Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Riding to the Root: Appreciating the little things

I think it's a pretty universal notion that you appreciate things in life a lot more if you have to exert effort to attain them.

It's the reason a person will cherish a possession to no end if they had to pay for it instead of having it given to them. It's also the reason a craftsman will take a lot more pride in something they built rather than something they bought.

Or, in my case, I appreciate Lanesboro and the Root River Trail a whole heck of a lot more knowing that I took the time and effort to bike here rather than drive here.

Don't get me wrong, you don't need a 140-mile bike ride to appreciate Lanesboro. The town rocks. There's cool little shops everywhere, TONS of great eating options, awesome river valley scenery and, of course, the Root River Trail passing through it. There's a total outdoors vibe here, with everything from kayak rentals to golf to Amish tours for visitors to enjoy.

However, there's plenty of subtle aspects of it that I definitely would not have appreciated had I simply driven here.

For starters, there's the Root River Trail. Sure, it's scenic and well-maintained. Anyone can appreciate that. But after biking on crappy back roads and highways and dealing with passing cars for a day and a half, the site of that bike trail was like an oasis in the desert to me.

Or take the place I'm currently eating at in Lanesboro (Riverside on the Root). There's a decent live music set going on (pictured in this post, they just played a cover to "Blister in the Sun," awesome), good beer selection and the food definitely won't leave you feeling disappointed. But after living off mostly energy bars and water for two days, the taste of Cajun Alfredo pasta with a side of Summit Ale is bordering on divine. Plus the live music is a lot easier to appreciate when one of the headphones on your mp3 player stops working mid-trip.

Heck, even the icy cold shower I took tonight at the campground I'm staying at was something to cherish. It might have been a painful 5 minutes, complete with chattering teeth and a shivering body. But after the buildup of sweat and grime that comes with two days of biking, I didn't care. I needed to feel clean, water temperature be damned.

That's the real reason I took this trip: To appreciate the little things. Like most people, I take too much in life for granted. But after bracing the wind, rain and fatigue for two days to get to Lanesboro, I'm definitely not taking it for granted.

On the flip side of that, after I tough out those same elements to return to Mankato, you can bet that I won't be taking as much for granted there either. A full fridge and a bed to sleep on will most definitely be a welcome site.

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