Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bike Riding in Minnesota

I just got back from a five day trip to Minnesota where I visited my family. Christine and the boys had work and school obligations so I was the only one who headed back to the midwest this time. And unlike the last time I went back, this time I used several of those fancy aeroplane thingies to get there. I still find riding a bike to be more fun than flying.

My sister Candy knew I'd go stir crazy without a bike, so she loaned me her son's old-school mountain bike. Nothing fancy, but perfect for my needs.
On Friday temps were just a bit below freezing but the roads and trails were clear. I rode from my folks place in Scanlon to Carlton. From Carlton to Duluth I rode along the Willard Munger Trail, a converted rail-trail that runs from southern Minnesota all the way up to Duluth. In Duluth I stopped by Aerostich HQ to check out various cool motorcycle touring gear (much of which works well for pedal bikes as well) and then I headed over to Twin Ports Cycleryto see my old pal Denis. The best way I can describe the impact Denis had on me in my formative years is to say that if I'm any kind of a cycling Jedi then Denis is Yoda.
Denis and I talk of our families and bicycles and advocacy and mostly about riding. His main bike these days is a Bianchi cyclocross bike with a studded front tire. "Clearance," he says, "enough clearance to run a decent sized tire and so you can fit fenders so the bike stays cleaner." Why do they still call it common sense when men like Denis are increasingly rare these days?

On the ride home, I stop to take pictures of trees,a little trailside rest hut, and the totally Minnesotan uber-cautious trail highlighting.
As I near Thompson, I take an Oil is for Sissies-style shot of the the bike by the riverOK, I'm not as artsy as Jim, but I do manage to get off a good shot of about half a dozen deer who are trying hard to avoid folks dressed in orange these days.And speaking of orange, I wore a bright orange hunting vest that I borrowed from my brother-in-law as I rode on this adventure. In the course of forty or so miles, I saw no other cyclists, one roller-blader and several hunters. One of the hunters complemented me on my clothing sense.

Sunday night we got about three inches of snow, so I got to play a bit on Monday There wasn't time for a big adventure but I did get out to the library and the local coffee shop.
And that's it for the bikey stuff from my vacation. I won't bore you with pictures of my relatives and their cats or tell you about all the food I ate. I will tell you that if I lived near my mom, I'd probably weigh about three times what I do now. One of her favorite jokes goes like this "Why don't Norwegians ever learn how to swim?" Answer: "It's never more than 30 minutes since they've eaten."

Keep 'em rolling,

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