Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Goodbye Blue Monday Route

This past weekend felt like a whole week's worth of activity was compressed into three awesome days. While there were several highlights, the best cycling one was the gravel ride on Sunday morning with Ben Witt, his mechanic, Curtis, and Gnat.

The route was to be one of their favorite routes and would start in front of Goodbye Blue Monday, which is a great coffee shop in downtown Northfield, Minnesota. Since these guys have done this a bunch of times, I dubbed it the "Goodbye Blue Monday Route". It started and ended there, and that just seemed so right, it deserves that name. (Well, I thought so anyway!)

Gnat descending on gravel
The loop is about 25 or so miles, but as Ben says, not a single mile is wasted on uninteresting terrain. The roads were a bit more curvy and undulating than my typical routes.

We were clipping along at a pretty good rate too. Something I am not accustomed to, since I usually ride alone. The group dynamic would be a good thing for me, but my schedule, and my local community doesn't dovetail in with that sort of deal for me. Oh well! All the better reason to really enjoy this route then, eh?

Bluebird skies opened up as we approached Valley Grove. It was really a bit off the route, but since I had never been there, Ben and Gnat thought I should stop and check it out. So, we did. I sure am glad we did too! What a beautiful spot on a beautiful day. Following are some photos from this awesome spot.

From the road going by Valley Grove
Bike line up along the fence outside the grounds.
Ben and Gnat
Massively Ginormous Oak Tree
This oak tree, which is just so picturesque in its beauty, was struck by lightning some years ago. The folks surrounding the church wanted this oak saved, so it has cables and chains running every-which-way tying it together, since it was literally split down to the ground. Amazing! The tree continues to grow, and in fact, has grown around the chains a bit.

The view from under the Giant Oak
Curtis, (L), and Ben, (R)
Well, as all good rides should do, this one continued onward. We went over hill and dale, through cool valleys shrouded by the canopy of hardwoods lining either side of the road, and down narrow lanes lined by fences.

The weather, which had turned fine and hot by the time we reached Valley Grove, had become less brutal with the thin covering of clouds that came in for the second half of our ride. I was sure glad for that too, since I was on my first long-ish ride post knee bashing.

The gang back at Goodbye Blue Monday
Also, as all great rides should do, this one came to a close, right back where we started. We all sat down with another cuppa-joe, something nice to munch on, and had some great conversation.

It was so good to ride with these guys. I really enjoyed that part of Saturday, and I was just getting fired up.

The next task was getting some holes patched in the street to make ready for the Northfield Criterium, which Milltown Cycles sponsors/puts on. We worked with Ben's dad, Mark, and got some concrete mixed up, and we were rogue street patchers! Boy, did we ever get some looks from the locals. They didn't quite know what to think.

After this, we had some down time. We ate a great lunch at Ben's parent's house, then Mark and I went out to ride around in his classic cars. He has a '64 Vette coupe which we rode around in first. Stopped at the Stanton Airport for a bottle of soda from a vending machine, and then cruised to a lake and sat around on the shore soaking in rays. Then it was back for car #2.

That one was a '67 Mustang convertible. Mark even let me drive that one! What a great time. The throaty growl of a V8 is a great smile inducer, I don't car who you are! Then, Mark threw in a modern rig, and we drove his  Acura TL. Whoa! Super nice as well. That thing can flat out fly! (Cue "I Can't Drive 55", if you need a hint on what we did in that car!)

And there was more until it got late on Sunday evening. We had to shut it down, because Monday was the criterium.

And that's a whole 'nuther story!


Doug G said...

Sounds like a great weekend. Nice pics....I like the one of you all in a row in front of the coffee shop.

Unknown said...

Thank you for a great weekend Mark! We were really glad to have you up. The photos are gorgeous, and really sum up the ride well. We'll see you soon, take care sir!