Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘bike trip

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

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

The Lyrics

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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

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2017 at 6:00 am

Confusing Mix

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In my song, the sixth verse starts: “Soon one day gets confused with others / It’s hard to say where we’ve been when…”

In reviewing journals I have occasionally kept during the annual June rides, I was hoping to clarify the places I’ve ridden to and in which years I was able to participate. Even though I was inspired to return after the great experiences I had the first year, the locations of the rides were a much greater factor in my decisions in the early years than they would be later on.

At this point, I think I’ve pedaled in most every region of the state, and beyond. I’m pretty sure we made a crossing into one, if not both, of the Dakotas. I purposely joined a group that did a day jaunt down to Iowa and back, and the ride eventually included some significant ventures into Wisconsin.

Small towns can tend to have a similar layout and vibe. My confusion gets multiplied by the fact we occasionally revisit the same place more than once over the years. The deja vu sensation becomes a regular occurrence. Unlike some sharper minds, I have not been able to recall all the towns and in which years.

In the 23 years that have passed since that first year that I rode, my journal and photo collections only provide evidence for 14 adventures. I’m confident that it is more than that, but can’t say how many more. I’m aware of 4 years for sure when I missed the ride.

I have fond remembrances of New York Mills, Kelliher, Luverne, Walker, Park Rapids, Bagley, International Falls, Cannon Falls, Harmony, Grand Marais, Grand Portage… We decided not to try riding into Canada that year.

The roads just roll past our tires. Too many to keep track of them all. Maybe I should have taken a picture of all the water towers we’ve seen in all these years.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

The Song

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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. It is 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 week from start to finish. That’s why it is over 8 minutes long.

When I wrote this, in the days after a fabulous year when I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind, it was simply a chronicle of the routine, but that made it a little wordy. I unsuccessfully struggled to fit it into a song. So, the next year I told Jim Klobuchar, the ride conductor, that it was a poem I wrote and that I wanted to share it with the group.

He asked to read it, but when he took the sheet of paper from my hand, he just put it in his pocket. That’s the kind of leader Jim is, and I chose not to challenge his methods. He would read it at a time of his choosing. Not long after, he approached me and shared his approval, but he said that he wanted to read it to the group.

Really? I was a little taken aback by this, but at the same time, honored and humbled. I was happy to have him read it. In my mind, the initial gathering of the Friday night or Saturday morning was a time that made sense. He had other plans, but I’m guessing they weren’t firm.

Day after day went by, and he made no mention of it. I soon gave up any expectation and chose not to fret over not knowing what he had in mind. Finally, at lunch of the second-to-last day, he told the group to gather outside after the meal. He called me up to stand next to him, and he did a wonderful job reciting my prose.

I figured that was it. My composition worked just fine as a poem.

Until it didn’t anymore. Somehow I figure it was always meant to be a song. On a year when my family gave me a Baby Taylor travel guitar for my birthday, I decided it would be appropriate to be able to sing the song during the bike trips.

With some minor tweaking, I figured out a way to make it fit. That led to the added intro:

“What if it fit in the form of a perfect song
The trial of surviving a ride through a day long storm…”

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now review the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 am