It’s been a long time since I’ve posted to this blog.
I apologize for the gap.
One of the things that kept me away from this blog is my involvement in the topic of this blog – riding bikes.
It’s been tougher to do that during the past few weeks in west central Minnesota thanks to the weather.
I guess a milder than usual winter has left me a little too fussy about when it does rain or wind speed exceeds 10 or 12 mph – or when both those things happen at once.
That’s exactly what happened to my friend, Bob Hines, and I on Saturday.
We got rained on and blown all over the place.
We rode east out of Willmar on County Road 23 to County Road 4 where we headed north toward Diamond Lake.
At some point as we pedaled over a rolling, shoulder-less country road, gray skies and occasional drops escalated into a steady rain.
I don’t know if the temperature actually dropped or the wind picking up and the fact that we were wet just made us think it was colder.
“Looks like this will be our Ironman,” I said to Bob.
The Ironman is a ride held this time of year in Lakeville, Minn. It’s called Ironman because of the volatility of Minnesota weather this time of year. It’s held no matter what happens. For 45 years, riders have faced wind, rain and snow.
Bob and I rode it a few years ago. We rode 100 miles through wind and rain, but no snow.
When we rode the Ironman, we had our foul weather gear. In fact we went specifically to test some clothes for a ride we were doing a few months later in Colorado where, we were told, any kind of weather can happen at any time.
Last Saturday, however, the mild weather had lulled us into taking off without a lot of extra clothes.
Bob was wearing a windbreaker and I was wearing a vest, jersey and arm warmers and had a light raincoat in a vest pocket.
As we approached the county park on Diamond Lake, I noticed that, although the store wouldn’t be open for weeks, there was a fairly large dry spot under an overhang where we could take shelter for a while.
I headed straight for that spot. While Bob sat on a dry bench, I put my raincoat on over a wet jersey and under a wet vest. Then I pulled an attached rain cover out of its pocket to cover the gear bag I have mounted on my bike.
We ate granola bars and, reluctantly realizing that we’d just get colder if we stayed, rode away, continuing to head north on County 4.
As we approached County Road 10 near Green Lake, we began discussing whether we should ride around the lake or just take 10 into Spicer to ride the Glacial Lakes Trail back to Willmar.
At first Bob was all for the lake option. But, as we got closer to County 10, he announced that he could feel that he was getting colder and would probably be shivering soon.
We headed straight to Spicer.
By the time we arrived in Spicer, Bob was shivering.
We rode the trail into Willmar. It’s flat and the wind and rain had diminished by then so the ride home was relatively easy.
But Bob mentioned several times that all he needed was a hot shower.
When I arrived home – three hours and 35 miles after I left – I realized my bike needed a shower as badly as I did. It was covered with sand, grit and gravel. It was filthy.
I went over it with a spray bottle and a rag and lubed the chain.
This year’s Ironman was held the next day.
Bob, a railroad engineer, said he expected to be called into work later Saturday. It was my Sunday to work as well, so neither of us rode the Ironman this year.
I wasn’t expecting to ride at all Sunday, because it was still gray and drizzling after a night of thunder storms that kept shaking the house and dropped two to four inches of rain on the area.
But, at about 10 a.m., I looked out a window and saw it was clearing.
What the heck, I thought, I don’t have to be at work until around 3 p.m. I could ride for a couple hours. So I did.
If weather Sunday in Willmar was anything like weather in Lakeville, they should have staged the Ironman a day earlier this year.