Friday, June 10, 2011

Riding to the Root River Trail

While getting bike repairs done at Flying Penguin Outdoor Sports a few weeks back, owner Jon Andersen asked me the following question:

"So, what's the next big cycling adventure?"

Considering my history of two-wheeled travels, it's a legitimate question. However, I didn't really have an answer for him at the time.

It wasn't because I didn't plan on biking at all this summer. I had every intention of continuing my blog series on bike trips to make in the Mankato area and my two-wheeled companion had become my main mode of in-town transportation. Aside from that, I was -- and still am -- hoping to participate in a duathlon this summer.

But as far as hard-core "adventures" go, my ideas were somewhat lacking.

For a variety of reasons -- vacation time, money and scheduling conflicts, to name three -- I will not be participating in RAGBRAI this year. The annual Bicycling Around Minnesota ride also isn't an option, as I will be on vacation in Seattle during that time.

As much as I would love to go on an ambitious bike trip like Eric and Christie Nelson's trek to South America, I likely wouldn't be able to get the time off work. Indeed, like most other people, my imagination can get bogged down by the obligations of everyday life from time to time.

However, a few days after Andersen posed his question to me, my imagination got a shot in the arm in the form of a favorable June schedule. I found out that I had three straight days off from work in the middle of the month, a relative rarity.

My mind immediately went into overdrive. How far can I bike in three days? Are there any sites I'm anxious to see? Is there a bike trail I want to explore?

After pondering these questions and more, I arrived at an answer: The Root River Trail in southeastern Minnesota.

From Tuesday to Friday next week, I will be biking on back roads, sleeping out of a tent and praying for favorable wind as I make my way across the state to this hidden gem of cycling wonderment. Collectively, the trip will be about 300 miles.

Since my RAGBRAI blog entries last year were well-received by readers, I plan on documenting this adventure in a similar fashion. I plan on bringing my laptop with and, wi-fi service permitting, will be writing multiple blog entries along the way.

I've always been curious about the Root River Trail. By all accounts, it's a gorgeous area of the state and the towns located along the trail all make a concentrated effort to be accommodating to cyclists. The trail's central hub of Lanesboro is also considered to be one of the great cycling towns in the state, complete with rich culture and a quaint downtown area.

Truthfully, my initial plans were to drive out to Lanesboro at some point this summer and spend a day biking the Root River Trail. I figured that way I could spend more time enjoying all the perks of the trail and less time worrying about finding a place to sleep.

Most people would probably choose to go the car route as well. It's less time-consuming, requires less effort and has a lot less margin for error (weather, fatigue, bike malfunctions, ect.).

However, when the spirit is starved for adventure, conventional wisdom often gets tossed out the window.

Or in this case, thrown onto a bike seat.

*Here is a link to the Root River Trail website. You know it's a good bike trail when the website alone is fun to look at.

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