Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘cycling

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

Frequent Downpours

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I hope this isn’t an omen. This coming Friday and Saturday we have scheduled a custom event at Wintervale for close friends that is intended to serve as a warmup to the annual Tour of Minnesota bike and camping week in the middle of June. I didn’t mean it to become a conditioning exercise for nasty weather.

I don’t want the weather we are currently burdened with to be representative of what we can expect in a month’s time. The good news is that the last few days have provided several quiet moments of time when it is not raining, between the cataclysmic outbursts of over an inch-per-hour gully-washers festooned with spectacular flashes of lightning and heavy rumbling thunder that roll overhead in gargantuan waves.

The forecast for Saturday: ** Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 56. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three-quarters of an inch possible. **

A temperature of 56° with 100% chance of precipitation is not the kind of weather in which I want to ride.

Our rain gauges are getting a good workout, needing to be frequently dumped of the inches accumulating by the hour. It’s crazy making.

Meanwhile, animals just seem to deal with it. Our horses usually choose to stand out in the rain, but occasionally they will stay under the overhang. I wonder if it might be that they are growing used to the roar from the metal roof.

The wild animals are usually hunkered down far from sight, but yesterday Cyndie came across this beautiful fawn curled up on the edge of our north trail.

She reported that Delilah had completely missed sensing the little one and walked right past, oblivious. The momma must have done an excellent job of cleaning the newborn to minimize any scent.

There was no sign of the mother, but she was probably nearby, observing.

When I got home from work, Cyndie took me out to see if the fawn was still there. She held back with Delilah as I moved ahead and scanned the trail. I kept asking her if we had reached the spot yet, because I wasn’t seeing anything. We figured it had probably moved on.

Just as I was about to head back, my eye caught a glimpse of the brown color. It had definitely moved, but not very far at all. The fawn had settled in a new spot, a little off the trail, so that it was better surrounded by the tall grass.

I reached out to snap a shot looking down from overhead and then we stepped away. We didn’t have much time to tend to the horses before the next deluge.

As the rain pounded down with dramatic intensity, I wondered about that fawn folded up in a tight little ball among the tall grass. I was hoping the momma had showed up and guided a route to the woods for better cover.

Or at the very least, higher ground.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Inaugural Ride

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The ol’ legs, they ain’t what they used to be. It almost feels like I’ve gotten older than I’ve ever been before. Yesterday, I got out on the bike for my inaugural ride of the season. I do love winter, but there is no way a person can’t fall for a day in spring that sprouts with a blue sky, calm winds, and warm temps.

It was an opportunity that I needed to grab to get my cycling season underway. My annual bike trip in the middle of June is only two and a half months away and I need to break in a new saddle. Plus, I have committed to hosting a warm-up ride in the countryside around Wintervale in May.

I need to scout a route that will be suitable in length and challenge. Yesterday proved to be a chance to both break in my butt and start the process of establishing a route. I did well in both accounts. For the route, when I say that I did well, I mean that I found several roads that will not be candidates for the warm-up ride.

Things started well enough, as I headed out on roads I was familiar with. The superb weather and the idyllic landscapes were as good as could possibly be. As the miles mounted, I recognized the energy in my legs waning. As I approached the road that I was hoping to use for my turn west toward home again, I found gravel.

Ugh. This was my last chance before reaching a state road that was not so bike friendly. So I turned off the pavement. Luckily, this was an old unpaved road, so the surface was hard-packed almost as smooth as asphalt.

I could live with that. After a couple of more turns, I was getting really ready to reach home, thinking that it would have been nice if I’d tucked an energy bar into my jersey pocket.

I was looking for 610th, a road that I knew previously was gravel, but thought I’d seen new pavement in the last couple of years. As I turned onto it, there was a fleeting moment of hope, because the first 50 yards was pavement. The gravel that followed was nothing like the hard-packed old roads I’d traversed earlier.

This stuff seemed like it might have just been laid down this spring. It was the worst of class 5 gravel that offered absolutely no smooth tire tracks and left my rear tire slipping if I stood up to pedal. At the first incline, I had to throw in the towel and dismount.

I walked my bike up the loose gravel road as my tired legs complained about the change. Too tired to walk and too tired to ride is a good sign I’d used up pretty much all the strength reserves my old legs had to offer.

Those roads will definitely not be on the route we will be taking in May.

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Written by johnwhays

April 2, 2017 at 10:03 am

Fifty Years

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Coinciding with our usual 4th of July celebrations up at our lake place this year is a gala weekend recognizing the 50th anniversary of the community we call Wildwood Lodge Club. It’s like taking the most awesome event of the year and turning it up to eleven. No, make that twelve.

The brief history is that in 1966, one man spearheaded an effort to enlist a group to chip in and buy an old fishing lodge. The membership has changed a little bit over the years, with Cyndie’s family joining in 1969. The current 7 families decided to celebrate this year’s milestone by inviting everyone they could find who had ever been a member to come up for this holiday weekend.

DSCN4899eIt was a brilliant idea and the last two days have been more fun that we imagined possible.

I enjoyed a little milestone of my own at the start of the day by getting back on my bike just a week after the Tour of Minnesota. Last year after the ride, I hung my bike on a hook in the shop and didn’t get around to riding it again for the rest of the summer.

Cyndie’s brother, Ben, enticed me to bring my road bike up this year so we could get out for a ride together. It was a gorgeous morning and we made the most of it with an easy breeze through some of the beautiful lakes and woods of northern Wisconsin.

DSCN4903eBack at Wildwood, we cooled off with a dip in the lake before the rest of the families and guests started their big day at the beach. For this special weekend, some extra floatation toys were added. They were well-used all day long.

 In the evening, we gathered at the lodge for a brat and corn feast highlighted by a slide show and videos that overflowed with memories of the last 50 years.

It was informative and confirming for me to hear from some of the past members who spoke about what this place means to them still, long after their families moved on from the association.

DSCN4908eAs beautiful as this lake property is, it is the people of the member families, and the community they have created, that truly set this apart as a spectacularly incredible thing. I have always known it was special, but it is possible to take it for granted over time.

Celebrating a milestone like a 50th anniversary serves to remind and reorient me to the magic I fell into when I became a part of Cyndie’s amazing family and this special place.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2016 at 8:40 am

Rest Day

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Sunday was certainly a day of rest for me yesterday, after having ridden so many miles on Saturday. I took a most luscious nap in the middle of the day. My eyes just didn’t want to be open, so I gave them some rest. The rest of me followed suit.

After my nap, I revved up to do the tiniest of chores. I was able to mow the overgrown trails in the woods, because it has dried up lately just enough I was able to drive on it without getting stuck. I wound new line on the spool for the trimmer in the cool shade of the shop. I stood with the horses while Cyndie tended a scrape on Legacy’s front leg.

I also ate a few extra calories, to make sure my body had more than enough to regenerate itself. Visions of the week of biking that lies ahead next month.

Will I be ready? I think I already am, despite having been on my bike only twice so far this season. Must be all that pitch fork work and hill walking I do around Wintervale that has allowed me to stay fit.

Rich Gordon snapped a photo of this athlete in action…

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I wasn’t hurting too much yet!

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2016 at 6:00 am

Road Shots

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I may be home and back to the old grind (have I mentioned that I returned to the old day-job a while back?), but my mind is still lingering on the bike trip. Here are some images from this year’s trip that keep going through my head…

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2015 at 6:00 am