This post is part of a series of travel journals for the #AdlerGalaxyRide, a biking science roadshow over the 300+ miles between Chicago and St Louis. You can follow our ride by checking the website, following @AdlerPlanet on Twitter and Instagram, or searching for the #AdlerGalaxyRide hashtag.
We were preceded by a segment on bohemian fashion and threatened by Boehner’s looming resignation announcement, but otherwise the morning segment on Fox-2 St. Louis went off without a hitch. Leila and I lit up the plasma ball and a few emission tubes on the air, got in a brief discussion of how we use light to identify elements in space, thanked our host, and then it was back in the van to head out for the last ride segment. Colleen caught a break on this ride, having gotten stuck with the hot, wearying stretch of pockmarked frontage road the day before– our first stretch was mostly on one of the Madison County Transit bike paths, partially shaded and smoothly paved. We did pass another “sewage lagoon”, this one backed up against a new subdivision. Our last day of riding was a shorter one, and in spite of my now worn-out legs and the cold I’ve been nursing, felt all the easier for not being near the roaring highway.
Our very last stretch ran along the sparkling Chain of Rocks Canal, leading up to the bridge by the same name, where the bike route we’ve been following officially ends. Unfortunately, the path along the canal once again seems to have been surfaced by someone who’s never ridden a bike– or at least whose proclivity for gravel leans towards the weathered cyclist we encountered back in Elkhart, who claimed to love it. I will sacrifice some toughness points to that man and his Death Valley Velo Club jersey, because he can keep his gravel… I will have none of it, please and thank you.
We knew we must be close to the route end, but stopped in the shade of an overpass for a water break; I noticed a swastika amongst the graffiti under the bridge a ways off. As we wound down off the path next to the canal, a small ramshackle house sat in the trees and brush nearby, one window curtained with a confederate flag. The house must have been there forever— there was no neighborhood around to speak of, nor any other residences at all, for that matter. We biked up the road past it and I saw a few figures in the distance walking towards us— one crouched down and pointed something at us, and then I realized: it was David holding his camera. We were at the end of the ride!
We all cheered, high-fived and toasted. I splashed my bike and christened it Our Lady of the Highway— I rarely name inanimate objects, but I think this one earned it— after all, she survived not only the 350 mile ride, but a fair amount of raised eyebrows when I said I’d be riding a Japanese road bike from 1984 on this trip. Remember, while having fancy equipment makes certain things easier, it doesn’t make those things any less possible: any working bike will get you around, one way or another.
We loaded up into the van and went to set up at the St Louis Science Center Planetarium, located in a (beautiful) building shaped like a tagine dish (contrary to our expectations and much to our confusion, the dome-shaped building is the science center and not the planetarium as you might think). We had considerably fewer visitors at this last event, I think because the planetarium had closed prior to an event later that evening, and the park doesn’t lend itself to foot traffic. Still, we got in a bit of sun-viewing, and showed off some demos to the people who were around, and afterwards demolished several pizzas at the nearby Pi Pizzeria. Team Galaxy Ride then spent our last couple of waking hours exploring the City Museum, which might be the most magical place on Earth.
I had a devil of a time falling asleep last night— despite being exhausted I felt wired and overwhelmed. I can’t believe it’s done! As I write this on the Amtrak home (Taryn et al. kindly drove the van back early this morning, letting me sleep in and catch a train later), we’re tracing our path backwards through the towns Galaxy Ride stopped through on the way south (funny enough, we’re currently delayed near Elkhart, exactly where Kyle and David and I had to haggle to cross the train tracks earlier this week). After another solid night of sleep I hope to write an epilogue, but for now suffice it to say we had a fantastic week and made a lot of people happy and excited about science, and I’m hoping we will get to do this again next year.
See you in space!