Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bicycling

Free Weekend

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Happy last day of 2022! Next year will be an odd year. No, literally, 2023 is an odd number. Duh.

To all you history buffs and genealogy fans out there, this weekend, the Star Tribune newspaper archives are free to view! What’s the first thing I checked? “John W. Hays,” of course.

What I found wasn’t new information for me, since that is also the name of my great-grandfather whom I have searched for many times before, but I had forgotten about this wonderful morsel.

Great-grandpa was a trailblazing cyclist.

08 Sep 1900, 10 – Minneapolis Daily Times at Star Tribune (Minneapolis – St. Paul)

The article was published in 1900 looking back at an event that occurred in 1886 when they road the giant 56-inch wheel.

I have cycling in my blood.

Speaking of wheels, the father of that 1880s John W. Hays was none other than my great-great-grandfather Stephen who lived in Pierce County, WI, and made wagon wheels.

I am such a product of my ancestors.

I hope you will click the link above and check out the article that was beneath that old photo. And, if you are interested in what was in the Minneapolis newspapers going back to 1867, it’s free this weekend at

Happy odd New Year tomorrow!



Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2022 at 10:54 am

Three Biketeers

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Day two of Paul’s, Randy’s, and my biking-instead-of-golfing adventures up at the lake place was a grinding success. Did I say grinding? I meant grand success. Honestly, the conditions were better than average, practically superb for the combination of riding we had in mind. My only issue was that my legs felt odd at the beginning of the day and as the afternoon progressed the muscles kept threatening to cramp up.

I’m guessing I taxed myself a bit too much on our opening day gauntlet of rocks and roots navigating the Makwa trail. Instead of allowing for a day of recovery, we three biketeers set out midmorning for some smooth riding on the road bikes. Once again, I demonstrated my penchant for having my sense of direction reversed.

My intended route would have basically formed a rectangle on the map but I missed one turn while rolling along and chatting with the guys. Remaining oblivious at the time, I was surprised to reach a “T” with McClaine Road again, which we had turned from miles before. Our route had circled back.

Knowing I’d missed a turn we reversed direction and backtracked. I was mistakingly looking for the Chief River Road I wanted on our right. When we came upon it –and of course, it was farther away than I thought it should be– I discovered my sense of our position on the planet was backward again and it was a left turn, not a right.

The rest of the road ride was without confusion and we enjoyed a triumphant return to Wildwood where we found the sign was showing a new skew of its own.

We switched to our off-road bikes again for the afternoon and I finally got my first exposure to the CAMBA trail loops by the hospital, appropriately named, “Hospital Trail.”

It lived up to the reputation I had heard for a couple of years that Hospital Trail would be much more to my liking. Sharing a variety of the fun features of the more aggressive Makwa trail near us, the Hospital trail in Hayward offers a few loops that meander through a nice section of pine forest. There are a fair number of hairpin turns but it has far fewer sharp changes in elevation or complicated rock obstacles and almost no tree root hazards.

It probably shouldn’t have been as taxing on my aging leg muscles as it was but for the rest of the day I found myself tetering perilously close to having my quads and calves seize up at one wrong move.

Pickle juice, I was told. No, I erred by asking for a scoop of two different flavors of ice cream from West’s Dairy. The serving size in the cup could have fed a family of five. I ate it anyway. Raspberry Delight with Mint Chip.

It’s what a biketeer would do!



Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2022 at 9:19 am

Scenic Cycling

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Being up at the lake isn’t all about the water. I did get in a swim yesterday afternoon shortly after we arrived but soon after, I hit the road on my bike to ride through the wooded countryside of Sawyer County.

I made my way through the Chief River State Wildlife Management area enjoying the cool air of the forest wafting out onto the hot pavement as I rolled in and out of shade. I didn’t see a deer on the side of the road ahead of me but I suddenly heard the sound of branches and spotted the animal standing broadside and looking at me calmly through the foliage it had just stepped behind.

As I try to write this now I am constantly distracted by coverage of the time trial stage 20 of the Tour de France.

Such fun!



Written by johnwhays

July 23, 2022 at 9:59 am

Posted in bicycling, Chronicle

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Lake Living

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One of the special charms of being up at the lake is the communing with family and friends. Staying in the same place with folks for days at a time expands the connection so much more than just an afternoon visit to one another’s homes for occasional events. As great as it is to have the lake home filled with people and activity, that is exactly what we are enjoying not having this week.

It has been just Cyndie, me & Delilah up here this week and we have been loving it. There are a few people from other families up at their places, but they have mostly been keeping to themselves as much as we have to ourselves.

Yesterday was quieter than the day before (when there was some passing lightning and thunder that triggered Delilah into barking fits) and even the dog seemed to settle nicely into the chill lake-life atmosphere we were cultivating.

I got in a mellow bike ride on quiet roads through wooded marshes that had me curious about the level of bear activity that may have been happening lately. Something about the scenery just looked like there should be a bear ambling by at any minute. Thoughts like this are probably triggered by the one time I did spot a bear loping along in a field up here, just to my right as I pedaled along the road. When it finally noticed me rolling along it just altered course to slant away from parallel to me so that disappearing into the nearby trees happened sooner than later.

It was somewhat comical how nonchalant we both were about the brief sighting.

After my cycling and a whopping sandwich lunch, Cyndie and I took Delilah for some water sports and we all enjoyed being alone on the beach. Delilah doesn’t choose to swim but happily tromps in up to her belly. We all did a fair amount of rock hunting and a little bit of water splashing.

It was a luxuriously slow day with some card playing on the deck, a little Tour de France watching, a grilled chicken dinner, and some streaming suspenseful tv drama after dark.

I could get used to this life if it weren’t for our other life waiting for us to return to Wintervale.

Of course, living most of our days at home serve well to keep our visits to the lake up north all the more enticing.

The reality is that we are just temporarily “lake living.” We head back home tomorrow morning where I will quickly change gears and dive into cutting grass. I’m pretty sure I will do so with visions of the scene in the photo above playing in my mind all the while.



Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2022 at 6:00 am

Hail Surprise

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It was a first for me. We rode our bikes into falling hailstones. I wonder if my insurance covers hail damage to my bicycle.

We awoke to a perfect morning thunderstorm that pinned us down in our tents for nearly an hour beyond our typical time. That was okay because the breakfast caterer showed up at about the same interval beyond what was expected.

Ride Director, Doobie, gives instructions during breakfast.

Even though we started riding from Park Rapids toward Staples later than our usual departure time, we were able to pedal off into reasonably sane weather conditions.

That didn’t last.

Soon, the sky ahead of us took on the appearance of impending rainfall. Little did we know, it would rather quickly produce pea-sized balls of ice in addition to good old pouring rain.

As stoically as possible, we forged ahead as the small hail stones bounced off the road and pinged against our helmets. It was when they began to increase in size that my friend, Steve Reynolds and I both agreed it was time to look for cover.

The first turn-off was a short driveway with a clear “No Trespassing” sign. We went no further than the first sizable tree and stood beneath its branches.

The wait was probably only five or ten minutes until the precipitation calmed down to nothing more than a fading rain shower.

We made our way back to the road and resumed pedaling toward the next rest stop. Eventually, the sky cleared up and we enjoyed a really nice ride to Staples.

Gathered for dinner in the high school in Staples.

I failed to pay adequate attention to just how nice it really got and didn’t put sunscreen on my face. By the end of the day, I had a little sunburn on the same day I bicycled in a hailstorm.



Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Seeking Shade

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Yes, it was a hot day for riding 68 miles. The morning wasn’t bad and the wind was pretty much at our backs on the flat trail from Brainerd to Walker.

There were a few big hill climbs at the end as we made our way to Water Tower Park and I’m feeling good that I conquered them all without electronic assist.

Unfortunately, at the highest heat of the day as we labored to set up tents in total exhaustion, there was no shade to be found for relief.

When it finally arrived as the earth rotated, it was the water towers that cast glorious shadows to give us a break from the relentless solar pressure.



Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Departure Imminent

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My bag is close to packed and my bike is ready and waiting. Cyndie will drive me to meet Gary Larson and he and I will head for Brainerd after noon.

I will be sleeping on the earth in my tent tonight and every other night for a week. It will be a blast with 200 or so like-minded souls.

We’ll bike to Walker, Park Rapids, Bemidji, and Staples, not exactly in that order. Ultimately, we make our way back to Brainerd next Saturday.

I’m going to try posting a photo a day throughout the week. I’ll soon find out if I get functional cell service in the areas of Minnesota where we will be cavorting.

Bon voyage! Take care of the world while I am off enjoying riding with friends in whatever weather we meet. Something tells me it will be warm and buggy. Black flies, mosquitos, horse flies… Nature’s finest.



Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2022 at 9:30 am

Very Summery

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No complaints from us with the weather pattern we have been enjoying this week. Warm and sunny during the day and cool and comfortable overnight.

Here are some scenes reflecting the bliss:

A butterfly on our lilac bush and the four horses out grazing in the hay field as the sunlight was about to disappear below the horizon.

One summer trait the horses are not enjoying is the harassment by flies. We put out a fan to provide a minor assist in blowing the pests away.

Swings tends to claim that spot as her own and the others need to ingratiate themselves with her to earn an adjacent position that she will tolerate. I saw Light squeezed in there for a little while earlier in the day.

I claimed a few hours of the warm sunshine for a bike ride through our “Driftless” terrain, which means I sped down some fast descents and struggled to climb up the other side.

I made it out to Elmwood and back, but I wasn’t successful in my quest to ride the entire distance unsupported by battery assist. Honestly, I would have needed to call Cyndie to come pick me up if I didn’t have the motor to help me deal with the last ten miles. I’d lost track of how many river valleys remained and faced an unexpected steep climb that almost broke my spirit.

However, I survived and did so under some of the best weather at the best time of year our latitude has to offer. We live in a very beautiful topography that provides wonderful vistas of rolling farm fields peppered with wooded valleys and gorgeous trout streams where whitetail deer romp and fly fishermen cast their lines.

Very summery, indeed.



Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Went Biking

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The weather was so fine yesterday, the only thing to tarnish the great outdoors was harassment by flying insects. I put in over 40-miles of pedaling through the gorgeous countryside of northern Wisconsin on my new e-bike and put the new technology to use precisely how I imagined it would benefit me.

I started my ride with the battery-powered assist kept off and rode comfortably for twenty miles, exploring a route of spontaneous decisions to choose my turns. Having a motor provides confidence that if I end up riding farther from home than my legs are strong enough to support, assistance awaits.

The lure of the road to Moose Lake and a gorgeous view of the Chippewa River had me riding a stretch of pavement to the east that was much farther than my vague memory recalled. At least it was mostly flat terrain, so that eased the effort, but that also makes it easier to overextend my total distance.

If I had just cut out the long section to the east, I could easily have finished the loop around our lake without electric assist.

As it was, after 25 miles I was ready for a little help. My average speed changed from 13 to 17 mph for the assisted portion of my ride, which is so interesting because my legs were tired but I was rolling along with the ease of having a strong wind at my back.

The first half of my ride through the great forests of this region was an exercise in whitetail deer dodging. I encountered at least 15 single deer spread out along the roads I’d picked. One was obscured by brush beyond the ditch and didn’t react until I was right beside it. Luckily, it darted away from the road and not right into me, but it still startled me when it reacted.

Another stood in the road from so far away that I wasn’t sure that it was even a deer. I hoped it wasn’t a dog, and then as I got closer and it got bigger, I hoped it wasn’t a bear. Then the definitive outline of the head and ears became clear and I wondered if I was going to ride smack into its side because it held that stance for so long. I was coasting in preparation to brake when it finally started walking away as I got within ten yards of it.

I wished I’d thought to pull my camera out of the pocket of my jersey because that would have been a great picture, but if I’d done that the deer probably wouldn’t have moved until I’d rolled right into it.

The only pictures I took were at a rest stop with this empty field and the newly budding trees on the far border. I quickly put the camera away because the tiny black flies made rolling along with a breeze the better option.

Much of the latter portion of my chosen route was on narrow-shoulder, high-speed traffic county roads that kept both of my hands safely on the controls.

Final opinion: I am very, VERY happy with my new e-bike.



Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2022 at 9:35 am

More Trillium

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While exploring our woods away from the trails in search of tree-choking vines, we came upon two beautiful trillium blossoms that were not transplanted here by us. Making the moment even more exciting for us was the fact they each had a hint of purple coloring on the petals.

I don’t know if we will ever succeed in creating a large grove of trillium in our woods by way of our annual transfer of small batches from the lake place, but it doesn’t feel as essential that we do, now that we are finding more occasions where the flowers are sprouting naturally.

Yesterday morning, I claimed a couple of hours for a bike ride that took me down into the Rush River valley, and among the many gorgeous views, I spotted several large groups of trillium growing wild.

That was much more fun to come upon than the two times a dog ran a great distance to threaten me as I pedaled past their territory. The second one was a large German Shepherd that paid little heed to my stern commands to “Stop!” and “No!” Fortunately, it didn’t demonstrate much in the way of endurance and gave up quickly as I continued my pedaling pace beyond the farm.

While I worked on transporting water to our newly transplanted saplings in the afternoon, Cyndie took our cat, Pequenita, to the vet for a diagnosis that might explain her runaway appetite, oddly loud gut sounds, and surprising weight loss lately. She really didn’t have much weight to lose.

The vet suspects hyperthyroidism and ordered a blood chemistry panel for confirmation. We hope to learn the results later today.

At this point, we anticipate there will be medication prescribed for the rest of her life. Oy.



Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2022 at 6:00 am