Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike tour

Now This

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Last night, I received notification that the single organized group-bike-tour that I participate in every June has been canceled for 2020 due to some virus pandemic. The Tour of Minnesota will take this summer off. My intuition tells me there is a good chance my pedals and spokes won’t get much of a workout this year.

That tour was the incentive to get me spinning those wheels as early as possible every spring, oftentimes against my preference to rather not.

“I’m too tired today.”

“There are too many other chores I should be doing.”

“The weather isn’t ideal.”

“I don’t feel like riding right now.”

Despite those and other excuses, whenever I overcome the resistance and get myself out on the bike, I am always incredibly happy to be riding.

Without the incentive of the impending week-long trip of high daily mileage to drive my actions, I fear my endless collection of excuses will override my pleasure of gliding along country roads, especially during times of social distancing. Riding alone is nowhere near as fun as riding with a group.

On the bright side, now I won’t be thinking about a risk of becoming symptomatic with a virus that compromises lungs while needing to pedal for multiple 70-mile days and sleep overnights on the ground in a tent.

I picture myself choosing some less-taxing adventures close to home in the months ahead. For some reason, I keep seeing tree-shaded hammocks swinging in this vision.

That must mean Cyndie will be doing the lawn mowing.

“Don’t forget to wear a mask, hon!”



Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

To Hibbing

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It was a beautifully sunny day out of Gilbert. Rich captured this shot of Steve leading Laura and me on a particularly bumpy section of the Mesabi trail.

I took a picture of Steve and Rich later on.

No complaints about the weather yesterday. It was picture perfect. Tents packed dry in the morning, no significant wind, and lots of sunshine.

In Hibbing, we camped at the historic high school. I took a picture of the Steinway piano that Bob was banging on like Little Richard when he was yanked off the stage.

There is also a display case dedicated to the troubadour.

They seem rather fond of Dylan around these parts.

On the walk back to camp after dinner, we came upon a property with a labyrinth.

Today, we ride back to our cars in Grand Rapids. It begins the odd struggle of returning to real life again.

Bittersweet to reach the start again

Don’t want to stop, can’t wait to get home



Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Chisholm

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We were blessed with great weather yesterday for riding the Mesabi Trail from Grand Rapids to Chisholm.

The trail is a fabulous adventure of twists and turns with a variety of dramatic ups and downs.

There were a number of vistas that provided views of mining activity, as well as of the huge ridges of dumped leftovers. Eventually, vegetation starts to grow and reclaim the surface, but it is a little unsettling to see the way humans can alter the planet so significantly.

Has me struggling with the multitude of ways my activities and possessions contribute to demand for mining.

The trail just rolled past our tires…

That’s Rich and Steve vrooming around a corner.

In Chisholm, we camped at the mining museum and got a chance to see some big and historic equipment up close.

I asked Steve and James to provide a reference to actual size. Did I mention, big?





Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Getting Close

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Departure is just two days away for the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week. I spent much of my time last night pretending to pack. It’s kind of a dry run, where I pull out clothes and biking gear I think might be smart to have. Then I labor over deciding whether I’m taking too much or leaving out something vital. I am not inclined toward finding a laundromat on our day off from riding.

Will it be a rainy, wet week? Cold? We are going north. Hot? That happens up there, too. Hard to know for sure, so I’d like to be prepared to be comfortable between the hours on the saddle. At the same time, I really don’t want to be hauling around extra clothing that I don’t end up using.

I’ve taken enough flak over the years for having a heavy duffle bag that I’ve become determined to travel lighter. The best way I can think of to accomplish that is by not bringing clothing I don’t need. The rest of the gear in my bag is a given. The tent. Sleeping bag and pad. It should be a cinch to stay well under 50 lbs, especially with the new lighter sleeping bag my kids bought me for an early Father’s Day/Birthday gift.

My bag weighed in the upper 40s the years I was being chastised most by the gear haulers. I would like to find the magic weight that will feel noticeably different, but I have no idea what that is.

I suppose I could leave out the large bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms that I claimed out of the treat drawer in the kitchen, but this week of extra exercise is one time when I allow myself to splurge a little on my strict daily limit of sugar intake. Jettisoning treats might be taking this weight concern one step too far.

I’m really looking forward to sleeping in the great outdoors again. In honor of the early morning experience of waking up in the tent, I’ve retrieved a Words on Images from three years ago called, Daybreak:




Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Touring Little Falls

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It usually feels good to get back on the road again after the day off. I have no idea how it will feel for me this year, because my pre-trip training was far short of ideal.

My pre-trip blog preparation also fell short, so I am now posting from my tent. Ugh.

I love… settling into the tent and then hearing Julie and Rich start laughing inside each of their respective tents a few feet away. Laughter is absolutely contagious.

I miss… not hearing loud pickup trucks revving (sp?) their engines in the vicinity of where I am trying to sleep. I guess it’s a thing in small towns when a couple hundred strangers drop by to camp in the park.


Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2018 at 6:00 am

Touring Alexandria

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Getting to Alexandria is bolstered by the added blessing that it is the location of our day off from the regular routine of getting up before the sun and struggling to pack our things while in a sleepy fog within the cramped confines of our little tents. Then it’s a forced march past the food troughs before unceremoniously resting our bottoms on the tiny bike seat for hour after hour all day long.

What? I love this bike tour! Doesn’t that sound like an awesome adventure!

Maybe you have to be there.

On our day off we get to sleep in as much as possible in a tent that turns into an oven when the sun hits it. We are on our own for food and whatever adventures we feel up for. Some folks find a laundromat, but that is the furthest thing from a vacation activity I want to seek.

I just might find someplace where World Cup games will be shown. I may, or may not, ride my bike. I’ve been inclined toward both options over the years, so I make no hard and fast rule about such a possibility. It’s usually dictated by how well I have been tolerating long hours on the saddle for the first three days.

I love… sleeping in a little bit on the day off in the middle of the tour, and then living in the moment to watch the energy of people around me flow, paying attention to what ever grabs me and following wherever that leads. What, me plan?

I miss… being able to go to my closet for just the right shoes or clothes and accessories for all the wide variety of adventures that may become available in a moments notice. Pickle-ball anyone?

In sandels?



Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Touring Fergus Falls

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I’ve been here before. Fergus Falls. I remember it fondly, although, only vaguely. For some people, retaining specific details happens naturally, but I am much more inclined to form a general impression about places I’ve been. I know I have biked to Fergus Falls before on at least one previous tour, but all I have in mind of the experience is a notion that it was good and I thoroughly enjoyed time spent there.

Maybe this year will foster a more specific detail, or two, for the permanent memory bank. It may depend on whether I found ice cream, or not.

I love… the years when the bike tour coincides with FIFA’s World Cup soccer tournament, like it does this year (even though the US team is not in it. Ugh!!). There is often a sub-group of like-minded “football” fans among the bikers who then converge on whatever establishments can be found which offer television coverage so we can hoot and holler together over the beautiful game.

I miss… being able to sit down on my easy chair upstairs on our loft in front of our big screen tv to watch sports or movies with my favorite snacks and beverage at a time of my choosing and not when I’m in the middle of some other distracting fabulous adventure in its own right at the very same time.

A little weak, maybe, but I had to miss something!



Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2018 at 6:00 am