Orginally posted June 22, 2010
After what felt like a very short evening, Mark, MG & I had breakfast. Everyone knows that every good bike ride starts with donuts and coffee so who are we to change that? As GT and MG powered up, I secretly wondered if it would be only us three for today’s ride?
Thankfully, we were not the only ones. Several local folks joined us. Our group was nine, with 6 Fargos. With a hand out of the maps and brief overview and request of sticking together, we headed out. Much of the first 10 miles was on pavement and or bikepath. We cruised along at quite a good pace.
At the first scheduled stop at UMore park, MG caused quite a stir with his candy bag. Nice addition to the Fargo ride MG. Thanks for coming up all the way from Lincoln, NE.
Soon, the pavement ended and we hit some nice double track. This is one of my favorite roads to ride. I like the long tunnel feeling as well as the endless feeling of the double track. This road is closed to automobiles and ATVs so it’s quiet and not filled with litter.
Eventually the tunnel of trees opens up a bit to beautiful farmland. I grew up raising wheat and barley. I still think that fields of grain swaying in the wind are so beautiful. I plan to come back to just this spot to photograph the sunrise after the wheat starts turning golden brown. I can see the image now.
Not long after our route turned back to super gravel (hard packed fast gravel is called super gravel), Nick flatted. This gave us a bit of time to stop, chat and snack.
It also gave MG time to talk to his new friend. It is here I put the camera away in the pack as we would be on pavement for the next few miles. As we zig zagged across the countryside, the temps were rising. We stopped and discussed the route, food and how folks were feeling. Surprisingly the roads were dry despite the severe weather the previous night and the mud bath I found when I rode the course with Erik Mathy one week ago. Despite feeling good, we opted out of the extra lolipop gravel loop and headed into Farmington, MN for food and refreshments. This was a good plan as no one knew what I had in store in the coming miles. In fact, one of the guys mentioned to me that this wasn’t really a “Fargo” route and that it was more like a cross bike route.
Not long after the refuel, we hit another one of my favorite roads in the county. I slid to the back, took photos and rested as I knew the next 10+ miles was going to be crushing. Folks were feeling a little competitive I think and powered up the gravel climb. I sat back, took it all in and yelled for folks to stop. As I rolled through, I spoke the words “This is where it gets hard” and rolled on.
I went to the front of the pack and turned into what looked like a freshly mowed farm field road. It was in fact a trail, but it sees so little use that the gophers and horses took it over as their own. At times, it was pounding and crushing. There were some setions with a clear trail. At times, it felt like single track. Other times it felt like we were riding on the beach or through the center of a grass field.
As we rolled through the country side, we got to see things from a different perspective. I love being close to things and even though riding gravel roads is beautiful, I like being up close and on roads that I know other cyclists have likely never traversed. I like being “out there”.
As we pushed on, it kept getting hotter and hotter. The sun had burned off most of the clouds and it was getting almost Dirty Kanza like.
At the top of this grassy hill, we took a rest. Folks were feeling a bit cooked. One of the guys on a cross bike jokingly asked me if he ordered a Fargo now could I have it delivered right now? It was right here I knew that the ride was both a success and if we pressed on it could really sap folks for the coming days. It is here I decided to alter the route just a bit. We took a hike out to a flat top rock and scenic overlook and then started heading home. I still managed to get one more C road in with waist and shoulder high grass. Kind of fun listening to the folks shout at me “This isn’t a trail” and “How are you picking a line in that?” Two falls later, we exited and rode gravel back through the munitions plant.
In the end we got something like 60 miles of gravel, singletrack, pavement, double track, grassy trail, and “farm road”. I’m fairly certain everyone had a good time. As I said on Saturday, I was so happy to meet new folks and share my local roads and trails. Kind of crazy that I have ridden these roads and trails for a long time and this is the first time I had seen any other cyclists on the route.
To the riders, thank you all for making my life fun, adventurous and great. I hope to share the road or trail with you again. To the readers, thanks for making it through this long post. There is talk of taking the Fargo Adventure Rides on the road. Who knows if this will happen or where one might take place. At a minimum, start thinking about next year. I know I’m thinking about the route already.