Bicycling and a lake = a perfect summer combination

Tuesday morning we packed up our bicycles, a credit card, and a change of clothing, drove northwest 180 miles to Akeley, Minnesota where we met a friend, and started riding the Heartland State Trail. This trail was one of the very first rail-to-trail projects in the United States. We had about 15 drops of rain as we began our ride east to the town of Walker. After a lunch stop we connected with the Paul Bunyan State Trail, turning northwest. And as luck would have it we were being pushed along by a southeast wind and accompanied by overcast skies to keep the summer heat at bay. After 42 miles of riding through fields, forests, and remnants of logging and railroad towns we arrived in Bemidji. Sleep came easily after the fresh-air, exercise, and a delightful dinner on a patio overlooking Lake Bemidji.

The next morning we woke to a dark-cloud sky, winds gusting from the south and southwest, and whitecaps rolling over the lake surface. There was no one along the beach except the gulls and geese. The sun would break through the clouds, but the wind continued to howl. We took our time before getting back on our bikes, waiting for the winds to shift again, which they did, now blowing from the northwest – perfect for pushing us the 42 miles back on the trails to where we started in Akeley.

It was a great two-day adventure. There were stories told and laughs shared amongst the three of us as the miles passed by under our bike tires. The scenery was beautiful, the trails were good, the bicycling was invigorating, and the people we met along the way were delightful — a perfect way to take in summer in northern Minnesota.

Nebraska from a bicycle seat

We recently spent a week bicycling across Nebraska with the BRAN (Bicycle Ride across Nebraska).  It was a wonderful adventure filled with amazing scenery, a diverse topography, the most genial and friendly people, and sunshine!  We started in Chadron (west side of the state) and ended in Fremont (east side of the state).  Our 400+ miles of  travel took us through the Sandhills of Nebraska, fields of corn in the agricultural area, and the rolling hills of the eastern side as we were closer to the rivers.  The flooding the state has dealt with this spring was evident as we saw washouts along the Elkhorn River and standing water in so many fields.  We are appreciative of the people who welcomed us in their towns and were so generous with their Nebraskan hospitality.  To me, a bicycle ride is the perfect way to see and appreciate the landscape, terrain, and people — it’s as upclose an experience as you can get on a journey along highways and biways.

Bicycling through Wisconsin

We just got back from a 425 mile ride along the Wisconsin River, starting in the northeast corner of Wisconsin in Eagle River and ending in Prairie du Chien.  For seven days, we got to experience the beauty of the state –  from the lakes and woods in the north, to the agriculture and dairies, to the bluffs and the hills of the southwest.  What none of us were ready for was six days of riding in the rain.  Although it didn’t rain entire days, each day necessitated rain jackets and rain gear.  And after five consecutive wet days, this was the scene overnight in Baraboo –  shoes and clothes lined up on a gym floor hoping to dry out before morning.  But as luck would have it, it wasn’t really necessary because we woke to rain again on the sixth day.  Because of all the rain and storms, the Wisconsin River was over its banks and was roaring downstream –  an amazing sight to see.  The seventh day, our final day of riding, dawned with sunshine and blue sky.  Needless to say,  it was a treat to finish our ride without rain.

Fall is in the air

Fall in the air 20150909_185659 StaatsThe winds have been from the south, bringing warm and summer-like temperatures into Minnesota.  But the days are shorter and nature is anticipating the change of seasons into fall.  Some of the trees have started the change in colors – a glorious outburst to the beauty of nature and autumn.  I was riding my bicycle on the Gateway Trail yesterday.   The sunshine was warm and I was breaking a sweat but the air didn’t have the fresh green smell of summer.  The path was littered with dried leaves that had already fallen, and they crackled as my bike tires ran over them —  reminding me of being a child and using clothespins to attach playing cards to my bike so they would snap through the spokes.  The sound was delightful and I found myself swerving to ride through the leaves on the trail.  Change is in the air.

Bicycling again

Bicycling the Gateway Trail cp074731_StaatsAfter an unusually long hibernation, our bicycles have come out of storage and onto the roads and trails again.  Although the bikes adjust quickly, it takes a bit longer for us to get our riding legs back in condition.  We enjoyed two rides this weekend on the Gateway Trail.  Minnesota has wonderful biking and recreation trails, and the Gateway is one of my favorites.  This trail wanders from downtown Saint Paul, through the city, into the suburbs, and then out into the countryside passing farms, fields, lakes, and wetlands.  The trail has numerous  bridges that go over the main streets and roads, making it much safer for riders and drivers.  Built on an old railroad bed, it was the perfect trail for us to help acclimate back to riding form.  The weekend was a great reminder of how much I enjoy being on a bike, taking in the sounds and smells around me, and reveling in the trail and the physical exercise.