Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just A Little Trip: Part III

More two-track
Jason led us onward and I think that guy knows every stretch of two-track, minimum maintenance, and grass back road in the Dakota and Rice County vicinity.  At least he was stringing together a worthy ride of them on Monday.

He was telling Ben and I that we were going to try and ride to a road Jason thought I hadn't been on yet. We worked our way down some two-track and gravel that Jason reminded me I had been on last in 2010 on the Fargo Adventure Ride. I had a vague memory of some of it, and some was utterly foreign to me now, even though I believe Jason when he said I had been there before.

I can not stress enough how nice the day was. Low humidity, pleasant temperatures, light breezes, and abundant sunshine were the order of the day. How could you not want to just keep on pedaling? Ben was kind of egging Jason on in regard to his later plans and teasing him to stick with the bike riding, but Jason was adamant that he had a busy schedule later and could not ride for much longer.

Well, we still had that mysterious stretch of road to find yet, and we were miles from Farmington, so I wasn't too worried about things stopping too soon. 


Unfortunately, things changed abruptly not much afterward. Jason suggested a turn off onto some grassy two-track alongside a gravel road which went up a long, steady grade. I was third wheel, right behind Ben, when I noted a few branches in our path. As Ben hit these one of them went right up into his SRAM derailleur and whacked it into two bits while shearing the derailleur hangar. Ben tried to stop when he realized what was happening, but it was too late. Fortunately I was able to twitch my Fargo off his line enough to only brush his shoulder as I went by him to his right.

Okay, now we were in a pickle! Ben had to try to single speed his rig, but there was no good "magic" gear, and the attempt failed after only a few pedal strokes. Ben was beside himself with frustration, as you would imagine. Jason realized his plans were altered, not by a desire to ride more, but by a desire to help Ben out of the countryside. Me? Well, I was wondering how far we were going to have to push Ben back to town.

Ben thought he would scooter it back, or run for a bit, but that didn't take long to play itself out. Finally Jason convinced him we were going to push him all the way back to Farmington.

We got yer back Ben!
It had been 15 or 16 years ago, but I remember getting pushed out of Geo Wyth after whacking an XC Pro derailleur once. It isn't easy being the one getting pushed. You have to be really calm and stable on your bike, and you lose an amazing amount of stability when the chain is gone.

I was a pusher this time though, and Jason ended up taking Ben's right side while I pushed on the left side. Eventually we found pavement, which made the job easier, and what is more- the paved road had a generous, wide shoulder. Bonus!

We executed a perfect switch over- Jason trading sides with me, without skipping a beat and Ben never lost much momentum at all. It was almost like a Madison event. We laughed at what the drivers in cars and trucks must have thought as they saw three grown men in what looked like an embrace as we rode three abreast. Well, eventually we got about seven miles  of pushing in and we were back in Farmington once again.

Then it was decision time for us. What would the next few hours hold? Lunch plans were discussed, and possibilities weighed, but in the end, Jason had to get on a conference call, so Ben and I departed and went in search of Carter Lake and the Salsa Cycles demo that would take place later that day.

Lunch somewhere in South St. Paul
Ben was a bit off track when he suddenly slowed and said, "We're eating here!" It turned out he had also been a bit lost at one time with his wife, and they had happened upon this very same cafe.

Well, the grub was fantastic. I wish I could recommend you to this joint, but all I know was that I was in South Saint Paul, Minnesota.

It was really good hot ham and cheese though. You should eat there.

At any rate, then we went onward towards Carter Lake. After going round about due to a detour, we found the spot and we beat the Salsa demo truck there by about 20 minutes. Eventually we helped get them set up, and I did my business while Ben hung out and helped get folks set up for rides.

Ben and I finally bailed out of there by about 6-ish and promptly got turned around trying to leave the Twin Cities. After getting back on track, we then nearly got taken out by traffic three times before turning off the main highway onto a county blacktop headed back to Northfield. I pretty much left for home immediately upon our return from Carter Lake and did the three hour ride back to where I belong.

What a great getaway for a couple of days. It was fantastic to see friends again I rarely get to see, and I cherished each and every moment. Thanks to everyone, you know who you are!

For more on the bikes at the demo, stay tuned....

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