Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just A Little Trip: Part II

Barns With Jason, (and Ben!)
I awoke in a chilly room on Monday morning in Northfield, Minnesota and readied myself for what was supposed to be one of the Jason/Ben gravel rides out of Farmington, Minnesota. Ben hadn't gotten up yet, so I sat down and read an old "Adventure Journal" by Salsa Cycles which had a reference to an old GTDRI in it. I hadn't ever known of the existence of this tiny pamphlet before, but it was cool to run across it. It was good inspiration for the day.

Ben did emerge from his slumber and we took off to go get some grub at The Tavern restaurant in downtown Northfield. I had the Tavern Special, as did Ben. Good grub for a day of gravel grinding should include bacon, so I had that with my meal! After this, we headed to Farmington to, (where else!), a coffee shop to hook up with Jason. (The same Jason I post barns for.) We caught up on a few things, then we hit the road. 

Things had indeed started out chilly, but were warming up quite nicely, and there was nary a cloud to be found in the bright blue sky of the morning. It doesn't get much better than it was that day!

Jason was in charge of navigation, and he was steering us over toward "U-More", which is an interesting area owned by the University of Minnesota and has the ruins of an old WWII facility on its grounds, not to mention many fantastic double track roads and gravel.

But before we got there we went through many tree lined roads near the Vermillion Wildlife Area which were really awesome to behold in the dappled sunlight. I didn't keep track, but I think we spotted at least 4 big hawks in this area which were close enough to really get a good look at.

You could tell you were riding amongst good friends, as Jason and Ben were chatting up a storm as we motored along at 15-17 mph. This area is kind of odd in that you have what seems like miles of dead flat road and then suddenly you find yourself grunting against the onset of rollers with steep slopes that appear out of nowhere. Added with the frequent turns in the tree lined grid of roads and it was almost bewildering to me as I wasn't really paying attention to where we were going for the first several miles.

An example of the ruins on U-More land
We were merrily riding along with little regard to time or purpose until Jason started to become a bit concerned about a potential missed turn. It turned out he was a bit premature in his anticipation of the somewhat hidden turnoff, since we eventually came upon it.

It turned out to be an old service road of some sort, paved in a narrow cement with weeds rising in ever higher ranks on either side. In the shadows and riot of wilderness one could spy the ruins of what, none of us could fathom. They were rather odd structures from the WWII era. Surely someone knows of their past purpose, but at any rate, it remains a mystery to me. I imagine a moonlit night ride would feel a bit spooky out here!

After this we found some of the old route of the original Fargo Adventure Ride. Then they were dirt two track, but now they are gravel. Jason told us that the U of M is to make the area a "model community" featuring sustainable solutions for living. It seems all that gravel and dirt two track is destined to be paved at some point, which only made this ride more special to my mind.

Stay tuned for Part III tomorrow.


Tom said...


Guitar Ted said...

@Tom: Thanks for that informative link.