Allen decided an epic bicycle ride from Mpls MN to Duluth MN in one day would be a great idea. I’m always interested in challenges, so I asked if it was ok for me to promote the idea to a bunch of athletes to see if anyone else might be up for it. It was planned for May 21st so weather is a bit iffy. I’ve been in snow storms in northern MN over Memorial Day weekend so you need to be prepared for just about anything. Plus, it is about 250 kilometers or 150 mile long bike ride. That’s a big ride no matter the weather.
As we closed in on the date, it looked like only Allen and me were up for the plan. Some adjustments were made, I would start from Duluth, Allen from Mpls, we would meet at a mid point town, Hinckley MN, have a big energizing feed and then ride to Duluth. Hinckley is almost exactly mid way in the route. A week or so before the ride, another team mate, Eric, decided he would meet us in Hinckley and with his wife, Grace, have lunch and then ride their tandem for about 10 miles with us. Great idea. That would give Allen and I a chance to regroup and take on the second half of the journey.
Here’s the bare facts: 244 kilometer long ride (151 miles) 13 hours in the saddle time, approx. 14.5 hours total start to finish (Time off at mid point for a big lunch) Ride start time, about 5:15 A.M., ride finish time, about 7:30 P.M. Average speed, 18.8 kph. Approximate calorie consumption, 9750! (Calories consumed all day, approx. 5000) and for those of you used to thinking about sport performance metrics this ride generated a 520 TSS score.
There is a lot more to this story, so be prepared for a bit of a read below.
I have to thank Allen B for this idea, if thanks is the right word for it. Over the past year during some small talk with Allen, he mentioned he wanted to ride a bike from Minneapolis, his home, to Duluth someday, all in one day. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is about 250 kilometers or 150 plus miles one way. For all but pro bike riders/racers that is a significant distance. For most bike riders a metric century, 60 miles or a 100-mile century is a goal to do maybe once a year, maybe only once in a lifetime. Anything over those distances starts to push the limits of most recreational cyclists. I’m not saying that lots of riders I’ve met don’t ride that far, they do. Crazy bunch they are.
I tend to like challenges that push my limits, plus I am planning to ride across Australia, August of 2022, so I need the long-distance training. It’s as much physical as it is a mental challenge, and this specific ride was high up on the mental challenge scale.
We really didn’t spend a lot of time with detail planning. We picked a date, 2nd to last weekend in May, Saturday, a basic route, and that was about all. I would drive to Duluth on Friday, do a light warm up ride, get to bed early because departure time needed to be about 5:00 A.M. This would be a LONG day in the saddle. I would ride south from Duluth to Hinckley, Allen would ride north from his home in Mpls to Hinckley. We could get a hearty lunch midday, relax a bit, and then ride north from Hinckley to Duluth, spend the night in Duluth and drive back in my car on Sunday.
All things clicked off as planned except the weather decided to not be as nice as predicted, of course. I doubt if the temp clocked over 50 degrees F, I got rained on about halfway to Hinckley. I’m not sure what Allen was thinking but I was a bit discouraged as I was dressed for the predicted weather not the actual weather. Lucky for me, a bout 2 hours before Hinckley I rode through the town of Moose Lake (This is rural northern MN, ya sure, ya bet cha) found an open store and purchased an additional insulating and rain protection layer, AHHH! It took probably 20 kilometers before I started to “warm” a bit and could unzip an inch or so.
After numerous, I think it’s just over that rise thoughts, Hinckley came into sight and there was Allen looking a bit worn. Eric and his wife Grace were also there. They planned a support role, have lunch with us and ride their tandem a way up the trail to see us off for the second half of the ride. That was good, I don’t know about Allen, but I needed a big feed, and the company and talk eased the anxiety of having to ride another 70-80 miles.
About 1.5 hours of break time and we were back on the bikes at a slow pace, Grace’s first ride outside this spring plus we just really didn’t need to overdo the pace. It was just passed noon so there was no pressure to get back to Duluth. Allen and I had all afternoon and as long into the night as we wanted.
About 10 miles or so up the Munger Trail, which is a great trail that runs from Hinckley to Duluth, Eric and Grace said goodbye and now there were two. My plan was to ride an easy pace, stop often for food/fueling to stay energized and just make sure we were successful. The weather didn’t improve any, it stayed cool, light wind mostly which was good, and the rains held off. We both were on the edge of being warm enough. Efforts like this, I find it helpful to ease up a some on the pace for a while and then my body tends to naturally build the pace back again until I notice a bit of fatigue again. It allows me to save the energy I need for the long distances. I’ll probably use the same technique in Australia. Stop for nature breaks as needed, pause for food regularly so as not to empty the tank prematurely. Keep drinking fluids, although at those temps my body seems to not need as many ounces of liquid. I think I only drank bout 4-5 liters total for the day.
The last 10 plus miles into Duluth is a rewarding downhill section and I think both Allen and I were quietly getting excited about a “finish” because our paced increased significantly, driving down the incline. I won’t say we set any records but with all the time in, we were quite quick for the last bit. Once down the slope, back into the actual town of Duluth, we wound our way through the city streets and eventually found our hotel. Just the two of us to relish the goal achieved, so we weren’t very boisterous but big smiles and hearty fist bumps.
Check back in, shower and off to find another healthy sized meal and a celebratory adult beverage, yes large size please!
As for me, no trouble getting to sleep once we got back to the hotel. Surprisingly, wide awake earlier than I would have thought.
Breakfast, or “breaky” in Australia and then a 3 plus hour drive back to Mpls, drop Allen off at home and then back home for me.
This ride is right up there with my longest 3-4 rides ever, a good way to build fitness, physically and mentally for almost 3000 miles of riding in Australia. My planned 100-mile century ride in mid-June now seems to be not so daunting. And yes, there is a lot more to the story that Allen and I can savor for a long time.
Whatever challenge or adventure in your future, take a chance and go for it, you won’t regret the effort no matter the outcome.
To your success.
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