Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Munger Trail Almost-Century


This past weekend some friends and I attempted our last bike ride of the season before retiring our bikes for the winter. This adventure took us to the Willard Munger Trail north of the cities. And other than a few bumps in the road it was a spectacular day. You almost couldn't ask for better.

The south-most trail head, in Hinckley, is the closest point of the trail to the cities and that's about a 1.5 hour drive on clear days — and days where 35W isn't torn to shreds between the Crosstown and downtown Minneapolis. Lucky for me I got to take the scenic route to Hinckley which also turned out to be the long way.

No matter. After the little detour on Hiawatha I got a chance to hop back on 35W and resume the day. It's a good thing I left at 6:00 or else traffic may be bad. One observation I did make on the drive north was on the southbound lane. I noticed the highway had been reduced to one lane but that didn't bother me. I wasn't on that side of the highway. And at that time of day it didn't even cross my mind that I'd be on that side of the highway coming back.

At about 7:30 I reached Hinckley and just before getting off the highway I got a txt from Elizabetsy Brownderstone: "Just getting on the road!"

"Hmmm..." I thought. Interesting txt. Especially since they live in St. Paul which is NOT a 30 minute drive in as much as it's an 80 minute drive. Long story short, I had the opportunity to visit with a few friends who did show up on time while waiting for the others. At the end of the day this turned out to be a good thing because it would have been too darn cold to ride at 8:00. The frost was melting in the sun and as it dripped off the low hanging signs I knew this was all for the greater good.

When everyone arrived we quickly got everything together and hit the trail.

Because of the odd fall, we didn't have a brilliant display of colors like I had hoped but it was still beautiful in its own sense. There was still plenty of fall colors to see along the way. Plus, the rivers we crossed added to the natural beauty all around us.

The only problem I had on the bike was a slight failure of equipment. As it turns out, my shoe booties and biking gloves are not as windproof as they bill themselves to be. Luckily my brother-from-another-mother Karl came to the rescue with 1¢ sandwich bags for my feet and toes. I kid you not. I wore sandwich bags in my shoes and over my gloves and they provided more warmth and protection than the $45 gloves and $50 shoe booties. Needless to say, those got promptly returned.

The rest of the ride was pretty straight forward. Only Elizabetsy and I made it 40 miles out and back for an 80 mile round trip. But honestly I think everyone else came with the idea they'd do 25 out and back for 50 total. Regardless of the distance and despite the fact that no one made the full 100 miles, we all had a blast. As far as I'm concerned that alone made the ride a complete success. Quality time with friends far outweighs any illusion of an arbitrary goal set for a fun ride. The only "goal" should be to have fun.

When everyone was done we headed over to Tobies for some post ride recovery and it was home from there.

Oh, I almost forgot. The ride home. Well, turns out traffic is much more dense in the evenings. Especially on the weekends and especially in the direction of a city. Any sort of a biker's high I had going into that drive was completely ruined by that horrid traffic. But I lived and am ready to fight another day.

Here's the ride we did. The next time I take this trail on it's Duluth or bust.

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