Weather must always be considered when planning outdoor activities in Minnesota.
That’s an eternal truth … especially this year … especially on weekends.
I know I’ve complained before – and frequently – about weekend rain, storms and – in the not-too-distant future – snow.
But it amazes me when I look at the National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast, there will often be a string of days with icons and temperatures that are great or at least acceptable. Those days are usually called Monday through Friday.
Such series of sun icons are interrupted on Saturday, Sunday or both days with the symbols for rain, wind, thunderstorms and, in the past few days I’ve even seen the snow icon several times.
Weeks ago, I fooled myself into thinking I could plan a long weekend of cycling up several trails from Willmar to Fergus Falls.
I made hotel reservations and actually felt hopeful as this past weekend (Oct. 18 to 20) approached and the predictions were for partly cloudy with 10 to 20 percent chances of rain.
A few days before my friend, Bob Hines, and I were to depart, however, rain and snow icons began showing up on weather websites.
Thursday was so wet, windy and miserable, Bob and I decided to call off our plans.
But conditions looked pretty good Friday so we drove to Albany and rode the Lake Wobegon Regional Trail and the Soo Line Trail to Blanchard Dam on the Mississippi.
It wasn’t warm, but, with an extra layer of clothing, it was comfortable. We rode 58 miles and had a good time.
Feeling lucky, we decided to try the same thing Saturday.
Not a great idea.
As we loaded my bike on Bob’s truck, we were getting wet.
Rather than stopping at Albany, we continued on I-94 seeking some place up the road where it wasn’t raining.
As we approached Sauk Centre, the rain seemed to diminish.
Happy that we might have the opportunity to ride for at least a little while, we found a parking lot (there isn’t really a trail head for the Wobegon in Sauk Centre) and headed down the trail toward Alexandria.
A strong, cold head wind – occasionally accompanied by light rain – caused us to rethink pedaling 25 miles to Alex.
When we reached Osakis and saw on a trail map posted there that it was 11 more miles to Alex, we decided we’d done well enough, considering the weather, and pointed our bikes back toward Sauk Centre.
It was like sailing. Instead of struggling to go 7 or 8 mph, going 13 to 17 mph required hardly any effort at all.
When we arrived at Bob’s truck, we decided to continue to the next town on the trail, Freeport.
There were two things wrong with that plan.
First, the next community is Melrose.
Second, we could ride the wind there, but we’d have to fight it on the way back to Sauk Centre.
Eight miles later, we arrived in Melrose.
After a late lunch at a restaurant named Melrose Place, we had to confront the cold wind that awaited us on our ride back to Bob’s truck.
Maybe the rest and nourishment made a difference.
Maybe the wind had diminished slightly.
Maybe it was a little of both, but the ride back to Sauk Centre was much faster and easier than we thought it’d be.
We pedaled 45 miles Saturday. OK, it was 44.94 on my bike’s computer.