First day on the trails

Wednesday broke cool but clear for the team’s first day on the trails. Jay made sure everyone was fueled for the ride with a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon. 

After prepping each of the bikes for the ride ahead, and packing Jay’s snack break of sliced apples, oranges, and bananas, the riders took off for a planned 62 mile journey.

The plan for the day was to ride the Heartland Trail to Park Rapids, and back to the Mother Ship, followed by a 25 mile out and back. There was a west wind blowing 15 mph, but the riders were well sheltered riding through wooded trails. In the past, riders have often been plagued with occasional swarms of gnats; on this occasion the air was filled with aspen cotton, much like the sheddings from cottonwood trees. Along the way, every rider experienced discomfort coughing cotton or clearing it from their eyes. Fortunately, much of the cotton had been blown from the trees near the end of the ride, raising hope for a clear ride on Thursday.

There were interesting people met along the way. John and Jim met a young couple from California traveling with their 5 year-old son. The father quit his job and they set out with a pickup truck and camper on a seven month journey touring the country. Currently at the five month mark, having toured south and east all the way to Florida, up the east coast, then westward, they were now ready to head toward the Black Hills and on west.

Despite complaints of an ache here and there, sore butts, and cotton coughing, the riders completed the 62 mile journey at 6:15 pm. Considering they began riding at 10 am, it was somewhat off the mark of being a record pace.

Aches and pains were temporarily forgotten as the team settled in and enjoyed Jay’s dinner feast—steaks on the grill, salad, and a sliced potato/carrot dish prepared in his Dutch oven.

That evening they invited camp neighbor Jeff over to join in for a sample of Jay’s Dutch oven prepared dessert, Peach dump cake. Jeff pretty much dominated the evening conversation, telling, now retired, of his experiences as a shop teacher, school principal, and superintendent. Eventually talking of his hunting and fishing expeditions, we learned he once missed his sisters wedding because he blew a tire, with no spare, on his boat trailer. But all was resolved when he presented her with a 16 pound Walleye as a wedding gift, undoubtably an unforgettable present. 

It was lights out by 10 o’clock.  Despite a few mosquitos, it didn’t take long to fall sound asleep.