. It takes about one hour and 15 minutes to get there, and the trails are never crowded, making for serene rides. Saturday was memorable because our son-in-law Tim and our grandkids Miles, Reed and Phoebe went too. It was the first time we’ve biked with them, and their first time on the MCT, what a joy ride.

We had to drive separately to haul the bikes, and we packed Tim’s in our van. His bike has an extension on the back for Phoebe, who hasn’t quite got the hang of two-wheeling. The only hitch with the extension is that it can be hard to go uphill, and Phoebe sometimes needed to be reminded to help her dad pump.

Pippa Middleton, who cycled through our community last week, has nothing on Phoebe. Pippa might be related to royalty, but our 5-year-old granddaughter dresses the princess part. She arrived at the trail with her blond curls in a bun, and a dazzling, purple amulet hanging from a heavy silver chain around her neck. I’m not sure which of the Disney gals wore this gem; I believe she told me Sleeping Beauty, but I get the princesses mixed up. Phoebe doesn’t.

To complete her outfit, she wore sherbet orange polka dot pedal pushers — appropriate — and aqua-blue Converse All Stars with white ruffled socks. What a fairy tale fashion plate.

All total our entourage rode about 10 miles, mostly on the Nature Trail, nearly all shaded, the trees forming a tunnel in spots, lovely and green. Of course we planned a stop for lunch halfway on our ride. To the strains of Beatles tunes, we enjoyed sandwiches and salads at Sgt. Pepper’s Café in Downtown Edwardsville.

The best day trips involve food for me — and of course being with our grandkids.

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