Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike tour

Almost There

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I was close. Right down to the last minutes, extra minutes actually, I was composing new posts and scheduling them to publish. I was two days short. I ran out of time.

So, I am writing this with thumbs on my phone while sitting in my tent in Superior, WI on the morning of our day off.

It will be brief.

So far, this year’s trip is living up to the best of years past. It is a combination of traditions we love and new experiences and people discovered.

We are camped on school grounds where we keep laughing over the graffiti on the wall:

“Jeff was hear”

The common opinion is that Jeff should have been paying more I attention to going to class than making his presence known on the outside of the building.

 

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Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

Wheels Rollin’

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DSCN4872eMy favorite photos from cycling are usually ones taken on the road from the bike. When I remember, I carry my pocket camera in my jersey so I can slip my hand through the strap and pull it out for shots on the fly. Unlike my sure-handed friend, Rich, who deftly wields his iPhone for photos from his bike, I want the comfort of knowing the wrist strap will back me up when I fumble the grip.

Even when I remember to have the camera at the ready, usage requires I have ample space to allow my bike to wander off course a bit in the act of capturing shots. I have a tendency to float across lanes when I twist my torso around to compose a view behind me.

DSCN4875eGood shots can be had when a lot of bikers are bunched up, but those are not times I feel safe to be veering off course in the act of shooting.

Although the majority of this year’s Tour of Minnesota was on bike trails, there were still a few occasions when we were out on the open road. With only minimal traffic and an ongoing intermittent rumble strip to deal with, we had opportunity to spread out and stretch our legs.

It was good to have a little variation from the monotonous, albeit beautiful,  miles of railroad-grade paved trails.

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At one point we came upon a crew repaving the road. We simply joined the autos in waiting a turn to pass through the construction zone.

It felt a little too exposed to be on a bicycle, just a few feet away from fresh steaming hot asphalt, large dump trucks, and huge steam rollers crawling along as we rode through.

Some riders cannot resist the urge to stop and shop whenever we come upon garage sales. It pays to have a way to carry new treasures when shopping by bike.

Doobie is one to find a way when his muse hits. Light saber on the backpack, stuffed python snake wrapped around the bike frame. He doesn’t let anything bog down his free wheelin’.

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2016 at 6:00 am

Leisure Time

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After a spectacular morning rest stop at a bar in Myrtle, MN, where they opened at 9:00 a.m. for us, we rode through the minor inconvenience of some light rain before arriving at Albert Lea. It was not only our lunch destination, but also the town of our day off, so we will be camping here two nights. 

Not needing to bike anywhere today means we can work on our eating skills. My sugar addiction doesn’t have much to worry about this week. It’s pretty safe for the time being, and being well fed. 

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2015 at 6:00 am

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

Tangled Web

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We survived yesterday’s day-long precipitation without receiving any torrential downpours! The ground is soaking wet, but we avoided any further washouts, I’m very happy to report.

I spent yesterday trying to finalize my preparations for the Tour of Minnesota bike trip. I will leave this afternoon for the drive to the initial camping spot before tomorrow morning’s departure on the first day of cycling. I’m hoping for much better weather than we endured last year.

I found the exercise of packing to be almost beyond my mental capacity. It seems a bit extreme to me, but I seriously believe I am continuing to suffer rather significant symptoms of withdrawal due to my quest to stop over-eating foods laden with sugar. I did some reading on the subject, and opinions seem universal about the individuality of responses to reducing or eliminating sugar from a person’s diet.

I hate to imagine that my very noticeable symptoms are a reflection of how much excess sugar was in my diet prior to this effort to pay attention. I have had headaches and dizziness, but my primary complaint, which was making me particularly uncomfortable yesterday, is flu-like symptoms of aches and pain, lethargy, and weakness. I just want to lay down and sleep. I feel crappy. If I thought I had the flu, I would just stay in bed.

Meanwhile, I am preparing to embark on a week of bicycling. What am I thinking!?

My thinking was pretty foggy all day, and packing became a random series of wandering around collecting things and then setting them any variety of places. Nothing actually got packed. In the early afternoon, I succumbed to the overwhelming urge to lay down and napped for over an hour.

Today, if the grass dries enough, I would like to do some last-minute mowing before departing. I hope to use the early morning hours to finally put things in my bag and be ready to jump into afternoon traffic after one last shower in the privacy of my own home.

I think I have participated in this week of biking and camping so many times that my frame of reference during preparations has shifted significantly from the excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead, to lamenting the last night of sleeping in my bed, using our private bathroom and showering alone for the next week.

Granted, those issues are some of what contribute to the charm and camaraderie of this event, which is what draws us all back, year after year, but the inconveniences seem to become amplified after so many years of doing it.

I plan to drown any sorrows in sugar during the week, as I anticipate “cheating” on my diet a fair amount, to calm my symptoms and provide necessary fuel for the confused furnace of my body. I just hope it doesn’t mean my withdrawal symptoms have to happen all over again when I get back and resume my measured daily intake.

It’s a tangled web I am weaving.

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Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2015 at 6:00 am

Spectacular Solution

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The Sunday of our ride falls on “Father’s Day.” After breakfast this day, we received a special treat: the daughter of our baggage handler and her friend sang a song they composed for the occasion. It brought tears to the eyes and received an immediate and emphatic standing ovation.

It wasn’t raining when we started out, but it was soaking wet from non-stop overnight thunderstorms. We were provided a police escort out of Worthington which moved so fast ahead of us that we could hardly keep up. Out on the open road, we eventually ride into heavy rain again.

Our lunch destination was far enough away that two rest stops were established ahead of it. The 20-plus miles to the first stop seemed long. The 20-some miles from there to lunch felt even longer. I think it was the wind. Rumors could be heard that flooding was causing road closures

Despite the hardships, I had several opportunities to visit with other riders, which is one of the most precious aspects of this ride, and helps toward achieving miles unnoticed. By the time we arrived at our lunch stop, the sky cleared and we were able to enjoy warm sunshine. It felt disorienting, because all around us there seemed to be standing water, and rumor had turned to fact, as news of a dam breaking on the Rock River was confirmed as the cause of roads being closed.

Under the beautiful blue sky, our freshman leader was forced to ad-lib a solution to a very fluid problem. Roads that might be open one minute, could close in an instant. He plotted solutions with 4 different agencies simultaneously, sometimes receiving conflicting reports from each. For a while, even the interstate highway was shut down.

In the middle of that drama, an isolated squall passed by, making sure we stayed aware of the fact we remained at the mercy of momma nature. Then a most spectacular solution unfolded before our eyes. One of the local support people called in a favor and rousted a brother with an 18-wheel tractor/trailer rig. They would put our bikes in the truck, and the riders in buses and cars, to shuttle us around the flooding in order to get us where we needed to be.

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I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been standing right there. The truck arrives and the trailer has “Cycle Country” painted across the side. The driver didn’t seem to notice, reporting that he bought the used trailer simply to haul junk and scrap that he rips out of demolition jobs. A random few of us hop up to catch bikes being lifted up, handing them forward to others who took initiative to delicately position the precious cargo for best protection and fit. A hundred-some bikes, tangled together so there was nowhere for them to fall, filled the trailer right to the end.

The truck pulled away to a smattering of jokes about the probability of the cargo being sold off to the highest bidder in some other town down the road. IMG_3935eSomeone showed up with beer to add to the festive feeling of the unfolding events, and we awaited the arrival of shuttles.

Even before it had completely played out, this day was becoming legend. No matter what else happened to us during the rest of this ride, we already had one very unforgettable event that would join famous stories from the prior 39-years of this biking/camping group.

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2014 at 6:00 am

It’s People

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IMG_0558eFrom Slayton to Windom, MN today. The Thursday of our annual ride has a special energy to it. It is the second to last day and the bonds that develop through the week are strong. We’ve shared the accomplishment of riding through good weather and bad, living in close quarters and enjoying relaxed time together in vacation mode.

At this point, we can feel the end is near, and it induces a sense of urgency. I want to absorb as much of the energy of communing with these fine people as possible. You wish you could bring them all home in a pocket and include them in the rest of your life, showing them off to friends and family at home.

It is not possible, except in small fractions, and I have successfully done so with a precious few. Gary Larson and I have traveled to Nepal together to trek in the Himalayan mountains. A dozen others have become year-round pals who gather for a variety of other events, not necessarily bike-related.

The biking is nice, but the reason I come back to this trip every June is the people who I have come to know, some by first name only. I see them once a year for a week, and I still regard them as some of my favorite friends.

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2014 at 6:00 am