It was a perfect day, and a great ride. My aim was to ride the majority of the Root River Trail and thus put in about 85 miles for the day as part of my training for the crazy ride, Duluth and Back or Bust--2 Days, 150 per day, 300 miles total. So I set out from La Crescent, MN where I'm camping right now and headed out to Lanesboro. The drive alone was beautiful, stunning at times, and soon enough I reached one of my favorite cities in MN.
I got my things together and headed out for the first leg of the journey which would take me to Preston and Harmony, MN for a total of about 23 miles. Within five miles, I reached the turn toward Harmony and enjoyed one of the most scenic and idyllic paths in our fine state--it was truly amazing, and I was riding well. Although I still have a lot of getting into to shape to do, I'm starting to feel my old form again and this feels very good! About twelve or so miles into this stretch, the trail turned up significantly so that I had to get into my lowest gear just to keep moving. But soon enough I reached the top of the bluffs and enjoyed the rolling hills all the way into town.
Harmony is an interesting town--it was named when, in the midst of a town-wide fight, someone stood up and yelled, "What we need is some harmony around here!" Ironic. I also find it ironic, by the way, that one of the most amazing bike trails in Minnesota is in the heart of Amish country. A sea of spandex in the land of the Amish. Ironic. Be that as it may, I spent a few minutes at a little park at the trail head and then set out for the second leg of the journey from Harmony to Fountain. It was sure to be a fun ride!
The ride down the bluffs was very fast and truly exhilarating. It was one of the funnest stretches of road or trail I've experienced on a bike in a very long time. The trail is so steep and yet fairly thin, and thus though I was only traveling in the mid-30 mph range it felt like I was going 50! It was awesome. And the trail from the bottom of the steep section to the junction toward Fountain was fairly down-tilted as well, so again, this part of the ride was fast and exhilarating!
At the junction, I turned toward Fountain knowing that I had about 6.5 miles to go to get there. The first mile was a typical bike trail, fairly flat, but from there it tilted up and stayed tilted all the way to Fountain, except for one short, flatter section. The grade is only 2-3%, so it wasn't brutal, but it was consistent and persistent. I was a bit winded when I reached the top but still feeling good, so being 47 miles into the ride I decided to roll around the town a bit and see what's there. Not much, so I got going pretty quickly!
And again, I was pretty excited to roll out of town because I knew that I had a five or six mile decent ahead of me, and then good trail conditions from there back to Lanesboro. And indeed, the ride was very consistent and fairly fast and before I knew it, I had traveled the eleven miles back to town. I was sitting at 58 miles and that Pedal Pusher's Cafe looked awfully good, so I decided to stop in for a burger. And what a burger! Really, it was awesome and really hit the spot. After that, I stopped by the local coffee and ice cream shop for a drink which I enjoyed by the side of the trail. There I noticed a little bike shop and couldn't help peeking in--I really love bike shops, and this one didn't disappoint!
After about 30 minutes or so in town, I decided to hit the road and finish off the last 27 miles of the ride. The plan was to ride east to Peterson and then back to Lanesboro. And the first five miles of the were awesome, beautiful, inspiring, and fairly quick. But about one mile after the little town of Whalen, I came across a "Trail Closed" sign. It was not ambiguous! Turns out that one or two bridges had severe damage or washed out, and they were being replaced. Oh well, I was bummed, but what could I do?
So I headed back and came into Lanesboro just shy of 70 miles. My training plan called for me to do 75 miles this week, I was only going to do 85 because that was the distance it would take to get to Peterson and back, so I headed back down the trail for 2.5 miles and then just turned back toward town and came in at a cool 75.5 miles!
It was honestly one of the best rides I've ever had, and I would highly recommend this trail, and the town of Lanesboro. You've got to check it out sometime!
As I drove back to camp, I decided to stop by Peterson to see how much of the trail was closed and it turns out that only 9 miles of it was. The remaining 17.5 miles from Peterson to Houston, MN were still open, so I thought, "What the heck, since the weather will be good tomorrow, I'll come back and do this part of the trail, too.
So this morning, I headed out there again, and hit the trail around 10:30 a.m. Peterson is nowhere near so beautiful and idyllic as Lanesboro but it's a nice farming town, nonetheless. So I set out for the first leg of the journey, a quick 5 mile ride to Rushford. This section of the flat is nice but more like a typical bike trail as far as trail conditions and scenery go.
I stopped in Rushford just long enough to snap a few shots, and eat a banana, and then it was off toward Houston. I knew that I had some climbing ahead of me, and so I got all psyched up and hit the trail! The first seven or eight miles was actually pretty flat, and then it goes up just one fairly steep climb of only 0.5 mile or so. So it's not much, and then on the backside you get to bomb down what you just climbed up which, I must admit, was tons of fun! It was a steep and straight and wide downhill, which allowed me to pedal, tuck, and reach a pretty high speed.
In no time, I was in Houston where I found a little coffee shop and enjoyed a drink and a snack. It's an awesome little coffee shop called "Barista's Cafe," and if you're ever in the area you should stop by. Very quaint and pleasant.
After enjoying some time there, it was time to head back over the little bump and through the woods to Rushford I had to go! Once there, I made one more stop at "Jessie Street Java" and enjoyed a fresh fruit smoothie--oh it was so good, and again, I highly recommend this little place.
Feeling quite refreshed by the drink, and the AC, I headed out for the last five miles and set a nice pace at which I could move along fairly well but also enjoy the trail, the ride, the day. It was truly beautiful out, and for that I'm very grateful to the Lord.
So, two days, 111.6 miles. Normally that would be no big deal for me, but I started out pretty out of shape this year, and I'm still pretty out of shape, so I feel thrilled with both rides, with my developing form, and with the prospects of having a successful and enjoyable "Duluth and Back or Bust!" The plan is now to do some easy walking for a day or two and recover, after which I'll work out a little more intensely and look forward to my 85 mile ride next week which I plan to take in the Red Wing, MN area.
Thanks so much for reading this long blog, hope you all have a wonderful day!