Riding the day away

Last week I took three solid days off of work. Wednesday and Thursday were easy days around the house, making art and doing house chores. When I went to bed Thursday night I told myself that Friday would be the day to ride. I had all day, the weather looked to be great and could go as far as I wanted. I woke up Friday, ate a banana, a muffin, chugged a glass of water and got on the bike. I had packed a few essentials with me—two granola bars and a banana and two bottles of water. “That oughtta do it,” I told myself. I don’t feel like I get too overly exhausted on the bike, so wouldn’t need much more than that.

From my house I took Skyline west all the way up and over Thompson Hill and then up and over Spirit Mountain to west Skyline where it turns to gravel and eventually meets Becks Road. This stretch on west Skyline was easily the most desolate, but beautiful part of the ride. The views are stunning from here and you feel like you are miles from anything. I can’t wait to ride here again. From Becks Road, I hopped onto the Munger Trail and rode all the way to Carlton. I decided to go a little further and explore more. My legs were feeling great and I wasn’t even a bit fatigued at this point. I turned around when the clock struck high noon, made my way back to Carlton and ate my granola bars.

From there I decided I could ride through Jay Cooke State Park via 210 and ride through Fond du Lac and back into town. I got part way through Jay Cooke and the road was blocked! I thought that maybe I could sneak through, but there were too many MN Power workers coming and going, so I decided to ditch my plan and rerouted myself back onto the Munger. I had finished all of my food back in Carlton, thinking that I could stop in Gary for some more goodies. With that plan now not in the works, I could feel myself getting run down. I knew I could make it home though and I just kept on going. From where the Munger starts, I dashed across Grand Avenue to behind the zoo and took the DWP trail through West Duluth. This is a new route that I will use from now on to avoid traffic on Grand. Bumps, puddles and big rocks to dodge make for an entertaining ride on the DWP. My helmet is a little big on me, so every bump I hit would make my helmet slide over my eyes.

I eventually made it to 40th Ave West/Haines Road. I stopped at the bottom of it to drink the last of my water. I was so close to home at this point. “Just have to make it up this gigantic hill,” I kept telling myself. My right knee started to tweak out on me at this point, so I hopped off the bike and pushed it all the way up Haines and boy was it HOT! Sweat was just pouring out of me. I had failed to put sunscreen on my arms and they were like lobster claws hanging onto the handlebars. Skyline finally appeared and I hopped back on the bike and made it back in about 15 minutes from there. I filled up on water immediately, took a shower and laid in my hammock for the remainder of the day. It was a purely epic ride that I want to make into a yearly, or more, pilgrimage. There’s just something about riding around on your bike all day that makes you feel awesome. 55 miles later and looking back, I feel like maybe I should have brought more food with…

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The St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park.

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Some timber beams getting loaded onto a train in Carlton.

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The view of the St. Louis River looking east from West Skyline.

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The famous swinging bridge. A beloved icon of Jay Cooke State Park.







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