Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jesse James Bike Tour - Cramp City, U.S.A.

By Luxo-D

A 100 miles is a lot of miles to ride on a bike. Hell, they call it a CENTURY for a reason, and it sure as hell feels like it when you're doing it. Forever. Ironically, I did ride a 100 miles recently, and you were right – it's a lot miles to ride on a bike! But, I like to call it PURGATORY...

Jesse James Bike Tour
In the second week of September, a classic southern Minnesota festival, known as The Defeat of Jesse James Days, in Northfield Minnesota takes place. A celebration, commemorating the defeat of the infamous outlaw Jesse James, attempting one of his classic bank heists, only to be thwarted by the vigilant folks of Northfield. Additionally, The Jesse James Bike Tour, has turned into quite a bike riders event too. Indeed, 1300 bicycles by some count, taking pleasure in the ride. With the CENTURY ride being the pinnacle of the local tour. Accented by beautiful, meandering, corn fields, hills, and gentle flowing roads weaving through quaint small towns, as well as the great city of Faribault. A picture perfect setting – romantic in every sense.

The Monster within...
Don't be fooled by this charming, Laura Engals Wilder, midwestern charade of a bicycle tour! Quaint be damned! Within, lurks an unforeseen element hiding, insidiously like a siren that dogs and plays with your mind to the brink of madness...WIND. And plenty of it! I've ridden on some windy days...but holy SHIT! Talk about relentless, where did it come from? It was SICK! The worst part – it was gorgeous– a sunny, golden beauty, painting-like in essence. And boy, did I pay the price? Only the G-Man had the sense to ride the 60 instead of opting to do the Century. Ominously, after I arrived in Faribault (55 mile mark), I was done for. Hard riding turned into "Cramp City, U.S.A. It was ugly.

For the next 50 miles, I battled my own legs. The cramps jumped around like crazy, moving place to place, the hills making them worst. All the while the wind nagging and taunting me the whole way. It became a mental game. Me against the wind, my legs conspiring with the wind. I rode, great distances, isolated and alone on vast cornfield lined roads deep in a kind of Rural No Man's Heartland - a beautiful bleakness.

Luckily, the end was in site. After a scant rest stop in Lonsdale (80 mile mark), and cheerful visit from the G-Man, I was back to business. With 20 miles to go, it was the home stretch... Northfield was next...and so was civilization. It was over. A major bucket-list item completed.

So, now what's next...cyclocross?

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