There’s a familiar olfactory experience that brings me back to my days of roaming shoe-less and free upon the rural Midwestern landscape of my childhood. I was jettisoned back there a couple weeks ago as soon as my paved route turned gravel and the humid farmland foliage extended as far as I could see.
About two and a half years ago I embarked on an ambitious trip from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids, Minnesota with my luggage in tow and my partner-at-the-time by my side. By my rough and fittingly procrastinated calculation, it was somewhere close to 220 miles. It proved to be an overly-ambitious race against daylight and landed us on a busy road at sundown close to 140 miles in. To stay safe and prevent my parents from having a panic attack, Dad picked us up at one of those rural catch-all stops where you can find everything your heart desires under one roof; a bar, bait, off-sale liquor, corn dogs, doritos, guns, and chewing tobacco. We piled in the cab of an old Ford truck with very rusty side panels and a cooler full of dinner prepared with love. It felt good to be home. Ever since that day I’ve wanted to complete the journey, so I finally did.
With North Star Grand Prix canceling the women’s race this year, I had some extra time in Minnesota and a huge volume training week on tap. My crazy-awesome uncle, Mark, picked me up in Minneapolis, told me a bunch of stories (some undoubtedly embellished), and drove me to that one-stop shop in Glen, Minnesota. It was everything I'd remembered. I spandexed up and jumped atop Watson the racing Orbea and pointed her north hoping to break up the flat landscape with as much gravel as possible and I wasn’t disappointed. Over about 85 miles, I managed to cover about 35 of those on dirt, a satisfactory percentage, although I'm always hoping for more.
Some ride stats:
- Animals seen/encountered: 1 porcupine (don’t worry, they won’t attack you, ' just don’t try to pet them', as helpfully offered by a passersby in a truck), 1 skunk rolling in the flowers, 2 white tail deer frolicking, a couple barking dogs
- Snacks consumed: 3 Allys Bars, 1 snickers, 2 half-eaten packages of chomps leftover from race day (gross, I know, but I can’t waste food)
- Questionable water drunk: 2 bottles (follow up report, my iron stomach didn’t mind the kinda dirty water, all good)
- Strange looks from people in big trucks on dirt roads: a few
- Playlists consumed: 5
- Albums played: 2
I enjoyed the rest of the week with family and made some new bike riding friends in my hometown. Mom and Dad spoiled me with amazing food and competitive, surly, intense rummy playing (that's a card game for you non-mid-westerners). I also shot guns (at targets) and helped work on cars and trucks, you know, Minnesota things. Some places feel stuck in time and I think it’s one of the best parts of going back. Family time is good time.
a short list of food consumed:
- homemade smoked bear sausage (bear harvested by Dad and a rifle)
- asparagus from the garden (harvest by Dad or Mom with a knife)
- venison (harvested by Dad and a bow or rifle or muzzle loader)
- crappies (caught by Dad and fishing pole/minnows he collected)
- eggs from the backyard chickens (collected by Mom and Dad)
- stuffed venison burgers (a Dad specialty)
- raspberry jam (picked and canned by Mom)
- maple syrup (collected and wood fired by Mom and Dad)
Thanks for stopping by TWB. Enjoy your long weekend of patriotic activities.