Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘outdoor adventures

Riding Makwa

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That was a heck of a ride to start my long weekend of biking in the woods of the Chequamegon area, especially since I haven’t been on my mountain bike for what feels like forever. It reminded me why I am more of a road rider at this point in my life.

I’m up at the lake again, this time as a member of an annual golf weekend that two of Cyndie’s brothers co-host. Since I don’t golf, I serve as companion to any former or part-time golfers who are also cyclists. Arriving early enough yesterday to sneak in a first ride with Randy and Paul, we picked the Makwa Trail as the nearby familiar option.

One of the main advantages of Makwa is its lack of any long or severe climbs. Other than that, it provides a brutal dose of unending roots and rocks on a meandering single track that taxes strength and forces constant quick navigating decisions. There are countless hairpin turns and tricky obstacles that show up right when the elevation makes a distinct change. Talking to self, “Do I go over this rock or around it? Should I downshift before I hit these roots? Do I have enough strength to recover from careening off-trail, holding tight as I muscle the bike back on course?”

It is, in a word, exhausting.

In a sentence, it is exhausting with several moments of fun rolling that don’t actually last long enough to catch my breath before rapidly finding myself holding on for dear life again to muscle through the next challenge.

We drove to a spot near the middle of the full Makwa length to start our riding toward the north trailhead. My computer logged it as being over 8 miles of trail. We opted to ride a parallel gravel fire lane road to return to the car. That distance was somewhere around 5 miles. That reveals approximately 3 miles of extra twisting and turning on the singletrack.

What it doesn’t expose is how much more effort it took to conquer the rocks and roots of the singletrack compared to the much smoother graded gravel.

Back at the lake, a soothing swim did well to help me forget how exhausted I was during the ride. We then dined at a nearby restaurant before driving to town to meet up with a majority of the golfing crew at Angler’s Bar. Festivities continued back at the “cabin” vacation home which kept many up much later than common sense would dictate.

I will be lobbying strongly today for a jaunt on our road bikes this morning before we return to the woods in the afternoon for more off-road punishment, I mean, fun.

I forgot, …why is it I don’t golf?



Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2022 at 6:00 am

Flywheel Effect

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When over 200 like-minded adventurous bicyclists converge upon a small community and travel together for an entire week, mystically powerful energy is produced. Collectively overcoming weather extremes, dealing with physical limitations, and coping with equipment failures with nothing but the heroic support of the Tour staff and each other to carry us through to the finish, we grow more connected with each passing minute.

On the very last day of the Tour of Minnesota yesterday, after splashing some water on my face and changing out of my wet cycling attire to put on clean shorts and a shirt I had stashed in the car for just this purpose, I found myself walking beside a fellow cyclist who I had yet to officially greet. We exchanged names and heartfelt pleasantries, wishing each other well on returning to “life after adventure vacations.” There was an instant unmistakable yet unspoken bond evident.

I am blessed with over 200 similar bonds woven together into one inspiring, life-enhancing aspect of my life. It is a very powerful force for good health.

One thing about energy like this is that it doesn’t simply dissipate when we all part ways for our homes at the end of the week. Comparable to the momentum of a flywheel, the emotional thrills of the week continue to spin and energize the more mundane demands of our daily home activities.

No matter what I need to put my effort toward now that my vacation week of biking and camping is over, the people and events of this year’s Tour of Minnesota will continue to spin in my mind and inspire my happy emotions for longer than seems logical. I long ago opened my mind to accepting unexplained phenomena as worthy of our attention and fully embrace the value of my emotional memories of all the personal connections shared with people I meet during these adventure weeks, some of these connections not materializing for me until the trip is over and everyone has gone home.

The flywheel has yet to wind down.

The bag of gear that needed to weigh less than 50 pounds for the sake of the luggage crew hefting so many bags multiple times per day had gained an awful lot of water weight by the time I struggled it out of the car when I got home yesterday. Before I was able to wrestle my soaked tent out of its carrying bag, the skies at home opened up with an attention-getting downpour of rain that interfered with my plan of hanging everything in the sun to dry.

It served to help sustain me in the mental place of the ride, having awoken in a similar downpour in Staples, MN earlier that very same day.

This morning, I am faced with the realities of news that a minority of people in my country are accomplishing steps to force their narrow moral views on all, moving our society backwards fifty years. I like the meme spotted recently that suggests life begins at ejaculation and maybe the burden of unplanned pregnancies and fears about unmarried promiscuity should be placed primarily on MEN in these situations, not so much women.

I’m going to ride the residual spin of wonderful energy from my Tour of Minnesota experience this year for longer than ever.

Somehow, loving all others as much or more than we love ourselves will bring us to better places soon. That’s a flywheel that I strive to get turning to a maximum velocity the whole world will feel.



Outdoor Adventures

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I started reading a book about an outdoor adventure last night and as the narration described packing a small plane and the flight they took into a remote wilderness, I was transported to memories of my experience flying to Lukla in the Himalayan mountains. That trip I took to Nepal was over 12-years ago now, enough time that I don’t think about it nearly as often as I used to.

I don’t want the ever-increasing span of time to erase the brilliance of my experience. At the same time, I don’t want to endlessly repeat the stories from that trip just to keep them alive.

Maybe just fragments of the stories.

The drama of navigating our way through the gauntlet of locals around the airport in Katmandu, twice, to wait for our flight to Lukla.

Seeing the mountains from the air for the first time.

Realizing that everywhere we would go beyond the airport at Lukla would be on foot.

Walking the same path as so many others who climbed to the summit of Everest.

Experiencing the gift of being guided by the Sherpa people.

Exchanging Namaste greetings with locals and other foreign trekkers as we pass on the narrow trail.

Crossing the deep river gorges on swinging suspension bridges.

Seeing eagles soaring in rising circles on a thermal column of air, while standing above them at a higher elevation.

The mantra om mani padme hum.

The incredible views of Everest, Ama Dablam, Nuptse, Lhotse.

Overnight snow that covered our tents in Namche Bazaar.

Taking a side trail to avoid congestion because our guide was from the region and knew the “backroads.”

The sound of an evacuation helicopter climbing the thin air up the valley between high peaks.

Laughing with fellow trekkers in our group and our Sherpa guides and porters.

Hauling school supplies in our backpacks to donate to small schools along the way.

Finding a property with electricity and paying a modest fee to charge my camera batteries.

Warm milk tea.

The variety of locals, yaks (dzo), and travelers who shared the main trails.

Mani stones with carved prayer inscriptions along the trail.

Witnessing a day of activity when I stayed put on an off-day in Monju.

Prayer flags flapping in the wind.

It all made for a mighty good dose of outdoor adventures that I really enjoy remembering.



Written by johnwhays

September 1, 2021 at 6:00 am