Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Tour of Minnesota

Gonna Ride

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What else would I do? Eight months ago, at the end of the 2018 Tour of Minnesota week of biking and camping, I contemplated the possibility that it might have been my last long bike tour. I just don’t get out on the bike like I once did in years gone by.

The Tour of Minnesota is limited to 200 riders and the registration opens February 1st. It fills up fast, so I needed to make a decision yesterday about what I will be doing in June this year. Will I ride it again?

The significant factor inspiring my desire to do it another year was seeing the names of friends and acquaintances who had already registered. I jumped in at number 141, and many of the people before me were the key reasons I have returned for around 20 tours since I first took the bike camping plunge back in 1994.

It’s the dozen people who have become precious friends, and the community of over a hundred treasured like-minded adventurers whom also return, year after year, to ride long miles and sleep on the hard ground, through good and bad Minnesota weather, that draw me back.

Another factor in my decision was the thought that I have no other expedition adventures in mind if I don’t choose to do the tour this year. How would I cope with not having an adventure trip to look forward to?

With Sue and Paul Schurke in a park after a day of biking

This year we will pedal from Grand Rapids, MN up to Ely and back. I’ve got a real soft spot for Ely, MN. That is where Cyndie and I learned winter survival skills from Will Steger at his homestead back when we were in high school. Ely is also where we took our children for a 4-day lodge-to-lodge dogsled expedition with Paul Schurke.

Paul was a member of the Steger expedition to the North Pole and he is also an alumnus of the 2008 Minnesota bike tour, back when Jim Klobuchar was the illustrious Conductor of the ride, so I’ve pedaled miles on the road chatting with him.

How could I not sign up for this year’s Tour?

I’m definitely planning to ride the Tour of Minnesota again, and I’m looking forward to communing with friends, old and new, who share an affinity for this kind of biking and camping fun in June.

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Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2019 at 11:27 am

Trip Photos

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The 2018 Tour of Minnesota is in the books. It is not unreasonable to say that everyone who participated had as many unique experiences as we did shared ones. We all come to this ride from different perspectives. There is a wide mix of experience. Some have never ridden a multi-day tip before, and some haven’t ever ridden with a large group.

Many riders on the Tour of Minnesota have done this ride together for decades. My perspective about this ride comes from having done it around twenty times, but is limited to having no other multi-day group ride to which I can compare.

I figured out this year that we could use negatives to describe it thusly: The Tour of MN is not TRAM, not BAM, not RAGBRAI, etc. It also occurred to me that we could flaunt the ride as an eco-friendly vacation, in that, we (most of us) park our cars for a week and human-power our way around the state.

At the end of the ride, participants are invited to submit up to three photos from the week for a contest. I picked three from my collection, but quickly realized there were many other shots deserving attention, so I am tossing them out for you to judge.

I hope they help you imagine what my week was like…

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I am always amazed by the visual of our onslaught of bicycles showing up in unexpected locations where riders seek out any-and-every vertical surface to support our machines while we pause to eat.

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This image of Steve is one of my submissions to the contest. I doubt it’s chances in the judging, since it reveals one of the sloppy, wet realities of needing to reach destinations, regardless the weather.

The reflection on the new wet pavement was too irresistible to pass up. I pulled out my camera, despite the odds it would get splattered by the rooster tail spray shooting up off his tires.

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The covered bridge on the Lake Wobegon trail at Holdingford, MN was a real treat.

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I love the expression spontaneously captured by my reach-around snap of the riders behind me on this stretch of road.

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The Penn Cycle “ambulance” was manned by staff new to our ride this year, and they said they had a good enough time to want to return again next year.

I’m pretty sure we appreciated them even more than they did us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2018 at 10:31 am

Recovery Mode

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The week of vacation is over and it feels like I have PVED: Post-Vacation Exhaustion Disorder. I need to take a vacation from my vacation. Recovery mode involves sleeping late in my own bed, not riding my bike today, trying to get back to reasonably portioned meals, not eating ice cream treats at every turn, and perching on my easy chair to watch some World Cup games.

The 2018 Tour of Minnesota was a mix of riding roads and trails in both good and bad weather.

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As my recovery progresses, I expect to get my camping gear dried out, do an assessment of the Wintervale chores looking for attention, and most of all today, enjoy a celebration of Elysa’s birthday. She and Cyndie are in the kitchen preparing a large variety of delicacies for a gathering of many expected guests.

I expect there will be tales of the bike week and more stories to come in the days ahead. Stay tuned…

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2018 at 9:29 am

Touring Home

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Today is the last day of the trip. We will bike to Willmar to get our cars and try to remember how to drive again.

As the song I wrote describes, “Bittersweet to reach the end

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

Since this post is now being composed while on the tour, I am able to attest that it has been another great year.

Good people having good times in great places.

It is what touring Minnesota by bike is about in the middle of June.

I love… when the legs have strength, the wind and weather are favorable, the road or trail is smooth, and I am riding with precious friends at a comfortably aggressive pace for long durations.

I miss… my bed, my bathroom, and my treasure of a wife, Cyndie.

It’s time to head home.

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Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2018 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

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?

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2018 at 6:00 am