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TOTO 2001

The great TOTO ride was held again this year on Sept. 15. I
decided to ride in the 50 mile circuit since I had talked to
several of my friends about this particular ride before I
left on a recent trip to China. Several of us preregistered
on Friday night or by Internet before the start of the ride.
This made Saturday morning very easy. There were few
parking places left when I got to Buehler Park about 6:45
am. I got to see many of my biking friends before the ride

started with many of them being repeat riders. Some of the
riders that couldn't ride this year were driving SAG.

I didn't get a chance for the usual big picture of the start
since the start didn't wait for the official send off by
Morgan. As a matter of fact, I wasn't really at the start
line at 7 (when we were supposed to have the official send
off) because I was saying my goodbye's to John Buckwalter
who didn't have the time to ride since he was home for his
last short weekend with his kids before leaving to protect
democracy in the world in Macedonia. We all wished John the
best and pray for a speedy return.

A small group of us took off together for a "leisurely" ride
(since we remember our condition at the end of this ride
last year). John Smith, his Son-in-Law Terry, Bud Driber
and I rode together. My good friend Mike Starbuck who rode
with me last year had taken off earlier than us (at 7) with
Jeff Spooner. At the first rest area we heard that
approximately 45 riders were riding the 50 and over 20 had
started the 100 mile loop. There were many friendly faces
and lots of goodies at the rest areas. By the first rest
area at hwy P&J we had already climbed the longest hill (I
think) just past Mill Creek. The first stop was manned by
Dalia Varanka and her kids and Irwin Hawkins (both friends
from the USGS) (toto 2661 dalia and kids.jpg, toto 2660 hawk
at p&j.jpg). We were all in good shape after taking an
easier pace to this point. (toto 2661 john.jpg).

Now we had the easiest stretch of the ride with the best
scenery. The hwy J portion of the ride traverses a ridge
where you can see the Ozark hills (sometimes on both sides).
After the invigorating ride down the steep hill to the Big
Piney valley, we had a very pleasant rest stop at the
Spring Creek store (toto 2663 goodies at spring creek.jpg,
toto 2665 still enthusiastic at spring creek.jpg). After a
short rest, some fig newtons and a banana, we were ready to
head "down the road" where we saw our normal site of people
leaving ahead of us (toto 2664 everyone ahead of us spring

Having said we had the longest hill behind us, we head up
the hwy M hill. Now I was thinking I might have been wrong
about where the longest hill was. This one fakes you out
with some false tops, but then it laughs at you and starts
up again. The only way to be sure we had reached the top
was to look for the tower at the top (if you don't see it,
you ain't there yet). Once the summit is reached, it is a
pleasant easy ride to Flat where there was another welcome
rest stop (I forgot to take a picture). We stopped to
listen to the radio club traffic and discovered that
everyone wasn't in front of us. We were pleased to find out
we were riding in about the middle of the 50 miler group.

After some more fig newtons, we were off. Soon after we
left Flat (about 4 of 5 miles down the road), I started to
discover that the illness I contracted in China was catching
up with me. I thought I was just getting dehydrated (even
though it was a very pleasant cool day for a ride). I broke
out the Gatorade, but only felt better for about a mile or
two. All of a sudden I was holding our group back and I am
using way too low of gears for gentle hills. To make a long
story short, our group came in to Newburg with me lagging
behind. After a prolonged rest with the fine folks manning
the Newburg rest area (toto 2669 newburg stop.jpg), I told
the others (John, Terry and Bud) (toto 2668 bud at
newburg.jpg, toto 2665 john and terry at newburg.jpg) to go
ahead without me (I was really feeling like a wimp about
now). I called my wife to come get me (I wouldn't have had
to since there was lots of SAG support) since we were going
out for lunch anyway. I managed to climb the hill out of
Newburg and met my wife near the Doolittle overpass where I
finally gave up and drove back to Buehler Park. I checked
in with the volunteers that needed to keep good tabs on all
the riders. The prizes were extensive again this year and I
got a new lumbar pack and TOTO coffee cup.

Everyone I talked to at the beginning, in the middle, and at
the end (yes, even though I wimped out and drove back the
last 6 miles, there were many people already finished with
the 50 mile ride) were very complimentary of the ride and
expressed there appreciation for the organization and all
the support. I am already looking forward to next year's

After "wimping out" I had a relapse of the Chinese illness I
thought I had recovered from a few days before the ride. I
feel at least slightly vindicated for my wimpyness now.
















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