Sunday, May 28, 2017

Circumnavigating Four Lakes in One Ride

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Ride With Christian, and Minnehaha Falls

When Christian stopped by on Thursday to get his bike bag, we made a plan to meet at Minnehaha Falls on Saturday. I would ride from the house, and Christian would ride from the campground (it ended up being a hotel as he couldn't stay at the campground over Memorial Day weekend). Kyle, Mallory, and Grayson would drive and meet us at the park.  At the park, Grayson played on the toys.
Teeter tottering with Daddy
Climbing the monkey bars
Sitting on the sea lion
In the "tunnel" with Christian
After the toys, we walked down the stairs to the Falls. Mallory, being just one week from her due date, wasn't going to walk down the stairs, but decided maybe the exercise would kick start some labor (it didn't). 
Grayson wanted to hold Christian's hand
Hoping the Falls will encourage Mallory's water to break
Minnehaha Falls
Christian and I
Grayson and Kyle
We had lunch at Sea Salt restaurant, then the kids headed home. Christian and I rode the Minnehaha Trail to Nokomis Lake. This was the way I had come back from REI. This time I did it the correct way. The path around the lake is separate from the Minnehaha Trail. Somehow, when I did it before, I missed the connector from the lake path to the trail.  Christian and I leisurely rode around the lake catching up on what had happened since we last toured in Europe together. We were just riding along, chatting, when we came to a restaurant on the lake. First I thought it was another restaurant, but then I realized it was the same one we had passed near the beginning. We almost did another lap around the lake (which wouldn't have been a bad thing, but still...). We said our "goodbyes until next time" and I turned around to head back. I rejoined the Minnehaha Trail, stopping to take this photo of Minnehaha Creek.
Minnehaha Creek and Trail
Coming back along the West River Parkway, I decided to go across the Washington Ave bridge again. That meant climbing a steepish hill to get to it. As I crested the hill, I was rewarded with two $1 bills lying on the path. Sweet! Across the bridge, I took this photo of the Weisman Art Museum on campus.
Very arty building!
Today was a good ride, and I didn't have to use Google to find my way! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Across the Mississippi River on My Bike

Even though the weather was a bit rainy (that misty kind of rain that seems harmless until you find yourself soaked), I decided to take the opportunity to ride to REI to pick up a few things I need for my tour. Since it's Sunday, I figured there would be less traffic. Of course, I've nothing to judge it by, but there seemed to be quite a bit of traffic!  The REI I needed to go to was the flagship store in Bloomington (not Indiana). I Google mapped the route. It was 12.2 miles away. I wrote the directions out on paper and stuck them in my map case on my handlebar bag. I don't know why I bothered. I just ended up turning the route on on my phone. Actually, the written directions were working fine...until the road was closed. Anyway, the bike route over the Mississippi River was on Northern Pacific Railway Bridge No. 9. What was once a railway is now a railtrail!
Northern Pacific Railway Bridge No. 9
The Mighty Mississippi
Minneapolis truly is bike friendly. Where Google wanted me to go on Lyndale Ave., I actually ended up on a parallel road that was a "Bike Blvd". It was a residential street. Eventually, I did go back to Lyndale, but then there was a bike lane. Closer to REI, and near a major freeway interchange, the bike lane ended, but it was just a short bit.  REI was a mad house! Of course, the Anniversary Sale is happening now. I managed to get all the things I needed. The reason I went to this particular REI was because they had the Sea to Summit X series fry pan in stock. It goes with my 2.8 liter collapsible pot (the pot nests in the fry pan--my bowl and my cup nest in the pot--it's like the Matryoshka nesting doll of cookwear!). The MSR fry pan that I've had since I started touring is looking a little worse for wear. After waiting in the long checkout line, I returned to Tilmann and loaded my purchases into the small panniers on the front. I Google mapped the route back to Kyle and Mallory's. This time Google gave me another option that was slightly longer, but looked like it went through some parks. I thought, sure why not? Besides, I don't like to go the same way back! Since I was really relying on hearing the directions, I turned on my Buckshot Bluetooth speaker so I could hear them more clearly.  All was great until I started going through the first park. I was cruising along, listening to Google say, "Turn left...turn right..". Since I wasn't on a road, I just had to kind of guess what Goggle meant. Then Google said, "Make a U-turn". Well, crap! Okay, fine, I'll turn around. I went back, then Google said, "In 300 ft, make a U-turn." What??? Google, what do you mean!!! Well, I stopped and could not make heads or tails of where I was supposed to go. I just ended it, and started the route again. Then I could tell which way to go. It seems that Google does not differentiate between walking paths and bike paths. The bike path is not always right next to the walking path. Once I figured that out, I was able to go the way Google was telling me (even though she was wrong to direct me onto the walking path). Fortunately, there weren't any people walking at that point. The remainder of the ride home was pretty straight forward. Although, I ended up crossing the Mississippi on a different bridge (Franklin Ave). Once I was through most of the Univ of Minnesota campus, I knew the way back home. Total, I rode 28 miles. It would have been much more pleasant if it hadn't been raining, but I did get to cross the Mississippi River on my bike!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

He's Ready!

It's just four days until I leave for Minneapolis. A couple of days ago I gave Tilmann a bath. Today I dismantled him and packed him in his case. The last time I flew with him I managed to get him taken apart and packed in a little over an hour. Not today! It has been awhile, so I am definitely out of practice. Fortunately, I still have all the directions on my iPad (complete with photos). I did take better care to make sure everything is sufficiently padded and protected. I had planned to take both front and rear disc rotors off, but the rear one is too complicated with the Rohloff. I just protected it with cardboard. The front disc rotor was no problem to remove. I think it's more at risk anyway. Tilmann in the case (not including the racks) comes in at 45.2 lbs. All the other gear in the rice bag (rear pannier, both front panniers, tent, and racks) is less than the bike. I'll carry on the other rear pannier (primarily packed with clothes) and my handlebar bag.   
Tilmann all packed as well as gear
The shuttle picks me up Tuesday morning at the pre-butt crack of dawn (2:45am). I'll try to get a few hours of sleep. I'm looking forward to some nicer weather!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Final Gravelpalooza of the Season, and the Perfect Quote for the Day

Today was Joy Ride Bikes' Gravelpalooza 14, the last one of the season. Today would be epic! We would climb to the top of Capital Peak! The views would be spectacular! There would vistas along the way where you could look back and see Olympia and Puget Sound. You'd be able to see Mt. Rainier in all its glory! There were even two epic options: 30 miles starting from the intersection of Waddell Creek and Sherman Valley roads (the Y), or a 60 miler starting all the way back at the Skep in town (I'll admit, 60 sounds way more epic than 30). The 60 milers would meet us 30 milers at the Y (they started at 9:00, we started at 10:00). To top it off, Joy Ride was going all out and providing food and beverages! THIS WAS GONNA BE AWESOME!!! The only problem was that someone neglected to order up some sunshine from the Weather Gods. Instead, we got the default weather of...rain, rain, and more rain. Well, what else is new? There was a pretty good size group. I didn't do a total head count, but there were 8 women! I think that's pretty good! We headed off toward the C-line. As the fellas of "Tim's World", gravel riders extraordinaire, say, "It's ALLLLL UPHILLLLLL!" Yes, from the parking area, and for 7.5 miles, it is all climbing. At one point as I was pedaling along with Kalen, I told him it seemed like we had been climbing forever--it had only been 5.4 miles! I think it was maybe on C7000 where most of us finally had to walk. Then, the last push up to the peak was just that...a pusher! But...we made it! Of course, due to rather limited visability, those of us (okay, me) who had never been there before, didn't realize we were at the top until we were practically there! We only spent enough time at the towers to take a few photos. Tim took this one of me and Andy.
Me and Andy at the towers of Capital Peak
It was also a little breezy at the top, so we headed back down. The original plan of epicness had been to descend to Mima Falls trailhead for some food and beverages, then ride back to the cars. However, due to the fact that it was raining, and it seemed like we were smack dab back in the middle of winter (minus the snow), we just took the C-Line back down. Brian had moved the location of the tent with refreshments (and most importantly, a heater!!!) close to the Falls Creek turnoff. While we were standing there, shivering, eating sausages, and various other delicious goodies, I heard one of the guys say through chattering teeth, "What is this, a Parkinson's convention?" Not to belittle a terrible disease, but it was a perfect quote for the day!A special shout-out to Brian Koder for cutting his ride short to set up this amazing food stop for us! Now I can say I've been to "The Peak". I'll have to wait until next time before I can say I've seen the "View from The Peak"!
Huddled around the heater
Nom nom, Cam!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Last Day Where We Played Tourist

For the last day we returned to where we had gone the first day--Arches National Park. This time, however, instead of riding bikes, we drove. On the bikes we couldn't go out to any of the arches. We joined the sea of humanity as typical tourists. Drive...park...walk to the arch...pose for to the next arch...and so on. We did the following arches--Double Arch, North and South Windows (also known as the Spectacles), Turret Arch, Delicate Arch, and Sand Dune Arch. Of these, the only one I hadn't been to before was Delicate Arch. I had been to the viewpoint, but not the actual arch. Delicate Arch is a 3 mile roundtrip hike with a fair amount of climbing up slickrock. Initially, at Double Arch, it was fairly sunny. Then the clouds rolled in along with winds up to 20 mph (seemed like more than that at times). It wasn't particularly cold, and there wasn't any rain. Except for the wind, it wasn't bad. Here's some photos.
Double Arch
Sitting in Double Arch
Looking down from our perch
Going to North Window
South Window
Karen picking the nose of The Spectacles (North and South Windows)
Turret Arch
Selfie with Turret Arch behind us
The Sea of Humanity on the way to Delicate Arch
Maybe not for those who fear heights
Me at Delicate Arch
Standing under the arch
The bowl near Delicate Arch
After Sand Arch we decided to head back. I had been out to three of the arches at Devil's Campground before, so I told the gals it was up to them if they wanted to go see Landscape Arch, and a couple of smaller arches. They were okay being done. They were tired from their late night the night before, and I think we were all kind of tired of the wind, and all the people. It seems we have more tolerance for a difficult bike ride or hike than wading through a sea of humanity! We came back into town and had a final celebratory meal at one of the Mexican restaurants.
The last Moab
It's been a fabulous week! We did so much! Am I all fired up to get a mountain bike? Even though it was very fun, I don't think so. Since I don't really have a car to get to the trails, it seems silly to get a bike. For anyone planning to visit Moab, I would highly recommend the Jeep Tour. It's worth every penny! Speaking of Jeeps, we are getting out of town just in time. People are starting to roll in for the Easter Jeep Safari. If we thought there were a lot of people here now...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Day 2 of Pretending to be Mountain Bikers

We had this plan to haul the mountain bikes out to Bar M again for a warm up, then reload the bikes and go up to Deadhorse State Park when it got a wee bit warmer (it is about 10 degrees colder at 6000+ feet). Deadhorse had a reasonable selection of easy to moderate singletrack. At the bike shop, it took about 30 minutes to get the bikes loaded, and that was with the bike shop guy doing most of it! Also, we had to put one bike in the back because only three mountain bikes would fit on a 5-bike rack. We all looked at each other and said, "We're just going straight to Deadhorse." The temperature wasn't to bad at the top, so that was a good decision. We managed to get the bikes off the rack, and figured out where we were going. Right away, on the trail that was considered easy, I thought it was similar to the Lazy EZ (which was easy to moderate). We kind of wondered, if this was easy, what's easy/moderate going to be like??? We would soon find out. First we stopped at the Colorado Overlook. It is a spectacular view down the canyon to the Colorado River. We did our usual photo shoot.
Notice how I'm closer to the precipice of death? The others wouldn't get that close. I don't know why not. After all, we had our helmets on!
Just lounging on the edge.
As we were riding along the trail, I came to a, I don't know what a real mountain biker would call it, but it was a ledge of rock that was about 10" high. I, of course, chickened out and stopped. Karen decided she was going to give it a go. I got my camera ready. Then this couple came by. It was the same couple we had seen yesterday (now we know their names are Sharon and Ken). Ken rolled up to the "ledge", stopped, got off, and picked his bike up. Sharon did the same. Karen goes back to get a running start. As she comes around the corner, and sees the rock again, she squeals, "I can't do it!" I laugh, and tell her Gail is coming, we'll get her to do it. Gail comes around the corner, sees the rock, and rides up it like a pro!
Gail--doing it like a pro!
So now, Karen has to do it! She goes back, and comes at it. She hits the ledge and comes to a dead stop. Fortunately, she didn't crash.
Not quite
Then Cindy gives it a try. She makes it up with the front wheel, but can't get the back wheel up.
Karen goes back to try again. This time she makes it pretty good, only put a foot down a little.
Just a little helper foot
Gail, who was totally successful the first time, goes back to do it again. This time, unfortunately, she overthinks it, and doesn't make it up.
Nope nope nope!
Cindy tried again and mostly made it up.
Karen, bound and determined, tried one more time. I videoed that one. She made it! As for me, I didn't even try. I'm such a chicken!!! We stopped and did another photo shoot at the next overlook (see, this is why we only go 10 miles in 2 1/2 hours).!!!
Nice bit of a drop there
Sure, I'll sit out on the edge of a cliff, but I won't ride up a little ledge!
The riding was trickier than yesterday, but we were doing okay until we got on a trail that was more moderately technical. Had we been going the other direction, we might have been able to ride it. As it was, it was too steep, and too much step-like going up. We walked. As we continued riding, we would catch up to Ken and Sharon (they would get ahead of us because of all our photo shoots, but we were the better riders). We'd stop, chat for a bit, then move on. At the Big Chief Overlook, we took a longer break, talking to Ken and Sharon, and a mom and her two boys. We were at the outer end of Big Chief Trail
We were at the top of the green line (Big Chief) at this point
We decided to continue on Big Chief. It was actually pretty fun, and we were really beginning to get the hang of riding up rocks. Then we came to another tricky looking one and, again, my inner chicken came out. This time, however, I did give it a try. I almost made it. Gail had no problem, and neither did Karen. Cindy did better than me. 
Once again, Gail rides it like it's nothing!
No sweat for Karen!
There were a couple more tricky spots that were too difficult for us to even try, so we walked. Otherwise, it was a pretty fun ride. When we got back to the Visitor Center, we all decided we were good with being done. Besides, we still had to load up the bikes, and who knows how long that would take us! Turns out, not so long!  It was another great day of adventuring! We may not really be Mountain Bikers yet, but we're pretty good at pretending!