Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bicycling

Testing Mobile

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I’m thinking about taking another crack at posting from my phone next week while on the bike trip.

So, today I am typing with one finger, adding photos, and fumbling with formatting to achieve my desired look using icons I don’t understand.

Things may look different than usual on your screen.

Yesterday, I got out for my longest training ride so far this year. Topped out at a whopping two-hour jaunt.

The scenery may not be as beautiful as riding up at the lake, but it gets close once I get beyond the farmland.

I rode down into the river valley where the trout fishermen play. Hit 40 mph on the way down and 3 mph crawling back up.

The kids came over yesterday and provided gift labor in honor of Cyndie’s birthday. We chose moving the gazebo from the round pen over to the labyrinth.

It was a grand success of design collaboration and task cooperation.

Since I don’t know how to tweak images to my liking on this tiny mobile device, I will point out that Julian provided the gazebo images.

Thank you to our wonderful children for a really meaningful gift of time and energy!

Here ends today’s test of the alternative posting system.

I still don’t know how to customize image frames like I usually do, nor justify text, but I’m ready to look at this on my computer to see how it compares.

Thank you for reading!



Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2019 at 7:48 am

Too Tired

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My middle-of-June biking and camping week begins one week from today. I am looking forward to being able to ride first thing in the morning when I am fresh and surrounded by more than a hundred friends sharing the experience with me.

I resumed my forced preparation cycling yesterday after work, alone and exhausted before I even started. The good news is that my butt appears to be toughened up by last weekend’s riding. The bad news is that my 90-minute ride was far short in terms of preparation for the days and many hours I will be on the saddle in a week.

After the day of work and the drain of a long afternoon drive home, I was more interested in a nap than a ride, but I got out there anyway.

This morning, I am too tired to think and write. Here are a couple of images from my adventures up north last weekend to distract you…

I’m going back to bed to catch a few more winks of beauty sleep.

Talk amongst yourselves.



Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Rough Approximation

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Having my bike up at the lake allowed me to put some time on the two-wheeler in an environment that can loosely be compared to the regions of northern Minnesota where we will be riding this year on the Tour of Minnesota. We are heading from Grand Rapids, MN up to Ely and back again.

The rural countryside of northwest Wisconsin isn’t that far away from northern Minnesota. We are just on the other side of the tip of Lake Superior.

I would not have been one bit surprised to have a black bear dart out of the woods and lope across the road in front of me.

It was two great weather days for biking and the scenery was superb, but there was one essential element missing that would make for perfect preparation for the middle of June Tour of MN.

I was all by myself. Solo riding in the woods can be beautiful, but a tired rider could sure use the distraction of a good conversation to while away the miles. As it was, my increasingly uncomfortable seat on the saddle grew hard to ignore and made it easier to give in to a message from my legs that they wanted to stop pedaling.

It becomes a game of stand up, sit down, pedal for a while, stand up, sit down, readjust position, pedal, stand up… you get the drill.

The ride was wonderful, despite being taxing. It’s the odd thing for me these last few years. I don’t bike regularly anymore, but I love participating in the Tour of Minnesota. So, I end up needing to put on some forced miles to prepare for the one week of constant biking.

At the end of last year’s Tour, I experienced the feeling that I didn’t really need to do any more rides. Been there, done that.

When registration time arrived in February, I found that I couldn’t resist the urge to be with my riding friends one more time, even if it meant some forced riding to prepare.

That is the one thing that makes the trials of trying to get into riding shape in a short time span so absolutely worth it.

So, ignore my whining.

I can’t wait for the trip and spending a week with some really fantastic people whom I miss dearly for fifty-one weeks out of the year!



Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

Lake Life

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We enlisted the help of recently discovered neighborhood friends to watch over our chickens for the weekend so we could come up to the lake with Cyndie’s parents.

The chickens would be a bit much to haul with us for the trip. The hens and our cat, Pequenita, have been left behind, but Delilah came up with us.

She has only come up here a handful of times, but she seems to have adapted to the unusual surroundings without any anxiety. The first time here, the lake scared her. Now she walks in without hesitation.

Our first patrol around the property revealed eagles in their nest in the tree over the tennis court and a recently hatched turtle by the lagoon.

Cyndie should have put something in this picture to provide some size reference. Like, a thimble. Or a dime. It was a tiny turtle.

I built a fire for cooking a flank steak dinner and snuck in another hour of pedaling my bike before dinner. It was mostly sunny, with brief periods of sprinkling rain. I came upon some pavement that was freshly soaked, so there must have been a small downpour, too.

I can say that I rode in the rain, but didn’t get very wet.

After only a half day up here yesterday, I can say we’ve already settled into life at the lake. Here’s to getting sand in your shoes…



Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2019 at 9:01 am

Animal Interference

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Cyndie planted marigolds around the property last week, including in a clay pot by the barn. It provided a nice splash of color in the otherwise gray-green environment on the backside of the barn. I spotted it right away as I passed by on the lawn tractor. One of the flowers had already been nipped off and was laying on the ground beside the pot.

Animal vandalism. What do they get out of biting off the blossom?

The next day, I passed the pot again on my way to the chicken coop. All the blossoms were on the ground. The only thing left in the sad pot was several stubs poking out of the dirt. Poor Cyndie, I thought. Her efforts dashed so swiftly after she had done the planting.

When she got home, I made sure she had seen the carnage. The next day, while I was at work, I received a text from her with a photo:

The culprits had returned to dig up the root bundles, too.

They really don’t want her to grow flowers in that pot.

Yesterday, I was able to claim an hour to sit on my bike seat and pedal down some country roads in preparation for my upcoming bike tour in the middle of June. I’m proud to say that my 1994 Trek 520 is performing admirably, and most important, quietly.

I love a quiet bike. Squeaky brakes, clicks, chain noise, or any repetitive sounds from rotating pedals or spinning wheels are a bane to my riding experience. Since my bike rolls quietly, any sound that does appear is evidence of a problem that needs to be checked out.

On my return leg last night, a sudden clicking arose. I stopped pedaling immediately and tried to identify the source. It was regular enough that I worried one of my tires had picked up something and a flat could be imminent. It got louder and louder, but also more defined.

It was refining into a rapidly repeating click-clack, click-clack.

I recognized that sound and it was not from my bike. I turned my head to glance over my shoulder and saw behind me, a young lady approaching on a galloping horse.

Just as she was about to come up beside me, a barking dog ran out of a driveway and interfered with our chance to exchange a pleasant greeting. She slowed her horse and I picked up my pace to put distance between me and the dog.

The rest of my ride home toward the smoky orange sunset was blissfully quiet.


Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2019 at 6:00 am

Great Indoors

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You know the saying. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I don’t know what phenomena might be pushing the local dew point temperatures to extremely tropical levels, but it is driving our heat index into the triple digits again. I’m not a fan.

At the same time, I really don’t have much to gripe about. The workplace indoor temperatures are air-conditioned down to a level that keeps my arms cold all day in a short-sleeved shirt. From there, I step out to my car and turn on the AC for the long drive home. Our house is perfectly comfortable with the geothermal system making great use of that constant underground temperature in the upper 50s(F).

Of course, this works because I’m done with the time sensitive chores outside, enabling me to pick and choose whether I’ll go out and deal with the immediate elements, or avoid them.

It makes it difficult to pay true attention to the present moment. I’m off in some other world, down a maze of insignificant Reddit posts like hatted cats pawing attention-getting bells to trigger repeated delivery of a treat, or highlight videos of soccer players tangling for a header where one uprights the other and then guides his flip to a full rotation that lands the opponent upright again before ever crashing to the ground.

Cute, but basically mindless, compared with what is available in and around the space where I’m breathing.

Yesterday evening, I was describing my June week of biking and camping to a visitor and reminded myself of how in-the-moment that activity can be. We are out in the elements all day, sleeping on the ground in tents all night. Breathing the air, inhaling the scents, hearing the birds and freight trains.

We notice everything about the wind.

When I’m not biking, I pay no attention to what direction the wind is blowing. Why do I neglect to notice?

My habit of not truly being fully present in a moment allows for obliviousness to that kind of detail. My mind can wander to expectations of watching the World Cup final on Sunday, or mulling over imagined reasons why our 4 acres of hay-field have yet to be cut by the neighbor who, back in the beginning of June, volunteered so to do.

In my comfortable car during the long commute, lately I’ve been listening to deep cuts from my library of music, allowing it to carry me off to distant rekindled memories or fantasies of mastering my own version of various enticing songs.

I’m thankful I don’t have to be out in the heat, but at the same time, I regret how my avoidance accommodates a distancing from the realities of the present moment.

I take some solace in having just sweated through every layer of several sets of grubby clothes over the recent three days of heaving hundreds of hay bales. We were reasonably enmeshed in the moment for those hours of each day.

There is some balance there… and, always an opportunity to strive for better attention to the immediate pleasures of the artificial environment of a comfortably conditioned “great indoors.”



Still There

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I’ve made it through two days back at work, but like many years before, my mind is still back on the week of biking and camping with friends. Those days are a powerful elixir that takes a while to wear off.

The Tour of Minnesota is holding a photo contest which provides me an opportunity to revisit the trip, with an expanded view from my own, by perusing the 200-plus submissions from fellow riders.

Here are a couple of my own shots that I liked well enough to toss into the fray…















Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2017 at 6:00 am