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Bike Rides 109
Earth to Dan: BOOM!
Early in November the evening news blew their first winter storm
forecast of the year.
Consequently I’d left my bike home
while on a three night business trip to Chaska, MN. The day of
the “storm” actually turned out to be the nicest day
of the week. Left horseless, I seized the opportunity to take
a little hike down a scenic unpaved state trail I’ve been
eyeing for some time along the Minnesota River.
I’ve ridden my mountain bike along
many sections of this vast waterway, reveling in her humbling
presence and beauty from Mankato to Bloomington. But today I was
striking out in an unfamiliar direction.
I walked/jogged/ran for about two miles
with nary a sign of humanity except the occasional candy bar wrapper
stepped into the dirt. The trail never strayed much from the river
so it was easy to keep but this didn’t prevent me from getting
lost in deep thought under the sun’s warm endorphin-producing
It’s perhaps times like this that
we’re the most vulnerable to surprise. It takes a lot for
me, the youngest of four children, to drop my guard. I’ve
been conditioned to believe all my life someone has been lurking
behind the next corner just waiting for the opportunity to jump
out and scream “BOO!” I wouldn’t call myself
paranoid but certainly guarded at least.
Nevertheless, the rare soothing warmth
of the November sun cascading down my hoodie was the perfect recipe
for deep-dish daydreaming. While my body was on cruise control
my mind was hurling through space at the speed of sunlight a million
miles from people, cars, houses, or other such earthly objects.
And then there was this:
Microsoft Word does not offer a font big
enough, even with caps lock, bold and three exclamation points,
to accurately describe in writing the titanic explosion that suddenly
occurred certainly within a city block of where I was standing.
It wasn’t a stray deer hunter’s
rifle shot or an errant firework launched out-of-season. It was
the type of planetary rumba dance which can best be described
as perhaps replicating the instantaneous and shocking thunder
offered by a lightning bolt if it were to strike directly say…
between your eyes.
This was a detonation with intent to destroy.
Something very near me, for better or worse, with or without malice,
by the grace of God, a military unit or perhaps hostile space-invading
Martians for all I knew at this point, had been blown to smithereens.
The sudden, immense blast sent me crouching
to the ground, scanning the landscape with half-squinted eyes
like John Rambo, focusing for battle clues leaked by the always
When my heart’s BPM went back below
red-line I continued walking; but now my mind and my feet were
decidedly focused. I wasn’t about to drop my guard again
until I could identify the source of the epic disruption.
Around the curve, in the distance I saw
a small crowd gathering on the other side of the river, looking
down into the water at whatever probably caused the atomic blast.
A little further and I figured I could see the destruction for
myself, so I ran a couple hundred feet to the river’s edge.
At last the great mystery was resolved
as I discovered a crew had just blown a massive concrete column
out of an abandon train bridge to kingdom come.
A pile of concrete rocks spread about the
river was all that was left of this once noble structure which
had supported hundreds of tons of freight cars on her back for
decades, with all the dependability, strength, and longevity of
Later I researched the blast on the internet
and discovered that over 100 pounds of explosives were necessary
to drop the relic structure.
I even found a video of the implosion shot
from ground level and up-close on YouTube and posted it at dansbikerides.com
for all to see. Turn your speakers up and you may get a taste
of the blast so shocking and awe-ing no one from Gutenburg to
Gates could develop type adequate enough to describe it.
While you’re at dansbikerides.com
check out the books “The Ride Begins” and “Let’s
Do This Thing”. They make a truly unique, organic and local
gift for anyone who enjoys a good, short read. Plus, you can finish
your Christmas shopping at home without having to stand in line
exchanging warning elbows with your fellow shoppers.
Books can also be purchased at The Coffee
House on Main, The Rose Pedaler, Piggy Blues BBQ, or Rydjor Bike
Shop. They really do make a great gift for anyone who grew up
in Austin. And guys, they are so easy to wrap.
Traffic Tip: Time for
winter riding rules: Short bursts separated by brief breaks to
avoid overheating or overcooling.
Photo courtesy of Mark Halverson. Mark actually worked for the
railroad and had the opportunity to cross this bridge many times
in the past.
of Railroad Bridge Implosion
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