Let’s seeâ€¦ Grand Roundsâ€¦Â summerâ€¦ ah, yes.
So, I’m trying to build up to cycle the length of the Grand Rounds. Now, those of you more familiar might be thingking “What’s the bid deal? It’s 50 miles, not a trip across North Dakota!” Well, that’s true. But, I’m a big fat guy with a little more than a year on the bike trying to get into shape. This seemed like a nice goal to shoot for.
Armed with my trusty bike map, I plotted a course that would cover a good chunk of the GR but abridged on the north end where it gets all windy and doesn’t quite connect. I chose to cut straight across Portland as a nice alternative to finish the loop, leaving me with about 30â€“35 miles in the loop. Not a bad day’s ride, and easily my longest to date. I had intended to get moving early and avoid some of the heat, but as usual, it took me a little while to get going. I hit the trail around noon, heading west to catch the GR at Lake Calhoun. I hit the lakes and turned south to start a counter-clockwise loop. Quite inadvertantly, I realized that I had chosen the correct direction. With the one-way trails around the lakes, a clockwise path would have been significantly longer. Lucky break, I suppose.
Generally speaking, the ride was uneventful. The weather turned out quite pleasant, warm but not hot, sunny but not blinding, breezy but not windy. I stopped at Minnehaha to catch my breath, drink some water and enjoy a Clif Shot.
Clif Shots are kinda nasty, but they do the trick.
It was at this point that I realized that something was not quite right with my rear tire. I gave it a once-over, but couldn’t spot any trouble. I tightened the brakes a bit as long as I was stopped. Knowing that I could stop the circuit at any time and catch a bus/cab/ride from my wife, I wasn’t horribly concerned and continued on my way.
From Minnehaha, the trail turns north and follows the river up to downtown. I was cruising along nicely, as that section of the trail is esentially one long, slow downhill run. Although it wasn’t too far, I stopped again at Boom Island. This was my last chance to turn around and shorten the trip. Once I moved north of downtown, it became a toss-up as to whether it would be better to continue or turn back. Still feeling pretty good, I decided to continue.
Turning west onto Portland, I was leaving the bike trail and moving into traffic so I turned off the music and proceeded without headphones. Something was still not right with my rear tire, but I was having such a good day, I didn’t care, I just kept going.
Another happy accident: Portland has a bike lane for most of it’s length where it slices across the GR. I have to remember that in the future. It’s not an overly nice ride, as there is very little scenery and a fair bit of traffic, but it’s only a couple miles and a convenient short cut.
Where Portland runs into Theo Wirth, the GR resumes. At this point, I’m definitely starting to feel a little worse for the wear, so I stop for another little break. Something was still not right with my rear tire. Oh, I see. It’s out of true. Which means the brakes are rubbing EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME the tire turns. Well, crap. I’m well past the point of no return now, might as well keep going. So I loosen the brakes a bit to minimize the effect (but still keep a little stopping power) and I continue on my merry way.
Now I’m definitely starting to drag. I think the discovery of the rear tire being out of true was more demoralizing than an actual problem, but the effect is the same: I’m ready to be done. Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can hear it loud as thunder, so I turn up the music and plunge forward. A little mix-up at the intersection of Cedar Lake Parkway and Cedar Lake Trail adds another mile or so to my trip that I did not need. No matter, I’m getting close now. I’m back to the Chain of Lakes, which means I’m almost home.
Finally, a little over three hours since I left, I drag my butt into the garage. I should clean my bike up, but with the rear tire messed up, I just don’t care. I squirt a little degreaser on and hit it with the hose to knock off the big chunksâ€”good enough for now. With a trail of clothing down the hallway, I climb into a nice, hot shower and just stand there for a while.
I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I know I’m gonna be sore, but I made it.