A Week-Lengthy Bicycle Tour In Minnesota

by touring-bicycle

Probably the most wonderful factor about having written The Bicycle Touring Blueprint is that folks identical to you from all world wide take the knowledge supplied contained in the e book and use it to hit the highway on their very own bicycle touring adventures.

This week I’m interviewing Dan Pruitt from Minneapolis, Minnesota and asking him to share with you his experiences from his first long-distance bicycle tour within the state of Minnesota. Right here’s what he needed to say:

The place did you go in your bicycle tour and the way lengthy have been you on the highway?

This explicit bike journey was the primary stage of a bigger tour of which I conceived some thirty years in the past. Your complete idea is from Minneapolis, MN to Jackson, WY. The primary stage, which I talk about right here, is from Minneapolis to Pipestone Nationwide Monument in Southwestern Minnesota. I lined a complete of 272 miles in seven days. Solely 4 of these days have been journey days. I began the journey on June 3, 2012 and completed June 10, 2012.

Initially this primary stage was to take me to Vermillion State Rec. Space in Southeastern South Dakota, however for varied causes I wanted to shorten the journey. The main sights/stops alongside my route have been:

MN Valley State Rec Space – 40 mi SW of Minneapolis
The August Schell Brewery in New Ulm, MN
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, MN
Lake Shetek State Park (website of an 1862 Sioux Rebellion and Masacre) close to Currie, MN
Cut up Rock Creek State Park (10 mi SW of Pipestone, MN)
And Pipestone Nationwide Monument.

What was your greatest concern when planning or getting ready on your journey by bike? And the way precisely did you overcome that concern?

Whereas I do know it’s not the commonest reply to this query, discovering water had been my best concern. That will sound unusual coming from somebody dwelling within the “Land of 10,000 lakes, however it’s true.

One of many primary causes for this concern is that a lot of the safer routes to pedal don’t undergo cities. Secondly, regardless of the massive quantity of pure water in MN, the Southwestern portion of the state has the least of it and most of it’s in rivers (which aren’t that accessible). So, the answer was to plan the path to move via as many cities as potential. Not all cities have companies or parks the place water could be accessible. A bit of up entrance analysis into the communities via which I might move gave me an concept of what was accessible. The unlucky factor about this plan is that the cities principally happen on main roads which ends up in my second concern – being hit by a automobile.

The concern of being concerned in a collision was not unjustified. Lots of the roads I traveled on had little or no shoulder. Of the roads with a shoulder most have been slim and had rumble strips constructed into them which made it troublesome to remain out of the visitors lane and the gravel. On different roads, the shoulders have been in such poor form that it was simpler on the physique and bike to remain on the highway itself.

I used to be very nervous for a couple of 20 mile stretch on US 14 west of New Ulm as a result of I used to be compelled to trip within the visitors lane. This explicit stretch of freeway will get a good quantity of semi-truck visitors. Whereas the autos have been form sufficient to offer me area, loads of the time they have been passing me in no-passing zones. I might inform in numerous circumstances they virtually bought in accidents themselves due to me. Not a very good feeling. The one manner I might overcome this concern was to maintain a vigilant eye on what was developing behind me, get out out of manner when crucial and have religion that issues would work out.

What was the factor you appreciated MOST about your bicycle touring expertise?

The perfect factor about this journey that involves my thoughts is a brand new appreciation of the unimaginable panorama of my residence state and my nation. I’ve traveled to the northern forests and lakes of Minnesota many instances over time, however hardly ever do I go to the farm and prairie nation of Southwestern MN. Normally my travels on this path are by automotive, blowing by little cities and never taking a lot discover of them. Nevertheless, by bike you possibly can’t assist however discover them.

Additionally, as a lot as I really like lakes, forests and mountains, there’s a particular magnificence to the prairie and sure, even farms. One of the crucial stunning areas I handed via was the “Buffalo Ridge”. It is a geographic characteristic of SW MN that runs SE to NW from the Iowa border to NE South Dakota. The ridge is lined with wind generators for so far as the attention can see. The ridge rises about 400 ft above the encircling prairie and tops out round 1850 ft above sea stage. It might not sound spectacular however contemplating that a lot of the state is flat and about 1000 ft above sea stage it makes for an fascinating break within the topography.

What was the factor you appreciated LEAST about your bicycle touring expertise… and the way did you suppose that side of your travels could possibly be improved upon sooner or later?

Ache!!!!! Hand and wrist ache, sore kiester, numb privates and ft. As a lot as I loved the locations I visited on this journey, the vast majority of my ideas whereas using have been centered on my ache, why was I doing this to myself and can I make it. I’m positive it is a frequent sentiment.

There are a number of issues that I imagine will enhance the bodily discomfort I skilled. One of many primary issues I did since this journey was change my saddle. It’s undoubtedly an enchancment but it surely isn’t good (a visit I did only a few days in the past was to check this out). I went via a “bike becoming” a yr in the past however I believe extra changes are wanted. The clothes one wears additionally has an influence. Not all biking shorts and sneakers are created equal!! Good attire makes a distinction and takes experimenting and cash to get it proper.

I believe the principle factor I might do to enhance my bicycle touring expertise is to enhance my conditioning. I don’t truly try this a lot using. For the reason that time I bought my present trip, I’ve pedaled round 2000 miles over six years. That’s lower than 350 miles a yr. Using extra continuously would make an enormous distinction. Sadly, I don’t have that a lot free time to commit to it. Winter months in MN don’t assist both. I keep in cheap form over the winter as a result of I train alpine snowboarding, however snowboarding makes use of totally different muscle tissue and doesn’t contain sitting (at the very least not deliberately).

What one piece of data inside “The Bicycle Traveler’s Blueprint” helped you probably the most in planning, getting ready for, or executing your bicycle tour?

Your discussions about planning the journey backward have been most useful. Additionally the spreadsheet for planning the legs of my tour have been of maximum assist. Deciding the place to go and what you’ll do there makes planning a visit like this an entire lot simpler.

Whereas I’ve identified what I needed to do for years, making the choice to do it was the toughest half. Initially I began by taking a look at routes and have become overwhelmed by the precise distances and time concerned. How might I probably accomplish it? After studying your e book I made a decision to rethink my method and plan it backward. Additionally, as a result of I can’t realistically take the day off from my occupation to finish my bigger aim in a single shot, I’ve listened to the recommendation of a number of sources and damaged the journey into week-long chunks which might be simpler to handle and aren’t so daunting.

What are among the stuff you realized from this explicit bicycle tour?

I’ve all the time felt that retaining monitor of time distracts us from actually seeing the world as it’s. No different creature on the planet makes use of a watch nor do they appear to care about time aside from its time to eat or sleep or no matter their our bodies’ inform them. I discovered myself virtually obsessive about time whereas I rode. “Why is that this taking so lengthy to get there?”, “My god it’s 4 o’clock and I’ve nonetheless bought two hours of using in entrance of me!” These are simply a few of issues I might say to myself. I assume I’m extra tied to a clock than I care to confess.

I realized an amazing deal about Native American (particularly Dakota [Sioux]) tradition. Minnesota has a considerable inhabitants of NA’s. I don’t understand how true it’s now, however I used to be taught little or no of them in public college. Particularly, the so-called “Peace Pipe” carries very deep that means to them. Europeans referred to as it a peace pipe principally as a result of the one time they noticed it used was once they negotiated with them. Nevertheless, it’s way more than that. There’s a deep non secular significance to it due to the stone from which they’re carved. The story behind it bolstered my perception that the variations amongst peoples are principally superficial. Deep down we’re all the identical. Sadly, the superficial is what drives the wedge between us.

The final and most vital factor that I realized is that while you get discouraged in the course of the trip simply bear in mind that you’ve the posh of doing it – many don’t, comparatively few individuals will ever attempt it – not to mention full it, and to cherish the moments for what they’re – whether or not good or dangerous – they’ll by no means come once more.

Do you suppose you’ll conduct extra bicycle excursions sooner or later?

Sure. As talked about earlier, this journey is however the first a part of an extended journey that ends in Jackson, WY. I anticipate to finish one stage a yr till full (about 5 extra journeys – give or take). My need to go there may be the problem and just because I’ve been in love with the place since I used to be a baby.

What one piece of recommendation would you give to somebody who’s planning their first bicycle touring journey?

One thing my brother (who pedaled to Nova Scotia years in the past) instructed me once I mentioned this journey with him (however after all I didn’t pay attention):

Your vacation spot ought to all the time deceive the east of the place you’re (the wind blows from west to east). And, decide a vacation spot that’s at a decrease altitude than your origin (make gravity be just right for you).


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