I returned this afternoon from a trip to northern Minnesota to visit with my parents and to also get in a couple of nice mountain bike rides. The trip was fine and my parents are doing well despite all they have had to deal with this summer.
Of course with this trip came some of the wettest August weather Minnesota has seen in quite some time. Wednesday found me heading north of town to ride the forest roads in the Sturgeon River and Side Lake area. I new the weather was forecast to be wet so I made sure that I was prepared. Well, as prepared as one can be for riding a mountain bike in the rain. Needless to say that after four hours and some fifty plus miles I was rather wet and covered head to toe with a fine patina of gravel road grime.Before leaving for my parents I had stripped down and cleaned up the 29r single-speed. It along with me had taken quite a beating in the Ore to Shore race out in Michigan. While cleaning the bike I noticed that several teeth had broken off the front chainring and several more were showing signs of severe wear. Of course, none of the local bike shops had and extra 32t chainring available so I would have to order one. Actually, I ended up ordering a couple, thinking that if they can't keep them in stock... I can. Of course when the time came for me to leave on Tuesday, they hadn't been delivered so I had to make due with the old one, but that would require some manicuring.Before leaving for my ride I found a file in my Dad's old tool box and went to work on a couple of the broken teeth that appeared to be catching the chain. After a few minutes of work all seemed to be working smoothly. Once again, the bike performed flawlessly over the four hour ride and I can honestly say once again that I have really come to love this bike. It is by far my favorite ride and for gravel forest roads I couldn't imagine riding anything else.The ride itself took me cross country from Hwy. 73 north of Chisholm all the way to Beatrice Lake and back. The rain would start the minute I got out of my car to start getting things ready for the ride. For the most part it remained a light sprinkle which was actually quite enjoyable to ride in. The temps were near sixty degrees so cold was not an issue. However, with about a half hour left to go the drizzle turned into a steady downpour which would continue on and off for the entire night and again the next day. Many areas around the state would end up receiving 5+ inches of rain.
There is nothing better than returning home after a long bike ride to find dinner waiting for you. Thanks again to my Mom! Wednesday it was spaghetti with sweet Italian sausage, salad, and a lot of Italian bread. Thursday's menu was pork chops (I will only eat my Mother's pork chops), potatoes, and green beans. My parents were both amazed at not only the quantity of food I ate, but also at the pace with which I consumed it at. I kind of felt like a glutton afterwards...a smiling content glutton.
Thurday's ride was much the same, but only three hours in the rain instead of four. However, Thursday found me on my geared 26 inch bike, which seems like a little kids ride compared to the 29r. I also took a different route which consisted of ski trails, forest roads, and my new favorite to explore...minimally maintained forest roads. I'm finding that most of these roads, after a few miles, lead to nowhere. Which can be kind of exciting because sometimes you don't know where nowhere actually is.
The other thing different about Thursday's ride was gears, gravel, sand, and grinding. The type of grinding and chatter you don't get when riding a single-speed. On the plus side however...much more speed on the flat sections and paved roads.
One other thing I really notice on these kinds of rides is how lost you can get in your own thoughts. For me the ride becomes an escape from the world and all of life's complexities. It's me, my bike, and nature. For me it's almost like going to see a doctor. Rides like this tend to have a healing affect on me, both physically and mentally. It's usually on these rides that I tend to lose myself in thought and put things in perspective. I generally find that things aren't as bad as they had seemed before hand and that maybe the world isn't quite as bad a place as some of us tend to perceive it as. At least not this part of the world.
On a less serious note...early this morning I had realized that I neglected to unpack my dirty cycling clothes when I got home yesterday. They had been sitting inside a plastic bag in my duffel bag which I use for my cycling gear. Just sitting there festering...upon opening said bag and getting a good whiff of what was inside my eyes rolled back into my head and I became somewhat woozy. Lesson learned...always unpack and do the cycling laundry immediately upon arrival home.
One sad thing I realized is that as autumn approaches these rides won't be as readily available because of school commitments and the annual fall... "gathering of the tribes".(next post)