Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Road of Our Own

Chatfield Loop: 44.92 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 3 hours 19 minutes, average speed 13.5

This is really what fall is all about—no destination, no time requirements, beautiful scenery and no worries. We ended up 20 miles from home in Chatfield, MN on this spectacular biking day. After a short stop at the local Dairy Queen, we got back on the bike to pedal a few miles out of Chatfield on Hwy 52 before turning onto County Road 7 which would loop us back to Eyota, Dover, St. Charles and then home.


A surprise was awaiting us when we reached CR 7. Our turn towards Eyota was blocked by nasty orange and white stripped barricades. What to do now? Upon further inspection by my captain, it was concluded that we could lift the bike over the construction zone to the other side.


One good thing about the road block signs is that once you are on the other side, you have a reprieve from traffic coming up behind you. It’s like having a road of our own.


There are always extraordinary things for us to see when we are out on the bike but the fall activities remind us that our 2012 biking days are numbered. But for now, we will continue to enjoy the sound of our freewheel spinning down the road.

September 2012 — Total Biking Miles 454.46
Accumulative 2012 Miles — 2541.22
Total Miles on the Rans — 18,238.06

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Seeking Solitude on the Root

RRT–Lanesboro/Fountain/Preston: 37.88 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 2 hours 54 minutes, average speed 13.0

We thought we would get in some quiet biking towards Fountain on the Root River Trail but the families were out in full force all trying to get one more outdoor adventure in before the colder months set in. Normally this family traffic would be on the trail towards Whalan and Rushford but that segment of the trail was under construction this weekend so we had lots of company on our end of the trail.


We hadn’t been up to Fountain in a while so decided on that route today and to add more miles we then looped up to Preston before returning back to Lanesboro. Out of Preston, we decided to see if there was any progress on the trail connection towards Forestville State Park. We noticed a bit of work done but there is still approximately a 7-mile stretch that needs to be completed to allow cyclists access to the State Park via bike trail.


Even crowded with people, the Root is still a bicycle haven and the fall colors add visual enjoyment for us on this last weekend of September.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Biking with Kennedy

Burley Biking South St. Paul: 10.26 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 14 minutes, average speed 10.26

We had plans to do some major biking with Kennedy today but had to scale them down as Kennedy was a bit under the weather—those darn teeth. The instant the Burley wheels began to turn, our granddaughter was fast asleep. We decided to trek towards the South St. Paul Regional Trail along the Mississippi River heading north towards Kaposia Park. We climbed out of Kaposia for about 2 miles pulling the additional weight of the Burley which contributed to our low mph for this adventure.


The fall colors were in bloom on this beautiful Friday afternoon. Biking the trails of this city is always so enjoyable. Once Kennedy awoke from her nap, we retraced our path back to see the ant at the Wildflower Levee Park. Dairy Queen was on our way home so we all stopped for Kennedy’s favorite treat: “up cream”.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Dover Loop: 20.57 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 31 minutes, average speed 13.4

As the work day dragged on, it was clear a bike ride to Dover’s Roadtrip Roadhouse Bar & Grill for supper would be a priority. We watched our time closely to make sure we wouldn’t be caught biking back home in the dark. Biking this time of the day can be very rewarding—quiet roads and awesome sunsets!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Inspired Ride

Boyum Loop: 15.42 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 16 minutes, average speed 12.0

We decided to bike on this windy Sunday after a call from our Tandem Club presidents, Joan and John Laabs. They just reached 4000 miles on their new Volae tandem and called to let us know they were still putting on bike miles. We also had John and Kathi Johnson in mind when we decided to hit the road for some neighborhood biking. They have been biking through the Ozarks this week and taking a beating not only from the hills but also from the wind. These couples inspire Dennis and I to get out and bike. The temperature is still great for biking and we hope it continues through October.


Friday, September 21, 2012

A Harvest Ride

Utica/Dover Loop: 29.84 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 2 hours 19 minutes, average speed 12.8

It’s now the end of September and we know the 2012 biking season is coming to an end but what a fabulous year it has been. As we pedaled towards Dover, we noticed the colors changing around us. Not only have the trees begun to change but the landscape has also turned a harvest gold color. We passed farmers happy to be in their fields harvesting their crop. Everything is beginning to move at a slower pace.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

7th Annual Minneapolis Bike Tour

36-Mile Road Route: 37.68 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 2 hours 45 minutes, average speed 13.6

We came to this ride less prepared than usual, leaving home without a camera battery in the camera, water in the water bottles or sunglasses on the bike and even though we were not as organized as usual, we managed to have a fabulous ride. We began to see bikes on vehicles as we neared Kenwood Parkway in Minneapolis and our excitement began to grow. We needed to be on route by 7:30 a.m. so arrived ready to ride by 6:30. The Minneapolis park commissioners were at the start to welcome us and cheer us on our way.

Note: All photos of this biking event were taken using a Droid Motorola cell phone.


We registered for this ride through Living Social, an online business that offers daily deals and discounts, which was a savings of 50% off the normal ride fee. So all we had to do now was sit back and enjoy the ride along with 4000 other riders. The weather was the best ever—mid 60’s, sunshine, slight wind and once away from the mass start, few hills and lots of traffic-free surface to claim.


The route took us around 5 pristine lakes and then along the Mighty Mississippi, travelling past the University of Minnesota before returning back to our start at Parade Field. This 36-mile loop had 4 full rest stops and allowed us to bike the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway unhindered by motorized traffic. Rest stop #4 allowed me to shake hands in gratitude with a representative of Calhoun Cycles where 7 years ago we rolled our Rans Screamer our their door not realizing at the time the relationship we would have with this bike.


This is definitely a route we would like to share with our tandem friends in the future. Who would think this beauty could exist within this urban setting? The Minneapolis Park and Rec Board has done a wonderful job protecting the many miles of inner city property for all to experience and enjoy (


A Post Ride Party was planned following our cheerful finish and included music, food vendors and various exhibition booths—a wonderful way to end this fun riding day.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our Second Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour

41-Mile Big River-Grand Round Tour: 42.39 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 3 hours 19 minutes, average speed 12.7

The St. Paul Classic followed the Jesse James Tour and we had just returned from a week of biking Middleton and the Dells of Wisconsin with little rest between. We chose to bike this event on the tandem this year as opposed to our singles of last year. The new River Loop was nice, taking us just blocks from Amy & Luke’s home in South St. Paul.


The amount of riders on this 18th annual Classic Tour made for a pretty stressful ride on the tandem. The volunteer staff was awesome and the music is always an added treat but 6000 bikes all on one route can get very congested.


There were a few obstacles along our route other than the volume of riders—a train stalled on the track caused many to take an unscheduled rest but it was fun to walk up and down the line visiting with some of the riders. We also encountered a large tree down across a trail we needed to use to route us across town—how low can you go?


My favorite rest stop along the route was at Como Park where the Roe Family Singers were again entertaining us while we munched on various goodies provided by the ride vendors. A close second is the Indian Mounds Park stop which also had live music and beautiful views of the Saint Paul city scape.


With riders everywhere, it’s amazing we didn’t witness any crashes. All seemed to be very cautious.  The officials posted at numerous intersections along with over 500 route volunteers helped to insure our safety.


It was on this beautiful day of biking that we rolled over 18,000 miles on the tandem since its purchase in 2005 and we took a moment to reflect on the many miles of enjoyment we have had on these two wheels.


The Classic delivers again this year providing miles of traffic-free cycling showcasing the beautiful parks and parkways of Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jesse James Bike Tour–Northfield, MN

60-Mile Desperado Route: 65.48 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 5 hours 6 minutes, average speed 12.7

imageThe Jesse James Bike Tour had been on our To-Do list since early in our biking career and this year we finally had the day free so we could attend.

We preregistered for the ride in August and paid the $60 ride fee to bike the 60-mile Desperado route. Complimentary Subway sandwiches were served at ride’s end. The route was pretty flat but the winds during the first half of the ride were challenge enough for us.
We joined 1200 riders on this picture perfect riding day. The windmills along our route were a constant reminder that wind was evident. A cheering section came in the form of the girls in the photo above. We thanked them for their support as we continued to grind past them and on up one challenging hill.
The tour had many rest stops along the way and we took advantage of each one to get relief from the wind.
We travelled through many little villages along the way enjoying the route more once we turned east and the wind was at our back.
We finished back in Northfield and parked the bike along side the school and then sat to enjoy the subway sandwiches being served by many Jesse James Tour volunteers. As we ate, we heard a crash behind us—the wind tipped our bike over and smashed my favorite bike helmet. This is now the third helmet I have lost because of this type of accident and I believe I have now learned my lesson—do not, at any time, leave a helmet hanging on the stoker’s hand rest.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 Wisconsin Dells Post Tour

Monday, September 2 through Thursday, September 6, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012–Welcome Day


As MTR 2012 came to a close, our rally responsibilities were not yet complete. We were anxious to get to Amber’s Hideaway to greet the 18 teams registered for the Dells Post Tour. A Meet & Greet was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and we wanted to surprise the group with a charming welcome under the gazebo at Amber’s. Tom & Annette Esser were our partners in planning this event and had the responsibility of not only designing the bike routes but also acted as our party planners for this 4-day extension of MTR. Upon our arrival in the Dells, the Esser vehicle came packed with groceries, supplies and festive decorations that added charm to our welcome party. As the teams began to arrive, they were given an event packet which included a daily itinerary, cue sheets and maps for each day’s ride and the usual visitor guides and area discounts. The teams were asked to gather back at the gazebo at 5:30 p.m. to meet all attending riders and enjoy snacks and beverages all included in their $40-event fee. As the teams re-gathered, we told them that we had one secret left to share—all riders were booked passage aboard a 2-hour Upper Dells Boat Tour scheduled for Tuesday evening. The announcement received cheers from all crowded under the Hideaway gazebo as each team just realized they got quite a bargain for their $40-Post MTR ride fee—let the fun begin!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012–Ride Day 1
Dells to Baraboo: 36.26 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 2 hours 52 minutes, average speed 12.6

Rise and shine you sleepy heads—we’ve got a busy day. All teams gathered in Amber’s parking lot at 8:45 a.m. for a professional photo shoot. Two representatives from the Dells Chamber were on site to take photos of our group for possible use in future Dells advertisements. All needed to sign a model release form before posing for the shot. We were impressed to learn that the Dells chamber was excited to welcome bike groups into the area and would be using our group as proof that the Dells is a wonderful place for a bike tour.

image18 teams from 9 states

More shots were taken by the photo team as we began our mass descent onto the roads towards downtown Wisconsin Dells.


Our route of 35 miles took us south of the Dells to Baraboo, famous for its Circus World Museum and then north towards Mirror Lake State Park. There were many food and attraction stops along the way including the Ho-Chunk Casino for those feeling lucky. Dennis and I treated ourselves to a healthy Subway sandwich before turning back north towards the Dells.


We truly enjoyed the day having fun in Baraboo with 34 tandem riders from various states. The route was awesome and the weather could not have been better.

Back at Amber’s, many chose to cool off in the outdoor pool. We felt like kids again as we batted a large nubby ball around the pool. It sure was nice to have this extra time to visit before getting ready for supper and our boat tour.


The fun continues with a group gathering to walk to supper before meeting at the riverside for our boat tour. I was very impressed with the promptness of this group. At 6:00 p.m., all riders were accounted for and ready to board the Marquette. The skies were threatening rain but we were assured the tour was just as fascinating rain or shine.


Only on a Dells Boat Tour will you encounter all the amazing sights and natural wonders of the Wisconsin Dells area including an awesome journey through the hidden passages of Witches Gulch and a picture perfect view of Stand Rock.


The Scenic sandstone rock formations of Wisconsin Dells have beckoned to sightseers since the mid 1850s. Hundreds of years earlier, French explorers referred to the unique cliffs as the Dalles of the Ouisconsin. The word dalles referred to the flat, layered or slab-like characteristics of the rock. Eventually the description was translated by the English to become Wisconsin Dells.


We enjoyed our stop at the world-famous Stand Rock made so through the skillful photography of H.H. Bennett. Through his creativity, Bennett captured the first stop-action photo of his son Ashley leaping the five-foot gap from the mainland cliff to Stand Rock. The image went around the world and so began Stand Rock’s moniker as the “Trademark of the Dells.”


The boat tour was a great success. The rain held off until our final shore landing. We enjoyed sitting back relaxing as our tour staff shared tales of the early adventurers to this region. The day ended back at Amber’s where more socializing took place under the room awnings. Our connection with each member of this group was an unexpected delight and we enjoyed getting to know them better through this extended MTR event.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012–Ride Day 2
Dells to Lyndon Station: 26.20 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 51 minutes, average speed 13.4


Today our riders had a choice of 3 routes all heading north of the Dells and going through the town of Lyndon Station. No mass start was planned giving the riders more freedom to explore the Dells on their own. Dennis and I began biking the short route, my favorite route of all the Dells routes planned. There are few hills on this route and the road surfaces are smooth and well maintained with little traffic. We had a wonderful breakfast with John and Kathi at Lyndon Station—no lunch would be needed today.



imageWe were back at Amber’s with plenty of time to lounge around the pool and gazebo visiting and playing dominoes and card games. Many of us got to experience a new ride—Louise Heim made her recumbent trike available and invited those interested to take it for a spin. Each rider dismounted the bike with grins from ear to ear—will there be another bike in our family soon?

Dennis and I decided to go to Marley’s for supper and others decided to join us. We called ahead and made a reservation for 30! It was a delight to have each tandem team attend this last supper in the Dells with us.



It was close to 10:00 when we arrived back at Amber’s but our evening campfire was still awaiting us. The Hideaway was a very special home for our group for the last 3 days and we look forward to our next stay. Dennis and I were planning to arise early to escort Kathi and John down the road on their continued journey south along the Mississippi so we said good night to the group and thanked each team for joining us for this bike event in the Dells.

Thursday, September 6, 2012–Ride Day 3

At the crack of dawn, Dennis and I met Kathi and John in Amber’s parking lot. We had planned to bike to Denny’s for breakfast and then bid the Johnsons farewell as they continued their trip down the Great River Road. What Kathi and John didn’t know is that we planned a surprise goodbye ceremony—we couldn’t just let them sneak out of town. At 7:00 a.m. I began ringing Johnson’s bike bell which was the signal to all Dells Post riders to open their doors and shout: “Good luck Kathi and John.” Many came out to give them one last hug before they set out and it was a very special moment. The four of us then began pedaling towards the west of town for a final breakfast together. Goodbyes are always tough but we will be watching Kathi and John’s adventures on their blog and have made plans to see them again before they head south for the winter. As Dennis and I pedaled back to Amber’s, we had time to reflect on the wonderful friends we have made since the purchase of our Rans tandem. It has been quite a journey.


We are thankful for all the Post riders who put their faith in us and registered to attend this unique event in the land of the Wisconsin Dells. We enjoyed getting to know each team and had the time of our lives!

Monday, September 3, 2012

MTR 2012 – Middleton, WI

Friday, August 31 through Monday, September 3, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012–Rally Day 1

imageWe spent many months planning this event along with a host of volunteers from our Couples on Wheels (COWS) tandem club. Our club presidents, Joan and John Laabs did an outstanding job organizing committees and attending meetings with the Madison Chamber and a variety of others to make sure each aspect of this “Olympic” biking event was addressed. The time has now come, so let the show begin!
We left home early Friday morning for the 3-hour trek to Middleton, WI. We had a Post MTR Tour errand in the Dells prior to meeting up with our club presidents in Middleton. We arrived at the Middleton Marriott mid-morning and our room was ready. We were upgraded to a corner suite in this up-scale establishment and this was a real treat. The Marriott was a wonderful place for this event and the staff was at our beck and call throughout this holiday weekend. We lunched at Sofra’s Family Bistro with John and Joan and then boogied back to the Marriott to get ready to ride. We had a window of 2 hours free time to get our Friday route in before our 3-6 p.m. bike storage duties which were then followed by a 5-7 p.m. assignment at registration—just a little overlap here.
We biked with the Andersens for this hilly and hot 13-mile ride. We were so happy Alan and Michelle were sharing their first MTR with us this year.
A variety of volunteers worked many months to put together this Tandem Rally in Middleton, Wisconsin. Our Co-Chairs, John and Joan Laabs, designated the following committees to aid them in making this MTR a success: Vendors & Seminars headed by the Whites, Bike Storage headed by the Peters, Registration headed by the Jordans, Decorations headed by the Olsons, MTR Booklet headed by the Petersons, SAG and Finance headed by the Dobbersteins, MTR Post Ride headed by the Veerkamps and the MTR Routes headed by the Gabelts and Bill Hauda – It all came together this Labor Day weekend.
This busy day ended with a jersey purchase in the vendor area, supper at Claddagh’s Irish Pub with 9 couples and a visit with Michelle and Alan in our Marriott room. Lights went out in room 401 at 11:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 1, 2012–Rally Day 2
We were up early for a McDonald’s breakfast before attending to our Bike Storage shift scheduled for 7-9 a.m. Marsha and Bill excused us a little early so that we could join the mass start beginning at 9:00. Many tandems (approximately 425) were in line awaiting final announcements, the police escort arrived and we were off. We chose the 50-mile route with its 2200 feet of climb which took us to Lodi for a delicious lunch.
Tandem bikes lined the roadways as they were escorted out of the Middleton area towards Lodi. The weather was perfect and winds were minimal which made for a fun day of riding with this amazing mass group.
Dennis and I had little time to visit at the rest stops. We needed to get back to the hotel and collect photos as riders finished their miles for the day. These photos would be used in a movie to be run during the social hour on Sunday evening. Many stopped by to share their photos of the day’s ride and I was happy with the variety of shots received. Michelle Andersen was at my side lending support for this project.
This first day of mass riding was a delightful success with miles of smiles and colorful conversations as riders reconnected with tandem teams of years past.
Today’s route ended in downtown Middleton at the site of the Mustard Museum. Many were sampling mustard and purchasing their favorite flavor wrapped in our very own MTR mustard label.
After the riding was done, a special event was planned from 3-5 p.m. at the Capital Brewery. I sent my camera over with Joan and Kathi and the following was captured while I was busy collecting pictures for the movie.
A variety of seminars were offered this evening beginning at 4:00 p.m. My favorite topics included YOGA STRETCH FOR TANDEMISTS taught by Susan Pribyl, GOING WEST & GOING EAST by Kathi and John Johnson and finally the ABC’S OF TANDEM MAINTENANCE by Jack Goertz. Following the seminars, our group of 18 gathered at Spreckers for an entertaining evening meal. With us were the Johnsons, Andersens, Hughes, Solomons, Paulsons, Petersons, Whites, and Michelle & Steve.
Lights finally went out in room 401 at midnight after some work in preparation for the Sunday Social.
Sunday, September 2, 2012–Rally Day 3
This morning began with a call for help. A detour was being announced for the medium and long routes because of road resurfacing. Dennis and I were biking the medium route from the remote start in Cross Plains so could offer help by making sure each rider leaving from this location had the route update. We finally began biking the route at 9:45 a.m. and had little time to visit at rest stops but we did get another wonderful lunch and a chance to get our picture taken with the Sauk City parade cow before heading back to the Marriott on an altered route.
We encountered many hills and lots of wind on route today but we were also surrounded by many friendly riders from many different states across the USA.
We were back at the host hotel by 1:30 p.m. to begin setting up for the production of the MTR 2012 movie to run at 5:30 p.m. during the evening social hour. Ryan from the Marriott was very helpful and knew what needed to be done to get the show up and running and promised he would be near when the doors opened to the live show. I was also thankful for the support of Gary Solomon—tandem friend and movie maniac. As the riders entered, many showed their appreciation with words of thanks and positive reviews. How special they all made me feel.
The MTR banquet was well attended with approximately 50% of the riders paying the extra $30 per person to enjoy the music, food, conversation and get the inside scoop on upcoming MTR locations. The evening was still young following the banquet allowing another gathering at Spreckers. We enjoyed winding down around the fire pit out on the patio where we discussed our future biking plans with the tandem teams we have come to call our close friends. As the evening went on, Dennis and I began to realize that we would not be able to bike our traditional sunrise ride on the last day of MTR 2012. We were exhausted and we still had the Dells Post Tour to attend. After a goodnight to all, we rode the elevator one more time up to room 401 and fell into bed for another good night’s rest.

Monday, September 3, 2012–Rally Day 4
As MTR 2012 was winding down, we watched riders getting ready to bike the breakfast route. Dennis and I met Joan and John at Sofra’s one last time before heading to the Wisconsin Dells to set up for the Post Ride. MTR 2012 continues to gather accolades as teams send their thanks for a well-run event. Way to go COWS!

MTR 2012 Ride Statistics

Riders of MTR 2012 represented 25 states and Canada (37 from MN and 55 from WI)
The state with the most teams was awarded to Illinois with 67 registered riders
A total 425 teams were in attendance as of August 31, 2012
Our total MTR 2012 ride miles: 96

Future MTRs:
MTR 2013—Fairborn, OH
MTR 2014—Fort Wayne, IN
MTR 2015—Illinois
MTR 2016—Quad Cities, IA