Sunday, September 28, 2008

No. 8

I had hoped Saturday's bike ride would be a cause for greater celebration, but it's not.

On Saturday I finished the Headwaters 100, a bike ride originating in Park Rapids, Minn.

It was my second stab at the bike ride, which has three different routes, one approximately 45 miles, another approximately 75 miles. Guess what the third route is.

This bike ride has been on my calendar since June, but things change, and had it been rainy and miserable on Saturday there was no chance I was going to bike 100 miles. Upon arrival in the Park Rapids area on Friday afternoon it started to ominous sign.

But the rain cleared out overnight and gave way to clear skies on Saturday. It was about 50 degrees when I started the ride at 8 a.m., better than I remember it being in 2002 when I previously tackled the Headwaters 100.

And the high temperature for the day was forecast in the upper I had little to complain about. The only drawback to the day: there was a decent breeze out of the north. But given a choice between Friday evening's weather and Saturday's weather, it was no contest.

And despite a breeze out of the north, the longest northerly stretch of my 100-mile ride was early in the day, which is always appreciated when you bicycle. If you're going to fight the wind, fight it early rather than late.

The ride is named for the state park north of Park Rapids, Itasca State Park. It's the home of Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Clever name, eh?

After about 30 miles the ride leads you into the park, where you loop around the lake on a 15-mile road before exiting and traveling through the rolling hills of the greater Park Rapids area, periodically passing other lakes. It's a bit challenging of a ride because of the rolling hills, but there aren't any killer climbs, so I can't complain about the route.

The final 12 miles are mostly flat, as the ride finishes on an old railroad bed trail. When I hit the rest stop at mile 88 I felt like I was already finished, because the last 12 miles were relatively easy, and I knew they would be.

While it was a bit cool through the morning hours, it was far from miserable. There was never any doubt I'd finish the 100-mile ride, unless a freak physical or mechanical breakdown sidelined me prior to the finish line, but that didn't happen.

I admired the fall colors occasionally, cursed the cool autumn air that kept my nose running most of the day and regretted that I would not be reaching my goal of 2,008 miles at the end of the day, as I was about 250 short at that point. It's no small task completing 100 miles in a day, and that's reason enough to celebrate, but I still have work to do, given the lackluster August and September I've had on the bicycle...due in large part to repeated mechanical problems. But that's another story for another jukebox.

Despite my less-than-ecstatic mood, it is the first year I have pushed myself to complete two century rides in one year. Why did I do it? Why will I push myself harder in 2009? I'm insane, and I'll go to my grave living that way. To paraphrase somebody I no longer speak to, or respect, conformity is one of the greatest disservices you can do to yourself. I botched the quote, but you get the idea.

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