This past week found me venturing up north with the mountain bikes all cleaned and ready to go. I returned Thursday evening with the mountain bikes all dirty, but in tact. It was me who was beat up and changed.
I learned again this week that you never know what life will bring you around the next corner. You face it the best way that you can and hopefully things will turn out in your favor. If not, you're left to pick up the pieces and try to move on as best as you can.
My ride on Tuesday took me into the forest west and north of the Side Lake area which lies just north of the Iron Range towns of Hibbing and Chisholm. These are the stomping grounds of my youth. I miss home very much at times, but it is not the same as it once was. The area is depressed and my home town is shrinking and I think is dying a slow death.
The forest roads and trails of the area provide for a nice place to get away and think if you feel the need to, as I do much of the time. A person can spend day after day riding different roads and trails all of which provide a good deal of scenic beauty. However, most people in the area enjoy it from the seat of a noisy gas burning ATV and not from the saddle of a bicycle.
The last time I rode here, earlier this spring, I enjoyed a conversation with a conservation officer. He was out looking for people riding ATV's illegally and told me that it was a pleasure to see someone out on a mountain bike enjoying the trails. For him, he said it was a first.
It was on this particular portion of the trail where I had my little accident. I did not ride this portion of the trail the last time I was up so I was not at all familiar with the area. This particular stretch was very sandy and littered with rocks. I'm not really sure what had happened, but I do remember hitting a rock and then the next I new I was going over the handlebars and into a tree and some brush. The back right side of my head came in contact with something as I was going down. The next thing I remember was my bike coming down on top of me and hitting me in the face. I'm not sure how long I stayed there on the ground, but I was definitely somewhat dazed by the whole event.I got up and immediately checked the bike to make sure it was O.K. It seemed to get through without so much as a scratch. As for myself...I wasn't able to say the same. A lot of scratches with some blood, but nothing at all serious. However, my right cheek was really getting quite sore, my right shoulder hurt, and my helmet had some nice scratches and dents due to making contact with something. Without giving it a second thought I was up and riding again in no time.
The trail I went down on led me out to another network of forest trails which I continued to follow west.
After crossing over Hwy. 65 I continued to head west towards Bear Lake. Here I came across several areas of clear cuts. These are becoming far more common in the areas north of town.
This is what the area probably looked like before it was cut. Nothing but tall straight pines as far as one can see.
Of course there were other things to observe and enjoy besides the trees. I did see several deer along with some signs of bears and also wolves.
These areas north of town have developed a nice wolf population over the past several years. Of course with the wolves comes controversy and I do know that many of the locals who hunt and farm in the area do not like them. I just don't get it!
It ended up raining for about an hour or so during the ride. Not a torrential downpour, although there was one little down burst that was rather heavy. The rain was actually rather refreshing and the smells in the forest afterwards was amazing.
Throughout this ride it absolutely silent accept for the sound of my breathing and tires on gravel. I only encountered one vehicle on any of the roads and never saw another person out on the trails. It was just as it should be.
With a few miles left to go I was beginning to feel it. I was stiffening up a bit from the tumble I took. A little fatigued and a bit hungry, but all in all I was still feeling pretty good and I really don't think that traveling further would have been a big issue.
That's a good thing because I'm already itching to get away again and I have another ride such as this brewing up in my mind, but this one is up on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Hopefully in a couple of weeks. I purchased some topo maps at the local REI and just need to get my route determined. I'm hoping to get a hundred miler out of it. We'll see what happens.The following day I was tired, a bit sore, and had a very nice shiner that had developed over night. Upon returning home here in cities I found that I also had a possible fracture of my cheek bone. Smiling hurts. I rode another thirty or so miles on Wednesday.
Finally, after returning and having some time to think about what had happened I was somewhat upset with myself. Had anything more serious occurred during my crash I very likely could have been totally screwed. There was a horse camp near by, but I still could have laid out there for hours before anyone would find me. Also, nobody in town had a clue of where I was going and there was literally no cell phone service. Lucky me!