This weekend, Minneapolis shattered the record high of 59 degrees for 66 degrees. With advance warning of fine weather, and the disappointment of lack of funds for $500 plane ticket to Arizona, Road Pixie and GearBob saddled up for a 200k.
This route, known in the permanent sphere as Delano-Henderson-Chaska, is about to become a 200k brevet called Cry Me A River. I renamed it after the RBA said my route names were boring; the route has significant stretches along two of the rivers west and south of Minneapolis, the Minnesota and the Crow. Both have some major wildlife to be found and this trip did not disappoint.
Our departure time of 7:30 am was marred by the fact that the YesMart, though finally open, is still vacillating with respect to hours. This weeks hours started at 8 instead of 7. Rats! We started along the way and stopped at the first place on the route that was open, the Depot Coffee Shop. The Depot is run as a non-profit and is located in an old train depot about a mile from the start. Also being on the Midtown Greenway and Cedar Lake Bike Trails makes it a biking mecca of sorts. It was already somewhat crowded. With the forecast so good, we were not the only ones itching to be outside.
Of course, when the weather giveth, the weather also taketh away. Our take away was a 15 mph headwind for the first 50 miles. This sort of thing is always the sort of thing that makes me take leave of my sense and over do it during the first half hour. It was already in the high 40s and all that excitement just came flowing out of my legs (along with the majority of the sugar in my liver). The first 50 miles of the permanent has no controls (I don't believe in having controls to force people to stop and assess themselves, they are there to prevent shortcuts) and lots of hills. After the fog-fest, it was nice to be able to actually see the roads too. GearBob and I had some more interesting conversation on the subject of frame geometry and fitting. During the previous ride, GearBob was on his trusty Surly Long Haul Trucker with many lights, a full front handlebar bag and the works. This time, he was on a carbon fiber Look frame with almost no extra space/bags and no lights. This meant "must finish before dark". I did have some extra lights just in case, but I had to gulp since the Princess was full of stuff and probably weighed 35 lbs. I must have been on crack when I packed it too, I had 3 pair of gloves for a ride with a forecast in the 60s. I had a feeling that this ride might be really challenging - GearBob finished PBP 17 hours faster than I did ....
So it was a slog to Henderson. I was partially bonked after about 90 minutes and started downing honey stinger gels. Might have also been the intravenous immunotherapy I had the previous day too, but my quads wanted to cramp and when we rolled into Henderson, I think both of us were ready for it. I was also burning up, we had had to stop twice to shed clothes on the way down. Four and a half hours to go 50 miles total; it sort of reminded me of the Titanic 400k, only without the sleet storm at the end. But the good news was that we had made it to south most point, for the rest of the day, the strong SW wind would be helpful.
So we chowed on a bunch of food. I ate everything that looked even remotely good. Looking back, that should have included bananas. Henderson is a really neat town, it looks pretty much the same as it did in 1920. It even has a pharmacy with a real soda fountain. At this point, we shed more clothes and I regretted wearing knickers; I was to be hot for the rest of the day. As we rolled out towards Green Isle, I thought how unfathomable it was to be riding in short sleeves and shorts in mid-March in Minnesota (our normal average is usually about 35 degrees). My thermometer soared up to 70. GearBob went into hydration mode; I continued to feel bonked but kept up.
At Green Isle, I was going to have chocolate milk, but decided to go for the outlandish and had a Klondike Ice Cream Bar. Now I have truly been in a parallel universe: short sleeves, shorts, AND ice cream in Minnesota in mid-March. Off we went for the next 35 mile sprint to Delano.
This went very quickly with most of the really neat wildlife showing up. First, a flock of trumpeter swans swooped past, probably in search of a pond (which were melting quickly). Then the largest bald eagle flew alongside. GearBob speaks eagle (in the form of an odd whistle), I wondered if the eagle was impressed; I don't speak eagle so its hard to eavesdrop.
At Delano it was about 4:00 so we had gone the second 50 miles in about 3 hours instead of 5. Here the effects of the final big storm of the season were evident. It was about 10 degrees colder due to melting snow (the line of the storm had stopped just south of Delano), the streets were full of puddles and I was glad to have my skimpy fenders. Alas, Bob's carbon fiber speed bike left him with the dreaded cold water bath. The way back was the same as the 300k, but we could see it this time, another couple of weeks and things will be greening up.
We rolled into YesMart just as it got dark at about 6:30. It's nice to see the YesMart back in business. I can buy milk, energy bars and, if I so desire, a hookah, all in one place. That's called character!
I'm almost sad to see the winter go. This is the time of year when I get to ride with different people. Rides are much more social and less about needing to personally challenge yourself; just showing up is challenging enough. It will be interesting to see how many are riding this year. So much of last year was hype for PBP, I haven't heard nearly a peep from anyone about the fleche (only 2 months off). I suppose many may back off a bit to pay back the family for disappearing last year into the rabbit hole of training necessary for a 1200k. Of course, I have the Cascades to look forward to in less than 4 short months; let the training commence!