Past Columns Here
Bike Rides 101
The Ride Continues
Well, we’re back at it. After a year and half hiatus my
Raleigh, iPod and laptop are ready to once again collectively
hit the road.
It was October 2009 when the last “Bike
Rides” column published, and subsequent second book “Let’s
Do This Thing” was released. Dedicated readers showed up
for an abbreviated tour of my hometown, Austin, Minnesota, in
celebration. We established ourselves at the Hormel Institute
and concluded the ride on Main Street, where we threw a book release
and signing party graciously hosted by Rydjor Bike Shop.
The family-friendly ride we tagged “Going
the Extra Mile” to help fight cancer. A portion of each
book sale was donated to cancer research. The group ride was preceded
by my first ever solo “Century” or 100-mile bike ride,
in celebration of the 100 columns I’d written. A hundred
of either isn’t a major feat for seasoned riders or writers.
But both tasks were fairly challenging for me, sporting a beat
up mountain bike and an old, slow, spyware-jacked Dell laptop.
But, we’ve had over a year to recover and that’s more
than enough, even for an aging urban mountain biker and hack writer
such as me.
I’ve done a lot of riding since then,
and there’s a veritable trove of stories that which will
go untold. But, after five years of riding together there was
a certain freedom to taking a ride again without the commitment
to document anything. But the breakup is over now and it’s
good to have you back for our first “make-up column”
together. From here I’ll be contributing monthly, every
I was in Sioux Falls recently on business
for what turned out to be about the only really nice day in March.
The sunny skies and the mid 60s temperature afforded me the opportunity
to experience the first unofficial spring ride. Two years ago
I remember inaugurating the season nearly a full month earlier
in Sioux Falls. This winter packed a heck of a first-round punch
in December and kept hitting through the late rounds, to the beginning
of April. March came in like a lion and went out like a Charlie
Sheen. I guess nature got tired of pretending not to be a rock
Last year following torrential rains the
Big Sioux River got a little cantankerous and jumped way out of
its banks, so much so that the urban sewage system was apparently
threatened. In desperation I guess the city actually purged millions
of gallons of raw sewage right down Suzy’s esophagus.
The native river was swelling fast again
this go-round, like a nasty mouse under the eye of The Ultimate
Fighter. The ice was breaking out of the water right before my
eyes and severely constricting water flow wherever it gathered.
I experienced a similar problem myself last year that landed me
in Mayo Clinic surgery. But I survived and so will the Sioux I
I’ve taken a lot of rides near rivers on the rise but none
were ever coming up this quickly. There were portions of the trail
covered in ice chunks, pushed up and over the banks by the force
of the swift flowing water.
Near the sewage plant, crews were taking
drastic, last-minute measures to fortify the premises like a Libyan
city under siege. I rode blankly through the no-fly zone, around
barricades, over huge drainage tubes, and around utility workers,
pretending like I belonged there all the while. It took me an
hour and a half to trek nine miles down to The Falls Park.
On the return ride, I discovered the river had rushed a low spot
in the park and the wild running Sioux had suddenly consumed the
trail. The path had literally disappeared under the water as far
ahead as I could see. With Interstate 229 to the north of me,
a raging mad river to the south and a quickly setting, early March
sun setting westerly, I had little choice but to forge on, right
through the murky, swirling water. Both feet submerged completely
in turns as I paddled through the current, before I finally discovered
a peninsula of muddy grass above water and pushed myself to dry
land from there. I slogged through the last couple miles slowly,
back to my hotel to warm and sterilize my tired body with a hot
It’s good to have you back.
Thanks for riding along.
Traffic Tip: Bikers and drivers should
always attempt to make eye contact with each other at stop lights
Past Columns Here