Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike trip

Still Ely

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Having a day off in the middle of our week of riding is a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, it wreaks havoc on the organization system I had established for keeping track of things in my duffel bag.

Yesterday was a chance to sleep in, pick our own restaurants for meals, and shop Ely.

After an early hike to get coffee with Laura, which scored me a chai, a larger gang formed for breakfast at Insula restaurant.

Breakfast salad was my choice and I was not disappointed. Poached eggs and smoked salmon! Mmm. It was delicious and just what I wanted.

Look at that morsel of blue sky!

We shopped the main drag and I got to visit my two favorite outdoor gear retailers: Wintergreen and Steger Mukluks.

One of our riders from California, Bob Murin, paints watercolors and I came upon him mid-picture.

In the afternoon, we visited the International Wolf Center and were lucky to spot the four males that made an appearance right before we left, three of whom are visible sprawled out in the image I captured.

It was all good, but paled in comparison to the social-hour surprise we got in the park where we tented.

An Ely cake baker, Susan Laine, showed up with a treat she baked to welcome us!

That is love, I tell ya.

 

 

Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Grand Rapids

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Commence camping!

Things did not go well in the waning moments prior to that critical point of finally heading out the door for a week of vacation.

In my last sweep of the counter after a quick lunch, I discovered ants marching to and fro.

I decided to search for ant killer that we might have stashed away from last year. Second place I looked was under the kitchen sink.

When I opened the doors, water came rolling out. Lots of it!

I have no idea where it was coming from and didn’t have time to thoroughly investigate.

I pulled everything out and mopped up, then slid a bucket into position under the drips.

What a lovely mess to leave behind.

I met Gary Larson in Edina, leaving my car at Cyndie’s parents’ house and rode with him to Grand Rapids.

It was as wonderful as ever to see the many friends and familiar faces of fellow riders and to be greeted so warmly.

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

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Touring St. Cloud

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2018 at 6:00 am

No Mow

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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.

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

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Training Pause

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

Green Everywhere

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

Not Progress

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2018 at 6:00 am