Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike trip

Touring St. Cloud

leave a comment »

So, here I am in my tent, trying to schedule the last few posts on my phone, while the street light above is turning off and on randomly.

There are formatting steps I still haven’t learned how to accomplish to get things to look the way I want.

That is probably because my brain is on vacation.

It may not make for much in the way of interesting reading, but it’s sure a pleasant week for me!

I love… discovering new friends on this ride, having skilled bike mechanics fine tune nuisance problems on my bike, and laughing to tears and breathlessness over hilarious stories that people share.

Alexandria was a pretty fine place, too.

I miss… access to my laptop computer for writing and formatting these posts.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

No Mow

with 2 comments

I leave for vacation today whether I am ready, or not. I’ve got it covered well enough… I’m sort of ready.

Yesterday was my final day of work before departure, and I tried in vain to get everything completed to my satisfaction. I had hoped to leave early enough to fit in one last cutting of the lawn when I got home. I didn’t hit either target. I didn’t get all the work done before I had to go, and I left work later than I wanted.

As a consolation prize, I was going to get the mowing completed so I wouldn’t have anything that demanded my attention this morning except for finding and packing everything I want to have for the Tour of Minnesota bike trip.

It should come as no surprise that I couldn’t get the mowing done, either.

After a mere 2 or 3 minutes into the job, the power to the mower stopped abruptly. I thought it was possibly the seat interlock, but nothing I did re-enabled the PTO to engage. Then I spotted the belt was completely loose from the engine pulley.

Closer inspection revealed the idler spring had broken.

Really? After 12 hours of operation? This is how new products get a bad review.

I couldn’t find a replacement spring in stock anywhere near us. Everyone was happy to order one for me, but that wouldn’t solve my problem. The grass is long, now. I’m leaving home today for a week of vacation.

I thought maybe I could steal a spring from the old mower, but it didn’t have one matching the size I needed. The mowing did not happen. Unless I get lucky and find one in stock this morning at the one place I couldn’t check last night (because they had already closed for the day), this will be another thing I am leaving behind for others to deal with while I’m gone.

So, I’m sort of ready to leave my responsibilities behind for a week, and I’m sort of packed.

I would venture to say this is the least prepared I’ve been of all of these bike trips I have done over the years. I wish I could say that previous experience allows me to prepare less, but I don’t believe that is the case.

Right now, it feels like previous experience is informing me that I will soon be missing the comforts of home.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Why don’t I ever take a vacation where I just stay home and relax for a week?

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Training Pause

leave a comment »

From the “no good deed goes unpunished” file, my zealous efforts of Friday produced a reward in the form of a strained muscle on the left side of my lower back. It doesn’t take much brilliance to figure out the wielding of a heavy pole saw with an engine on the low end and a spinning chain blade on the top turned out to be too much for my limited strength.

It has forced a pause in my biking and plank exercises that has altered a plan to maximize my conditioning prior to the start of The Tour of Minnesota biking and camping trip in June. Maybe it was fortuitous, because the weather has taken a harsh turn to oppressively HOT!

I am resting my painful muscle in the shade of the house. In a meager effort to be conscientious about the use of energy, I struggled to keep the house comfortable yesterday by managing open windows and closed shades. It was almost successful.

This morning, I have already closed the house up and turned on the AC. If I am going to get anything done outside today, as I slowly try to regain function, being able to return to a comfortable house will be very valuable.

I am home alone for a spell as Cyndie went to the lake place for a couple of days to contribute to the opening work-weekend. Jackie had a trip out-of-town planned before she moved in with us, so I am minding the ranch.

Delilah has been a sweetheart, allowing me to rest without constantly begging for attention. I think maybe she notices how crazy hot it is outside and her fur coat doesn’t like being out in the blazing sunshine on days like this.

Walking does seem to be good therapy for my sore muscle however, so we have made the rounds, staying in the shade of the woods as much as possible. This morning, we were rewarded with deer hoof prints on our trail that revealed the presence of a brand new fawn, based on the teeny-weeny size.

I tried to capture an accurate depiction of how tiny the little prints were, but even that doesn’t do justice to how surprisingly small they really look.

After we looped around on another trail, Delilah almost pulled my arm off when she struggled to chase some deer cutting into the woods by the labyrinth. The only view I could get was of a tail. No babies in sight.

Our next stop was the barn, to feed and clean up after horses. While we were in there, both Delilah and I noticed some shadows moving outside the front door. It was the chickens! They are expanding their territory nicely.

I’m impressed.

I’m also anxiously counting their numbers every time I come upon them. Still twelve.

Here’s hoping baby deer and baby chickens all find a way to achieve a healthy first year, and my strained muscle finds a way to heal fast enough that I can get back to biking, despite the heat.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

Green Everywhere

leave a comment »

For the first time since last October, we can’t see the chicken coop from the driveway. The green of innumerable leaves has returned in a blink.

Complimenting all the green exploding in every direction was the blue sky. Just the kind of weather that would be perfect for an inaugural bike ride of the season, when a person has failed to take advantage of any previous chances.

That meant I needed to hustle home from work, and focus exclusively on cleaning and re-assembling my bike. That is to say, no more disassembly allowed. Unlike my usual self, I somehow made short work of getting the trusty two-wheeler back into riding shape.

After a break for a quick dinner, I decided to see how it rode. I mentioned out loud that I wouldn’t have my bike computer because the battery was dead, and Cyndie reminded me I could use my phone.

It had been so long since using the “Map My Ride” app, I needed to reset my password to get logged in, but once that was done, I was ready to ride.

I like a quiet bike, and I’m proud to say that my bike didn’t utter a single annoying mechanical peep. The problem with quiet bike though, is anything else making unwelcome noises becomes that much more noticeable.

I’m pretty sure it was my shoes. I have a cleat mounted in my shoes that snaps into my pedals. The longer I rode, the more I became aware of what sounded like a squeaky chair as I muscled my way up hills.

Those cleats will get a serious snugging before my next ride.

I made it home just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. By that hour of the day, the low spots on the road take on a dramatic chill compared to the rest of the air. I paused on top of the first high spot of our driveway and checked the app.

Eight miles in 36 minutes, including several fair-sized hills. Minimal traffic and only a couple of farm tractors to pass. Startled someone’s horse napping in a pasture and got stared at by a lot of cows.

That’ll do just fine for a starter.

Now if I could just do that every day for a month, maybe I would be in reasonable shape at the start of the Tour of Minnesota.

The first day mileage will be 80 miles, so I’d rather not show up under-prepared for that.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

Not Progress

leave a comment »

You’d think that, with my annual bike trip in June fast approaching, I would be riding often in preparation. Actually, I have not ridden once yet this year. It was a long winter!

Now that it has warmed up, it would make sense for me to get out and log some miles, but what did I choose to do instead? I started dismantling my bike to give it a much deserved cleaning.

Do you think there could be some subconscious factors at play that have me sabotaging my preparations for this year’s trip?

Why didn’t I do the bike maintenance when it was snowy and cold?

I am my own worst enemy.

In case you didn’t notice, my post for yesterday didn’t publish in the morning as I had intended. I don’t know what step I may have missed, but I have no reason to believe it was anything other than an unconscious oversight on my part.

By late afternoon, when my sister, Judy, checked in with me to learn why I hadn’t posted, it only took one swipe to publish from my phone. I had been that close. Just missed the last step.

I was probably distracted by thoughts of how I could be dismantling my bike down to the raw bearings to clean and grease everything so that I could then start riding it in preparation for the trip.

I wonder if my diligent planking exercises twice a day to support my ailing lumbar discs will translate to biking fitness. What I should really do is rig up my office chair to mount my bike seat on it so I can start building up calluses on my caboose while working at my desk.

It seems like the only progress I am making is in complicating my preparations for the Tour of Minnesota bike trip this year.

That’s a lot more like Not progress in my book.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Almost There

leave a comment »

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.

 

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

The Lyrics

with 2 comments

For those of you who didn’t have time to sit through the slide show of the song I wrote, and also for me, because I have a hard time remembering all the words… here are the lyrics to “The Middle of June.”

What if it fit in the form of a perfect song?
The trial of surviving a ride through a daylong storm?
Some things come ’round only one time a year
You need to grab and hold tight or chance missing the magic parts
That live in the stories and sweet spots of our minds
You know so many friends who can’t fathom that you do this
And fashioned a bond with the rest of us
Who’ve joined you once again

It’s the middle of June
And here I go again
I’m getting back on my bike
To go Jaunting with Jim

You might call it neurotic, that pallid look that arises
When all too quickly I discover my time for packing has expired
And I’m suddenly in some form of campground in some outstate small town
The faces are familiar, though sometimes names come too slow
A ritual of pack and lock the auto, a parting glimpse to ways of yore
You can watch it as it blossoms and the trip so deftly is born

It’s so great to see you, tell me how have you been
I want to share within your laughter and bow my head to hear your tears
Who is it brought a new bike there, who hasn’t changed theirs in twenty years?
If you put a piece of tape there it might work fine, just look at his
Can I be your tent neighbor, will you snore more than me?
Once I’m packed in the morning, I’ll have much more than I meant to bring

How can that be Jim’s whistle? Good morning right back at you
Do I wear the new tights yet or will it be 95 degrees?
I can’t see yet if it’s cloudy, nor discern if there’s any wind
Where’d I put my water bottles and oh my god do I have to pee
We thank you oh Conductor for this special opportunity
Please forgive me if I waver and consider a jaunt to a B & B

We eat like we think we have to, then have some more when it tastes so good
Wait in line to use a restroom and see our bottles all start out full
Then just repeat Jim’s instructions, did he say 59 not 23?
We’ll snack in eighteen hill-free miles, can it be this easy?
The road just rolls past our tires, “On your left” so you say
Who’s that singing while they’re riding? Haven’t you passed me twice today?

We fan out across the horizon, dodging roadkill and debris
Shouting Gravel! Hole! & Bump! while speaking with whomever we happen to be
We notice wild flowers ‘tween the farm fields, gaze on lakes as well as woods
Wave at gawking rural town folk and race with dogs past the point they should
It isn’t always smooth sunny tailwinds, yet it always ends up manageable
And we should out the joys of elation the sight a water tower can tend to bring

Soon one day gets confused with others, it’s hard to say where we’ve been when
I remember bits of one funny incident, though in which town I can’t quite claim
Shared meals more than nourish us, joint accomplishments give common bond
Communal showering to humbles us and ties like family are coming on
Mere words can’t describe it, when you ride with us then you know
After years of having done this, it gets more important for me to go

All too soon the trip is over, the time just comes, the dancing’s done
Bittersweet to reach the start again, don’t want to stop, can’t wait to get home
What will it feel like back in my bed again, how’ll I do riding on my own
I’ll pretend to hear a morning whistle, the sound of tent poles breaking down
But I’ll rarely find convenience, such as the freedom from planning out
All the details of my day’s plan, as on Jim’s annual ride around

It’s the middle of June
And here we go again
We’re getting back on our bikes
To go Jaunting with Jim

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2017 at 6:00 am