By Ed Chasteen
Tents and tables are being set up as riders come in the first light of dawn. SAG drivers load their vehicles and drive off, bound for their rest-stop appointments with supplies for the riders who will come later in the morning. McDonald’s in Liberty supplies bottled water, PowerAide, apple slices and cookies for all our rest stops.
By 7 AM, check in is complete and riders depart. Some 40 minutes later the fastest riders reach Kearney and rest stop number one, where Julie Ahle’s girl scouts and members of the Kearney Business Group welcome them.
From Kearney the 35-mile riders come back across the just completed new bridge on Summerset to Hwy 69. They turn toward Liberty, where soon a left on Stockdale Road brings them to H Hwy at Liberty Hills Country Club and rest stop #2. Then back to Biscari Brothers Bicycles, where Dale Ahle has hamburgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. Liberty Price Chopper, just next door to Biscari Brothers, has supplied all our food for pre and post ride activities for our previous five Greater Liberty Bike Rides for MS and again this year.
Our third route for today’s ride is a Family Fun Ride out to Our Lady of Mercy Country Home, an eight-mile circle that brings us back to Biscari’s. This ride begins at 8 o’clock. Parents with young children like this ride. A father and son ride their tandem today. A Mother and daughter have brought their bikes from Pleasant Hill to ride.
The 70-mile riders head north from Kearney to MM Hwy and its intersection with Hwy. 69 and rest stop #3 at Lathrop Bank at Lawson. Marvin Wright has opened the bank so we can use their restrooms. He and Noel Ferguson have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to augment other biker food supplied by McDonald’s.
Back toward Liberty on Salem Road, riders make their way to rest stop #3 at the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs. Daphne Bowman, owner of Willow Spring Mercantile has gathered other downtown merchants to welcome us. They also have made sandwiches and cookies and brought fruit.
North from Excelsior Springs on Hwy 10, riders make their way to Route 0, and 11 miles of hills and curves that bring the Alps to mind. Once up and over the final hill, O dumps us out at its intersection with Hwy 210, a ribbon that runs flat east to west through the Missouri River bottom from Liberty to Orrick.
At this intersection, O becomes Z and comes into Orrick, a town of 889, where we come on our bikes several times a year on Saturdays for breakfast, and where today the Orrick Fire Department has set up rest stop #4 in their brand new building.
By 2 PM all riders are back at Biscari Brother. It’s time for our drawing. A $1,259.00 bicycle, two six-month memberships in a health club and dinners for two at small town cafes where we ride on other Saturdays. A $20.00 raffle ticket bought the purchaser a chance at these prizes.
Every other Monday evening at Cupini’s on Liberty square since early February we had met to plan this 6th Annual Greater Liberty Ride for MS. The planning of it was a joy. As was the riding of it. To all those who planned and rode and helped and encouraged, I say Bless you. And as I write these words, my mind is drawn to one of my favorite plays, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. In the play, Emily has died. She is allowed to come from the grave on last time for a farewell look at Grover’s Corner, her home town. But she must come on a typical day. After her visit, she asks a question that’s always on my mind. “Does anyone ever realize life as they live it, every single minute?”
To my mind, the magic I feel around us at every bike ride is typical of the world as I would have it. In these time I could answer YES to Emily’s question.