Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Tour of Minnesota

Road Miles

with 4 comments

My objective was to balance distance and time on the bike seat this weekend to condition my body for the week-long bicycle tour that begins in less than a week. I am happy to report progress was made in both regards, despite suffering a minor chafing wound after my first hour of riding on Friday night.

A topical treatment and altered riding wear seemed to protect my skin from added abuse during my time on the saddle yesterday morning.

I’m just a shadow of my former riding self, but a couple of shots from a rescue inhaler, the comfort adjustments where it matters most, and the addition of priceless companionship from lifelong friends provided a memorable glimpse of the true joys of biking I remember from my glory days of cycling.

One particular highlight for me was the moment when I took a big swig of water in my mouth just as Paul said something hilarious and Beth questioned what he’d said. The exchange caused me to choke on the water and I blew the whole mouthful out to protect inhaling it, covering me and my bike.

A few miles on and I noticed a big drop of water riding on the face of my cycle computer display. Oops.

Our first loop brought us back to the driveway a bit before we were ready to quit, so we continued off in the other direction for additional miles that brought my mileage to a respectable total of 24 for the ride.

The big plus for me was to finish without feeling totally exhausted by the effort, which has been the usual case the other times I’ve ridden this season.

I won’t be in my best riding shape by the time the tour starts, but I won’t be in my worst shape, either.

Unfortunately, I won’t have any preparation time for the camping in a tent and sleeping on the ground part of the tour. I’ll have zero preparatory sleeping-bag hours under my belt this year. It’s not a concern though, as my ability to close my eyes and be asleep almost instantly has become more enhanced over the years.

Doing so after a full day of biking makes it all the easier to achieve.

Tour of Minnesota 2021, here I come.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2021 at 7:00 am

Self Taught

leave a comment »

The Buffalo gals taught themselves to climb their ramp into the coop at dusk! I had just arrived upon the scene as Cyndie was working to find a hole in the netting that would explain how one of the Rockettes ended up hanging out against the outside of the courtyard fencing. I did a quick head-count of both sets of chicks and walked around to where Cyndie was working.

The next time I looked in on the Buffalo gals, they were gone. All 12 had headed inside by their own volition.

That left the Rockettes to be tested with our new idea of herding them to their ramp to see if they would take the hint to climb up on their own. Very quickly half of them did take that hint, but the rest were a harder sell.

They seemed much more interested in cowering underneath their ramp and unleashing a cacophony of chirping. A modicum of hands-on support helped convey the intent and soon all birds were cooped for the night.

I think they will catch on to the ultimate routine soon, but further lessons will be delayed until after the weekend. Our trusty animal sitter is on duty starting today as we are off to the lake for a few days again. My birthday buddy, Paul, and his wife, Beth, are joining us up at Wildwood. There’ll be some biking happening, as I need to put on some miles in preparation for day-long riding beginning in a week on the 2021 Tour of Minnesota.

I wonder where I stashed my tent two years ago after the last Tour.

That ability I have to forget stuff… self-taught, I’m pretty sure.

I can’t really remember.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2021 at 6:00 am

Lots Happening

leave a comment »

A lot of things are happening all at once for Cyndie and me this week. Yesterday, Cyndie got her first COVID vaccine shot. I have an appointment for tomorrow. Cyndie said she was so happy to be receiving the shot, her greetings were overly loud and friendly to the staff, despite her conscious attempts to calm down. As she tells it, one of her replies to a query came out sounding like Tony the Tiger.

“Grrrreat!”

It may have simply been her unbridled glee, but she said it was the most painless shot she has ever received.

I was a little distracted yesterday with thoughts of my annual week of biking and camping with the Tour of Minnesota bike tour. After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s ride is going to happen and registration opened yesterday. It will be a compelling reason to get me back on the bike again this spring.

I let the entire riding season pass last year without bringing either of my bikes down off their hooks in the shop. I don’t want to go another year without riding. I might forget how.

Of course, I’m writing all that to try to imply I’m not totally thinking about new horses we are hoping will come to spend the summer on our fields. Yesterday, Cyndie spoke with our renter and settled the issue of our fields no longer being available for cutting hay this year. That removed one last concern we had about potential conflicts to this actually happening.

When I received a text yesterday from Cyndie with an image of what she bought from the feed store during an errand to pick up some chicken food, I knew the horses were even more of a sure thing. Somehow, horse treats and mineral blocks made their way into the back of Cyndie’s car along with the sack of chicken kibble.

Founded in 2012, This Old Horse is a private, volunteer-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to support and serve horses while they continue to serve as ambassadors to the positive effect of “horse power” in the lives of people.​

We received a wonderful introduction to the planned horses from our new partner, This Old Horse.

Photos provided by This Old Horse

Four retired Thoroughbred mares who did some racing early in life and then went on to be broodmares. My intuition tells me they will be a perfect fit for our place. That has me thoroughly (pun intended) energized to bring this plan to fruition.

Somehow, I’ll get around to thinking about biking, too, but I bet while I’m biking I will be thinking about these horses.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

March 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Now This

with 2 comments

Last night, I received notification that the single organized group-bike-tour that I participate in every June has been canceled for 2020 due to some virus pandemic. The Tour of Minnesota will take this summer off. My intuition tells me there is a good chance my pedals and spokes won’t get much of a workout this year.

That tour was the incentive to get me spinning those wheels as early as possible every spring, oftentimes against my preference to rather not.

“I’m too tired today.”

“There are too many other chores I should be doing.”

“The weather isn’t ideal.”

“I don’t feel like riding right now.”

Despite those and other excuses, whenever I overcome the resistance and get myself out on the bike, I am always incredibly happy to be riding.

Without the incentive of the impending week-long trip of high daily mileage to drive my actions, I fear my endless collection of excuses will override my pleasure of gliding along country roads, especially during times of social distancing. Riding alone is nowhere near as fun as riding with a group.

On the bright side, now I won’t be thinking about a risk of becoming symptomatic with a virus that compromises lungs while needing to pedal for multiple 70-mile days and sleep overnights on the ground in a tent.

I picture myself choosing some less-taxing adventures close to home in the months ahead. For some reason, I keep seeing tree-shaded hammocks swinging in this vision.

That must mean Cyndie will be doing the lawn mowing.

“Don’t forget to wear a mask, hon!”

.

.

Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

To Home

with 6 comments

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

Imagine this: I didn’t take any pictures on our last day of riding from Hibbing back to our cars in Grand Rapids. However, I have scoured my files for some of my favorites from the week, several of which I am unable to credit because I can’t recall who the photographer was. In no particular order…

.

.

Men in black.

.

.

.

.

.

Prop wash!

.

.

Bear butts in Ely on the WOWOWs.

.

.

.

.

.

It wasn’t all trails all the time. That’s Gary approaching in the distance.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.Geoffrey and Marylin arriving on the Virginia High Bridge.

.

View from the bridge down to Roucheleau mine lake, a former iron mine partially filled with groundwater.

.

.

.

The three amigos.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Rich snapped a closeup of me as I breezed past.

.

.

.

Rich captured us in front of a mine lake. There are lots of mine lakes.

.

.

.

.

Music in the park. Thank you to Julie for this image!

.

.

.

Posing in front of an iron man and handing phone to whoever is near to capture.

.

.

.

.

Hanging out with the best-dressed guy on the ride. Gary, you do look dashing in that jersey!

.

.

.

I absolutely love this woman and she has captured our joyful energy in this most beautiful selfie. Juuuuulieeee!

.

.

.

And so ends another annual ride around. Thank you to all of the staff and volunteers of the Tour of Minnesota who provide these June adventures!

Peace, out.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2019 at 9:56 am

To Hibbing

leave a comment »

It was a beautifully sunny day out of Gilbert. Rich captured this shot of Steve leading Laura and me on a particularly bumpy section of the Mesabi trail.

I took a picture of Steve and Rich later on.

No complaints about the weather yesterday. It was picture perfect. Tents packed dry in the morning, no significant wind, and lots of sunshine.

In Hibbing, we camped at the historic high school. I took a picture of the Steinway piano that Bob was banging on like Little Richard when he was yanked off the stage.

There is also a display case dedicated to the troubadour.

They seem rather fond of Dylan around these parts.

On the walk back to camp after dinner, we came upon a property with a labyrinth.

Today, we ride back to our cars in Grand Rapids. It begins the odd struggle of returning to real life again.

Bittersweet to reach the start again

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

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Gilbert

with 2 comments

The day dawned foggy in Ely, but not nearly as cold as the first few days. We stayed dry all day, which was nice because it was a day of the farthest distance. I clocked in at 68 miles by the time we reached Gilbert.

With dry weather, it was easier for me to get the camera out while rolling down the road.

I had a goal of capturing a shot of Gary at some point, and when the opportunity presented itself…

I happened to come across Angela and Cynthia mid-pause on the shoulder, so I took their picture, too.

I like the totally unposed aspect of that shot.

It was day flat tires for some unknown reason. I was riding beside Steve when he hit a piece of steel that he mistook for wood. It put a slice in the sidewall that required a custom insert to keep the tube from bulging out.

The riding has gone well for me and I feel like I’ve finally got my old skills and form back for long distance cycling.

It’s a lot like riding a bike.

Remembering song chords and lyrics has been more of a challenge than the cycling.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Ely

leave a comment »

We dodged the rain yesterday, but no such luck with cool temperatures. That made for good riding, but was pretty chilly for patio dining.

It was the third day of biking and our spirited group wasted no time in embarking on silly shenanigans

The subject was unaware he had been pranked with the old pat on the back sign gag.

We visited the underground mine in Tower-Sudan and some folks took a tour, but I elected to stay above ground.

The Mesabi trail passes through some gorgeous northern Minnesota forest between the mine and Ely.

One highlight for me was witnessing a squirrel dash right between Steve Reynolds’ tires. Talk about timing.

Camped in park just off Main Street in Ely, where we did some power lounging in the afternoon before dinner. Once dinner had been devoured, we headed to Red Cabin Custard for dessert.

We will stay in Ely all day today, allowing for a one-day break from pedaling, and opportunity to amass embarrassing amounts of unneeded calories.

We eat like we think we have to

then have some  more when it tastes so good

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Aurora

leave a comment »

It started out rather chilly yesterday, but at least it wasn’t raining.

We left Chisholm as a group and claimed a lane of the road until we got back on the Mesabi trail.

It was 16 miles to a rest stop for some snacking, a mere hour and a half after we left breakfast. No wonder we all tend to gain weight despite all the biking we do.

There is just one thing I asked for during this ride: it can be cold, or it can rain, I just don’t want cold temps AND rain.

Well, I didn’t get what I wanted. Between that snack break and lunch, the clouds started to spit a little bit. Then, it began to sprinkle, until it unmistakably turned to rain.

The optimist might say, “At least it wasn’t snowing.

Luckily, there was hot soup on the menu for lunch. Any food is good for recovering from being wet and cold, but hot soup was a welcome bonus.

The ride from lunch in Biwabik to Aurora took us through a picturesque stand of old growth pines.

Hanging out at our tents after hot showers (yay!), Rich sent up his drone for a bird’s eye view of our circle of post-riding silliness.

Then I took a picture from ground level.

 

All in all, another great day on the Tour of Minnesota, discounting
the fact it is so dang cold in the middle of June.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Chisholm

leave a comment »

We were blessed with great weather yesterday for riding the Mesabi Trail from Grand Rapids to Chisholm.

The trail is a fabulous adventure of twists and turns with a variety of dramatic ups and downs.

There were a number of vistas that provided views of mining activity, as well as of the huge ridges of dumped leftovers. Eventually, vegetation starts to grow and reclaim the surface, but it is a little unsettling to see the way humans can alter the planet so significantly.

Has me struggling with the multitude of ways my activities and possessions contribute to demand for mining.

The trail just rolled past our tires…

That’s Rich and Steve vrooming around a corner.

In Chisholm, we camped at the mining museum and got a chance to see some big and historic equipment up close.

I asked Steve and James to provide a reference to actual size. Did I mention, big?

.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2019 at 6:00 am