I finally did it. This Saturday, after two solid years of life and adventures sans car, I finally bicycled a century. 106 miles to be exact.
Ben and I set off about 8:30am, fueled by homemade bread, plums, and a few sips of coffee. We met up with our friend Tiffany and headed North along the good old Mississippi River. Newly paved trail and clear signage (what a concept!) awaited us, and the first hour and a half of riding up to the Coon Rapids Dam passed in a flash. Tiffany turned back so that she could make the State Fair that afternoon, so Benjamin and I continued alone.
We lunched in Rogers, by way of Elm Creek Park Reserve, at the lovely Minne’s Diner. Benjamin highly enjoyed his kraut laced burger, and I was surprised to find several tantalizing vegetarian choices on the menu (I decided on a veggie pita in the end).
With perfectly full bellies and snacks for later down the road, we took to the county highways, aiming toward the Lake Rebecca Park Reserve and the lovely little town of Delano. Possessing a proper map was enormously helpful on this entire endeavor- on previous adventures both Ben and I somehow neglected to bring a map, making trail-finding and spontaneous route-planning nearly impossible.
Our map was not the only useful tool on this most excellent of century rides; helpful signage from the Three Rivers Park system helped too:
After a brief misdirection in Delano we continued southwest to Watertown, ‘Heart of the Luce Line’, and town that saved a very hungry and tired Lauren on the bike trip out to the Garlic Festival in Hutchinson last summer. We paused briefly, the threat of rain nearly over, and then took to the east, with the promise of home, shower, and food.
A couple of hours of riding later, relieved that we don’t live in the ‘burbs and happy to have discovered the recently finished Dakota Rail Trail, Ben and I arrived home, tired, happy, and ready for a friend’s birthday picnic.
Now, I’m pretty proud of myself for riding a century. 106 miles is kind of a big deal. But more than posting for the sake of self-glorification, I hope that at least one reader realizes how possible it is. I went from never having ridden more than five miles in one go in my entire life to riding a century just in the course of two years. So can you! Rah rah rah!
So get out on your bike, just a bit every day, week, or even month if that’s all you can commit to for starters. Ride to the store, to a friend’s house, to a movie. And even more importantly, start to change your idea of what’s possible, and moreover, what’s enjoyable. A bike is cheap, the roads and paths are just as much yours as anyone else’s, air is free, and your body will love you for it.