Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Warm Ride

Dover-Eyota-Elgin-St. Charles-Utica-Home: 62.06 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 49 minutes, average speed: 12.8

We finally had a day with no worries. We could head out knowing we had the whole day to ride without interference. We decided to revisit the Tri-County Trail. We were biking down our driveway by 9:00 a.m. and enjoying the tailwind as we continued towards Eyota.
Outside of Eyota, we picked up the Tri-County Trail and continued on the trail until we reached Elgin. We chatted with other bikers as we pedaled towards Elgin making the trail miles go by very quickly. We reached Elgin a bit too early for lunch so decided to extend our ride to Utica where Brewskies was sure to have a hearty lunch and cold beverages to help chill us on what became a very hot biking day. It’s amazing how the heat affects energy levels.
After our Brewskies break, the cyclocomputer on the bike registered 102° and we were really feeling it. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were almost home. The last half of our ride was also plagued with high winds forcing us to keep the pedals turning even on the downhill glides. Our ride was a challenge today but the effort was worth it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tour de Pines Bike Ride

Itasca State Park Wilderness Trail: 57.41 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 23 minutes, average speed: 13.0

After very little sleep in our extravagant sleeping room, we got up at 5:30 a.m. and biked to the staging area for the Tour de Pines Bike Ride. Registration started at 7:30 and breakfast at the Lodge did not begin until 8:00 so we set off before eating hoping the ride crew would be providing some nutrition before we began the 50-mile route. We were in luck, plenty of bananas, breads and snacks were being offered. We collected our ride packet and without any fanfare set off along the route.

The route was truly beautiful with pines soaring high into the sky all around us as we pedaled quietly along the Wilderness Trail. We stopped to view the beauty of the Mississippi River Headwaters and take pictures of this trickle of water that will widen as it moves north and then finally south to empty into the Gulf.

We then continued north as far as Becida, MN before heading west to cross a northern section of the Mississippi. The southern section of this tour kept the Mississippi River on our right reminding us of its pioneer navigational power to point wayward travelers towards home following their journey to possibly seek food. Our journey ended at the Itasca State Park Hostel where we also sought food—a BBQ lunch was being served by the staff of our bike tour. We filled our bellies and then biked back to the Douglas Lodge to wash up and head for home as neither of us wanted to sleep another night in the park lodge. The ride was beautiful and the weather also cooperated—a little foggy in the morning but it soon lifted to show off the beauty of the park.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Northern Minnesota Vacation

Paul Bunyan Trail-Walker to LaPorte: 25.11 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 1 hour 45 minutes, average speed: 13.9

Today we checked out of the fabulous AmericInn to venture further north. We drove to Walker to bike the newest section of the Paul Bunyan trail completed in July 2010. Because of our century ride the day before, we weren’t looking to put on too many miles which was a wise choice as Dennis noticed a pedal needing repair. We decided to bike north to LaPorte and have lunch and then head back to Walker.

When we completed our ride, we drove to Park Rapids to find the only cycle shop in the area. We did find replacement pedals in this very friendly bike shop and after chatting a bit with the owner, continued north to Itasca State Park where we had a sleeping room reserved at the Historic Douglas Lodge.

The lodge was built in 1905 and is the oldest surviving building in the state park system and the first to be constructed in the Rustic Style. We hauled our luggage up the stairs and opened the door to an 8 x 12 foot room with a double bed and 2 chairs. The bathroom was down the hall and would be shared with other guests staying in the lodge. No space for a whirlpool in this room. It was quaint and nostalgic but we will stay with the comforts of AmericInn on any future visits to northern Minnesota.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Northern Minnesota Vacation

Paul Bunyan Trail North to Walker and South to Nisswa: 102.73 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 7 hours 11 minutes, average speed: 14.2

Dennis and I discussed the possibility of doing a century ride on the Paul Bunyan/Heartland trails. The night before our planned ride, I began having back pain and questioned whether a century ride would be possible. The next morning we set out early after a full breakfast at the AmericInn with plans to ride unless my pain got worse. Ibuprofen is wonderful stuff and it wasn’t long before I felt I could turn cartwheels again.

We biked north on the trail stopping in each town along the way to take pictures or just to get off the bike and stretch. Outside Hackensack, the home of Paul Bunyan’s girlfriend Lucette, we came upon a section of the trail known as the “Pyrenees” because of its steep slopes and numerous curves. This portion was also the most enjoyable segment of today’s ride and its beauty would be hard to beat. We made it to Walker around lunch time and I had read in Beth Gauper’s Midwest Weekends newsletter that Matty’s was ranked high on the list for best bets in Northern Minnesota. The sunfish plate I had here was mouth watering! This bar & grill was a great place to rest a bit before we journeyed back south towards Pequot Lakes. We decided to bypass the “Pyrenees” on the way back and bike a portion of Hwy 371 before joining back up with the Paul Bunyan trail going south. When we neared our hotel, we were just short of a century so we continued on to Nisswa and the Pickle Factory for another short visit and then pedaled back to the Pequot Lakes where a whirlpool visit would be the first order of business.

Today’s temperature ranged from 65-75° and winds never seem to be a problem when riding the trails. We had plenty of shade to protect us from the heat of the sun. We admit we were struggling at about the 80-mile mark and passing our hotel to continue on was difficult but knowing that the Pickle Factory would soon provide comfort helped to keep our legs spinning. Life is good!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Northern Minnesota Vacation

Paul Bunyan Trail South to Nisswa: 17.12 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 1 hour 7 minutes, average speed: 15.2

We arrived in the Pequot Lakes area by noon and checked into the AmericInn by 12:30. After ogling over our room—A 2-room suite with whirlpool, fireplace and deck to the gardens out back, we readied ourselves for a ride south on the Paul Bunyan trail. Rain began to annoy us 8 miles into our ride. We saw the Pickle Factory in Nisswa and decided to stop at this friendly bar to wait out the storm. When the rain slowed to a mist, we headed back towards our room awaiting us north of Pequot Lakes. We had a very enjoyable ride despite the intrusion of the rain.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back from Repairs

Boyum Loop: 15.31 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 1 hour 12 minutes, average speed: 12.5

The tandem was in for repairs again last week. Kevin made alterations to our fenders to keep them from rubbing on the tires and also noticed our rear rim was cracked again so he quickly ordered the needed replacement and will check on the warranty as this was just replaced last September. The new rear hub was installed along with a new shifting cable. Two new bottle cages completed the repairs.

With the bike back in our possession, we took it for a short neighborhood ride before we vacation with it next week. It sure did run smooth with no rubbing sounds. We will have to keep a close eye on the rear rim for any split in the seam as Kevin was not sure what may be causing the malfunction and it could happen again. The weather was in the 70’s with winds gusting out of the SW—as always, a very enjoyable voyage.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

PIGS Tandem Rally

Rally Day #3: 5.28 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 32 minutes, average speed: 9.8

The PIGS gathered at 8:00 a.m. to bike a final 20-mile breakfast ride but Dennis and I decided to take a closer look at the High Trestle Trail Bridge. We drove back to Madrid to pick up the paved portion of the trail and biked out until construction blocked us from biking any further. We parked the bike and walked the distance across the trestle bridge. The scenery was beautiful but the temperatures were already nearing 90° making it a very hot walk. We biked back to the car and set the GPS for home. The PIGS rally was another success with 41 teams in attendance. We thank Ernie and Pat Fischer for a job well done!

Our trip was not quite over. We made a lunch stop in Clear Lake, IA—famous for the plane crash that took the lives of entertainers Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper in February of 1959. The temperature was now in the mid 90’s but we decided a walk through the cornfield would be worth it to see the site of the crash and the memorial. It was all very thought provoking and well worth the effort.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PIGS Tandem Rally

Rally Day #2: 56.37 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 3 hours 52 minutes, average speed: 14.5

The mass start was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. We had a police escort to take us across the busy roadway by the hotel. The temperature was already 80° as we biked north towards Madrid to view the High Trestle Trail bicycle bridge which crosses the Des Moines River. The trail will fully open in 2011 and will run between Ankeny and Woodward totaling approximately 50 miles round trip.

An excellent food stop was set up for us in Polk City full of fruit, baked goods and beverages. Our lunch stop was in the small town of Slater. Sandwiches, fruit and snacks were served. This gave us enough energy to continue along the bike trail back to Ankeny. We encountered strong winds and a slight uphill grade for the remainder of the ride causing our mile per hour to lower a few tenths but we were happy with 14.5 average at finish.