What’s With the Mechanical Camel

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This was an odd site along the way while cycling yesterday!  I wonder who designed it and why? How did it end up sitting by a bike trail in Minnesota?  Who knows.  I googled just in case there was something about it on the net, but didn’t find anything? Maybe it was someone’s hobby to old stuff and display it by the trail?

My father used to have old farm equipment sitting around in the weeds as well. Maybe it ended up with someone like the owner of this property?  Nice to find interesting views along the way, to remember other times, other places, other people.

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It was another pleasant riding day so I decided to head further down the Mississippi and ride from Spring Lake Park Reserve to Hastings, MN on the Mississippi River Trail. There were a few decent climbs along the way, for Minnesota at least.  There was a headwind on the ride down but fortunately it did not change so I had an easy ride back. The trike got a few comments and have to admit, it is a pretty cool looking little machine.

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My total cycling miles for the weekend did not even amount to what I would consider a very short ride on my ICE Adventure, but the Fat Tad is not a machine for burning up the miles so I don’t care.  I had a good time out exploring my world again and that is all that really matters. How many people were able to see something as weird as a mechanical camel this weekend?

 

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It’s a Beautiful Day

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U2 was playing on the radio as I was driving and provided me with a great song for pedaling!

Another February day of temperatures in the 60’s so the only question was where would I ride.  After pondering a few options, I decided to drive over to Kaposia Landing in South St. Paul and ride along the river. The last time I rode by the Mississippi was over a month ago and at that time the river was frozen solid.  Since this was my first year of riding through winter, I have no idea when the ice usually goes out on the river.  I also hadn’t been paying attention while driving so it was a pleasant surprise for me to see the river flowing freely once more. There was still some ice along the shore and some of the side channels were frozen, but I was so happy to see my beautiful river alive once more!

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The ride down the levees south of Kaposia Landing is quite industrial but I like that. After a rural ride yesterday that seemed to drag on forever, it was nice to hear the sounds of trains and small airplanes overhead; it was nice to see boats on the river, traffic on the freeway, industry, activity. At one point on the trail there was an overwhelming smell of fresh apple pie, at another point the smell was of fermenting wood chips. At one point I rode past a gun club where I was serenaded with the sound of gunfire. The miles sped by without me even noticing!

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I saw a number of ducks and geese along the river plus several deer crossing a side channel.  I need to start bringing my good cameras so I can capture such shots.  Sadly, the deer are tiny and blurry in my cell phone shot.

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Much of the trail was dry, but there were quite a few large water puddles along the way.  The Fat Tad has good clearance though so I just rolled on through!  If I slowed down I could come through perfectly dry, but most of the time I sped up and kicked up a fair amount of water some of which ended up on me.  It was warm so I figured might as well have some fun!

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Looking forward to seeing barge traffic on the river again. In time, in time. Life goes by quickly enough as it is, no need to chomp at the bit for it to go faster! I would not be upset, however, if we have seen the last of winter!  I don’t want a repeat of 2014 when we had 8 inches of snow on my birthday in late April!  No matter how it all plays out this year, on this day I was blessed to be alive and pedaling by my river.

Slogging Through the Muck

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Temperatures in the 60’s during a Minnesota February means there is no way I was sitting in the house on a day off from work.  I didn’t want to take the ICE Adventure out this early, however, too much melt and too much winter debris for me to feel comfortable on a low trike with small tires. I also didn’t want to take the SunSeeker Fat TAD on paved trails through the city so where to ride?  Unpaved trails through the mud, that’s where! I headed over to the Luce Trail out by Orono.

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It didn’t end up being a particularly fun ride.  I hadn’t ridden in 3 weeks and it isn’t easy slogging through the muck like that.  Where the trail was still more frozen and solid I could pick up some speed, but those spots were few and far between. My legs were feeling it but even though I was wondering why I do things like this, there was still a part of me that knew at the end I would be pleased to have gotten in such a good leg workout.

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There were still colors and sounds to enjoy.  Blue, yellow, red, white.  Birds singing, a creek bubbling, a small plane overhead. This is my life, even though the pedaling wasn’t easy or fun, this is how I live.

And on some level there is the enjoyment that comes from seeing those fat tires going round, knowing that I am free to slog through the muck on my fat trike if I choose.

Road Tripping

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High Trestle Bridge, Iowa

In mid-November I felt the need to get away so I took vacation from work and hit the road. I decided I would drive to Colorado Springs and ride a few trails along the way.  First up was a 40 mile ride on the High Trestle Trail. Temps were in the 40’s and the sun was shining but hardly anyone was out.  I chatted with a guy along the way who told me Iowa cyclists tend to be fair weather and that he admired us Minnesotans who just get out there and enjoy life no matter the weather. From what I saw on my road trip, there might be some truth to that!

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downtown Des Moines

The next day I got in a 15 mile ride around downtown Des Moines.  There appear to be a lot of bike trails in the city so one day I hope to return and explore some more.  Iowa is just a short drive from the Cities so I’m sure I will drop down now and again to ride, especially if the weather is nicer there than here!

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Wabash Trace outside of Council Bluffs, Iowa

Next up was a 21 mile early ride on the Wabash Trace Trail. I got some stares as I headed out.  It may have been the trike or it may have been people thinking I was nuts, but temps were just low 30’s and I was fine.  Just me out there slogging along on an unpaved rural trail.  Perfect start to the day watching the mist lifting.

I then took the next couple days off from cycling.  I intended to ride one day but had a trike issue that led to a hand injury, which I’m still fighting in February, so I scraped that planned ride and climbed towers instead.

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SAC Museum, Nebraska

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Walter Scott Jr. Observation Tower, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Nebraska (Too many names for me!)

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View from Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, Nebraska.  How names should be!

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Colorado Springs

Once I arrived in Colorado Springs I got in a interesting 23 mile ride on Pikes Peak Trail finishing up just as the snow flakes started! The next day was icy so I only got in the one ride this time around.

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Pikes Peak Greenway Trail

This one short trail ride in Colorado Springs had perfectly smooth concrete, smooth asphalt, rough asphalt, red clay, packed dirt, and loose gravel! Quite the ride!  I’d like to do parts of it again on the Fat Tad one day since the ICE just couldn’t cut it as I was heading up towards the Air Force Academy. I carried it up one hill but then realized it wasn’t worth trying to go much further in that direction and turned around.

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Kearney, Nebraska

The flip side of the trip had me following a major snow storm, but fortunately the storm was heading more north so I was still able to keep cycling on bare ground. Enjoyed a 15 mile spin through Kearney, Nebraska. I never would have stopped but for the bike trail.

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Lincoln, Nebraska

My last ride for the road trip was a 15 miler in Lincoln.  Temps were in the 20’s that morning so it was my coldest ride for the year to date, but it wasn’t bad. I hope to do more exploring in Lincoln the next time I’m through, but would prefer somewhat warmer temps.

I arrived back in Minneapolis to snow on the ground so I figured that was it for me and cycling.  I was so close to 5,000 miles for the year, however, so I decided to drop down into Iowa once more and get in a couple more rides.

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Heart of Iowa Trail

Thanksgiving Day was gloomy as all get out, but I cranked out 21 miles of some rough riding on the Heart of Iowa Trail. Most of the trail wasn’t too bad but there were patches of loose gravel, mud, and muck.  I had to scrape manure off my wheels a couple times!  This is another trail I would love to ride on the Fat Tad. When I hit water all the way across the trail I stopped, but on the Fat Tad I would have at least tried to roll right on through.

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Raccoon River Valley Trail

The day after Thanksgiving the sun was out again so I rode 36 miles on the Raccoon Valley Trail to reach that 5,000 mile mark with an extra 18 miles to spare!  I saw not one single fellow cyclist on either of these rides.  Purpose completed, I headed home to Minneapolis.

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Sweet home Minneapolis

I woke to a beautiful morning. After riding so many miles in other places I decided it was time to take a spin around my city again.  Temps were in the 40’s, the snow had mostly melted, and I was joined by many other cyclists along the way to a 40 mile ride. I refused to go home until after the sun had set. There is just nothing quite like my Minneapolis trails!

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Sunset at Lake Nokomis

Cycling on Borrowed Time

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Lilydale Trail with an open railroad bridge

When I think of November skies I think of gray and flat, not sunshine and brilliant blue. To have such weather on a weekend in November is doubly wonderful!  Twin Citians hit the great outdoors and I joined them.

I decided to cycle down the Lilydale Trail, which was still closed due to construction about halfway through, so disappointing.  I doubled back, climbed up the bluffs and headed out on the River-to-River Greenway again. This time I found all the right turns so I could stay on the trail the whole way rather than riding on streets to connect the pieces or having to backtrack as I had done on my previous ride.

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River-to-River Greenway heading down to Kaposia Landing. The roll down is fun but the climb up again is relentless.

Cycling in November means I feel no pressure since any miles I ride are icing on the cake by this point in time, cycling on borrowed time! I ended up with 31 miles that day with some longer climbs, for Minnesota at least. The legs might hate the climbs, but what a feeling of conquest when I reach the top! I don’t obsess about water on November rides but I have to pay closer attention to opportunities for bathroom breaks since trail facilities are pretty much all closed by this time of year.

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Mississippi River – barges, trains, and planes

At Kaposia Landing I watched the railroad bridge open for barges to come through.  I waited as the bridge swung closed once more and a worker on the bridge checked, locked?  A small plane flew over and then two train engines crossed the bridge.  I’m an urban outdoors person, so I like the mix of nature with bridges, dams, machines, buildings, I like the sounds of whistles, horn blasts, plane engines, and even traffic. This past year I rode many miles of suburban and rural trails, but have to admit, my favorite rides had a mix of the industrial life as well.

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The America I love

I’m ready for winter to end and am hoping for another long warm weather cycling season!

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Dream Yourself a Dream Come True

Aerosmith sang it, the perfect anthem for a fall ride on the Luce Line Regional Trail: Dream On, Dream On, Dream On!

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The past is gone.  It went by like dusk to dawn

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Everybody’s got their dues in life to pay

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I know nobody knows where it comes and where it goes

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Live and learn from fools and from sages

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Sing with me, sing for the years

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Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears

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Dream until your dreams come true!

A Perfect Day to Skip Work

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Bay Point Park, Redwing MN

One Tuesday back in October I skipped work and took off for a ride.  Fortunately my boss is nice that way, letting me take short notice vacation days now and then so that I can take advantage of beautiful cycling days as they come along.  I can’t plan ahead for such days.  They just show up and I have to hit the trails!

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Busy riverfront, Redwing, MN

On this particular day I decided to ride the Cannon Valley Trail from Cannon Falls to Redwing.  It was fall and I was free from work.  What could be better than pedaling along the Cannon River right on down to the Mississippi.

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Trail by Red Wing Grain

Since it was a weekday, I got to see Redwing at work with semis lined up to unload grain on one side of the elevator while barges were being loaded on the other.

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American Queen

When I arrived at Redwing Station, the American Queen was loading passengers for a cruise down the river.  I never knew they had such things this far north!  I watched as bus after bus arrived to offload passengers.  A Dixieland band was playing as the passengers boarded.  I stayed by the river for quite a while, enjoying the sights and sounds of my favorite river. It was one of those perfect afternoons.  All of the sudden I realized the sun would soon be setting and I still had 20 miles to ride back to Cannon Falls. The weather was so perfect that day I forgot it was already October and the sun sets early. I kicked it into high gear and pedaled away like mad!  I did not have a light with me and I didn’t want to be riding through the woods after dark. I pretty much had the trail to myself the whole way back but I arrived at my vehicle with some time to spare.

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Sunset in Mendota Heights, MN

On such a day I have to think, life doesn’t get much better than that, does it?  It probably sounds morbid, but I hope my last day on this earth is such a day. It would be the perfect end to a life I would not trade for any other.