Funnest Bike Ride Ever!

Here I am riding Bear following Ben in the RBNC. Photo ©Marty Larson

Last night I went on a super fun bike ride. I think it's safe to say it was my best bike ride ever. And by best bike ride I don't mean that I went a ton of miles, set a speed record or did anything that would be considered extraordinary among "good" bicyclists. By best I mean I laughed and smiled more than any other bike ride I've been on. By best I mean funnest. And I know funnest is not a real word but I don't really care because "funnest bike ride ever" seems to be the best way to sum up my ride last night.

What did I do on this funnest bike ride ever? Well Owen and I loaded up our fat bikes (Owen's Mukluk  2 and my Beargrease named Bear) and drove on down to Milltown Cycles in Faribault and joined in on a Tuesday Night Ride. Milltown has these rides on most Tuesdays. Sometimes they ride gravel. Sometimes roads. Sometimes they ride mountain and fat bikes in River Bend Nature Center (awesome place). Last night was a River Bend night. And boy am I glad I decided to go!

We had a good sized group of eleven riders (three women!) of various riding abilities from a guy who bought a mountain bike a week ago to people who do exceptionally well in bike races. On a lot of group rides "various riding abilities" means trouble - riders with less experience (slowish like me) get left behind or aren't even welcome to join in on a ride with fast riders - but not on this ride!

Here the experienced riders helped the newer riders. Faster riders would wait for the slower ones to catch up. No one was left behind. There were opportunities for the faster gals and guys to do some more difficult trails while others stuck to the easier trails but we always regrouped. And we always felt like a group and not like some riders were "better" than others even though they were indeed more skilled.

We started out riding a single track trail (that's a narrow trail) that was kind of difficult. I was totally unprepared and in a high gear and found myself going up a steep hill and came to a standstill and had to push my bike up the hill. That was a somewhat un-fun moment because my stopping meant the guys behind me had to stop (sorry guys!) but they were good-natured about it. The single track was challenging. We even rode through a stream with rocks and stuff (my feet got wet because I had to walk through it). Honestly, had I known we would be riding relatively difficult trails I might have stayed home but once we started there was really no turning back. And once we got going I really started to have fun!
Milltown's Tuesday Night Ride in the RBNC. Photo © Marty Larson
After the single track stretch we rode some double track (wide enough so you can ride side by side), some grass trails and even some paved trails before heading back to double and single track trails.
We rode around for about an hour and I was feeling pretty comfortable. I discovered that if I talk to the people while I'm riding I kind of forget that the trails are kind of difficult and I'm getting tired. I also discovered that the best thing to do on downhills is to laugh out loud and scream. Why? Because it's really fun to laugh out loud and scream when you're riding downhill (and it's a little bit scary so screaming made me feel better).

Along the ride one of the riders asked me if I am going to ride the Almanzo, a 100 mile gravel race on my new gravel bike (I bought a Vaya 2 from Milltown last week. More on that another time)  Let me say this, it felt so good that this guy, Ben, who raced the Tour Divide (that's a mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico. Ben did really, really, well, by the way) takes me seriously enough to ask me if I'm considering a 100 mile gravel ride. That's really cool!

I admitted to Ben that the thing that holds me back the most from riding the Almanzo is fear. There's the fear that I'll just completely not make it 100 miles but the bigger fear is that I will get a flat tire and find myself stuck not knowing how to fix it. The other Ben on our ride (the Ben who introduced me to fat bike riding and is also Milltown's owner) overheard me talking to Ben and said something like, "Myrna, you've got four bikes now and it's about time you got comfortable changing tires."  He's right, of course. I need to learn more about taking care of my bikes. I've been avoiding it in part because I just feel so overwhelmed with life and taking care of everyone and everything else that I'd much rather have someone else take care of my bikes. I mean, do I have to take care of everything?! It feels like it sometimes. And I just don't feel like I have enough leftover energy to learn something new. But I guess it's time I switch gears and learn.

Case in point - guess who had a flat tire about 15 minutes later? Me. Doh! I picked up a tiny thorn in my big fat tire and got a flat. Thankfully we were close to a road so could pull out of the woods and change the tire on gravel (fewer mosquitos than in the woods and more room). Thankfully Ben had a spare fat tube (uh, I wasn't exactly prepared and didn't have a spare. Neither did Owen. Double Doh!). And thankfully Ben was kind enough to talk me through how to change a tire and did most of the change himself (he will be getting a six-pack of beer from me as a thank you) and we were back on the trails in short order.
Coolest Picture Ever taken by Marty Larson on the Funnest Bike Ride Ever
The flat tire was an un-fun moment in this funnest ride ever - but no one complained about waiting while Ben changed my flat, or told me I was stupid for forgetting a tube, or made me feel bad (I can feel bad without any help, thank you very much) about not really knowing how to change my tire. It was getting late so we headed back towards Milltown. The flat was soon forgotten and soon I was smiling and laughing again.

Did I mention I rode through mud, some puddles and a couple more streams? And did I mention that I screamed a lot and laughed a ton? And that I could pedal up all but two of the big hills? And that by the end of the ride I was splattered with mud? And that we were out riding for about two hours and went 10 miles or so? And that this ride (even with a flat tire) was the funnest bike ride ever?

Yep. It was. It really was the funnest bike ride ever. And a lot of the reason it was fun was because fun people were on the ride. Thanks to all of the fun people who made me feel so welcome on Milltown's Tuesday Night Ride last night.

And thanks again, Ben, for changing my tire.

See the cool pictures in this post? They were taken by Marty Larson, a nice guy and darn good cyclist who is also the manager at Tandem Bagels (a bike-themed bagel shop!) in Northfield. Go there sometime and eat their food. You will be happy you did. You will be really happy if you eat a snickerdoodle cookie like I did today. It was yummy.

Coincidence? I don't think so! - Just today I discovered a post on the Salsa Cycles website that hit home with me and had some great advice. Click HERE to read Hey Ladies: First Steps to Confidence


Ben Oney said…
I'm glad you enjoyed the ride! This race would also be great as a first gravel race too:

My short, uninformative recap of that race, in case you're interested:

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