Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘bike trip

Almost There

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I was close. Right down to the last minutes, extra minutes actually, I was composing new posts and scheduling them to publish. I was two days short. I ran out of time.

So, I am writing this with thumbs on my phone while sitting in my tent in Superior, WI on the morning of our day off.

It will be brief.

So far, this year’s trip is living up to the best of years past. It is a combination of traditions we love and new experiences and people discovered.

We are camped on school grounds where we keep laughing over the graffiti on the wall:

“Jeff was hear”

The common opinion is that Jeff should have been paying more I attention to going to class than making his presence known on the outside of the building.

 

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Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2017 at 6:00 am

The Lyrics

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For those of you who didn’t have time to sit through the slide show of the song I wrote, and also for me, because I have a hard time remembering all the words… here are the lyrics to “The Middle of June.”

What if it fit in the form of a perfect song?
The trial of surviving a ride through a daylong storm?
Some things come ’round only one time a year
You need to grab and hold tight or chance missing the magic parts
That live in the stories and sweet spots of our minds
You know so many friends who can’t fathom that you do this
And fashioned a bond with the rest of us
Who’ve joined you once again

It’s the middle of June
And here I go again
I’m getting back on my bike
To go Jaunting with Jim

You might call it neurotic, that pallid look that arises
When all too quickly I discover my time for packing has expired
And I’m suddenly in some form of campground in some outstate small town
The faces are familiar, though sometimes names come too slow
A ritual of pack and lock the auto, a parting glimpse to ways of yore
You can watch it as it blossoms and the trip so deftly is born

It’s so great to see you, tell me how have you been
I want to share within your laughter and bow my head to hear your tears
Who is it brought a new bike there, who hasn’t changed theirs in twenty years?
If you put a piece of tape there it might work fine, just look at his
Can I be your tent neighbor, will you snore more than me?
Once I’m packed in the morning, I’ll have much more than I meant to bring

How can that be Jim’s whistle? Good morning right back at you
Do I wear the new tights yet or will it be 95 degrees?
I can’t see yet if it’s cloudy, nor discern if there’s any wind
Where’d I put my water bottles and oh my god do I have to pee
We thank you oh Conductor for this special opportunity
Please forgive me if I waver and consider a jaunt to a B & B

We eat like we think we have to, then have some more when it tastes so good
Wait in line to use a restroom and see our bottles all start out full
Then just repeat Jim’s instructions, did he say 59 not 23?
We’ll snack in eighteen hill-free miles, can it be this easy?
The road just rolls past our tires, “On your left” so you say
Who’s that singing while they’re riding? Haven’t you passed me twice today?

We fan out across the horizon, dodging roadkill and debris
Shouting Gravel! Hole! & Bump! while speaking with whomever we happen to be
We notice wild flowers ‘tween the farm fields, gaze on lakes as well as woods
Wave at gawking rural town folk and race with dogs past the point they should
It isn’t always smooth sunny tailwinds, yet it always ends up manageable
And we should out the joys of elation the sight a water tower can tend to bring

Soon one day gets confused with others, it’s hard to say where we’ve been when
I remember bits of one funny incident, though in which town I can’t quite claim
Shared meals more than nourish us, joint accomplishments give common bond
Communal showering to humbles us and ties like family are coming on
Mere words can’t describe it, when you ride with us then you know
After years of having done this, it gets more important for me to go

All too soon the trip is over, the time just comes, the dancing’s done
Bittersweet to reach the start again, don’t want to stop, can’t wait to get home
What will it feel like back in my bed again, how’ll I do riding on my own
I’ll pretend to hear a morning whistle, the sound of tent poles breaking down
But I’ll rarely find convenience, such as the freedom from planning out
All the details of my day’s plan, as on Jim’s annual ride around

It’s the middle of June
And here we go again
We’re getting back on our bikes
To go Jaunting with Jim

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2017 at 6:00 am

Confusing Mix

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In my song, the sixth verse starts: “Soon one day gets confused with others / It’s hard to say where we’ve been when…”

In reviewing journals I have occasionally kept during the annual June rides, I was hoping to clarify the places I’ve ridden to and in which years I was able to participate. Even though I was inspired to return after the great experiences I had the first year, the locations of the rides were a much greater factor in my decisions in the early years than they would be later on.

At this point, I think I’ve pedaled in most every region of the state, and beyond. I’m pretty sure we made a crossing into one, if not both, of the Dakotas. I purposely joined a group that did a day jaunt down to Iowa and back, and the ride eventually included some significant ventures into Wisconsin.

Small towns can tend to have a similar layout and vibe. My confusion gets multiplied by the fact we occasionally revisit the same place more than once over the years. The deja vu sensation becomes a regular occurrence. Unlike some sharper minds, I have not been able to recall all the towns and in which years.

In the 23 years that have passed since that first year that I rode, my journal and photo collections only provide evidence for 14 adventures. I’m confident that it is more than that, but can’t say how many more. I’m aware of 4 years for sure when I missed the ride.

I have fond remembrances of New York Mills, Kelliher, Luverne, Walker, Park Rapids, Bagley, International Falls, Cannon Falls, Harmony, Grand Marais, Grand Portage… We decided not to try riding into Canada that year.

The roads just roll past our tires. Too many to keep track of them all. Maybe I should have taken a picture of all the water towers we’ve seen in all these years.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

The Song

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with the great June bicycle trip, I am once again providing the YouTube video of the song I wrote about the event. It is set to a slide show of photos I took during a couple trips that happened in northern Minnesota a bunch of years ago. It pretty much describes the week from start to finish. That’s why it is over 8 minutes long.

When I wrote this, in the days after a fabulous year when I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind, it was simply a chronicle of the routine, but that made it a little wordy. I unsuccessfully struggled to fit it into a song. So, the next year I told Jim Klobuchar, the ride conductor, that it was a poem I wrote and that I wanted to share it with the group.

He asked to read it, but when he took the sheet of paper from my hand, he just put it in his pocket. That’s the kind of leader Jim is, and I chose not to challenge his methods. He would read it at a time of his choosing. Not long after, he approached me and shared his approval, but he said that he wanted to read it to the group.

Really? I was a little taken aback by this, but at the same time, honored and humbled. I was happy to have him read it. In my mind, the initial gathering of the Friday night or Saturday morning was a time that made sense. He had other plans, but I’m guessing they weren’t firm.

Day after day went by, and he made no mention of it. I soon gave up any expectation and chose not to fret over not knowing what he had in mind. Finally, at lunch of the second-to-last day, he told the group to gather outside after the meal. He called me up to stand next to him, and he did a wonderful job reciting my prose.

I figured that was it. My composition worked just fine as a poem.

Until it didn’t anymore. Somehow I figure it was always meant to be a song. On a year when my family gave me a Baby Taylor travel guitar for my birthday, I decided it would be appropriate to be able to sing the song during the bike trips.

With some minor tweaking, I figured out a way to make it fit. That led to the added intro:

“What if it fit in the form of a perfect song
The trial of surviving a ride through a day long storm…”

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now review the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

DejaVu Again

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With less than a week until I leave for my umpteenth annual Tour of Minnesota bicycling and camping week, planning is well underway. Surprisingly, we are also in the midst of planning for coverage to assist Cyndie with life and ranch chores while she recovers from a surgery.

With a totally unexpected speed usually associated with emergency procedures, the office of the orthopedic surgeon initiated an accelerated series of appointments leading to repair of Cyndie’s shoulder on Tuesday, just three days before I leave for my trip.

They got her fitted with a special sling to be used for days after the procedure, and on her way home she was able to squeeze in the requisite pre-op physical. Cyndie will be back on pain meds and placed on the disabled list for ranch management activities for weeks after her surgery.

And I will be on vacation for a week. Good luck with that.

It’s a bit distracting, trying to take a break from the routine, while faced with the knowledge my wife is unable to fulfill her own role, let alone cover for my absence.

The solution: Family and friends.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Thank you, in advance, to all who are volunteering to take a shift covering our needs of Cyndie-care and animal care this week while I try to keep hours at the day-job and then leave for a week of vacation.

You’ll just love the chickens!

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2017 at 9:07 am