Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘bicycle tour

Trip Withdrawal

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I’ve been home one day and I am noticing a distinct void from the abrupt absence of the large group of companions I enjoyed last week. Though personal space and familiar comforts of home are precious, the camaraderie we shared can be addicting, putting up a good fight for my desire.

I want both.

DSCN4819eNow I’ve got my bathroom and bed back, but a lingering longing for the instantly available connection with inspiring souls leaves me wanting. I think that is what draws so many of us back to this annual ride each succeeding year.

Looking at a picture of the very first morning, taken just moments before we pedaled off en mass on the first leg of the week, I am instantly reminded of the excitement and anticipation of what lie ahead for us.

It started out with a damp fog just above the ground, but our 2016 ride in the heart of the state was blessed with some great weather and easy riding. A high percentage of our miles were accomplished on the 115-mile-long Paul Bunyan State Trail between Brainerd and Bemidji.

I had a really nice time meeting riders that were new to our group this year, discovering kindred spirits from as far away as Maryland, Texas, and Colorado, as well as a few from within the state of Minnesota.

DSCN4830eThey all won a piece of my heart, but challenging that for the highlight of the year for me was the opportunity to ride with first-timer, Sarah Gordon, the 10-year-old daughter of my treasured friend, Rich. They rode together on a borrowed tandem in a brave “test of concept” exercise for both.

I could see how difficult it was for each of them to manage at times, and they did a spectacular job of facing the challenges and achieving their goals, all while maintaining a superb attitude. They inspired and energized me greatly.

Sometimes we can become narrowly focused on doing this ride for our own personal reasons, but there is an equally significant value for those around us when we make the decision to participate.

I am forever grateful that Sarah decided to ride with us this year, and equally thankful for the rest of the crew, new and old, who showed up this year to make the 2016 Tour of Minnesota a particularly special biking and camping week.

How ’bout we do it again next year, eh?

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Road Shots

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I may be home and back to the old grind (have I mentioned that I returned to the old day-job a while back?), but my mind is still lingering on the bike trip. Here are some images from this year’s trip that keep going through my head…

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2015 at 6:00 am

Tired Legs

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I’m home again. After a week of biking, my legs feel much stronger, yet thoroughly worn out, if such a thing is possible. I was awakened by thunder this morning, at the hour we would have been just waking up to pack our tents for the day, extremely grateful to be in my own bed and under a roof.DSCN3576e

For the most part, the weather during our adventure was good for biking and camping. We even enjoyed a few occasions of a tail wind, which always provides a much appreciated ego boost when traveling by pedal power.

My body developed some stiffness from all the exercise, and probably from sleeping on the cold hard ground, but I didn’t develop any specific nagging issues from the prolonged hours of pedaling. That is something that I find particularly rewarding, as it hasn’t been the case every time I have done this trip. Joint pain or muscle strain can really mess with the pleasures of day-long riding.

DSCN3562eI think most of my stiffness was a result of just a few games of pickle ball in Albert Lea on our day off from riding. I found that to be enough fun that it was worth the muscle soreness.

Participation this year was split almost half-and-half between returning riders and those who were doing it for the first time. Meeting new people becomes one of the highlights of the week for me, and this gave me plenty of opportunities for that.

I rode to breakfast with a group that included one man whom I felt had been with us before, but when seated in a booth beside him, discovered he was from Kansas City and it was his first year on the Tour of Minnesota.

As always, I was carried along throughout the week by the incredible support and precious energy of friends Gary Larson, Julie Kuberski, Rich Gordon, and Steve Reynolds. I struggled with the challenging limitations of creating blog posts and taking pictures with my phone, and Rich and Julie were kind enough to offer some of their great photos to help me out.

I’m not quite the mobile device guy, and I am extremely happy to be back on the laptop today, writing and editing my words and pictures. Something tells me I may resort to my old ways of writing posts in advance again next year.DSCN3582e

Today I have plenty of laundry to do, and if the rain stops and grass dries up, a lot of lawn to mow. Pequenita seems happy to have me home and has stayed close to my every move. Delilah appears to have bonded stronger to Cyndie again, in my absence. The horses show no change at all, though they each gave me some intimate moments of breathing in each other’s scent when I stopped down to say hello.

It’s really good to be back home, tired legs and all.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2015 at 7:45 am

Picture Party

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The party’s over, let the party begin! We ride home today, saying goodbye to precious friends and new connections. I fell short of my wish to capture all the joys and charms of this ride on my phone for posting here, but luckily, my friends have provided some of their pictures to fill my gaps. Time for a picture party:

 

A very common sight


 

Steve making a call

 

 

Rich and me trying to warm Laura /photo courtesy Rich Gordon

  

Steve and I paced together a lot /photo: Rich Gordon

  

Julie, Steve, and me on the road /photo: Rich Gordon

  

Doobie visits garage sale /photo: Julie Kuberski

  

Gary dressed up! /photo: Julie Kuberski

  

Rhonda testing fit. /photo: Julie Kuberski

 

Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2015 at 6:00 am

Varied Entertainment 

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Wednesday brought a variety of noteworthy happenings for me and our group, only a few of which involved biking. It was another short ride where we arrived at our final destination by lunch. 

The riding was great, and included a stretch with a wonderful tailwind.   

    Other highlights included a stop at the home of the parents of one of our riders, a heavy downpour after we got our tents up, a visit to the bar at the bowling ally across the street from our camp, pizza (which I didn’t need because I just had lunch) at the bar while watching women’s World Cup soccer, and visits with a number of former riders who stopped by to say hello. We’ve also enjoyed a greater number of visiting family members this year than usually happens.

We are just starting to become efficient with the routine of this trip again, and the finish on Friday is almost here. Man, the week goes by fast when you’re having fun. 

Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2015 at 6:00 am

Increasing Connections

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On our day off from riding, I started the morning by riding my bike to breakfast. I had the best banana-nut pancake that I recall having ever eaten. The referrals we received from locals were right on.  

photo courtesy Julie Kuberski


Back at the park, I had an opportunity to sample the game of Pickleball. My partner, Doobie, and I went 2-0, after which I quit. Undefeated!

Then I rode the bike again, up to visit Myre Big Island State Park. After that, a few of us stumbled into an opportunity to go to lunch with our ride director, Bob Lincoln, to someplace that would have good salad choices for lunch. 

We found the clubhouse restaurant at the Wedgewood Golf Club, also local-recommended. Got what we wanted, and thensome. It was gorgeouse and we were well-received. They made us feel like VIPs. 

I made a rare attempt at a selfie:  

 

Back at the park where we are camping, I was able to share some quality time socializing for the balance of the afternoon. 

Finally, for dinner, I left the bike behind -it was our off-day, after all- and joined a group in walking to find a desirable restaurant that was open. Luckily, we were early to arrive at our choice, as the establishment was under-staffed and couldn’t help but fall way behind in serving eager customers. 

Weather was beautiful and allowed us to enjoy a fabulous day of getting to know people who are new to the trip this year, as well as to know a few of the long-time riders even better. 

Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

Remembering Warren

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 On Sunday, I had a precious opportunity to ride in a jersey that once belonged to an amazing man I met years ago on this ride, who passed away last fall. Warren LaCourse was one of my favorite people to see every June when we gather on the Friday night before the start.

This year we had a brief ceremony in the evening of our first ride, where we honored the memories of 4 people from our group who have passed in the last couple of years. It was there that I learned about several of Warren’s jerseys that his wife, Barb, had made available for any of us who might be interested. I was thrilled to be able to have the jersey that Warren wore so many times it had faded from deep red to almost pink on the back.

I rode yesterday feeling as if he was hugging me all the way, and that made our longest day this week (77 miles) seem easier to me than it should have.

I am lucky to have known Warren, and feel especially blessed to have one of his favorite jerseys as a memory of him. Thank you, Barb. We miss him so on the ride!

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2015 at 6:00 am