Local Photographer
Ariel Bracken


View Past Columns Here


Bike Rides 104
One S’more Over The Line

Summer is officially here, not so much based on the calendar and certainly not the weather, but the fact that my neighbor Hank and I have kicked off summer weekend night bike rides. Recently we were invited out to a favorite friend’s country place north of town 10 miles for a bonfire, s’mores and of course fireworks.

The ride started off kind of late, as this spring’s daily rainstorm decided to start when we were launching from my house. Once the rain delay was officially lifted we didn’t get far down the road before Hank’s bike started making a clicking noise that gradually seemed to be getting louder. After a thorough inspection we couldn’t pinpoint the cause and, though noisy, the bike was functioning properly so we tuned in the Twins’ game on the radio to drown out the annoyance and forged ahead.

A few miles later a growing headwind from the north started adding a burn to our legs, so we took a rest before reaching Lansing. Here the batteries in the speaker faded and then died. Hank’s eyes looked how I felt and I think we both were possibly regretting the decision to start the long ride so late. Speechless and rolling again we were left with only the rhythm of the growing click from Hank’s drive-train, now nearly elevated to the level of a clack.

The last mile of our route turned us up 218 North and the Chateau Speedway let out as race fans started flooding the highway just ahead of us. Race fans usually jacked-up on adrenaline from the high-speed contest in the first place can be dangerous or at least less courteous drivers. We said a Hail Mary put our heads down and sprinted quickly toward the smoke visibly drifting from our friend’s fire, soon close enough to smell, and then close enough to see the flame, and then we were finally there.

All woes on the way out were quickly forgotten. There was a group of friendly kids eager to greet us, some of them familiar, some not. I became popular really fast when I broke out a Ziplock sandwich baggie crammed full of over-sized “Campfire” marshmallows.

Later, our approval numbers spiked again when Hank and I snuck away to set of a supply of Roman Candles and colorful rockets. The surprise element of a fireworks show really adds to the experience for any crowd, but especially the young.

I don’t mess around when it comes to pyrotechnics. I smuggle a crap-ton of high test arsenal across the Minnesota South Dakota border a couple times a summer. I’m pretty sure I could hold my own against NATO for a few days if necessary. But even I wasn’t prepared for the McDaddy finale’ about to be laid out.

“Redneck Party” was the name of the top dollar, top-shelf, Mich Golden Light 15 pack sized firework we saved for the end of the night. Man did that package provide a show. Multiple cylinders firing exploding mortar high into the damp June night air for a cathartic release I haven’t felt since they cut the cast off my broken right hand back in the fourth grade. This WMD really lit the place up, and instantly Hank and I achieved rock-star status, getting thumbs up and high fives from the enthusiastic, appreciative crowd. That firework, as my friend Mr. Hardy put it, was indeed for church.

When the kids, intoxicated with s’mores and activity, started passing out one-by-one, we said our goodnights and headed for the bikes. In the garage I hopped on an 18 inch girl’s bike with training wheels for a victory lap in the driveway to the delight of the remaining guests around the fire, especially one self described soccer mom who seemed convinced this was actually my bike. Then, with impeccable timing Hank came out turning circles on a 16 inch boy’s bike, his knees rising to his ears with each revolution of the pedals.

The ride home was much more enjoyable than the ride out. Our friends had supplied us with fresh batteries for the speaker and we shuffled the iPod with a custom Hank Mix of music. With a slight breeze on our backs and our fuel tanks full of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers, we made quick work of the ten mile ride home.

Though it was late, I lay awake for awhile, reflecting on our first real summer night ride of 2011 and how fun the party was. I thought about how we struggled on the ride out, with one pesky problem after another, and how relieved I was to overcome them.

The record still stands, I thought to myself just before slipping into dreamland; I’ve never regretted taking a bike ride.

Traffic Tip: Enjoy your Independence Day celebration my fellow Americans; still the best holiday ever.


View Past Columns Here

Buy the books!

Email Me!



Copyright 2011 Lyon Communications

Website design by Hick Chick Designs