Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bicycling

Bike Week

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I’ve been riding the “Jaunt with Jim” bike ride in the middle of June for probably 15 of the last 20 years. Jim Klobuchar has retired and passed the ride along to the leadership of my friend, Bob Lincoln, who has rechristened the ride the “Tour of Minnesota.”

The usual routine during my travels is to compose and schedule Relative Something posts in advance, to provide continuous content while I’m away. However, we’re in the year 2015, and I think it’s time I stretch my abilities and join the craze of mobile technology being promoted everywhere I turn. I have downloaded the WordPress app, and this year I endeavor to achieve a “live” daily peek into my experiences biking and camping by posting from my phone. Oy.

Wish me luck. And carrier service. And battery life.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the great June bicycle trip, I am once again providing the youtube video of the song I wrote about the event, set to a slide show of photos I took during a couple trips that happened in northern Minnesota a bunch of years ago. It pretty much describes the event from start to finish. That’s why it is over 8 minutes long.

Today, we will be leaving Chaska, MN early in the morning and will ride a mere 50-some miles to Faribault. I hope you will find a post here tomorrow morning about the first day of this year’s ride.

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Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2015 at 6:00 am

Preparations Underway

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It’s that time again. In 4 days I depart for a week of bicycling and tent camping. Preparations are underway to get my bike ready, my butt ready, and my gear pulled out of storage.

I haven’t been out on the bicycle much at all this year, but I have snuck in a couple of rides covering a reasonable number of miles, enabling me to feel at least minimally prepared for what’s ahead. On Saturday I ventured out alone to explore some of the country roads around our place, and managed to be out riding for twice as long as I had intended. I figured that to be a good sign. One, that I was even able to do it (although I was thoroughly spent by the time I reached home again), and two, that I was feeling up to riding for that long.

I tried to follow that up yesterday with another workout in the saddle, but very quickly my legs let me know they hadn’t had enough time to recover from the day before. Seems I picked a tricky time to ask my body to readjust to getting less sugar, since I also need to prepare to do a week of long distance cycling. My energy stores are a bit confused.

It is a good thing I cut my ride short, because we had family stop by to celebrate Cyndie’s birthday which was during the week last week. I thought they were just making a brief appearance while on their way home from the lake, but it turned out they hadn’t been at the lake and ventured our way just for a little party. What fun!

DSCN3525eCyndie served up some treats and pulled out the lawn games for the niece and nephews. They gave her a fabulous collection of mini figurines and decor that are now wonderfully arranged down by the labyrinth garden. We had a beautiful afternoon of outdoor activities, although keeping to mostly high ground.

Overnight Saturday, we received another inch and a half of rain in a spectacularly dramatic flashing thunderstorm. Our low spots are now all standing water after a pattern of repeated soakings last week. The horses —well, mostly the two geldings— rolled in the fresh mud in attempt to keep the biting flies at bay.

Despite how annoyed they were with the flies, all four horses seemed particularly well-behaved during the period our visitors were mingling with them at the barn.

DSCN3526eDelilah was delighted to have so many people to interact with and throw things for her to chase. She completely dropped any hint of heeding our commands and made herself at home in the landscape pond whenever she got hot and tired. It looked like she was thinking about taking up tree climbing at one point, when something particularly interesting got her attention up in a pine tree that was much taller than with which she should have been bothered.

I know this week will be gone in a blink and my hours for packing will expire, but I’ve done this bike trip enough times that I’m hoping it will all fall into place in the nick of time.

I usually does.

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Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2015 at 6:00 am

Hello June

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DSCN3521eWhat took you so long to get here, June? We’ve been waiting for you to arrive. Of course, the clematis vine climbing our trellis didn’t wait for you at all. The flowers on it seem more than happy with their situation (despite the recent threats of overnight frost that keep happening), and began blossoming some time ago.

June is a big birthday month around our house, and it is also when I gather with somewhere around 120 like-minded bicyclists for a week of riding and tent camping. Oh, and eating. We do a lot of eating.

I was able to get out on Saturday for a warmup bike ride of 43-miles with Julie and Anand, both of whom I will see again in 12 days when our week of riding begins. Other than one annoying click from somewhere in the drive train of my bike that appeared during the second half of our excursion, my bicycle seems ready for the journey.

My body, on the other hand, is a little more of a question. I’m hoping that just getting that one preliminary day of significant mileage will help me to feel somewhat prepared for the adventure ahead. It’s certainly better than nothing.

The only thing left to do is prepare my appetite for the trip. Do you think I need to do any work on that? No, that won’t be necessary. How early can you start the carbo-loading routine before a big event?

Come on, June, bring it on! Despite my surprise that you arrive today, I’m ready to dive in to whatever it is that you have in store.

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Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Pedaling Upwind

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Seriously, we agreed to go, and even paid for the privilege of riding bicycles in a region that is so windy that they hold National Championship windsurfing competitions and power companies put up wind turbine farms.

What were we thinking?

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Maybe more of us would have thought twice about dealing with that wind if we would have known that the region was also going to be soaked by repeating waves of massive thunderstorms creating flash floods that closed roads, destroyed crops, and trapped a lot of cows.

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We witnessed innumerable fields with large amounts of topsoil sediment dropped in the lowest draining corner, and even more fields with massive amounts of previous year’s dead stalks and debris pushed into piles where it flowed over roads, or dropped in winding patterns when flood waters receded.

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Luckily, the camaraderie and shared accomplishment of like-minded friends proves to be a superb distraction from how miserable we might otherwise feel were we to endure such dreadful conditions alone. Riding while chatting —when the winds aren’t gusting so severely as to make that impossible— is a great way to cover long miles and not notice how far you’ve actually gone. We had opportunities to experience a little of both situations on this year’s ride.

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

Riding Wet

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Last week I posted little snippets that describe some aspects of my annual June bike/camping trip. Much about it is the same every year, in a general sense, but each trip has its special moments that go down as memories that stand apart. I will attempt to describe my adventures of this year’s Tour of Minnesota, looking back at it from the comfort of now being warm and dry.

It was a wet year. Here are some headlines for the week from my favorite weather blog, Updraft: “Warm front sets the stage for stormy period,” “Flooding rains drench parts of Minn.; more on the way,” “Severe threat unfolding tonight; tornado watch west,” “Epic flood threat and severe risk continue,” “Uncle! 2014 is wettest year on record so far.”

IMG_3921eI have done this ride when there was no rain for the entire week. Other years we have been able to ride dry every day, and rain fell only at night. Often, there will be one or two days when we must endure the inevitably wet day. It was overcast on the Saturday that we started our ride from Jackson, MN, heading for Worthington. I didn’t put on a jacket because I tend to overheat when covered up. It didn’t exactly rain on that first leg, but you could feel a sprinkle of wind-blown wetness that was falling. The sky ahead conveyed the obviousness of the source.

I was thoroughly enjoying chatting with another rider about my new adventure with horses, as the wetness increased and our first rest stop loomed an unknown distance away. She stopped to put on rain gear, but I elected to push on. Real rain was just beginning to fall as I navigated my way beneath the pavilion. Everyone after me was riding in a soaking rain.

During our rest stop, the thunderstorm rolled over us in full force, unleashing a bolt of lightning and crash of thunder that elicited shrieks. We extended our stay under the roof at this rest stop for a bit longer. Ride leader, Bob Lincoln, was monitoring radar and knew there would be no ‘backside’ of this system. He held us in place until the first hint of a reduction in intensity, and then sent us toward our lunch stop.

There are portions of this year’s ride of which I will have no photos to offer. For much of the trip, my camera was bagged and buried in my trunk to keep it dry. We rode through a blustery downpour that continued to be peppered with startling bolts of lightning and cracks of thunder. At this point of soaking wet riding, you suck it up and just accept it. Once you get wet, you don’t need to worry about getting any wetter. You hope to get it over with, paying these dues in search of drier days ahead. Little did we know at the time…

Lunch was under another pavilion, but sitting in the breeze, soaking wet, people were getting chilled. They opened a school for us. There wasn’t as much lightning, but the ride from lunch to Worthington was still pretty wet. The wild weather had forced a change in venue from camping in the park to getting refuge in their school. As I led a small group in search of the new destination, we came upon the National Championship Windsurfing regatta and witnessed all the vendors that had been forced to close down their booths.

Following directions from locals, we pedaled into neighborhood roads that were flooded, forcing us to ad-lib alternate routes. It was only our first day, but by the time I settled into my sleeping bag, perched on the landing of a stairway in a dark hallway in the school, I felt like we had been battling for several.

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Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

Back Live

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IMG_3950eI am back with live posts today —not pre-written and scheduled— having successfully survived and returned from the most challenging of bike camping adventures that I have ever done. We made plenty of jokes about planning a bicycle trip in a region that has been selected as a good place to have a wind turbine farm.

The challenge of riding daily into unrelenting gale-force headwinds was compounded by the addition of a surprising wave-after-wave of severe thunderstorms, drenching this region that was previously enduring a drought. The unprecedented amount of rain in that short time seriously flooded farm fields, creating flash floods that over-ran banks, flooded homes and washed out roads.

IMG_3927eFor some reason that I don’t understand, I had the unfortunate luck of adding to the misery by getting sick with a sore throat, stuffy head, and congested lungs. I don’t know if it was just a bad coincidence of timing or whether the weather conditions and close proximity to a large group of people happened to be the trigger.

Last week was one tough vacation. At the same time, it was as fun as ever. I hope to tell you more about it in the days ahead. Right now I am faced with the burden of deciding if I can go back to bed to repair my ailing health or get after the mowing and manure management chores that are in dire need of attention.

The same storms that dominated our bike week moved across the state and soaked Wintervale Ranch. We’ve got additional trees tipped over that I will need to cut up and move, just to get to the manure pile.

The bed is looking more and more enticing as my current preferred option.

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Headed Home

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As the route for this year’s bike trip came together, the last leg ended up being the shortest of all, at roughly 22 miles, to get us from Windom back to Jackson where our cars are parked. That’s okay with me. By Friday, my mind is on getting home to my own bathroom and a real bed again. One of the hardest parts of the transition from this vacation back to a normal routine is ratcheting back my diet to a normal calorie intake.

When your vacation involves riding a bicycle all day long, every day, you can pretty much eat whatever you want and justify it as fuel for the next effort ahead of you. My past experience tells me that I won’t be riding much bike when I get home from this trip, so it behooves me to cut back on the daily ice cream treats and what seems like a week of non-stop eating.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2014 at 6:00 am