Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Red Wing Loop thru Cannon Falls

Distance = 40.72 miles
Time = 3.12.57
Max speed = 35.5
Average speed = 12.7

Still not ready to do the entire Red Wing loop, which is about 85 miles. I'm hoping to do it sometime before the snow falls. But it's not a priority. Along the way we passed a turkey farm where the turkeys seemed to have free reign. That was pretty cool except the fact that we knew they would also be slaughtered. Arrgh! But there's another turkey farm along Hwy 19 where they all seem squashed into a very small space. So at least this way they have happy lives while they're alive. ANYWAY... there was quite a bit of climbing early on and we kept thinking there needed to be a descent soon. Finally we had one into Cannon Falls. That was very fun! We stopped at Subway in Cannon Falls to share a sandwich. Very good idea! We also had to ask directions since both of us were turned around. lol I would have gone right and the guy giving us directions said left. Oops! I need better maps and a better sense of direction. (= I wasn't feeling great after Subway... almost like I was dehydrated. But I'd been drinking water like crazy so that didn't seem possible. We turned out of Cannon Falls and ended up in a pretty bad headwind. We stopped at a little convenience store for a few minutes to get out of the wind for a few minutes. Then I asked Lorrie to lead, which she did. Except that she's still stronger than she thinks so I had to work pretty hard to keep up with her! lol We didn't ride down Hwy 19 this time but were able to follow more of the route this time. More headwind! I pulled off at one point into some farmer's year to stand under a tree out of the sun for a moment. Lorrie was nearly out of water. We were a mess! lol By that point we could see one of the wind turbines so we knew we were pretty close. Still seemed to take forever to get to Hwy 3. Finally there, we headed to Goodbye Blue Mondays for a coffee drink and to cool off. Then the last 2 miles or so to get home... with iced coffee in my hand! lol Good ride! (= Always!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Northfield to Faribault

Distance = 19.24
Time = 1.29.27
Max speed = 30.5 mph
Average speed = 12.8 mph

Another one of those days where I just need to do something with my legs. So off I went. I had figured out the back road my neighbor was talking about for getting to Faribault without being on Hwy 3. So off I went. The beginning was a familiar route through Cannon City. Unfortunately a good portion of it was being redone and there was pea gravel everywhere. So I had to stay in the main lane where the cars go. A couple of them weren't thrilled with my presence. Hell, I wasn't thrilled with my presence! Lorrie had taken the dogs to Cannon Lake to play in the water and I was meeting her there. So I didn't want to turn around. There are some great climbs on this route. I struggled with a couple of them. I probably should have eaten more earlier in the day but I wasn't really thinking about it. There was a point where I had to stand in line with cars while it was single lane and wait for the people coming from the other direction to get through. Then it was our turn. I finally got to a point where I realized others were waiting for me to finish so they could let cars come through the other direction. Oops! I did feel bad about that! Flew down a hill into Faribault and then had to find my way toward the lake. There was one portion of the directions that just weren't clear to me. After a couple wrong turns, I finally figured it out. Afterwards I played in the water with the girls and we took them for a little walk. Nice ending to the day!

Friday, July 27, 2007

TRAM (Day 5 - July 27, 2007)

Fergus Falls to Alexandria, MN

Distance = 47.07
Time = 3.32.45
Max speed = 20.5 mph
Avg speed = 13.3

Our last morning! We got everything packed up then headed down to the Viking Cafe from last night. The dive! They serve a pretty good breakfast! A bunch of old geezers hanging out eating breakfast and drinking coffee. You know it's good! We all took off together but were quickly separated again. Lorrie and I were just taking it easy and wanted to make sure we took in all the scenery. It was almost completely on a trail so the riding was nice. There were a few little hills but nothing major. We skipped the first rest stop and were promptly passed by Brian after he'd stopped there. A little while down the road Tim and Heidi passed us. It was weird to think we had been ahead of them at all! lol But they said they were taking it easy as well. We started seeing riddles along the sides of the trail. I was reading out the riddle and Lorrie was yelling out the answer. She was riding with Heidi and I was with Tim. It was still too fast to get all the answers. But they all had to do with Christmas and Santa Claus. We decided to stop at this rest area and get Lorrie's gears checked out one more time. The mechanic told her if that didn't work to check it out at the next one. lol Good quality work eh?! We also had our photo taken with the Claus Family. It had to have been hot in those outfits. But they looked pretty cool. I can't remember the name of the town but it was very cute. There was a bed and breakfast for sale as well. They were serving breakfast and coffee on their porch... or what it their patio? Got some food and water and took off again. The trail, I think it's the Heartland Trail, was really nice. I think I heard that it was relatively new, which explains the lack of cracking and such. The scenery was nice too! Yes, it was mainly still farmland. But I *am* in Minnesota ya know! And some of the are quite picturesque... if you ask me. The last rest area was very small but they had a lot of watermelon! Bonus! Lorrie had her bike checked out one more time since it was still making a chinking noise. He determined that it was the pedal and not the gears. Said she needed to have her bearings reset. Sheesh! So we decided to embrace the noise! lol I grabbed one of the milks they have been giving out the past few days and put it in my pocket to save for later. I had wanted some before but can't imagine how milk would sit in my stomach while cycling. It doesn't sound promising! Lorrie took one too but after about a mile stopped and drank it because it was harder to carry than to just drink! lol Nothing major happened between this point and the finish. We just took our time, talking, and enjoyed the end of the ride together. It was kindof exciting to get to the finish! We had to stop and take a few pictures of course! This was the entrance to the Douglas County Fairgrounds... and the unofficial finish. But we didn't know that. So we were excited! lol There was another gentleman who was also finishing so we took a photo of him as well! So we did it. Together. And we still like each other. That's pretty cool. We continued on that road and the official finish was there. They had an inflatable arch, cow bells, a radio announcer, etc. It was pretty cool. There was a small crowd but nothing major. Heidi came running out to greet us. She said they'd been waiting but got hungry so were in line for food. We put our finishing medals on and went to line up for food. It's always about the food eh!? lol Burgers, chicken, watermelon, salads... it was all there. So we all ate together and hung out. That was nice. I was under the impression that as soon as they got there they would disperse and we wouldn't see each other again. Nice surprise! They all left shortly after we finished eating. Except Jan. She had to wait for Brian to ride someplace else to pick up his van. Poor guy! We stuck around and waited for the last rider to finish. I thought maybe they would have something for the volunteers like at the AIDS Ride. We waited for quite some time. I did get a cowbell out of the deal. Some guy saw me dancing and said I could shake the bell too! lol Cool! A kid next to me wanted one too so I went and found one for him to keep. I wasn't giving up my swag!! Well... I would have. But I didn't want to! lol Anyway, the last riders were what I assume were a mother and her son. It was pretty cool but, I have to say, slightly anti-climactic. And then we headed home. And the
last photo on my little disposable camera was one of my trucks in a parking lot in Alexandria! (= Works for me! It's been a great week and I'm very glad that I got talked into doing this ride! I'd be happy to do it again next year. The Minnesota AIDS Ride, called the Red Ribbon Ride here, was the week before this year. Maybe I can do both and just ride all during July!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

TRAM (Day 4 - July 26, 2007

Wadena to Fergus Falls, MN

Distance = 54.44
Time = 3.35.48
Max speed = 30.5
Avg speed = 15.1

Lorrie decided not to ride today. Her left hand, in the pinky area, is quite swollen and sore. She's been taking ibuprofin and icing it but it's still sore. Yesterday was a very hard day so I thought it was a good idea that she not go. A bonus was that she could have our tent set up and get us all a good camp site for the night! It was weird saying goodbye to her in the morning. We all rode downtown for some breakfast. But I can't remember where we went! lol Must be starting to all run together. lol We all took off together. Actually we all rode together longer than usual. The road was pretty busy so passing wasn't terribly easy. That also made gaining speed difficult. Eventually I heard Heidi said, "I can't do this anymore. I'm going." and she was off. (= Tim followed. It all started to spread out a little eventually. I stuck with Daryl and Jeanie and we got past the crowd pretty well. It took awhile for my legs to get warmed up this morning. They didn't have quite the spunk they usually do. We passed by the first rest stop so that we could thin out the crowd even more. Daryl was singing and telling jokes the whole way as we rode. That seemed to cheer people up as we passed. It was pretty hilly, which I thought was fun. My legs did start to liven up a little bit. The scenery was very pretty... lots of flowers along this part of the road. We got to the second rest stop and decided to take a little break. Daryl asked Jeanie something about bonking and told her to get some water. She laughed and said she'd been trying to hide it. He's been biking in general and with her too long to be fooled. (= Daryl knows so many people after doing this ride for 17 years that every rest stop with him is like a party. It was fun to meet new people. I'm horrible with remembering people with helmets on. Maybe in 17 years I'll know the names too! (= While we were there, we ran into Bill who had apparently taken a spill. He was still steaming! Apparently one of the Ride Marshalls had cut him off or something. He said that instead of braking suddenly and taking Tim and other down with him he just let himself take the fall. He got up and wasn't hurt. But was PISSED! lol I asked him how fast he rode after that incident. He said, "Pretty damn fast!" lol I can laugh because he wasn't hurt. We didn't stay at the rest stop too long. Enough to do a little stretching, refill our bottles, and get a little food. I had put some bugles in my pocket to save for Lorrie. They take up a lot of room those things! Well, as we got going, we got back into some hilly sections. And one nice steep descent had me tucking in pretty tightly. The air swooshed around me and my bugles flew out. )= That was sad! Daryl came up next to me and said he was sorry to tell me that I had lost them. Someone also ran them over. Geez! I guess it's the thought that counts! (= It was actually pretty funny! On to the third rest stop, if I remember correctly, is one where skinny dipping is not uncommon. My finger was thinking about skinning dipping. But then chickened out and decided to just get into the photo of the skinny dipping dock! The line to the bathrooms is a funny thing at some rest stops. When we got to this one Tim and Heidi were still there. Tim came running down to us, real secretive like. He told us there was a bathroom up on the hill that was unlocked that we could use and there was no line. He was so serious about it and very quiet! I appreciated that so off I went! It was still just a hole in the ground. But no wait! Always a good thing! It seemed like we stayed at this rest area for a very long time. We gave each other shoulder massages and chatted with various people. I think I also ate too much. I hate when I do that. Finally we were off again. More hills! It started to look like it might rain. It wasn't cool or anything yet but it did sprinkle some as we got into the final rest stop. When we were there, I met a couple who is celebrating their 50th(?) wedding anniversary and they've been celebrating on the ride for many of those years. I thought that was pretty cool! They're both still riding strong! I hope I can be that way!! In the marriage thing and the riding thing! While we were at this rest stop, someone announced that Fergus Falls was set to get a downpour in about 30 minutes so if we wanted to beat that we'd better get going. I don't think there was anyone there who could make it the approximately 12 miles in 30 minutes. But we took off just in case. It did sprinkle and rain at one point. But it stayed off pretty well. I don't think I ever got completely wet. There were a few hills up to the finish and I actually had fun with those. I just decided to kick it to the end and see what I could do. I haven't done much of that this season so it was interesting. The finish in Fergus was very cool. There was a nice crowd of people cheering. Lorrie was there with her video camera filming us coming in. That was nice. She showed us to our site and it was wonderful! Good shade, close to the edge so we didn't have to walk as far to get to town, and flat! I got my stuff arranged and went to take a shower. The line was pretty long but seemed to go fast. Then we explored a little. They had computers set up for us and power strips so we could charge phones if needed. I love when host cities think of those little details for us. There was a tree that Lorrie was dying to show me! It was full of egrets! She said she'd spent some time sitting and watching them earlier in the day. These photos don't do them justice at all but they totally took over this little island! They are one of her favorite birds so she was extremely excited! We checked our email, plugged in our phones, and did some laundry. Meanwhile the rest of them had gone downtown to scope out some food. Daryl left a message saying they were at some Viking Cafe or something like that. So after we'd done our chores, we headed down that direction. It was still early in the day. So we had a good amount of time. When we got to the cafe, no one was there and it was a bit of a dive. We called Daryl again and he explained where they had decided to go. Just down the street. It was an Italian place that was usually not open except on weekends. They were going to be open at 5pm but Daryl et. al had talked their way in a little early and had been siting drinking wine. I was extremely hungry but knew by the time we found someplace else to eat the pasta bar in this place would be started. I'm also not fond of pasta! But I felt like spending time with them was more important that having the food I would prefer. I just hoped for good meatballs! (= They weren't! lol And I wouldn't call myself a picky eater. I just wasn't thrilled with the place. Daryl and Jeanie had deemed themselves hosts and servers for the evening. So they were seating people, getting water, pouring drinks, etc. I couldn't tell if the owners were thankful or irritated. But that was their deal! lol When they finally opened the pasta bar, it was a mad dash! Great salad! Great sauces... the clam sauce was really good. But the meatballs and sausage weren't great. Didn't matter, I was hungry and this was food! More wine, more people joined our group, good conversation, great energy. It was fun! We sat for a little while and then needed to walk around some. Lorrie and I paid then headed out into the heat again. We ended up at Pamida where we got mosquito nets for our boundary waters trip and I got a tarp to cover our stuff in case it continued to rain through the night. Then we sat in the outdoor area on a porch swing for at least 30 minutes. I might have actually dozed off for a few minutes. lol It felt good to be in there. Then we needed some fresh air so out we went. Fergus Falls was hosting a street dance in our honor that night. But before that the teams on TRAM had contests for best song, best t-shirt, etc. So they had those competitions and results before anything else. We watched that for a little while then started walking around again. There was also a concert in town that Heidi and Tim had gone to in an old theatre. Prudence Johnson was playing. I had no idea who she was but Daryl went berserk when he realized she was in town. So off we went to the theater. We ran in and asked if we'd missed her and they said to hurry and go in. She came out just then. It was good. A combination of oldies, jazz, and blues. I was falling asleep though. So after the intermission we decided to leave. We found out later that the others had to pay $12 to get in! I probably would have stayed awake if I'd paid that! lol We jumped on one of the buses provided by the city to get us back to the park and headed to our tent. I covered everything up with the tarp and off to bed we went. It was nice because we could still hear the music being played down at the dance. Our last night on the ride! Weird! Just when we were starting to get the hang of things!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TRAM (Day 3 - July 25, 2007)

Park Rapids, MN to Wadena, MN

Distance = 53.28
Time = 3.54.47

Max speed = 30.5
Average speed = 13.0 mph

Well our time of not taking down the tent was over! Got up around 5am and started packing things up. We're starting to get our system down pretty well. We went back to The Great Northern Cafe again for breakfast. It was fast, close, and the food was good. Jan ordered French toast that ended up being an entire, long-cut, half of a French bread. Holy crap that looked good... and huge! Wish I had seen that before. But I stuck with my eggs... minus the weird looking ham steaks from yesterday! (= Lorrie and I took off with Tim and Heidi. We rode through a residential area for awhile trying to avoid crossing a very busy street with gravel that was under construction. We asked a construction worker at some point if we were going the right direction and he pointed us onward. It finally paid off and we were back on track. Those two took off and we rode on. Daryl had decided to go balls to the walls with Bill so they were off and running I'm sure. I didn't know where Jan, Brian, or Jeanie were but Jan and Brian had left earlier than anyone. Brian had to go to a memorial service and was also trying to do multiple 100-mile rides so he was often off doing his own thing. So we rode. And it was HOT... again. That's becoming a theme eh? I find that I don't mind the heat so much. But it was also windy. That, as I wrote along time ago, I have made friends with. Wind is there, I am there, we can co-exist. But it's hard! Somewhere along the way, we were climbing and these 3 guys came along and passed us. But then they seemed to slow down. Do I hooked onto their back and tried to communicate Lorrie to jump on my wheel. She did and we got a nice little ride into the first rest stop! It's amazing how much easier it is to peddle while drafting! And I did need a bit of a rest by that time. We pulled into the first stop just as Daryl was coming out. It looked very small and he said it was a madhouse. We agreed that we should just push onto the second rest stop and avoid this crowd. So off into the wind we went! The photo is of us not long after leaving that first rest stop. We rode awhile not talking or anything but just hanging out in the wind. Eventually we got onto the wheels of a man and his son. It's interesting how that happens. They too were passing on a hill and then slowed down so I caught them. And then they were going the same speed we had been going. My theory is that their egos made them pass us and then they were stuck in front. HA! Sometimes it's good to be a woman. Well, most of the time! Anyway, that's just a theory. We hung with them for quite awhile. Then we got to a hill and they slowed way down. So I went on and Lorrie stayed back with them. I found out later that she started talking to them and they had done this ride a long time ago when the son was really young. So now that he is older, in his 20s or so, they decided to do it again. I thought that was really cool! I rode with an older gentleman for a little while and then he got behind a long line of about 10 people riding together. They all kept braking and being weird so I pulled out ahead of them. They all passed me again and did the same weird stuff so I got in front again. Strange! I passed a very small woman who jumped on my wheel and said the wind was killing her. So I dragged her most of the way to the rest stop. But there was a hill right before the rest stop so I had to speed up to climb that. (= But she got in okay. I figured it was the least I could do after having my butt hauled all over the Minnesota countryside. Lorrie showed up a few minutes later and we ran into Daryl who had cracked from Bill's pace. He hung out with us for a little while giving Lorrie a massage. That ended up being a pretty long rest stop. There was a long line for the toilet and it was a hike to get there. The rest stop was on someone's farm. They had set up a big tent and were selling food... including rhubharb slushies or something like that. Daryl said he wanted to ride with us for awhile so we started to take off. I forgot my water bottle by the toilets so I went back to grab it. Then off we went. A bit down the road, I told them to go ahead while I stopped to photograph some scenery.... and my finger! It really is gorgeous farmland. I think you can still see that! lol In my defense, this camera is one of those disposables. But really, I should be smart enough to avoid my own finger! lol ANYWAY! Back on the bike and riding into the wind to catch up to those two. Daryl dragged us for a few moments and then took off on his own. So we just did our thing. Lorrie took the lead for a little bit to give me a break in the wind. She hadn't done that before so it was nice of her and good lesson for her. She laughed because she had no idea how much work I'd been doing on all those windy training rides. Well now she knows and now she gets to take her turn! (= What's funny is that when she gets in front of me, I have a difficult time keeping up with her. She doesn't believe me when I tell her that. But her legs are WAY strong! We worked our way through the route and got to Wadena without issue. However, we did ride on a trail that seemed like it took forever. It felt at first like we were almost there. And then it just kept going and going and going. Then we turned a corner and BAM... there it was! lol Relief! The park was big but we found our group pretty quickly. Bill had been there awhile and said he'd picked up a ton of goose shit in our area but there was probably more. So I started picking it up too. GROSS! lol We went and got our stuff from the trucks, which seemed to just be arriving for some reason. So we had to drag it all across the field. Not a biggie. Same routine with the tent, showering, etc. All I can say was that it was sweltering out. We were so desperate to get somewhere cool, it was crazy. Everyone was in but Jeanie so we waited for her while getting organized. She finally showed up and said she'd had a flat right after the first rest stop and then had ridden on the rim back to the stop. Daryl told me to slap her! lol Wadena was a little further from the park so we had to take a bus into town. Bill had showered but was already getting soaked in sweat because of the heat. And of course the school bus had no air. Can I emphasize the heat any more?? Got into town and b-lined it for a local watering hole. We at what I thought was dinner but it was only about 2pm so it turned out to be lunch I guess. I told you, time was difficult to keep track of! I should wear a watch I guess. At some point we realized the Tour de France was on the tv in the bar area and it was a major climb. So a few of us grabbed our salads and stood in there to watch. Lots of drama going on in that race this year with the leader being kicked out for doping. Seems like there were a few people kicked out. That done, we sat down to eat. It was still so hot no one wanted to go outside. So we moved from the dining area to the bar area and a few of them resumed their drinking. Lorrie and I went down the street to a coffee house with numerous computers which was geared toward teenagers. We waited for a free computer for a little while then I asked how we could sign up for one. The barista asked a couple of kids to give theirs up while they were playing a game. They were very cool about it. We checked our email and messed around some. We checked the weather and it was in the 100 degree range. See? I was not exaggerating! And we shared an coffee smoothie. Yummmm! They closed at 5pm but the barista said we could stay while he was cleaning, which I was thought was exceptionally nice! We went back over to the bar eventually and they were still drinking away. There was a movie theatre across the street so we went and saw a movie around 7pm. Ahh 2 hours of coolness! We saw Chuck and Dave. Tim and Heidi went to see Harry Potter and while we were sitting there, Brian and Jan came into our theatre too. Ha! We're so smart! The movie was not very good... but that didn't really matter! (= Afterwards, we got a ride back to the park with Brian and Jan since Brian still had his van. The first photo below is me and Lorrie outside the theater. The other is Brian, Jan, and my damn finger outside the theatre! lol By this time it had only slightly cooled off. I figured we'd head back to the park, see what the others were up to and then head off to bed. When we got there, we were walking past the entertainment stage and there everyone but Heidi and Tim were. Dancing and jumping around to the music. So we stopped and watched. Looked like they were having a pretty good time. They must have found an liquor store in town too. Although I think they were selling beer at the concession stand as well. We did finally get up and dance some too. Okay... a lot. We were more sweaty after that than after riding all day! lol And the mosquitos were just loving me! I still don't know what it is about me this year or in this location that they love so much. Whatever it is, I hate it! It's crazy-making to itch so much! I had benadryl with me all the time and was constantly applying it. Around 10pm the band was done playing, it was dark, and we headed for bed. Lorrie still had to pump up the air mattress and we were totally disorganized. That was hard in the dark... especially knowing there was goose shit still around. But we finally got to bed. And were miserable! lol It was almost funny. We just laid there sweating and moaning. I think I know why some people are drinking so much! It helps them sleep in the heat! lol No, this night was just particularly bad because we'd been dancing around and it was hotter than most nights. But we slept. Or so it seems! Turns out it was 105 degrees this day!! I'm *not* a whiner! lol

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TRAM (Day 2 - July 24, 2007)

Park Rapids, MN through Itaska State Park and back to Park Rapids, MN

Distance = 28.40 miles
Time = 1.59.41
Max speed = 30.5 mph
Average speed = 14.2 mph

Another early morning. It's nice though. We didn't have to take down our tent because we'll be in the same place for a second night! I like that! The plan is about 80 miles out and back. Itasca State Park boasts the starting point of the Mississippi River. So you can put your feet in it and affect the whole waterway! Wow! I've never seen it. And today would not be my day to do so. We headed out after having breakfast in town at The Great Northern Cafe. YUM! We rode some on a trail and out to a county road. We all headed out together, which was nice. Heidi, Tim, and Bill then took off. Jeanie rode with Lorrie for a little while and I was with Daryl. Jeanie caught up to us and then they took off. So we were all pretty spread out. I decided to go a little faster and meet Lorrie at the first rest stop. So I passed Daryl and Jeanie on one of the hills and went on. When I got to the rest area, it was packed! Tim and Heidi were still there. Apparently there had been a hit and run and a cyclist was hurt, possibly dead. The driver of the car had taken off (the "run" part, I know) so it had become a crime scene. Forensics were there so we couldn't go through due to potential damage of the crime scene. If it weren't so sad, I'd have felt like I was in a CSI episode or something. Lots of rumors were floating around but no one really knew exactly what was happening. All we knew was that we had to wait... and wait... and wait. It's amazing what 1200ish people can look like all in one place after being so spread out. Eventually they announced that they had tried to find an alternate route but couldn't. So we were being sent back to the park. We had to go in groups of 15-20 and were to stay single file the whole way. We jumped in line and were getting ready to take off when Daryl started talking about Christmas World. What? Turns out we have spent the past 2 hours in a place the plays Christmas music ALL the time! But they weren't open so we didn't hear it. I did wish we'd gotten to use the go carts! Ah well! The whole time the others were scheming how they could get in some more miles, possibly even get to Itasca State Park. I didn't feel up for heading out with no promise of water with no rest stops or anything. So Lorrie, Jan, and I headed back to the park. Heidi and Tim did a 50-mile ride, and the rest did an 80-mile ride. We got back to camp pretty friggin' early so we had all day to hang around. The town of Park Rapids had put together shuttles for us to go see the state park if we wanted to. Otherwise, we could just explore. We took our showers and decided to relax and explore.

We went into Park Rapids for lunch at the local coffee house. We stayed a couple house and had iced coffees, played mancala, and chatted. For accuracy sake, I was warned to include the fact that while playing mancala, Lorrie beat me at a game that I started. It's the first time in our history of that game that the person who did not start won. She also beat me in the series, 3 out of 5. ::sigh:: ANYWAY! Then we walked around and window shopped. Park Rapids is a cute little town. We started heading back up to the park but stopped by the music stage to watch some kids jumping off a bridge across the lake. A woman was playing some good folk music! We went back around on the street so we could get to the bridge and see what the jumpers were doing. It was a high enough jump that I'd have to think twice about going. But low enough that I eventually would. There were probably 15 kids and some adults jumping randomly and doing some pretty fancy dives. Plus a belly flop or two! Back to the tents to chill in the shade, listen to some music and wait for our comrades to appear. Heidi and Tim got back first then we ended up waiting quite awhile for Daryl, Bill, and Jeanie. They all looked pretty haggard when they got back! But they showered and got ready so we could head to dinner... again at Goose Crossing! Yep, it was *that* good! We got to sit in the main dining area this time. Like grown-ups! Little did they know! (= Free drinks again! I had my own this time! Crown and coke. Lorrie and I shared another chicken dish and burger. It wasn't quite as good as the night before but still great! We stayed awhile again and just talked about our adventures of the day. Lorrie and I sat nearer to Tim and Heidi this time so got to hear some about their travels in Greece. Amazing!

On the way back, we stopped so Jeanie, Daryl, and Bill could get more alcohol and then headed back to the park. I think they all went down to the bar or something but we just hung out around the park. Maybe we're too boring not partying the whole time. Ah well. It wouldn't be the first time for me! I just didn't want to keep Lorrie from going if she wanted to. I'm perfectly fine on my own, reading, writing in my journal, listening to music. But she said she was happy not to party. So we just hung out... trying to stay cool. This is a (bad) photo of our little camping area and one of Daryl... a sheet or so to the wind. (=

Monday, July 23, 2007

TRAM (Day 1 - July 23, 2007)

Walker to Park Rapids, MN

Distance = 52.23
Time = 3.44.36
Max speed = 26.5
Avg speed = 14.0

We got up early... about 5:30. We wanted to be on the road by 7am so that we could miss some of the worst heat. That first morning is always difficult. Getting our system down would take a day or so. We woke up, got into our cycling clothes right away. I even put a sweater on for a little bit! That was nice. We got our bags ready for the most part but left the tent up to dry a little from the dew. We had decided to have our first breakfast in the park rather than go into town like the others. The Moose Lodge or something like that was providing the breakfast... for $5 each! It was just eggs, toast, hashbrowns, and some juice. Nothing special, but enough. While there, I made our Accelerade mixture so that would be ready. Then back to take the tent down. Lorrie was a little nervous because everyone was leaving when we got back there. I kept reminding her that they were on their way to eat downtown so we were doing fine. We got the tent down, had everything packed up, and took it all over to the equipment truck. You know how in movies the action scene, usually sex, starts and the music coincides? Then the phone rings or something and the music skids to a stop? lol That's how I was feeling! Except it wasn't sex! /= We were getting started and then I had to stop and fix my shoe... bwzzzip. lol Then we were really on the road. We started on a trail, which was very nice. The only problem is that many people on a 4 foot wide trail can be a little dicey. We just took our time enjoying the cool air, the scenery, and the people. Yeah, the people. For now anyway! lol At some point Heidi and Tim passed us. Heidi said, "Hi Ladies. HEY, those are our ladies!" lol Then Daryl, Bill and Jeanie passed us. So we had left in good time. (= The trail was windy and hilly. Lots of people braking suddenly on those descents. Damn them! I'd go way ahead on the descents and then Lorrie would catch up on the flats or the climbs. It worked well. As you can see in the video, the day also started out somewhat foggy. That was a little eerie at times. When we got the the first rest area, I had to use the bathroom BADLY! lol She didn't so I told her to just go ahead. Then I could see how fast I could go and catch her. (= The line was pretty friggin' long so I was there awhile. I hate that for a first stop. Oh well! Back on the road, people started spreading out some because of the stop. That was nice. I don't know how fast I went but it was fun. I kept playing catch-up with an older man who had a radio playing polkas and such. It was cute at first and then I was done with him. lol So I sped up just a little more to get away. I got to the second rest area just as Lorrie was parking her bike. Good timing. This time she had to get into the bathroom line. So I grabbed water and food for us and stood with her. What I thought was funny was that they were serving PBJ sandwiches! lol I'm SO glad I decided not to bring that stuff! We stretched a little and were off again. It was still early and still cool enough so we didn't want to be standing around too much time before it gets hot. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful except for the heat. Lorrie drinks a lot of friggin' water, which is a good thing. But it always makes me nervous when she is close to running out so often. She needs a monster bottle! I'd recommend a camelbak if it wouldn't be so hot on her back. We finished the ride on another trail and got into camp, I think, around 1pm. I don't have a great concept of time. All I know is that it was very hot and we still had all day to hang out. We parked our bikes and started walking around trying to find Daryl et al. I called on my phone but he didn't seem to have service again. We found them by a pavillion, which was very convenient for the shade!
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Back to get our bikes. Then back to get our bags. Ha... they had 4-wheelers with trailers that would take us and our gear to our campsites! Awesome!! Marked a spot for the tent in a nice shady site and then went down to the lake to cool off. *That* was awesome!! We swam around for a little while in our cycling clothes! lol Then went back up to set up the tent in the shade. We sat for a few moments and chatted with everyone. They had all showered already so were heading to the beer tent and various other places. The plan was to meet at 4:30pm for dinner since Brian had his van there temporarily. We headed over to the shower truck and got in line. Holy crap was that hot! The info tent was right there and they had ice water readily available. Good thing! I noticed on the shower door a poster for the AIDS Ride with the same logo from last year. That made me a little nostalgic! (= The shower felt great! I washed my clothes at the same time. Of course Lorrie took about half the time I did so she was outside when I got out. Sweetheart that she is, she waited for me since we hadn't said what the plan was. That was considerate! AND she brought me more water. How lucky am I? Back at the tent, we finished getting ready then Jan and Brian showed up around 4pm. Turns out everyone had gone down to a local bar after the beer tent so Brian was going to pick them up rather than meeting up at the tent site. I'm a little curious what would have happened had we not been there at 4pm since it was 30 minutes early and we easily could have explored the park more. No biggie. We were there so we went with them to pick up the bar folks. We headed out of town to a restaurant called Goose Crossing. They weren't open for another 30 minutes but let us into the bar early, which was where we ended up eating too. They had a free drink for any TRAMmers deal going so they were all happy. Lorrie was double happy since she got mine too! lol We split one of their big meals plus a hamburger! Both were good but the chicken was awesome! We were there for several hours just talking, dancing, laughing, and staying cool. The servers were great. At some point Brian requested that the chef come out to our table so we could thank him. He got a nice round of applause and seemed grateful. Eventually it was time to head back to the park. We had to stop at a liquor store so Daryl, Bill, and Jeanie could get more to drink. We headed downtown, I can't remember why, and ended up getting out to go walk around. We ended up in a bookstore where Bill bought a Garrison Keeler joke book, which he read out loud the rest of the evening. lol Lorrie and I left them to go to their bar and we went to the drugstore to get some anti-itch cream for my millions of bug bites! We also got some cool drinks that were not water! lol Vitamin water though. ha! We walked back up to the park and listened to the music that was playing on the stage. We could hear it from our tent so we didn't have to stay down there. We read a little and just relaxed some before going to bed. It was still pretty hot and we had yet to take the sleeping bags out of my messenger bag. We just laid on a sheet that Lorrie brought and when it got a little chillier in the middle of the night, we would put it over us. That seems to be working pretty well so far. Another early morning tomorrow!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

TRAM (Day 0 - July 22, 2007)

Well, we're done training. I feel okay about riding. I'm more stressed about "stuff." This ride is different from the AIDS Ride in many ways. One is that I have to bring my own tent and we have to provide our own food. I had thought about just bringing some peanut butter and jelly to save money. Then I remembered that I have a job now and can buy food. I'd still like it to be inexpensive but I think i can avoid the pbj thing. We get 3 items each and they are not to weigh over 35 lbs. lol Right! I'm sure everyone abides by that! I know I overpacked for the AIDS Ride so I have learned a bit of a lesson. A problem here is that I actually do need street clothes each day after we ride. There, apparently, is a lot more free time than I'm used to. I hate comparing everything to the AIDS Ride, but that's what I know. There we rode, put up the tent, showered, ate, and went to bed. It was simple. Lorrie's friend Daryl has done TRAM for 17 years, every year that it has been put on. He's the one that suggested Lorrie do the ride in the first place... for several years now. Lorrie and her friend Jeanie finally agreed that they would do it this year. Daryl has some other friends that he consistently rides with. So it seemed an okay group. Anyway, back to packing. I get a little crazy when I'm packing for any kind of trip. And I hate overpacking! I know. That sounds funny since I always do it. But I've been monitoring lately what I wear and don't wear. Oh yeah, another problem. Who the hell knows what the weather is going to be like in Northern Minnesota!? Ya know!? I think I did pretty well though. I had my cycling bag with helmet, shoes, cycling clothes, and basically everything else. My street clothes went into a much smaller bag. Then I had both our sleeping bags crunched into my messenger bag. Lorrie brought a camp chair, a bag of clothes, and the tent. Not bad. We'll learn. (= Off we go to Alexandria and the Douglas County Fairgrounds, which is where we will leave my SUV for the week. It's about a 3 hour drive and we seem to be doing fine. Then Lorrie realizes she has forgotten the directions. Ha! As we get closer, I told her we just needed to follow any bulk of cars with bikes on them. That actually worked! We ended up in a caravan of about 5 cars all with bikes on them and we made it without difficulty to the fairgrounds! lol We parked then wrapped our frames in some bubble wrap to keep them from getting knocked around in the truck. We took our bikes to the trucks and then back to the car for our stuff. We were able to carry it all in one trip to the bus line, which I thought was a very good thing. No multiple trips from the equipment trucks! People were pretty cordial and such in line. But then the bus showed up and it was a mad rush to get on! lol We didn't have our stuff *on* so we missed the bus we should have been on. WOW! That was crazy! So we just held on to our stuff so we wouldn't miss the next one. Another comparison to the AIDS Ride... that would not have happened. We all would have been arguing about who would go first! lol About this time I was dying of thirst! How is it possible that *I* did not think to bring water. I take water everywhere! I didn't even bring a nalgene bottle with me since I figured I could use my cycling bottle. Wow! That sucked! It was very hot! I'll live. So the bus comes and I made sure we were the first ones on. Ha! Don't f*ck with me! lol We get into our seat, get settled, and realize we are also starving! NO FOOD! lol No food, no water. Where was my head? I also was feeling a little nauseaus. Something about the air conditioning or something. But when we started moving, it felt a lot like car/motion sickness. Ugh! I just closed my eyes for a bit and that passed. To take our minds off food and water, we played tic tac toe, hang man, and other car games. Neither of us had any idea how long this drive was going to be. That's a strange feeling! I was going someplace I had never been, without knowing where it is, I'm on a busload of strangers, I have no food, I have no water... and I was having a good time! lol The drive took a couple hours, which surprised me. I thought it would be shorter. But I guess if I were logical, I would realize that it was going to take us 5 days to ride our bikes back there so it should be more than 30 miles. I just wasn't thinking.... because I was staaaarrrrving to death! (= We had no idea where Daryl and Jeanie were. They didn't seem to have signals on their phones. I figured they'd gotten on an earlier bus and hoped they would save us a spot to camp. We finally pulled into Walker and the park where we would camp. It was really pretty... on a lake and such. Lorrie got ahold of Daryl so he was looking for us and led us to our spot. The spot was on an angle! lol It was hot, I was hungry, and that made me a little crabby. We finally got some cold water. Phew! I almost perished there! I was being a little short with Lorrie while I was putting up the tent and she was catching up with friends. I should have just let her do that and get the tent done. But I was crabby, remember!? She handled it well and we figured the tent out just fine. Got all our stuff in and realized how friggin' small my tent actually is! lol The air mattress basically takes up the entire floor! I still haven't gotten therm-a-rests so we brought her big mattress for her big tent. lol Jeanie and Daryl put their bikes in their tents! LOL That done, we sat for a few minutes and regrouped. I met Heidi, Tim's wife. He's the guy who rode from Mankato to do the Sakatah with us recently. I also met Brian and Jan. Brian is from Fargo but he is dating Jan who lives in Mankato. And I met Bill who lives in Mankato. They, along with Daryl, Jeanie, Lorrie, and me would make up our Motley Crew for the week. (= Finally we agreed it was time to eat! A few of them have been to Walker several times so they had some ideas about where to go. One place was along the water. So we walked... and walked... and walked. Finally Heidi went into a store and asked only to find out the place had closed a few years back. lol So we found the same Mexican restaurant everyone else in town seemed to be finding. We sat at the bar. The bartender seemed a little out of sorts. She did a little of that huffing and puffing people do when they want you to know they are pissed but they can't express it outwardly. Who knows what was going on. They had to have expected this crowd with 1200 people coming into town, right? Anyway, Lorrie and I shared some fajitas, which were awesome! They really were but I think my hunger made them 10x better too! lol We stayed there a little longer than we might have otherwise but it was cool in there and it was still in the 90s outside. Lorrie, Daryl and Jeanie shared a pitcher of margueritas and maybe a bottle of wine. They were all feeling pretty good! lol We finally headed back to the park, slowly, doing some window shopping. Once back I got the tires pumped, lubed the chains, filled the water bottles, and got my clothes ready. Lorrie got the air mattress ready and got her stuff together. Then we hung out with everyone by the locked bathrooms. lol The mosquitos are loving me this year so I couldn't stay out too long. I have no idea what time it was when we went to bed but I was tired. I was also feeling nervous about the ride, not knowing if I had trained enough. There were things happening with Boba too that I was disappointed about. But I need to get over that for now.

Lesson learned today
-Arrive at the start point early for an earlier bus and better tent site
-Bring lunch and water, or something to drink, on the bus
-Bigger tent
-Possibly no sleeping bags if it's going to be this damn hot
-Nalgene bottle

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dundas Loop - Reversed

July 20, 2007

Distance = 23.83
Time = 1.50.05
Max speed = 22.5
Avg speed = 12.9

Two days until TRAM!! We had little time because Lorrie had to work but still wanted to get a quick ride in. Dundas Loop seems to be a good quickie like that. So off we went. Lorrie suggested we go the opposite direction to spice it up and see what happens. So we did! Nothing spectacular again. But it was good to have my legs moving and keep my arse used to the seat. We leave Sunday (it's Friday) for Alexandria then take a bus to walker to starte the ride on Monday. I'm nervous and excited. I haven't trained nearly as much as I did for the AIDS Ride. But the mileage is not as much and there are no mountain passes to contend with. SO... I should be fine. I think this particular ride was the first time Lorrie has done 20+ miles nonstop. Usually we stop about halfway to stretch, get some more water, whatever. We didn't do that this time. (= AND she made it to work on time! Bonus!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dundas Loop

July 17, 2007

Distance = 20.89
Time = 1.50.05
Max speed = 22.5 mph
Average speed = 12.9 mph

Nothing spectacular about this ride. Go out the same way as the Webster Loop, but instead of crossing Hwy 19, we turn left on Hwy 19 then left on the road after the gas stations... can't remember the road. Then down to Hwy 1 and into Dundas. We just wanted to get a ride in and didn't have much time. On this day, we decided to go out to Hwy 3 rather than through Dundas and by the Mill Town trail. That was a little faster but it wasn't great riding on Hwy 3. I'd prefer going next to the trail next time. Just a note to self. (=

Monday, July 16, 2007

Webster Loop

July 16, 2007

Distance = 40.32
Time = 3.31.08
Max speed = 26.0
Avg speed = 11.5

Remember that loop I kept trying to do but never could quite finish? Well, this was it. Again. It's a 40 mile ride and we needed to get a 40-miler in soon before heading out for TRAM. So off we went around 8am. FINALLY and early start! lol I didn't like doing that first road, Old Dutch or something like that, because I had done a few times and turned around. But I was determined not to do that and with Lorrie there it was less likely that I would. So we made it to Webster. It was HOT and we needed more water. It's a very small township with not much on the main street so we stepped into the post office thinking they might have a water fountain or something. The clerk said she wouldn't suggest we drink water from Webster! lol That sounded a little scary. But she suggested the feed store across the street might have some water. They did and we were happy. Off we went again. Lots of long country roads. Pretty scenery with the various fields and farms and such. I can't help but have thoughts of the ocean go through my mind... that used to be my scenery. But I am seeing the beauty in this area as well. We got near Lonsdale and somewhere the road sortof ended. The directions, from that semi-useless book, seemed thorough but I should have known better. So we did some off-roading and ended up near the Casey's where we were supposed to be. lol That's one good thing about small towns... things are relatively easy to happen upon. We sat there for a little while so I could eat half a sandwich and drink some water. I was very hungry for some reason. And it was friggin' hot by that time! We had a bit of confusion about how to find Hwy 1 outside Lonsdale. I could see where we were supposed to be and where we were but the street signs didn't really match the directions. The problem is there are street names and many of them are also county roads. They aren't always consistently labeled so directions might say to turn left on Jones St. but the street sign says Cty. Rd. 10. Confusing! Anyway, I knew we needed to generally go south and west so we just kept going. I kept hoping I was doing it right because Lorrie was trusting me. Scary! O8 After we passed a couple cows trying to mate... never saw that in California!... we got to Hwy 1. Yeah, I knew the whole time what I was doing!! Phew! The rest was pretty easy direction-wise. But it was getting hotter and our water was depleting quicker. So we stopped in another little township at a "store," which ended up really being a bar! lol That turned out well because I just had her refill the bottles from their tap instead of buying those half-size bottles for twice the price. They also had incredible televisions in there! Wide screen LGs. Wow!! Would be a great place to watch... roller derby! lol As we were crossing over I-35 again, a woman in an SUV honked at us and gave the thumbs up. That was cool! (= Back home... and Lorrie had a record distance ride! (= She's definitely ready for TRAM!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Modified Red Wing Loop

July 14, 2007

Distance = 30.28
Time = 2.24.50
Max speed = 23.5
Average speed = 12.5

I have a book of maps from the local cycling club. The maps sorta suck. They're basically where you need to be. But not always. And there seems to be no consistency regarding scale. I've learned this so I try to be careful not to rely to heavily on them. For this ride we knew we couldn't go to Red Wing and do the whole 85 mile loop. Well... we could have. But it would have taken 2 days. So we decided to try it with some modifications. There is a small township with a store that Lorrie wanted to check out and which is featured in this little booklet. Seemed like a reasonable goal. Figured it would be about 40 miles or so total. We rode out Woodley to Cty Rd 42 toward Dennison. There are sprint races to town signs on the cycling club rides... so I did my own sprint. I beat myself... or lost. Not sure. Anyway, we stopped in Dennison to be sure we were still on track. As usual, time was an issue and we didn't want to be out there all night. We decided this little township was just too far for the day. Remember, the maps are not to scale so sometimes ya just can't tell until you get out there. No, I don't carry a road map. Yes, I know that would be smart. So we decided to head toward Cannon Falls after crossing over Hwy 52. But then it seemed to me like if we got to Cannon Falls, the way back to Northfield would take us out and around and it would be pretty late. Yes, I was worried about it getting dark. No, I haven't learned my lesson yet. So we stood on this little road and bounced ideas around before deciding to head to Cannon Falls. But then my gut said it was a bad idea. The main problem was that to go the way I thought we should would be on a major Hwy (52) and then on a very busy Cty Road (19), which has heavy semi-truck traffic. I wasn't sure which would be the worse place. So I stopped, said my gut suggested the worse but faster roads, and off we went to follow my gut. 52 wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The shoulder was pretty good. This photo is of Lorrie at the end of Hwy 52 before we turned onto Cty Road 19.

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Then we turned south on Cty Rd 19. *That* was scary. I told Lorrie we just needed to stick very close to the side and be aware of the sound of trucks coming behind us. But for the most part, there really was nothing we could do but ride and hope that people saw us. So we rode... and lived. Nothing spectacular. A few trucks, lots of cars. I never want to ride that road again!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Geneva toward Albert Lea

Distance = 21.06
Time = 1.37.01
Max speed = 22.0 mph
Average speed = 12.9 mph

Again with the waiting until the last minute! lol Lorrie and I had spent the weekend with my mom after she hurt her back. I got up early and made them both breakfast to eat out on the back patio. Then we sat and chatted out there. The weather was so nice and mom had been cooped up inside for a few days. Then I got the bright idea that we could watch one of our movies out there. ha! That was too funny and certainly didn't work! We decided it was too hot to ride at that time so we watched the movie with the intention of riding afterwards. My dad came back from a motorcycle trip around that time so we chatted with him for a little while before getting ready. Finally, everything organized and ready. We were on the road. Honestly, I was bored! lol There was a headwind. But that wasn't a huge deal. I just wasn't into the scenery for some reason. Plus I have been on that particular road a million times now... running and driving. Anyway, we turned toward I-35, passed over it into Clarks Grove then turned at corner where Bulldog's Bar and Grill is. hehe I love "country directions." We were supposed to stay on that road for a very long time. At about mile 10 I pulled over to check on the time and everything. I knew we wouldn't make it all the way into Albert Lea because of the time. My dad was grilling steaks for us upon our return! I decided we should turn around, which ended up being a good choice. Going back always seems a little faster to me. There may have been a pretty good tailwind but I'm not sure. We raced and goofed around some. I made her ride in front some so that she could feel what it is like. But then she took off. lol We stopped at the corner store for Lorrie to get a drink and then had only a few miles, on that boring road, to get home. It wasn't my most exciting ride. I know that was because of my attitude. But it was good that we got out and rode some. TRAM is coming up very quickly! July 22nd! Yikes!