A Quest for Peace

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Mississippi River barge just east of downtown St. Paul

After a tough week back in July, I set off with my trike on a quest to find some peace while pedaling along the Mississippi River. I love watching the barges and wondering, what are they carrying, where are they going, what is life like for the people working on them?  And the river, the river that just keeps flowing, oh the stories it can tell me if I listen.

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Battle Creek Park, St. Paul, MN

Since I’d never done so before, I decided to ride through Battle Creek Park.  As I pedaled along I could hear the sound of creek so I stopped for awhile to listen. Is there anything more calming than sitting in silence by a creek?

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Battle Creek Park, St. Paul, MN

The trail through Battle Creek gave me quite a workout.  It was constant climbing all the way through, but then I got to have the fun of rolling all the way down after ward!

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St. Paul Skyline from Fish Hatchery Trail

I ended up riding 45 miles that day, but it was a make it up as you go along kind of ride. I decided to cross the river and ride through woods for awhile before returning to the river and eventually heading for home.

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River-to-River Trail, Mendota Heights

 

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Still one of my favorite views of downtown St. Paul.  From Lilydale Regional Park

Sunny Memories on a Gloomy Day

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Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis

Outdoor Minneapolis comes alive on a sunny weekend in May and I feel energized and happy seeing so many people out and about in our great city.

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I got in a 60 mile ride that day, hard to imagine that I thought nothing of doing 60 miles!  I will definitely have to work my way back up again when the weather improves.  Today was so gloomy I could not convince myself to go out even for a short ride. I have found enjoyment being out in the cold and sparkling white snow but find I have little interest in riding in the gloom and dirty snow. Instead of pedaling, today I reminisced about another weekend when the sun was shining and people were happy.

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Peaceful Easy Feeling

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Lake Wobegon Trail heading away from the Recreational Soo Line Trail

Songs play through my head most of the time while I’m out riding. Usually a few songs repeat over and over, but sometimes they skip around. I don’t know what song was playing the day I took these pictures, but as I look at them now, I’m hearing the Eagles in my mind.

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Not bad for an ill old gal! Mississippi River Dam south of Little Falls.

One weekend in September the weather was overcast with forecasts for rain and my stomach was queasy so I just wanted to stay home.  This is Minnesota, however, and since I know from experience winter could come as early as October I was unwilling to give up on a Minnesota weekend and headed out for a ride. I had rain gear so what’s the worst that could happen?

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I decided to head up to Avon, MN and ride the Lake Wobegon Trail spur which connects to the Recreational Soo Line Trail.  Round trip was a 61 mile ride which fell into the 40-60 mile range I prefer. Having the trail pop out right by a large dam on the Mississippi River was the strangest feeling.  I felt like I was in the middle of no where, for the most part I cycled completely alone, and to all of the sudden be right by this industrial dam out there by itself left me with an eerie feeling.

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Watching the Mississippi River flowing away as it has always done.

I enjoy riding with sullen skies now and then. They are much easier on the eyes and rather than being overwhelmed by bright colors, one becomes aware of the more subtle hues.

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Ah life, so fickle, so promising, so awful, so wonderful. Pedaling for the laughter, pedaling for the tears.

January Mist

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It was a warm day today with a lot of snow melt making for a misty day; the familiar had an eerie look.

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I stopped for awhile to watch the planes.  I could hear them long before they would appear through the mist.  Ghost planes.

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It was warm enough so I didn’t need to pay much attention to how I dressed, but I just rode 7.5 miles.  I was not in a rush and stopped along the way often to snap pictures and look around. With all the melting snow I ended up riding through perhaps a few too many puddles than was good for me staying dry!  They were too temping for a January day.

 

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Freebird

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Middle Spunk Lake at Avon, MN

Although others might enjoy organized rides, such things do not appeal to me.  In most of life there are people telling me what to do, that’s reality and I deal with it.  In my free time, however, in my cycling time, I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay money to be told what days to ride, what route to ride, when to start, when to stop, where to stop, and all with a crowd of other riders!  No thanks.  I need to have one small segment of my life where I am totally free to call the shots!

I was sitting at work one Wednesday back in July when I decided I needed a new adventure. I had ridden a couple thousand miles always starting from home and I was getting restless. The weather looked fine for the coming days so it was just a matter of picking a trail.  I had been eyeing the Lake Wobegon Trail and Central Lakes Trails (101 miles total) for awhile, always with the thought that someday I wanted to ride them.  It was now someday.

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Lake Osakis

My original thought was to have my son drop me off at the far end and for me to cycle all the way back in one day.  The more I thought about it, however, the less appealing one long ride became. What was the point in pushing myself so hard for one day?  Might as well split it up and take time to enjoy the sights along the way.  I decided that day one I would cycle up from St. Joseph on the Lake Wobegon Trail to Alexandria, meet up my son, and then drive to Fergus Falls for an overnight.  Day two I would ride about back down on the Central Lakes Trail and overlap some of the previous days ride to get in about 120 miles total. I made reservations and mentally prepared myself for the journey.

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Lake Wobegon Trail

The first day went well.  I got to ride by woods, fields, lakes; I got to ride through small towns.  Part of the trail had no shade and ran along the freeway, but I just kept pedaling.  I came across a place called Memoryville that reminded me of the show “American Pickers”.  I like these kinds of things, the stuff of everyday life from an era now past. I did not stop other than to take a look from the path.  I still had miles to pedal.

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Memoryville in Melrose, MN

Later that night at the hotel, I decided there was no point in overlapping any of the previous day’s ride. The world would not come to an end if I only rode 110 miles total rather than 120 miles. Once I hit the trail I was glad I had shortened the ride! I was not yet used to rural cycling and having 7-10 miles between towns was hard on my mentally. In the city there were always things to distract me as I rode so that the miles seemed to slip right on by. Out on this trail, there was nothing to break up the distances into smaller segments that were easier for my mind to accept. In addition to dealing with long segments, I spent the whole day pedaling into a strong headwind. I had to go deep within myself to reach a place where my whole focus was on keeping my legs moving. Just keep pedaling, keep pedaling.

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Lake Geneva?? 

The only break from my solitude was when I met a couple cyclists at a rest area along the trail at about the half way point.  One guy had ridden from Seattle and was on his way to Michigan.  The headwind was beating him up, too, so I had company in misery.  The other guy had ridden down from Fargo to St. Joseph and was on his way back home.  He had battled the headwind the day before and was now happily pedaling with a tailwind.  Chatting with them briefly gave me a bit of a boost.  Yes, the pedaling was not easy, but in a way, it was fun to be out there doing something that was not easy. I kept going and before too long I was pedaling through Alexandria to meet up with my son.

This is my style of riding with me making choices and adjustments along the way. I start with a loose plan and go from there to make it work for me, even if what I have taken on is difficult.  I adjust on the fly and let some things go while holding on to others. By the end of this weekend in July, I had conquered these trails and shown to myself I was ready for all the new adventures ahead.  Before this my rides were focused on the metro area, but after this I was off exploring trails here, there, and anywhere! Free as a bird!

 

Purple Rain

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The song running thought my head while cycling those first weeks following Prince’s death was “Purple Rain”. I was riding on the Minnesota River Bluffs in late April, a trail that runs through the suburbs but feels more like a country trail in places. All of the sudden I came out of the woods and there was a trail bridge in front of me all decked in purple.  At the time I didn’t know where I was exactly but figured I had to be close to Prince’s home in Chanhassen.  I was. One prominent summer cycling memory for 2016 is of that bridge decked in purple.  I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture!

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On another April ride I was heading in to downtown Minneapolis on the North Cedar Trail when I heard “Purple Rain” coming from a bar on the other side of the tracks. It was spring in Minnesota and the outdoor tables were in use again. Prince’s song accompanied me as I pedaled along. It’s good to be alive in the spring.

I was never a big fan of Prince, but I did like some of his music.  Mostly what I liked, however, was that he was a famous Minnesotan who chose to stay in Minnesota. That made me feel good about my State. I get tired of people outside Minnesota acting as if no one would stay here if they could get away.  No, this is a good place to live. I feel quite fortunate to be able to call this place my home.

 

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Something New!

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Lake Minnetonka

I’ve never seen a ski plane in person before but while I was out triking today, there one was, right in front of my eyes!  I got to see it take off, but then it was out of sight.  I never know the things I will see when I’m out triking!  The world is an interesting place!

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Lake Minnetonka

I didn’t chat with this fat biker as he was just a bit too far away, but I did exchange greetings with quite a few others on the trail. I’m finding winter fat bikers to be friendly folks.  For the most part they smile, wave, and comment on the Fat Tad being a great machine.  Maybe it has to do with the kind of person who enjoys wintering cycling? Fat biking?  I don’t know, but their friendliness adds a little extra enjoyment to these rides.

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Ice fishing on Lake Minnetonka

All in all another beautiful day to be out.  My legs sure got the workout though as the snow wasn’t packed hard on most of this trail.  It was fun riding through the snow, but it’s a lot harder than cruising along on a paved path in the summer.

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Lake Minnetonka trail by Tonka Bay, MN

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