Friday, July 25, 2008

Devil's Track Lake Campground - Day 3

Got up at 5:30am. But we didn’t know at the time that it was so early. But we were all wide awake. So we went outside and started working on breakfast. We thought it was overcast. But really the sun hadn’t risen! lol As Lorrie was doing breakfast, I checked the time in my car. We had a good laugh about that!

When we were first stepping out of our tent, there were 4 poodles standing at the opening to our site looking at us. They started barking so Emma and Tori barked back. That loud group was already up and apparently they didn’t think their dogs needed leashes. When we walked to the bathroom, they barked some more. I’m sure the other campers appreciated that noise so early!

After sunrise and breakfast, we went back to bed. I feel like my metabolism is still on Red Ribbon Ride speeds so I’m hungry often. I think that’s part of why I have been waking up so early. I’m HUNGRY! But I don’t eat a lot because I’m not riding 70 miles a day so then I get hungry again soon. Anyway… we slept a few more hours before really getting up. Lorrie needed to check her for phone messages so while she and Tori did that, Emma and I moved the chairs down by the lake and played some fetch in the water with some driftwood. She didn’t really get into it until Tori came back. Aww! (= We played down there until lunchtime... heated organic frozen burrito. Very nice to have the lake in our backyard!

At that point, we needed to decide if we were going to stay another day. At first I didn’t want to because of that loud large group. Then we realized that they had “disappeared.” Obviously while we were playing. Anyway, we decided to head toward home thinking we could camp another place along the way if we chose to. A very dark cloud started coming our way, with thunder, just as Lorrie took off the rainfly. It sprinkled a little but we got everything down and in the car very quickly. I’m getting pretty good at packing that car! (= Emma and Tori were already sitting in the backseat watching us the whole time. They always seem to know when to jump in. We drove into Grand Marais and stopped at the outdoor store, the coffeehouse, and a jewelry maker. It was a little chilly there next to the water but it felt good.

We took our time heading back. Stopped for lunch at the restaurant outside Two Harbors with the double decker bus out front. Half pound burger for me, BLT for Lorrie and we were good! From Two Harbors, we took the scenic drive to Duluth. The first half was totally trees and tiny glimpses of Lake Superior. We had to laugh at that “scenery!” Then it go beautiful with the road right up again the water. We saw a few signs along the way for the MS TRAM, a bike ride that Lorrie and I did last year and a couple of her friends did this year. That was kinda cool. They had ridden there early this morning. The drive from Duluth to home was pretty basic. No fun stops. Just potty and food stops for the dogs…. and avoiding I-35 as soon as possible!

I don’t think either of us could be any more well rested or relaxed after this weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Devil's Track Lake Campground - Day 2

4am! What am I doing awake?! Pretty wide awake and I had to pee. I didn’t want to walk to the outhouse alone. Sometimes I get a little weird like that. Turns out we all to pee. So Lorrie, I, and the dogs all squatted outside together. (= Now *that’s* bonding! Back to sleep for a few hours before getting up to a busy day of relaxation! Lorrie made breakfast on the Whisperlite, bacon and eggs. Got things cleaned up then headed to the little store a couple miles away for some wood and ice. They didn’t have wood! What?? So we had to drive a little closer t town to buy a stack on the side of the road. Money supposedly went to the local hockey team. (= On the way back we stopped to check out a resort on the way and some private cabins. The resort was okay but the cabins were very cute! Beautiful views! Once we were back, Lorrie made lunch of TVP (texturized vegetable protein –> soy) tacos. Then the clouds started rolling in and it looked like a big storm. So we closed things down and jumped in the tent. We played cards, read, and took a nap while the very small storm passed over us. Afterwards, we went for a little hike. Deep grass that was recovering from snowmobilers. Beautiful flowers! Tori and Emma Blue both did great! We just took it slow and grabbed some kindling along the way.

Back at the site, we got a fire started and lounged some more. Hot dogs over the fire for dinner. (= While getting the fire going, a huge, loud group of women and children pulled into the tiny site across from us. Three huge tents, I don’t know how many kids, and at least 3 women, one of whom had the loudest most annoying voice. That sucked. But we ignored them…. and their 3 or 4 yappy dogs. They were still loud as we were getting ready for bed though most of it by then was the 3 women gossiping around the fire. Some interesting details about peoples’ lives. Too bad I don’t know them! Ha! They eventually went to bed as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Devil's Track Lake Campground - Day 1

Long stressful day! Up at 5:30am, which is WAY early for me but becoming more usual lately. Out of the house with dogs and gear by about 6:30am. Good job! We hit some rush hour traffic in The Cities but for the most part the drive was smooth. At this point, it’s all about avoiding I35 and the numerous closures. We made our Dunn Bros. stop in Hugo, just north of St. Paul. No samples out yet in the grocery store yet. Darn! Lol Back on the road. We made it to the US/Canadian border around 3pm. Lorrie went into professional mode and I just did what told me. We parked on the U.S. side so she could go in. I had a muzzle ready for Emma Blue in case an office came to my car. No one did. Lorrie came out about 20 minutes later and said we needed to cross into Canada and then come back. Well, she needed to. I didn’t. But we decided I should drive since it’s my car. That’s when I started getting nervous. I hadn’t prepared to cross so all I had with me was my driver’s license and no birth certificate. Lorrie explained what we were doing so he let us go with a warning to me that I need more ID to get into Canada. Then crossing back to the U.S., the officer gave me a hard time again until Lorrie explained. He told us to park and that our IDs would be inside with the officer Lorrie was working with. All this time Emma Blue was sitting quietly in the back with her muzzle on. Not a peep from her. That was totally God’s spirit holding her back! She didn’t even try to get the muzzle off. Weird! So, in my camping clothes I went with her to the office. He asked a few questions for each of us and obviously had some things on the screen about her. He asked me what I do for a living and when I told him, he asked if I could stay for a little while. Lorrie had warned me to just answer the questions and do what they want. So, of course, I said I would. He said, "Yeah, there are a lot of people here who have issues!" So the ICE officer was joking around with us! Interesting! Then he took what seemed like a personal call, while probably listening to us on a speaker. He was definitely watching us. Anyway, long story short, we did well and she got her TN status in her passport. Now she can start working again at the beginning of August. A major relief!!

Our reward… camping!

We drove back down the way we had come. Toward Grand Marais about 40 miles. Then we took Gunflint Trail, the same road we took to Camp Menogyn for our first BWCA trip. A little bit, maybe 7 miles or so, down the road we took a left on CR 8, which took us to Devil’s Track Lake Campground. It’s a small state forest campground with only 16 sites. We were hoping since it’s mid-week we could get a good site. The campground is on Devil’s Track Lake (surprise!) with 12 of the 16 sites on the lake directly. All 4 of the inland sites were available. Surprise again! One after another the lake side sites were taken. Until 14, which was open along with 15. We took 14, though I wasn’t happy about it at first. There were some pretty steep steps that went down to the water. I could see us falling down them in the dark or one of the dogs falling down them. And with Lorrie’s bum ankle (still from canoeing the Blue Earth), I was worried about her getting down there. I was wrong! It was a great site! We set up the tent near the stairs as it was the only place it would fit. But the door faced away from the stairs! lol

The view being above the water was gorgeous! We got everything set up and I got a fire started so we could start our lounging immediately. We had stopped at the Co-op in Grand Marais to eat dinner, so we were set. The dogs were pretty happy just to not be driving anymore! (= The campground was very quiet, even with all those lake sites full. There were motorboats on the lake and some float planes. So it isn’t totally peaceful.

The sky is light and we’re already heading for bed. The sky stays lighter longer up North and it’s before 10pm. But we’ve been up since 5:30am and it’s been a stressful day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Red Ribbon Ride - Day 4

Route -Northfield to the State Capitol in St. Paul

Distance = 45.69 miles
Time = 3.31.00
Average speed = 13.0 mph
Maximum speed = 30.5 mph
Odometer = 3392.7 miles

Took me awhile to get to sleep. But once I did, it was solid! Five in the morning still came too early for me! I was very stiff and thought today might actually be miserable even though it was shorter. I got a little better as I started walking around. I was also worried about forgetting something since I didn’t have to account for everything like when I was camping.

Lorrie dropped me off at the middle school around 5:30am. Plenty of time. By the time I’d found a table to sit at and got my food, the rest of my teammates started making their way in. As soon as Kelli set down her water bottles, I realized I didn’t have mine. Oops! Need those! So I called Lorrie and she had put them in the refrigerator for me last night. Sweet! Out of sight out of mind though. Especially for me that early in the morning! I made her cup of coffee to take with her. I’m guessing it was Peace Coffee since they sponsored us. But I don’t know for sure and Lorrie said it was AWFUL. We all took our time eating and then when we got ready to go out, John said a prayer while we all held hands. A nice way to start the day. Should have been doing that all along I suppose.

After preparing our bikes (tire pressure, etc.), getting a couple photos, and lollygagging a little, we set off. The route took us through downtown Northfield so I led the way. That was pretty fun. Northfield is such a cycling friendly place, I thought there would be more people out. Maybe they were all out riding! Anyway, it was still nice. We turned right on Highway 3 from 2nd Street where there’s a slight incline. I heard all kinds of moaning and groaning with that good morning incline! (= We proceeded on to Farmington where there was the first pit stop. I was feeling pretty good by that time. Seems like I generally start feeling stronger as I ride more rather than more tired. The rest of the ride was mainly Kelli and me up and down the rolling hills through Farmington, Apple Valley, and Eagen. There was a Twins Pit Stop (2) that was SO cute! We stayed there for quite awhile. They all had their Twins uniforms on, there was a beer vender (fake beer), Twins cutouts for us to pose in, and they would every so often play a little game in the grass behind them with a whiffle ball and one of those huge plastic kids’ bats. Cute! We were taking our time for the most part because at the end of the ride would be the holding area where we would have to wait for everyone to finish and until about 1pm before the closing ceremony. Felt like we were at Pit Stop 3 forever! Lots of people came and left. But there were only about 7 miles through St. Paul left to the finish. Jean showed up with her new team, Mrs. Peterson’s Peeps, so I asked if we could wait for her and all ride in together. So we did. Along with Mrs. Peterson’s Peeps. It was a long “peloton” with lots of cheering and chattering. A funny thing happened though, remember that guy who “stopped short” that caused an accident with Lorrie and another guy on A Day on the Ride? Well, he showed up in front of me… I was leading the big bunch. I tried to slow down to let him go but he just slowed with us. I purposefully missed a light so he would go through it. But he stopped. Kelli and I passed him at one point, but he came right up to the front. Normally I wouldn’t care. I would just follow him. But he wasn’t pointing out pot holes or grates in the road, which are dangerous. He’s dangerous! I told Kelli why I was riding so inconsistently and she said, “Good plan!” Apparently he had caused an accident on one of her group rides as well. Scary! I kept him far enough ahead that I could see what was in the road and could send the message back through the two teams. At stop lights we did cheers. I’m sure the people in those neighborhoods thought we were crazy if they didn’t know what was going on. (= Heading up to the holding area, Rand showed up next to me and tried to race as we’d done the 2nd day. I beat him to the top but then missed the entrance to the park. lol Dorks!

In the holding area were lunch and a massage. That was all I cared about! Lunch was a pretty good sandwich and pasta. And I got the last cookie from the “Cookie Waiter” from the previous pit stop. I didn’t want one back then because I didn’t know what kind of ride the next 7 miles would be. My patience paid off! (= I got a great 10 minute massage in which the knot on my left shoulder blade was highlighted. Ouch! She made a funny comment at some point to another of the massage therapists. I had sunscreen and sweat all over me so it was easy for her to do the massage. She said to her co-worker, “Hey, she came pre-lubricated!” which, after some of the other comments from the weekend, made a few people laugh. Definitely one for Adam’s quote book! Then we waited. And waited. Thankfully there was shade in the area so we weren’t all burning up. Once they had us line up we were a little more in the sun and we had to wait awhile there too. I think we were waiting for the crew to walk down to their waiting area before we went to the font of the capitol. Eventually we were freed. It was a very very slow ride down a pretty steep hill. Didn’t seem like anyone fell or crashed into each other. Good thing! When we got to the sidewalk coming up to the Capitol, we could start hearing the cheering. That was very cool! There were so many people there! I saw Lorrie right away with the camera trying to get every moment. They split us into two sides so she had to wait and see which side we went to. Poor thing. But it worked out. After we were all lined up with our bikes in front of the stage, the crew walked down in a space left for them in the middle of the two sides of cyclists. Seeing the crew come in is always emotional for me… and others. They have spent the past four days taking care of nearly our every need. I never saw anyone angry or frustrated… just smiles. They are an amazing bunch of people! More so, I think, than the cyclists. We just ride. Well, we do ride far so I guess I should give us some credit too! Heheh! Anyway, we splashed them with water from our water bottles as a salute. The program was pretty quick. Thankfully since it was very hot and very sunny. This is terrible but I have no idea who the people were that spoke, aside from Teresa, the ride director. The first was a woman who is a politician and then someone who I guess is a radio personality and a local comedian. I’ll go to the ride website later and see if I can find out who they were and do an addendum. lol Lots of cheering and photos followed. Jean’s partner Rose was there with some of their friends from church and a few signs. Lorrie had her sign with her as well.

It was nice having someone there for me this time. All through the ride actually, not just at the end. I remember how I felt at the end of the AIDS/LifeCycle ride in LA with no one there cheering for me, feeling like there wasn’t anyone who was excited to have me back after a week. I would say maybe Emma was glad but she’d spent her week with Emily and Ila so she might not have been quite ready for me to be back yet! lol Anyway, that was a very nice feeling! I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a supportive girlfriend and that I get to ride my bike as much as I want. Incredible!

I don’t plan on doing much more riding this summer as I have a licensing exam to prepare for. I made that decision before the RRR because I felt like the training or even the pressure to train was taking me away from studying. So, no more rides until I take the exam. Back to running for awhile.

Also, if you sponsored me financially for this ride or encouraged me along the way… I want to THANK YOU VERY MUCH! The support means everything to me!!

To see all the photos Lorrie and I took, go to my gallery at:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Ribbon Ride - Day 3

Route - Rochester to Northfield
Distance = 71.82 miles
Time = 5.07.53
Average speed = 14.0 mph
Maximum speed = 35.5 mph
Odometer = 3346.8 miles
Another bad night of sleep. Arrgh! This time is was my own fault though. I thought I was being smart just taking out my sleeping bag liner to sleep in so I wouldn’t get hot. I couldn’t shut down my brain for awhile after I got in and I had a quick conversation with Lorrie. She was at her friend Marv’s going away party. I fell asleep for about 30 minutes and then Lorrie texted me and woke me up. Ha! So then it took me awhile again and I was in and out of sleep. At about 2am I realized I was awake so much because I was cold. I know that should be an easy conclusion to come to but think about all I’ve done the last couple days on very little sleep. I was a little out of it. Then I had to pee but didn’t want to get up. So much thought. In my daze I was also thinking I didn’t want to pull my sleeping bag out. Though it takes about 30 seconds to pull out and a minute to put away in the morning. Eventually I went into the middle school where we were camping so I could pee (I know, TMI!). Then had a clear enough head to pull out my sleeping bag. And I slept awesome for those 2 hours from 3am to 5am! Got up and did the routine. Cycling clothes on, threw all my stuff in my bag, packed sleeping bag, and rolled up sleeping pad. Then inside for breakfast. Eggs and oatmeal, potatoes, a banana, and soy milk. Typical. Back outside to take my wet tent down. It wasn’t raining but it was very dewy and foggy.
I got over to the bike corral near 6:30am. Good job! Thomas, Kelli, and John were still standing there so we took off together. We stayed together for a little while then I had to stop for water with one of the support cars. I had forgotten that last night when we pulled in I had added Gatorade to my water. Disgusting! There was a ½ pit stop at one of the Rochester Chipotle restaurants. They had mini donuts, which killed me not to have. But with 70+ miles to go, donuts aren’t going to cut it. Didn’t stay there long. Kelli, Thomas, and John had taken off but John was stopped at a light so I caught up to him. He took off to catch up with them and I went my usual speed. I had a moment thinking how glad I was that I don’t have the mentality of having to “keep up” all the time, that I’m okay riding alone. A few moments later, I saw John flip on his bike and fall into the road. By the time I got up there, he was up and had checked his bike. He said he and the bike were both okay and that he just wanted to take a moment to compose himself. So I took off figuring he would pass me up soon. Got to the next pit stop and told Kelli and Thomas about John. They laughed and asked if he was okay. Such is the nature of our team. We all took off from there (Douglas) and headed to the next pit stop. I have to mention that this first pit stop was a “tribute” to Northfield and the Jesse James Gang. Cowboys, sheriff, a bank, etc. It was cute. (= John ended up missing the 2nd Pit Stop and went directly to the 3rd Pit Stop. Said he felt out of it.
At lunch, Eric’s Bike Shop showed up so I had to wait and see if this mechanic could fix what the one from last night messed up. Arrgh! Why did I let them touch my bike? I’ve never had a good experience at Eric’s so I thought I would give them another chance. Dumb! I don’t have access to several of my gears after I asked the mechanic last night to help me get access to the one I was having trouble with. The mechanic today didn’t make it better but made it different so I could at least do some creative shifting to get the access I needed on the few larger hills. Guess I’m going back to Milltown Cycles! And now I get why most of my team supported The Alt instead of Eric’s in the pre-ride preparation!
After that, I rode most of the route on my own. Between Pit Stop 4 and Pit Stop 5, I literally did not see another rider the entire time. Weird! I think I wrote this before but I often feel alone in this ride. I think because I was near the front today, I got less attention from the road crew as well. Didn’t see them on that particular stretch either. Thank God for the yellow arrows or I would feel like I was going the wrong direction! (=
Lorrie and Darshi were waiting for me at the 5th (Nerstrand) Pit Stop. That was awesome! Tori and Emma Blue were with them too. (= Didn’t spend much time there since I was almost done for the day. But I got them and me some snacks before taking off. “The Last Big Hill” (for real) was coming up. Out of Nerstrand, the route took me down a road I had not ridden before, I think it was something Valley View Road. It felt strange to be “lost” in my own neighborhood. There were a bunch of big rolling hills before the last big one. It was pretty intimidating to look up at so I just had to keep telling myself I’ve done bigger. Another rider rode up with me, which I know was supposed to be encouraging. But it was actually more annoying. It’s great that some of the stronger riders stay back and help those who need the encouragement. I just wasn’t one of those people today. (= The people along the side of the road and the homemade rap were awesome. The cheering is a great part! It was also cool because Thomas, Kelli, and John were waiting for me at the top. That made me feel good! So, except for Jean, we all rode in together.
This day was also full of potholes. That was very hard on my arms, hands, butt, and lower back. For some of them, I was thinking it was good to be alone so I could see the holes clearly. I kept worrying about the groups of riders where the 3rd or 4th person wouldn’t hear the first person while the 2nd person is trying to avoid and not pointing well. I’m sure a few people went over their handlebars on those. )=
Once at the Northfield Middle School, I just had to wait for my personal shuttle (Lorrie) to pick me up and take me home. To my own shower! Yay! Darshi and Bhanti were at the house and they all watched Kung Fu while I took a nap. After they left, I took a shower and got ready. Lorrie and I drove back out to The Last Big Hill and cheered for the last few people coming in. It’s amazing to see such determination.
Back to the school for dinner – pasta – and “Friends and Family Night.” Good pasta! Then Jeanie White was introduced by our pastor Paul and Jeanie spoke about her son Ryan White. That was pretty powerful! She was very “down home” except when talking about Elton John or Michael Jackson as close friends of the family. Toward the end, I was getting pretty fidgety and ready to sleep.
Afterwards, I asked Cheryl, the physical therapist who had worked on my Achilles, to take a look at Lorrie's ankle. She said it look like a packed sausage! lol She said we had been wrapping it wrong and making the swelling worse. Oops! So she put a funky tape job on it and then the Ace ("tenser" as Lorrie calls it) bandage on and explained how it should be done. It was VERY nice of her to do that! After we grabbed our Tiramisu and some fruit, we headed home. I am REALLY hoping for a good night sleep!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Red Ribbon Ride - Day 2

Route - Lake City to Rochester

Distance = 71.61 miles
Time = 5.46.00
Average speed = 12.4 mph
Maximum speed = 36.0 mph
Odometer = 3274.9 miles

My neighbor snored all night. I slept horribly! Not a good thing with another long day coming up.After breakfast, as I was taking my tent down and getting things ready to go, I spoke with the snorers other neighbor. He said he hadn't gotten much sleep either. At least I wasn't alone in my agony! (=

I got started later than my whole team. They left around 6:30am and I wasn’t out of camp until just after 7:00am. I ended up taking my time and stopping for photos, especially around Lake City. It’s beautiful there! Ran into Jean Z., a teammate, at Pit Stop 1 then rode with her to the next pit stop. That was nice! We took it slow and chatted a lot of the way. The rest of the day is a blur of rolling hills and a couple doozies. Interesting pit stops were The State Fair complete with Princess, Bearded Lady, and a Bozo the Clown cut out. And they served cotton candy! Gross! lol I didn’t have any but from the look of the garbage, lots of people had. (= Another was the theme of the musical Wicked. Lots of support from the car and motorcycle crew, the motorcycle crew especially on the hills. That was great! We also experienced the “Last Big Hill” complete with rap that was developed for just that purpose. (= At lunch, Rand, a former teammate I guess, asked if I wanted to join him and a couple other people, Adam and Kelly, he’d been riding with. They waited for me, so I did. That was nice. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of this ride alone, including the training so it’s gotten a little lonely. Mostly, that’s fine. But sometimes I wish I was the same pace as others or part of a team that rides together. So anyway, we jokingly raced up the hills. Not downhill because my bike is so much faster than theirs (hybrids and mountain bike) regardless of the rider. We completed the “Last Big Hill” together too. That was fun. Not much cheering after that point. We just had to make our way through Rochester, which turned out to be an interesting adventure with the strange stoplights.

Back at “home,” same routine… turn in bike, get gear, tent up, shower, chill, dinner (Chipotle burritos) and then the program. Showering was an interesting experience reliving middle school memories of not wanting to shower with a group. Thankfully I’m more comfortable now than I was back then. I also had to remember how to use those, too short, sinks where you put your foot on the bar below for the streams of water to come out. Weird! Haven’t seen one of those in a very long time! During the program, Thomas, a teammate, got “caught” doing something nice for someone. I think they said he helped change a flat in a mosquito-infested area. Food is inside the school, Willow Creek Middle School and it is air conditioned. So that’s where I am now. I’ve set up my tent away from everyone else… so far… and I am really hoping for no snorers nearby. We’re on the infield of a middle school running track and I set up my tent on the outside of the track while everyone else is on the inside. (= I definitely need a good night sleep!

I was proud of myself today. My ego brewed a little at first with the hills and thinking about how I had been in California. Then I let it go and had a pretty good time. And really, I did quite well. (=

We ride home to Northfield tomorrow! Sleeping in my own bed and I get to see Lorrie! (=

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Red Ribbon Ride - Day 1

Route - Mall of America in Minneapolis to Lake City

Distance = 76.78 miles
Time = 5.35.11 ride time (about 8 hours total)
Average speed = 13.7 mph
Max speed = 29.0 mph
Odometer = 3203.3 miles

We got about 4 hours of sleep last night. Yikes! Took me awhile to get packed. But I finally did. It was hot as hell in the house so it took me awhile to get to sleep. But when I woke up, I was pretty awake. Lorrie woke me before the alarm so that was a nicer way to wake up. Took Cedar all the way from home to the mall. (This is only significant to those who live in the area and know what a mess I-35 has been lately.) On time! Most of my team was already there so it was just a matter of waiting for the Opening Ceremony and for the ride to get going. Jean and her partner Rose put airplanes on top of our helmets for the theme, "I believe I can fly." Cute! Opening Ceremony was nice. Andy Ansell, from our church, spoke and Reverend Robyn Provis, also from our church, blessed us on our journey. After about an hour or so, we were off. About 8am. I felt tight. But that's expected. Rode with my team awhile and then I made a light that they didn't so I went ahead for a little while, knowing they would catch up. They did eventually and passed me up. I think they are generally about 2 or 3 mph faster than me at most times. Pretty basic ride most of the way.

Rain was in the forecast so I had my jacket with just in case. Good thing! It started sprinkling about 30 or so miles in. Then it became a downpour. No big deal. Except there was lightening, both horizontal and vertical. Scary! I passed up the Burritobago (Chipotle's suppoprt RV) thinking I should just make it to lunch. The next pit was a church in a little town. By the time I got there, it was pretty bad. They ended up closing the road to us so we had to stay at the church. We only had access to the parking lot originally. But the custodian at the church called "The Boss" and asked if he could let us inside. We ended up staying there a couple hours. It was pretty cold since we'd all come in wet. First aid offered milar blankets for us to share. Those things TOTALLY work! I'm getting one for our camping gear!

The first plan was to start sweeping us (putting us in and our bikes on cars) to get us to the lunch stop. Most of us suggested they go pick up the food and bring it back to the church. That seemed the most reasonable to me since we had such good shelter. It also meant we wouldn't lose out on any mileage! (= So they did bring us lunch, chicken caesar wraps and pasta salad. Yum! They also made a ton of coffee for those who wanted it. That is the spirit of a ride like this! I'm sure they did not want to clean up after a hundren wet smelly cyclists. But they did and they were smiling and having a good time with us!

It seemed like a whole new ride once we got started again. Though my socks, shoes, and chamois (the big pad in the crotch of the shorts) were still wet when we were released! The next pit stop was on the Cannon Valley Trail, which was supposed to be lunch. This is about 10 miles from my home! The theme was the Flintstones and it was VERY cute! Then several miles down the Cannon Valley Trail to Red Wing, which was an awesome part of the ride. Smooth trail, slightly downhill. I was also excited because Lorrie was supposed to be waiting for me at the pit stop in Red Wing! And she was! It was very good to see her though it didn't last long. Twenty miles to camp from there. She stopped along the way to cheer with her cowbell along with some other people. That was great! The last 20 were hard! Headwinds made even going downhill difficult. I hate that! I rode with a woman named Jody for a lot of it but then couldn't keep up after about 15 miles. Then she stopped so I rode the rest alone. Seeing Lake Pepin was SUCH a relief! It still took a little while to get to Hok-Si-La campground. Definitely a welcome sight! Lorrie was there cheering again with my teammate Rand.

That was a hard day for me. It's good to be "home!" Typical routine follow: grab gear, set up tent, shower, eat. It's a beautiful campground with a wonderful view of Lake Pepin, which is really just a part of the Mississippi River. Dinner was grilled meats. Lorrie stayed until about 8:50pm and took off after giving me a massage. Hopefully I will sleep tonight! Though at the moment my neighbor is snoring very loudly. Argh!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Canoeing the Blue Earth

Got up early to get prepared for our canoe trip down the Blue Earth River in Mankato. Lorrie's friend Daryl rented a canoe for us from MSU Mankato so we didn't have to worry about that. Got into town around 10:00am as scheduled to pick up the canoe. Lorrie and I ran a couple errands while Daryl took care of some business and because we had to wait for Jeanie to finish her chiropractic appointments. We ended up waiting until about 12:30pm before getting on the water. Not a big deal except that I was hungry. Aww! Poor me! Daryl and we drove our cars to the put in while Jeanie left hers where we would take out. She didn't have a canoe on her vehicle so that makes sense eh?!

Lorrie and I had decided that I would steer as I seem to do a little better in that area. She had told me beforehand that there were 3 or 4 small rapids to go through. She had to tell me this because I was scared! I've never canoed on a river before and it seemed a little daunting to me. Everyone else seemed so nonchalant about it. That never caught on with me! There were rapids almost immediately and regularly thereafter. Many more than 3 or 4 so Lorrie was apologizing for misinforming me. Too late! Already there! lol But they were small... level 1 or maybe even 0 on whatever that scale of rapids is. But for me, rocks are rocks and I know how rapids are formed. So it was scary. We did pretty well with Lorrie calling out the direction I needed to steer and where the rocks were and where the "V" that I needed to head toward was. It was good!

We stopped after awhile in a gorge for lunch. I don't really consider myself a wuss. Usually. But a river. Rapids. And now a slit in the rocks where water goes when it overflows. I didn't like that and it made me nervous. Even though I knew it was unlikely that the gorge would ever fill up *that* quickly. I spent a little time figuring out my escape route if something were to happen. There were some good roots and rocks that I could have climbed. Sounds like a panic attack, which it wasn't. I was just preparing. (= There was no increased heart rate or breathing. Awareness. That's what it was. But I was able to eat lunch and enjoy most of the time in there. Lots of cairns, which I love! Jeanie and Daryl had brought 3 bottles of wine so they all got started on that at lunch. One bottle down. I'm not a teatottler (is that right?) but alcohol with a river, rapids, and an inexperienced canoeist don't seem like a great combination. That just made me more aware of what I was doing since I felt like I was the clearest in head.

Next stop was Triple Falls, which is now just a trickle. Lorrie and Daryl talked a lot about how beautiful it is when it's actually falling. It was beautiful as a trickle so I imagine it's incredible when it's really going! And it was so cool in there... the trickle was freezing! Nice! Another bottle of wine down there. So things got a little more goofy after that. And I got a little more alert. Despite my fears, I was having a pretty good time and the scenery was beautiful! It's just one of those things that when I'm not used to it, I'm more alert to the rapids and such than the beauty around me. I have to say I got a little more comfortable with each rapid that we did. Lorrie was doing such a good job getting me to the right spot that I started trusting her ability more. Not a reflection of her that I didn't trust her at first. Totally about my fear of water! We bottomed out on one rock and went sideways over one rock. That was it. Pretty good!

Third stop, "the rock." It's in the middle of another rapid. So we had to pass the rock with the flow of the water and then turn around quickly to go against the flow on the other side of the rock to park. Daryl walked out and climbed up on the huge rock with the third bottle of wine. Jeanie has a back problem and pulled her hamstring and Lorrie has a sore knee from the Boundary Waters. They couldn't get up on the big rock. I have no soreness and I couldn't get up on the rock either. They all ended up drinking the third bottle between the big rock and another rock where the water seemed pretty calm. I stayed on the other side to take photos and play in the water. I liked it there. I could float in my life jacket to cool off. (= We stayed there for quite awhile until Daryl realized how late it was and that people were meeting us at The Wine Cafe at a certain time, including his wife. So after dumping all the water from our canoes from the water fight, we took off again. There were a couple more rapids before the end. Jeanie turned around backwards in their canoe at one point. Apparently Daryl does all the paddling when he takes these women out! lol Lorrie said she rarely paddles with him either. Sounds like a good guy to do Boundary Waters with! (=

We made it safe and sound to the exit point, which was under a bridge and a sharp left turn fighting the current. I think we did alright with that one too. (= Carrying the canoe up to the parking area Lorrie stepped into a hole and twisted (broke?) her ankle pretty severely. She said she almost passed out from the pain. So we got her into the shade and let her rest with her ankle up and her head down while we got everything up top. Then we *hopped* her up to the top to wait while we got the cars to bring back. I think the weight of the canoe contributed to how hard she went down. This one was much heavier than the Kevlar we used in the Boundary Waters. Egads!

It took a little while for us to get the canoes all settled. Well, the one on D'Azul anyway. I didn't really know how Daryl had gotten it up there so he did it pretty quickly for us. We had passed the time limit so we couldn't drop it off at the school and had to leave it at Daryl's. It was crooked on the roof, which made me pretty nervous. It also moved around a little. I couldn't see how it would fall off. But I didn't want to risk it so I took my time driving. Lorrie was in the passenger seat with an ice pack from the cooler on her foot. In pain.

In the Wine Cafe she put her foot up and a new bartender got her some ice in a ziploc. Perfect! She was a good sport! I know she was in great pain but also wanted to spend some time with her friends.

Despite how it ended, it was a good day! Beautiful scenery that I need to go back and see more of! And we, for the most part, made it back safely. (=