Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013 Midwest Tandem Rally-Ohio

Thursday, August 29 through Sunday, September 2, 2013

imageThursday, August 29, 2013

We arrived in Fairborn, Ohio, early Thursday morning and were allowed to check into our hotel room at the Wingate by Wyndham for some much needed rest after driving 12 hours through the night. We then connected up with other MTR attendees that arrived early and went for supper at the Texas Roadhouse. A great start to this exciting weekend.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Morning Pre-Rally Ride: 45.90 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 3 hours 39 minutes, average speed 12.4

Arriving early had its benefits. We were able to gather with Kathi and John from Wisconsin and Sally and Gary from Missouri to bike one leg of the Miami Valley Bikeway system. We parked at the Beavercreek Station and headed east towards the Xenia Station. The weather was great and we were all excited to start pedaling.


Lunch was enjoyed at Roosters, an unusual diner along the bike trail. We would definitely return to this area to bike more of these great trails around Greene County Ohio.

Back at the host hotel, things were beginning to gear up for the opening of the 2013 Midwest Tandem Rally—Let the Rally begin! Organizers were rushing to complete their final tasks before registration was declared officially open. Dennis and I were visiting the vendor booths when we were asked to model for the local newspaper doing an article on this tandem event. We rode a tandem around the bike storage area wearing the official 2013 MTR jersey. We left our names with the reporter but never did find the published piece but it was fun to have had a glimpse of fame for just a moment.

MTR Day #1: 12.06 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 1 hour 3 minutes, average speed 11.4

At 2:00 p.m. we met up with Michelle and Alan Andersen to bike the official ice cream route. We stopped at Graeter’s for a quick and delicious ice cream treat and then continued pedaling through the town of Fairborn back to our hotel.


MTR is all about gathering with friends you haven’t seen in a while. We love to get everyone together to take advantage of every moment. The rules: Pick a time, invite teams to attend, get drinks and pass the hat for pizza. The party began at Veerkamp’s hotel at 6:00 p.m. We had a wonderful desk attendant at our hotel that offered use of the outdoor patio for our event and suggested we try the local pizza company—great pizza at an awesome price. Seven teams arrived and we all enjoyed kicking off MTR with this social event.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

MTR Day #2: 68.97 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 4 hours 52 minutes, average speed 14.1

The mass start began promptly at 9:00 a.m. and Dennis and I lead the group of 346 teams towards the countryside. With that many teams following you want to make sure you know where you are going and getting out of the parking lot can be a challenge sometimes.


Lunch was served at the Young’s Jersey Dairy under a large shelter. The use of our name badges again provided a very organized way to feed this crowd efficiently. We were blessed with wonderful riding conditions in the morning hours but by noon the temperature became rather uncomfortable. Our water was getting low and the sun was emitting some fierce rays. We arrived back at our hotel by 3:00 p.m. and gave in to exhaustion. Water was handed to us as we slouched to the ground. After regaining our strength, we gathered again with a few teams to return to Texas Roadhouse with plans of using our dinner discount tickets this time. Following supper, we stopped to visit with the Wisconsin COWs in their hospitality room then onto Kathi and John’s travel seminar—they always do such a wonderful job sharing their travels across the USA. We wrapped up the evening with a visit to One Eye Jacks where we joined six teams already involved in the celebration of another fine MTR day.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

MTR Day #3: 49.71 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 4 hours 4 minutes, average speed 12.2

With Saturday’s struggles behind us, we looked forward to another sunny day of riding. We did, however, break from tradition and gathered a group to bike the Miami Valley Bikeways instead of biking the planned route for the day. High temps were expected and we opted for the shade provided on Ohio’s wonderful trail system. We biked from the Xenia Station to the town of Dayton and enjoyed the beautiful RiverScape MetroPark.

Back at Xenia, lunch was waiting for us in an air conditioned building at the Fairgrounds. For a few more biking miles after lunch, we picked up the Ohio-to-Erie Trail out of Xenia.



This hard-working group of Ohio natives was partly responsible for making MTR 2013 a huge success. We missed them on route this year as their duties kept them from joining us. Thanks to all the Ohio MTR volunteers for making this a very enjoyable rally—not bad for this newly organized club!

Banquet day always gets us back to our accommodations early to fancy up for the main event—ha, ha. Actually, I offered my help to photographer, Miles, who was challenged with putting together the evening slide show. He repaid me with his thanks and allowed me to pick out a photo of my choice at no cost. The banquet meal was super and the variety was immense. Entertainment included a presentation by Tom Hinkle of the Bicycle Museum of America. He brought with him an antique bike display and educated us on many facts about bicycling over the generations—did you know that Schwinn never built a bike? Huffy was commissioned to build for Schwinn—very interesting.


This ended MTR 2013 for us. We would be off to West Virginia in the morning on our 13 eastern states adventure. We said our good-byes to all except Kathi and John who would be joining us on this journey east.

MTR 2013 Ride Statistics

33 states and 3 countries were represented (USA—11 from MN and 17 from WI, Canada, Brazil) totaling approximately 346 teams

65 teams enjoyed their first MTR; this was our 8th MTR

The state with the most teams in attendance was awarded to Ohio with 73 registered riders; Michigan came in second with 49 teams in attendance

Our Total MTR 2013 Biking Miles: 176.64

Upcoming MTR Locations: MTR 2014—Fort Wayne, IN; MTR 2015—Rockford, IL


Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Night Owl Classic

22 Mile Night Flight: 23.72 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 2 hours 6 minutes, average speed 11.2

What a beautiful night for a bike ride. The Night Owl Classic is a bike ride along the Mississippi River, through the beautiful Summit & Cathedral Hill neighborhoods and areas of downtown St. Paul. The ride tours some of St. Paul's most well-known landmarks; all with the backdrop of the twinkling skyline. We gathered at the Union Depot on 4th and Sibley, downtown St. Paul, for our first evening ride down the streets of this metropolis and to the foot of Minnesota’s Capitol Building. We weren’t the only tandem recumbents this time—we were joined by Joan and John Laabs and Michelle and Alan Andersen.


This night biking event began at 7:00pm and routed us along the Mississippi River, onto Summit Avenue and then back to the Depot. It was a short route but more of a challenge than I expected. The streets were well-tended by the city police but the bumps in the route could not be detected in the dark and riding tandem made this ride slightly nerve-wrecking for my captain. We made it back to the Depot by 9:00pm and packed the bike to head back to our hotel for the night.


Biking in the Twin Cities is such a treat. Each time we set out we encounter more scenic paths to follow. We are already looking forward to our next adventure in this bicycle haven.

Lakes and Bike Trails of the Twin Cities

Minneapolis Lakes: 25.62 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 2 hours 12 minutes, average speed 11.5

Our bike ride today was the ultimate! Since our hotel for the night was in St. Louis Park, we took advantage of the bike trails in the area. We arrived early at the Doubletree Inn and began pedaling our route at 10:00am. Just down the road from the hotel, we picked up the bike paths that eventually put us on the smooth pavement of the Cedar Lake Trail. I got the opportunity to visit with other cyclists while waiting for a train to clear our path. The locals gave us great suggestions for lunch and we were excited to try the Tin Fish Eatery on Lake Calhoun.


We exited the Cedar Trail at the north end of the West River Parkway, another beautifully paved bike trail, and soon came across the Stone Arch Bridge at St. Anthony Falls, the only natural major waterfall on the upper Mississippi River.


The Parkway led us to the Midtown Greenway, A biker’s highway that cuts across the Cities. We were now in search of the Tin Fish Eatery and a rest along Lake Calhoun. The food at the Tin Fish was very good and the dining experience was unique.


We were just arriving back at our hotel when we received a call letting us know that our room was ready so we checked in and had a little down time before getting ready to meet up with the Night Owl Riders downtown St. Paul.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mesabi Weekend–August 8 to 11

Day 1 Mesabi Bike Trail—Virginia to Gilbert: 18.80 miles TANDEM Pedal Time: 1 hour 43 minutes, average speed 10.9
Our Mesabi Weekend began with a drive to Babbitt, MN for a stay with my brother, Paul. He made us some awesome blueberry pancakes Friday morning and then we were off to Soudan to tour the Underground Mine.
We put on a hard hat and ventured a half-mile into the earth at the Soudan Underground Mine. The $12 ticket was well-worth the cost. Our tour guide, Karl, did an awesome job helping us see, feel, hear and understand the impact of mining on the lives of these northeastern Minnesota settlers. His introduction to the mine got our attention as he began speaking to us in Dutch. He explained later that most miners here would have also been frustrated trying to understand a co-worker. As an ex-miner, Karl was able to help us understand the sacrifices this line of work requires—not only medical but emotional as well.
Our 90-minute tour started 689 feet below sea level and 2,341 feet below the surface at Level No. 27. The cage ride down held 10 adults closely together but the miners would have been packed tighter and the door to the cage would have taken up precious space so was not installed in the days of operation of this “Cadillac of Mines.”
The Soudan Mine opened in 1882 and was Minnesota’s first iron ore mine. Operations went underground by 1892 after numerous accidents. When technology changed, the ore from the mine was no longer needed. Low-cost ores of the Mesabi Range took over. The Soudan Mine stopped mining ore in 1962.
Our two-night stay at the AmericInn in Virginia put us close to the 115-mile, paved Mesabi Bike Trail. We checked in at 3:00pm, paid $10 for our 3-day Wheel Passes and suited up to ride. We pedaled from Virginia to Gilbert, stopping to see the Rouchleau Mine and outdoor equipment display at the Mineview in the Sky.
As we pedaled away from the Mineview, the sky began to darken. We reached Gilbert but did not feel we could make it to Eveleth without getting wet so we turned back towards Virginia and celebrated rolling over 20,000 miles and our 33rd anniversary with a wonderful meal at Adventures. We started out on our ride with temperatures in the 70’s which dropped into the 60’s by ride’s end. The few raindrops we did get did not hinder our enjoyment of this day’s riding.
Day 2 Mesabi Bike Trail—Virginia to Hibbing: 63.27 miles
(mile markers 71-40)
TANDEM Pedal Time: 5 hours 24 minutes, average speed 11.6
What a beautiful day for this planned bike ride. Paul joined us at 10:00am and we pedaled out of Virginia towards Hibbing. We quickly passed through the small town of Mountain Iron and then through the town of Kinney without even realizing it. At Buhl we stopped to view an abandoned open mine pit—a fabulous view.
Our next stop was in Hibbing for a patio lunch at Zimmy’s. It was getting late and we were hungry. The food was worth waiting for and the rest was needed. We were now as far west as we would go on the Mesabi today.
Our next stop was at the World’s largest operating open pit mine—the Hull-Rust-Mahoning—known as the “Grand Canyon of the North”. The area’s first mining lease was awarded to Frank Hibbing in 1891. The village of Hibbing grew up near the mine pit and in 1918 the heart of the community was mounted on steel wheels and moved two miles to the south to make room for the mine's expansion. The combined Hull-Rust- Mahoning Mine and Hibbing Taconite open pit covers 5,000 acres. The view here was breathtaking!
Heading back towards Virginia, we came upon Chisholm. We stopped to walk across the Bridge of Peace which was proudly flying the flags of countries world-round, representing the cultural diversity of the area’s residents. We did not have time to tour the Minnesota Museum of Mining this day so will have to return north another time to bike more of the Mesabi.
Supper was at Grandma’s back in Virginia followed by a few card games with Paul before we collapsed for the night. We truly enjoyed touring along the Mesabi Bike Trail on this beautiful day. The trip was made even more special with the company of my brother, Paul.

Day 3 Mesabi Bike Trail—Hibbing to Nashwauk: 32.52 miles
(mile markers 40-25)
TANDEM Pedal Time: 2 hours 29 minutes, average speed 13.0

Today started with a drive to view the Laurentian Divide just outside Virginia. The Divide runs along the crest of a ridge of low rocky hills known as the Giant’s Range. These hills separate the headwaters of streams that flow north and south. Streams on the North Slope flow through Canada to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean. On the south slope streams flow into Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean or to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The rocks of the Laurentian Divide are more than 2 billion years old.
A drive to Hibbing put us back on the Mesabi Trail. With our bike trip of 32 miles today, we were able to bike through the small villages of Kelly Lake, Keewatin and Nashwauk giving us a weekend total of 47.5 miles one way on this well-designed bike trail in the north.
We will return to bike the remaining miles someday soon and look forward to spending more time on the Range.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Trail Opening Ceremony—St. Paul, MN

Dinkytown Greenway Trail Opening: 39.35 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 3 hours 19 minutes, average speed 11.8

We didn’t have to search very hard to find a ride for today. An email was sent advertising the grand opening of the Dinkytown Greenway Trail near the University campus of St. Paul, MN giving us a chance to bike the Twin Cities again. We are getting to know quite a bit about the vast biking opportunities of this metropolis. Our ride began from South St. Paul where Amy & Luke live, about 10 miles from the grand opening meeting place on the campus lawn of the University of Minnesota.


The grand opening celebrated a key link by providing safe bike travel across the Twin Cities. We were joined by Mayor Rybak at the site of the proposed Surley Brewery in Minneapolis. You need not be a beer drinker to enjoy what is being planned here. We are excited to check it out next fall when it is complete.



The Brewery owner was at the site to welcome us and explain what they have planned and why this site was chosen. Brewery tours and a restaurant are part of the plan.

Back on our bikes, we pedaled with the group to the site of the grand opening celebration. We were greeted by many officials responsible for getting this $2.3 million dollar connection complete and they promised more surprises to come.


We parted from the group following our ride on the newly paved Dinkytown section of the Greenway and continued routing ourselves back to South St. Paul. Lunch was way overdue and we were getting hungry. As we entered onto the Big Rivers Regional Trail in Mendota Heights, we saw the Lucky 13 Pub and enjoyed a hearty meal on the patio beside the trail.


We wanted to see if we could get back using only the trail systems and with the exception of a few miles, this was accomplished. We truly enjoyed this day of biking in the “Big Cities” and look forward to our next adventure here.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bucksnort Dam

Bucksnort Loop: 55.09 miles
TANDEM Pedal Time: 4 hours 30 minutes, average speed 12.2
2940 feet of climb!

Bike riding was the only thing on our “to do” list today. We planned a route from home to Lanesboro to pick up the Root River Trail towards Fountain where we planned on biking the scenic back roads to Chatfield. We were unsure of the quality of Keeper, Kindred and Juniper roads so we stopped at the grocery store in Fountain to ask for advice. The butcher here was very friendly and even though he was busy, he took the time to advise us to stay clear of Hwy 52 and the three unknown roads which were gravel. He suggested we take Fillmore County Roads 8 to 11 for a valley view route to Chatfield. We took the butcher’s advice but instead of heading to Chatfield, we found ourselves in Bucksnort. The only structure left in this town was a dam. We stopped here to rest before tackling the climb necessary to put Bucksnort behind us.


We were now rested and ready to climb. We powered up one hill after another until we came to the quiet village of Pilot Mound. What beautiful surroundings. High on a hill we saw an American flag waving at us and welcoming us to town. This sure would be a nice place for a beverage stop but the only thing left in town was a forgotten rock sculpture that once clearly displayed the name of the village but has now eroded away and only a few letters were legible.


Back in our neighborhood, we began to see familiar sights. The round barn is our sign that this journey would soon be ending. Our exploration today led to a new route for us to enjoy. We did not make it to Chatfield today, but Bucksnort was a worthy substitute.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Paddle & Pedal Winona, MN

Lake Winona Paddle and LaCanne Park to Prairie Island Pedal: 10.36 miles
TRIKE Pedal Time: 1 hour 8 minutes, average speed 9.1

Our trip to Winona was full of adventure. We started out with family visits in the morning and then kayaked Lake Winona in the afternoon before getting ready to meet up with good friends, Tim & Deneice, for supper.


Following an early supper, we all decided to continue our visit and get some exercise. Tim suggested a bike tour starting at LaCanne Park and continuing on towards Prairie Island. We passed over a wooden bridge with lots of character, then toured through Prairie Island Park and finally finished our ride with a spin though the area’s manufacturing neighborhood—a very enjoyable route.