Saturday, November 14, 2015

On Riding, Writing and Sitting Still

I'm on a writing retreat at the Anderson Center in Red Wing and took a break from my writing yesterday and this morning to get out and ride the Cannon Valley Trail. The CVT parallels the Anderson Center's property and to get to the trail I only need to bike a few blocks down a hill. I simply can't resist  riding the trail when I'm here! The CVT is my favorite bike trail and although I've ridden it many, many times, I never get tired of riding the trail or the beauty that surrounds it.

With the leaves gone from the trees, I expected the scenery along the trail would be somewhat bland. But I was wrong. I spent most of my rides simply taking in the beauty along the trail. The sun shining through the bare trees. The green moss on rocks and fallen logs. The brown leaves covering the hillsides and carpeting the woodsy floor.

On my ride to the Welch trailhead this morning, I noticed a newly constructed Marshall Memorial Rest Area alongside the trail. On my way back through, I decided to stop and check it out. I'm glad I did! There are benches alongside Belle Creek and a walking path down to the water. It's a beautiful little spot.

Normally, I don't sit still very well but I felt compelled to lean my Vaya up against the bench and sit still for a bit to breathe in the fresh air and listen to the sounds of the creek flowing next to me. I probably sat for only 10 minutes but I felt so refreshed after my little break that it felt like I stayed much longer.

Had I know about the lovely spot, I would have packed a book or my journal, made a cup of coffee (I now carry a little stove, pot and coffee on my Vaya so I can make a cup of coffee at any time) and planned to sit and read or write all morning. But I wasn't prepared to stay and it was time to head back for lunch and my writing. "Next time," I promised myself. Then I got back on my Vaya and pedaled my way back to my writing retreat home away from home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Milltown's Bikepacking Event - a recap

Owen and I have done some bike packing of the "credit card travel" variety where we slept in hotels instead of camping. We like credit card travel but want to branch out and actually go bike packing for "real" where we carry tents and sleeping bags and all. But, since our camping experience are mostly limited to camping with our families when we were children, and our most recent tent camping experience was, let's just say, rather stressful, we know we have plenty to learn.

We have many questions about bike packing from "What's a bivvy sack?" to "How do we carry all of our equipment on our bikes?" So we were super excited to learn that Milltown Cycles was offering a bike packing "how-to" event for beginners.

The event sounded perfect for us so I signed Owen and I up right away. I also decided to bring our kids, Rose and Ryan, because they've been wanting to go camping for some time and actually have more recent camping experience than Owen and I do.

We were not disappointed! The bike packing event was great fun and we learned a ton.

Here's what happened....

Last Friday, we packed up all of our camping gear (some on loan to us from one of my Northfield Women's Gravel Crushers friends, Katy) and drove to River Bend Nature Center where the event was to be held. We arrived a few minutes late but found our way to the outdoor amphitheater where a nice bonfire and the event's speakers waiting to teach us all about bike packing.
Awesome bonfire
The evening started with a great talk by bike packing guru, Dave. Dave works for Quality Bike Products and has an extensive knowledge of what kinds of gear to use and how to pack it on your bike.  Dave's talk was informative and fun. He had his fully packed Salsa Fargo on hand so we could see what a bike all set up for bike packing looks like. Dave answered all of our questions and was super helpful. Dave keeps a blog where he shares information about bike packing. Find it at: www.bikepackingdave.wordpress.com.

Bikepacking Dave and his fully loaded Salsa Fargo
A shot of Dave's Salsa Fargo
After Dave's talk, we gathered around the campfire while local coffee roaster, Cody of Stoke Coffee, brewed up a cup of coffee for us and taught us all sorts of things about making great coffee while we're out bike packing. We all got to try the coffee Cody made and asked some questions - Cody knows his coffee! Cody's coffee roasting business, Stoke Coffee, is local and he sells his beans online, at farmer's markets and at our local co-op, Just Foods.
Ryan is taking in all that Cody from Stoke Coffee has to tell us
about making coffee (Ryan likes coffee)
Then we started roasting hot dogs over the bonfire and Curtis from Milltown made up three different kinds of camp food from Mountain House for us to try. He made it all on a little MSR camp stove. I've never had dehydrated camp food - actually, I haven't had much of any kind of camp food - and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted!

Well fed and full of information, we were all getting tired so we trekked back to the camping area and set up our tents with aid of headlamps and flashlights. Bikepacking Dave stuck around until we were set to call it a night. I think he might have been amused at how uncoordinated my family was at setting up a tent but we managed much better than the last time our family went camping! Rose, who backpacked for a week in Montana, is our most experienced tent-setter-upper so she directed Owen on how to set up the tent. I mostly observed because I think that "too many cooks spoil the broth" saying must apply to setting up tents, too, so I figured I'd do the most good out of the way. Once the tent was up, Ryan and I got our sleeping bags set up and things arranged inside the tent.
Our camp
Dave headed for home, we said our "good-nights" to the other campers (four others stayed the night) and soon it was time to go to sleep. It got down to the mid-30s that night but we stayed pretty warm and slept well.
Rose and Ryan - all tuckered out
In the morning, we all gathered for a breakfast of donuts, juice and meat sticks and I broke out my little Esbit pocket stove and made some coffee. Milltown had great giveaways of bike packing equipment for those who attended the event and we were lucky to win two travel pillows, a first aid kit, and a super cool Nemo sleeping pad that I think Owen will take with him on the Tour Divide next summer.
Rose is delighted with the handy packable first aid kit
Ryan shows us that the Nemo sleeping pad is so small and lightweight
he can easily carry it over his shoulder.
After breakfast, we packed up our tents, chatted a bit, loaded up our vehicles and talked some more. All too soon, it was time to head on home.

Thanks, Milltown, for hosting such a wonderful event. We learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and now feel better prepared to go on bike packing adventures and on car camping trips with the family. Good thing because Rose and Ryan are already asking when we can go camping again!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ride a Century? Done!

On Saturday, I completed a goal I've had for quite some time - I completed a century ride on my Salsa Vaya!

100 miles - Done!
I'm proud of what I did - I'm getting kinda teary-eyed thinking about that moment when I realized I rode my bike for 100 miles! You see, a century ride is something that I never though I could do when I started bicycling six years ago. It's not something I thought I could do earlier this summer, even. But rides like the Box of Frogs, Riotgrravel and my bike packing trip have made me feel stronger both physically and mentally. As the summer progressed, my century ride thinking morphed from "Hey, I think I can do a century" to "When I do a century I'll ride my Vaya" (it's my most comfortable bike) to "I'm going to do a century this fall."

I rode my bike to train but I think the most important thing I did to get ready for this century ride is this - I told myself I could do it and started to believe I could, in fact, pedal my bike for 100 miles.

The best memories of the ride were the many short chats I had with people along the trail. I found that talking to people and hearing their stories energized me and kept me going. I'm going to write a blog post about that in the next day or two.

I could recap the ride in great detail for you but, frankly, most of what happened is I pedaled my bike for a VERY long time - just over nine hours.

There's more to it than that, of course, so if you're interested, read on for more info.

**************

Overall, my body felt strong and my spirits were up most of the way. I was glad to have my husband, Owen, along for company. Owen's ridden several centuries before so knew what to expect and could remind me to focus on the miles accomplished instead of the miles to go. He's also great to talk to and good conversation really helps me keep my mind off of pedaling.

We had a gorgeous day for a ride - mid 70s, sunny, not much wind. For much of the ride I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the roads and trail. At times, the ride was boring. I had points when I was really tired. I hummed when I got a bit too tired and talked to myself sometimes, too. One thing I said to myself was "Little circles. Just make little circles." because my bicycling friend, Kate, told me to remember that all I have to do to finish the ride is keep moving my feet in little circles.


Physically my butt got kinda sore but I expected that. Nothing else really hurt during the ride - not for long periods of time, anyway. Both of my feet felt numb sometimes. My wrists got a little sore and so did my shoulders. I was pretty tired the day after the ride but not very sore at all. It's three days after the ride now and I'd say I've completely recovered.

My Vaya outperforms the Mukluk Owen was riding when it comes to speed so Owen had to work harder to keep up with his heavier bike. There were a few times when I had to slow down for Owen. That doesn't happen often (Owen's a fast rider) so it felt kinda good to be the speedy one for a change :-)  


Stats:

  • Ride start at 8:08 a.m. (about an hour later than we should have, given how much I stop to talk to people)
  • Finished riding at about 8:20 p.m. (we had lights so were visible and could see where we were going)
  • Total moving time - 9 hours, 9 minutes, 7 seconds
  • Average speed - 11.0 mph (faster than the 10 mph I planned for)
Equipment:

  • I rode my Salsa Vaya 2
  • Owen rode his Salsa Mukluk 2 making this his first fat bike century
The Ride:
  • About 40 miles in, I was tired and wondered if I could make it but also knew I was stuck at that point
  • After the 50 mile mark (and a great lunch in Hutchinson) I was feeling pretty good and knew I would make it back. Still, I would occasionally worry that I would fall off my bike or something and not make it
  • We rode about a 12 mile stretch of gravel between Silver Lake and Lester Prairie. That might have been the hardest part of the ride but it was also really pretty out there on the country roads
  • I found it was NOT helpful to look at my odometer because it seemed to move way too slowly. Some of those miles felt super long 
  • I learned to celebrate the miles I had completed instead of focusing on how many miles I had left to do
  • Every 10 miles Owen and I cheered! I did switch this up and counted remaining miles after about mile 80, though
  • 80 miles was a point where I was just getting sick of riding my bike and wanted to eat chocolate
  • I realized when I was about .5 miles from our van that I was only at 97 miles so Owen and I rode back on the trail for a mile plus so I could get my 100 miles
  • I cried when I hit 100 miles - because I was happy. Overwhelmed. Amazed. Proud. Done!

The Route:

My main goal for this century was to make this a relatively "easy" ride so I could build confidence and convince myself to do an organized gravel century down the road. With that in mind, Owen created a mixed-surface ride that was mostly on bike trails. We avoided a lot of wind this way, had shade much of the time and also felt very safe not having to deal with traffic. We were super glad to be on trails at the end of the day because we finished the ride in the dark.

Here's where we rode - We parked the van at Wayzata Bay then road streets north a bit to pick up the crushed limestone Luce Line Trail. About 25 miles in, around Winstead, the limestone changed over to freshly paved tar. We stayed on the Luce Line all the way to Hutchinson. At Hutchinson, after a lunch break, we took the Luce Line back to Silver Lake rode gravel to Lester Prairie where we stopped for water and snacks. At Lester Prairie we picked the Dakota Rail Trail (limestone for a short bit then paved the rest of the way) back to Wayzata.

Until next time!





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Coffee and Hammock Adventure

It's raining this afternoon so my mind is going back to last week when the weather was perfect and I went on a perfect bike ride adventure.

Last Wednesday, my friend Katy and I headed out for a bike ride from Northfield to Caron Park. Caron Park is a county park located about 8 miles south of Northfield. The route to Caron started out with a killer hill (called Question Mark Hill by the locals) and there are a lot of other hilly portions on the route as well. We managed to ride them all, though, and found our way to Caron Park.
Crushing gravel on the way to Caron Park
Zippy, my Salsa Vaya leaning on the Caron park sign
One of our plans for the ride was to have an adventure coffee like we did on our Coffee Outside Ride. I was out of fuel for my little Esbit pocket stove so Katy packed a one burner camping stove in a backpack so we could have coffee outside. First, though, we had to find an ideal location. Katy knew of a waterfall in the park so we set off on some single track (created and maintained by the local mountain bike club - CROCT - The Cannon River Offroad Cycling & Trails club). The trail was fabulous if a bit slick from a recent rain and leaf cover. Our skinnyish tired gravel bikes made for slow going and we walked portions of the trail which greatly lowered our overall average speed for the day but that just doesn't matter. Speed be damned. We were having fun!
Katy on the trail
Myrna on the trail 
We got to the end of the single track and still hadn't found the waterfall so we headed down another part of the trail system and soon found ourselves by a creek and beautiful waterfall. We walked our bikes across the creek and set up for coffee. Ah, I'm feeling relaxed just thinking about it.
The Waterfall in Caron Park
Our bikes leaning up against a bank by the creek
We made our coffee and then Katy, all smiles, said "I have a surprise for you!" I had no idea what sort of surprise Katy could possibly have. "I brought hammocks!" she said.
#adventurecoffee
#coffeeoutside 
She was right, I was surprised - and delighted - at the prospect of hanging out in hammocks that afternoon because we had talked about setting up hammocks the last time we rode. The thing is, I don't have a hammock or really any idea of how to tie even tie one in a tree. But Katy's husband is somewhat of a hammock guro so she has access to many a hammock and knows the ropes (ha! pun!) of how set one up.

Katy took two hammocks out of her backpack and some rope and gave me a little lesson in how to pick a good hammock spot and how to get a hammock all set up. We put two hammocks side by side right next to the creek. After a bit of time getting comfortable sitting sideways in the hammock (I even managed to drink my coffee sitting there), I figured out how to get comfortable laying back. Katy did the same.
Drinking my coffee in the hammock
Hanging out in the hammocks
I'm not that good at relaxing. But that afternoon I just layed back in a hammock and Katy and I talked and rested and talked for I don't know how long. Time didn't seem to matter anymore. The fact that I had writing work waiting for me at home didn't matter, either. Instead, I soaked up the scenery. The sun shining through the trees. The sound of the water flowing over the little falls. I discovered that I was able to really be in the moment and forget about about my to-do lists back home. I truly relaxed!
My view
Katy's view
All too soon, we realized we'd better get back on the road or the kids would get home from school before we made it back to town. So we packed up our coffee things and hammocks, hiked with our bikes back up the trail then set off for the ride home.

The ride home was over way too quickly and the reality of getting back to the to-do list of the day set in once we got off our bikes. Yet, the memory an ordinary bike that turned into a grand adventure has stayed with me and even today when it's raining I remember the fun we had on our adventure bike ride.

Let's hope I can conjure up memories of laying in a hammock in the sunshine once winter sets in. Come to think of it, there's no reason I can't go for a ride, make coffee and lie out in a hammock in the middle of winter. Hmmm, I think I've got another goal!

**Thanks to Katy for sharing not just coffee and hammocks but several pictures for this blog post as well!!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Prepping for a Century

About a month ago when Owen and I were on our bike packing trip, I decided I'd like to do a century ride. I've long wanted to do a century ride but have been somewhat intimidated by, well, riding 100 miles all at once. On top of that, a lot of the organized century rides are pretty challenging. But Owen came up with a century ride idea that sounded good to me so I'm going to give it a go!

Owen came up with a hundred mile route that is all on bike trails, most of them crushed limestone. I'll ride my comfortable Salsa Vaya and Owen will ride his Salsa Mukluk. Owen has done a half a dozen century rides before (he completed one yesterday as part of his ten ride personal road biking challenge) but he's never ridden a century on a fat bike. So we'll both be doing something new - I'll do my first century and Owen will do his first fat bike century.

The route will be fairly easy to ride and I plan to stop a lot along the way to rest and drink coffee (I do that on most every ride no matter the length!). Still, the ride will be an amazing challenge. We're planning to do the ride, weather permitting, in two weeks which means that I have to get out on my bike and put in some miles so I'm ready for the ride!

So I went for a 13 mile ride today. It was a mostly gravel route and my pace was a bit faster than my normal gravel average of about 10 mph. The day was nearly perfect for a ride, albeit a bit warm at 82 degrees with a headwind for much of the route. Still, the ride today was a reminder of why I like riding gravel so much.

There were few cars. The gravel today was dry and the majority of the asphalt smooth. I could hear crickets chirping in the fields. Saw dozens of grasshoppers hopping across my path. Heard the rustling of the wind through the corn and the sound of my tires on the gravel. I noticed how beautiful the corn and soybeans are now that they are turning from green to yellowish brown. I noticed the coming of fall. The sun on my face and the breeze blowing past me as I pedaled on my way.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Coffee Outside Ride!

It's been a goal of mine for quite some time to actually have an "adventure coffee" bike ride. Many of my bicycling friends post pictures on Instagram with the hash tags of #coffeeoutside and #adventurecoffee and it always looked like a fun thing to do but I didn't even have a suitable pot in which to boil water let alone know the first thing about what sort of equipment I might need. So, I talked to some of my bicycling friends, most notably Michael L. and Christopher T., to ask them what I needed to get set up to make coffee outside and come up with some suitable gravel bike routes to ideal coffee break locations.

I discovered that the little Esbit pocket stove my son Ryan has would work well enough for a stove. I still needed a pot and a coffee making system of some sort so I went to Milltown Cycles last week and talked to Curtis about getting set up to make coffee outside.

Curtis was very helpful and I ended up purchasing a nice little GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Soloist system and a Ultralight Java Drip cone filter. The Pinnacle Soloist system includes a pot with strainer lid that also works as a cup lid, a cup/bowl, a "foon" (spoon & fork combined) and a carrying case. The filter clips right onto a cup (it's made to clip onto the cup included with the Pinnacle Soloist system but will work on any cup/mug) and uses a drip method for brewing coffee. Curtis said I could use #2 paper filters for the coffee if I wanted or go without a filter.
I had all of my equipment - all I needed to do was get out and ride!

Well today was a good day for a ride! The weather was absolutely perfect for riding and Katy was free to go and so was Sara (Sara is new to riding with our Northfield Women's Gravel Chasers group).  I packed up my coffee making gear this morning and made sure to remember matches and coffee because I wouldn't have much success without a way to light my stove or coffee to brew! All of my coffee gear - my stove, the coffee filter, the coffee, matches etc. - fit right into the little pot and the pot fit into my handy Revelate Pika bag with tons of room to spare.

We planned to meet at Katy's house and ride and head south to Caron Park at 10:30. But plans changed last minute (life happens) and we ended up short on time so we decided to ride north to Waterford instead. Our ride was going to be a short one, but adventure can happen no matter the distance you ride if you have the right mind-set. Excited, I hopped on my Salsa Vaya and Katy, Sara and I headed out for our first ever adventure coffee ride!

About 5 miles out, at the Waterford iron bridge, we went offroading a bit to get to a suitable spot for our coffee break. We rode on a nearly hidden trail, hidden because the weeds were so high, and had to push our bikes through the trees.
Katy making the most of our adventure through the trees.
Within a few minutes we found a sandy little spot along the Cannon River with a log to sit on, lots of shade and nice view of the Waterford bridge - a perfect place to make coffee.
Sara and Katy at our coffee break location
It took me a couple of tries to get the pocket stove fuel lit (the fuel is a little solid block that fits into the stove perfectly) but once I got it going the fuel burned well.

I poured some water from a bike bottle into my pot and set it on the stove to boil. In about 5 minutes the water was hot enough to make coffee so I poured it over the grounds in my little JavaDrip filter and moments later had a great cup of coffee to share with my friends!
Katy enjoys coffee outside 
Couldn't ask for a lovelier location for our adventure coffee
We had a nice little break there by the river. In addition to coffee, I packed some meat sticks and chocolate and Sara brought some zucchini muffins to share. We sat and talked and shared a cup of coffee and snacks, a mini-lunch of sorts. It may not sound that exciting - but I'll say this - there's something really wonderful about making a cup of coffee outside and enjoying it by the river with your friends. It's like that simple cup of coffee transformed from a normal cup of joe to the best cup of coffee ever. Close enough, anyway. It certainly was wonderful and I'm already looking forward to my next cup of coffee outside!

Thanks, Katy and Sara, for going on an adventure coffee bike ride with me and for encouraging me as I figured out how to make my stove and all of my new gear work.

Next up? At some point I want to get a hammock then ride out to make coffee and then take a post-coffee break nap in the woods!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meandering Sunday Morning

Today I am thankful for gravel girlfriends and meandering bike rides.

I met up with Katy and Joy this morning at about 9:00 for a gravel ride. Katy had not had coffee because her husband, who was camping with their two kids, had the French press. So our ride started with a short hop to downtown Northfield where we enjoyed a cup of coffee at Goodbye Blue Monday. 

After coffee, we headed out on a Strava bike route that we had ridden before. Even though we had a set route, we were liberal with how we followed it and made a detour within the first few miles to take a picture of our bikes on Waterford Bridge.
Waterford Bridge
It's important to take pictures of your bike leaning up against things. It really is.
Then we rode on and meandered around the country on a perfect Sunday morning. We rode with speed at times and at a slower pace at other times. We took pictures, especially of Joy and her new bike - Pixie Duster.
Joy on her new bike, a Twin Six named "Pixie Duster." I'm in the background on "Zippy"
We talked. We stopped at times to check our route. We stopped once because a wasp stung me (ouch). We enjoyed the scenery. We laughed. We smiled. We had a good time.
Katy and Joy crushing gravel
Life doesn't get much better than this, I think. Wonderful riding companions. About 20 miles of good gravel. A gorgeous Sunday morning. Yeah. Life is most excellent. I am one lucky gal.
 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bikepacking Trip Wrap up

Our bike packing trip is complete and now, three weeks later, I'm finally getting around to writing up what is probably my last blog post about the trip.

The first thing to address is the big question - do we want to go bike packing again? 

The answer? Yes! We definitely want to do more bike packing and include camping into future adventures. Bucket list routes include (but are not limited to) the Katy Trail in Missouri and the Elroy Sparta Trail in Wisconsin.

Secondly, a big Thank you is in order to the good people of Milltown Cycles, aka Milltown Premium Adventure Goods for equipping us with our bikes, our seat bags and for fielding lots and lots of questions about bike packing.

Now here's our bike packing wrap-up report with info on equipment, weather, coffee and other stats! Not interested in bike packing? Well, this might be kinda dry stuff so you might want to skip down to the bottom to the Coffee section of this post and call it a day.

Bikes: Owen rode his 2013 Salsa Mukluk 2 fatbike. I rode my 2013 Salsa Vaya 2. Both bikes worked well and were well-suited for the task. Since the Mukluk is a bit slow compared to the Vaya, Owen will likely switch over to a bike other than his fatbike for future trips.

Bikes fully loaded along the Gandy Dancer Trail
Dates: Departed Shell Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday evening, August 2nd. Arrived back in Shell Lake on Wednesday, August 5th

Milage: 169.2 miles.

Our Route:

  • Day 1 - County Road B from Shell Lake to Siren, Wisconsin.
  • Day 2 - The Gandy Dancer Trail from Siren to Danbury then all the way south to Luck, WI
  • Day 3 - Luck, WI south to St. Croix Falls then back north to Siren via The Gandy Dancer Trail
  • Day 4 - Siren back to Shell Lake, WI via County Road B
Gandy Dancer Trail Conditions: Trail conditions were excellent overall while we were on the bike-specific portion of the Gandy Dancer. As mentioned before, once we hit the ATV portion of the trail in Danbury, all bets were off for biking. Trail conditions were much better in Burnett County than in Polk County. In fact, we could see a distinct difference in trail conditions at the county line on the trail. The trail in Polk County was mossy in parts and there were also some deep sandy stretches where I had to get off my bike and walk for about a dozen feet. Not ideal.
The Gandy Dancer Trail in Burnett County
The Gandy Dancer Trail in Polk County

Mossy trail in Polk County
Weather: We had the great fortune of having great weather each day of our trip. Temps were in the mid 70s to low 80s at midday. The humidity was low. We could have biked another day but decided to reward ourselves with a day of sightseeing and relaxing before we needed to be at our son, Ryan's, Trumpet Workshop concert on Thursday evening (While we were biking, Ryan was attending a Trumpet Workshop camp at Shell Lake Center for the Arts in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. Rose was at a Korean language camp near Bemidji). Good thing we decided not to bike on Thursday because the day turned out to be overcast and it ended up raining like crazy.

Bug report: We were prepared to deal with mosquitos and packed plenty of bug spray but found bugs to be almost a non-issue on the trip. Owen did get stung on the first day but a wasp or something and I had a small bug fly into my face and sting me. Neither sting turned out to be an issue, though.

Weight (of the bikes and stuff, not of the people):
Since we did not carry sleeping bags, a tent or cook food along the way, our luggage and equipment didn't weigh much. Fully loaded, both of our bikes were easy to ride. We could tell we had some extra weight behind us in our seat bags but never felt that the full bags made for more difficult going.

We probably should have weighed our equipment before we left but kinda forgot to. So we pulled our bike bags off our bikes when we got home and weighed them to see how much weight we carried. We factored in weight for the water (two bottles each) and snacks we carried and were pleasantly surprised at how light our bikes were when fully loaded.

Owen's packed bags weighed in at 16 pounds
My bags weighed in at 11 pounds

I'm not sure what "normal" is as far as weight goes but I do know that when people go on long bike packing trips they'll carry considerably more than we did.

Bags:

Owen carried a Bontrager handlebar bag, a Banjo Brothers medium frame bag, a Revelate Mountain Feed Bag and a Revelate Viscacha seat bag.

I carried a small handlebar bag (not sure of the brand), a Revelate Pika seat bag and a Bontrager "Pro Speed Box" bag on my top tube near my handlebars.

Overpacking? Yep. A bit. Both Owen and I felt we could have left some stuff behind and would have been just fine.
Here are some overpacking examples:
  • We had two 4 oz. tubes of sunscreen but could have managed with one.
  • Owen also packed his swimsuit (not sure why, I guess I mentioned swimming at some point) and had three shirts when he just needed one.
  • We both packed a second jersey and could have managed with one.
  • We had jackets and used them but didn't end up needing the tiny rain ponchos we packed.
  • I packed a tiny bit of makeup (BB cream and eyeliner) but by the end of the really didn't care if my skin looked all even toned or not. Normally, I'm a bit self conscious about going out without makeup but at the end of the day I was just like, "hey, I rode my bike all day and I feel great so therefore I look great and if you don't like how I look I really don't care."
What we wished we had packed: 
  • I thought I would be able to get shampoo at hotels along the way. That wasn't always the case. So I wish I had packed a small container of shampoo.
  • I also wish I would have packed a small tube of lotion.
  • Duct Tape. I almost bought some to patch up the cleat attachment holes on the bottom of my shoes because lots of sand snuck in the holes. I also just like duct tape.
Coffee:

I think bike rides are always better when you stop for coffee. I prefer a whole-milk latte and Owen likes a basic black coffee. We found two super excellent coffee shops along the Gandy Dancer Trail that are worth mentioning (there are likely other good coffee shops, too, but these are two we found). Both of these shops are within a block of the bike trail.

Fresh Start Coffee Roasters in Webster, Wisconsin: Great coffee. Yummy treats. Nice decor. Art for sale including great photography.
Cafe Wren in Luck, Wisconsin: Great coffee. Yummy treats. Excellent lunch food. Super nice deck/patio. Art for sale. Cool biking glasses for sale.

Well, that's it for our Gandy Dancer bikepacking trip wrap up report.

I'll report in with more bike adventure related news soon!



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to Day 3 - Bike packing adventure

It's coming on two weeks since Owen and I went on our bike packing trip so I figured I'd better get back to writing about day 3 as I promised to do in my last post.

We started Day 3 in Luck, Wisconsin with super weather once again. Owen and I keep thinking we'll get going early but it was about 9:00 a.m. by the time we had breakfast, packed up and were on the trail again. We headed south on the Gandy Dancer Trail for St. Croix Falls, an easy 15 mile ride and found our way through some city trails to downtown St. Croix Falls.

Owen wanted to see the falls, so we took some pictures then found a little coffee shop, Coffee Time, and had lunch. They were busy and we had to wait awhile for our order, but the two women working there were so sweet and the food quite good so it was well worth the wait.
St. Croix Falls
We wanted to stop at Cyclova, a bike shop a couple of doors down from Coffee Time, but were bummed to discover that they were closed on Tuesdays. We looked in the window instead and saw what appeared to be a good line up bikes including bikes from Salsa Cycles like the Salsa Vaya and Mukluk Owen and I were riding.

We decided to head back north on the trail but first we wanted to find the actual beginning of the Gandy Dancer Trail so we could say we'd ridden the entire bike friendly portion of the trail. We would our way around a bit and found the trail's beginning and took a couple of pictures then headed back north.
I'm about to ride onto the southmost start point of the Gandy Dancer Trail
Our ride north back to Siren was good and uneventful other than there are a few soft spots on the trail that almost caused me to wipe out. The soft spots occurred when the trail crossed roads and also at the exit of a short tunnel. After skidding about a bit in a couple of places, I got smart and got off my bike and walked through the soft spots.

On our way back to Siren, Owen and I stopped for coffee at a bike friendly cafe called Cafe Wren. It's right at the side of the trail just north of Luck and we had spotted it the day before and decided we needed to make it a destination. Very glad we did as it's my kind of cafe! Good coffee and snacks, bike parking, artwork from local artists and a huge outdoor seating area. We actually stopped back at Cafe Wren for lunch with Ryan on our drive back home - in part so I could buy some Luck, Wisconsin bicycle pint glasses they sold there.

Owen out on the patio at Cafe Wren
Luck, Wisconsin pint glass from Cafe Wren
After Cafe Wren, well, it was more and more pedaling. We stopped in Milltown Wisconsin to take a picture for our friends at Milltown Cycles (the shop where we purchased our Salsa bikes and a whole bunch of other things) then pedaled on until we made it to Siren, Wisconsin.
Milltown, Wisconsin
There, we checked in at The Lodge at Crooked Lake (we would have stayed at the Pinewood Motel again but it was full), cleaned up and walked across the lot to Adventures Restaurant for dinner. We walked around Siren a bit and over to Crooked Lake then settled in for the evening.

And with that, Day 3 was done.

Stats for Day 3
  • 53.6 miles
  • 5 hours 28 minutes moving time
  • 9.8 mph average speed