Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tour Report

My tour accomplished all of its goals. First, I got out and experienced the simplicity and challenges (more than usual) of a solo, almost cross-state bike trip.

Monday morning I planned to pack-up the last of my gear and be on the road by 8am. Unstressed, I left at 9am. I had no destination in mind when I left. A quick look at a map the night before suggested that I could leave my house cross the Mendota Bridge and head to the west bound lane of the Greenway via Fort Snelling and Minnehaha Park. I stayed on the Greenway until Highway 169 where I stopped at The Depot Coffee House for a Sandwich. I weaved my way through town across Highway 7 north bound on the Hopkins Crossroad. At Highway 55 I headed west.

The loaded Long Haul Trucker felt fast with a tail/cross wind. The challenge was the heat, over 100 heat index. I consciously decided that I would drink a water bottle every 10 miles to avoid getting behind on hydration; I drank two an hour instead.

I stopped for a quick, cold soak in the Dickinson Spring along side the road.
I decided to make an easy day of it and head to Lake Maria State Park to spend the night. I headed North from Buffalo into the park. Rolled up to the ranger station hoping to find the lake and shower, as I was quite hot again. Turns out there was no ranger, shower, or swimming beach on the lake. All sites were rustic backpack in sites. I set up camp in the steamy, buggy, windless forest.

A couple mile ride got me to the lake. While there was no beach I took a swim/bath off the boat ramp. I found potable water, filled up my water bottles, three on the bike and two others in panniers and headed to camp for a hot night.
I read my book and spend some time watching this little tree frog. Even soaked in sweat, I slept well.
Tuesday, I traveled north and west via Highway 24 across I94 at Clear Water to Highway 10 in Clear Lake. Road construction made the next 10 miles into St. Cloud tough. For a while I was being buzzed by traffic while riding on a 2' shoulder's warning strip ala Paris-Roubaix .

This is where I picked up the headwind as well. It felt good at first. The heat index was over 100 again, but I felt much cooler. The wind more than the heat wore on me. I decided to spend the night in Randall, MN. I spent the evening in a park. Just before dark, I ditched off into a patch of woods near the railroad tracks to poach a hobo style campsite for the night. The noisy trains passing added proper ambiance.
Day three the headwind continues. I worked for every mile. On one long downhill section I was working hard pedaling while moving 8mph. The wind was so string that I used my small front chain-ring. During gusts, I went 6mph while working hard. My panniers felt like sails.

I made a point of not getting frustrated and went as slow or as fast as the conditions dictated. Not trying to impose my will on the wind made a huge difference in my mental attitude. Music also was a great motivator during this time. After more than 10 hours of riding and 70 some miles traveled in the day, I pulled the plug in Perham. A call to Heidi, my Cousin's wife, whose lake cabin I was hoping to make it to, finished my trip the last 30 miles were done effortlessly in the BMW X6M.

At the risk of sounding too cute, my did not finish status did not feel like a failure because I did start, enjoyed tough conditions, and experienced the road for just over 215 miles.


MaryAnn said...

I enjoyed your writings, photos and willpower. Hope you can do some more of this as you sense of humor and storyline is great.

SeanH said...

Nice job Heath! I can't imagine being out in the open in that heat for that long. Plenty o' sunscreen?

queasyfish said...

Long ride in that heat, sounds like it was similar to "fun". Good self-portrait.