I've been wanting to get a 200 mile ride under my belt this year, since I did one last year. However time never really seemed to work out. With winter on it's way this afternoon (supposedly) I made plans to give Thursday a shot. The past few Thursday's I've been able to get long rides in but always had a time commitment that prevented me from pulling the trigger. Thanks to my parents for picking up two of the girls allowing me this silly attempt!
After getting the kids to school I was out by 8:15 on the Evergreen. I didn't have a route in mind other than to just ride. With it being a NE wind I headed East into Santiago. I continued East some more before making my turn North. Already the wind was strong, slowing my pace. I thought I might come up on Foreston but I was too far East and came into Milaca. Since Highway 169 runs on the East side of Milaca I decided to take Highway 23 to the other side of 169.
I jumped on some gravel heading North into the wind. The gravel was deep with golf ball sized rocks. The pace was slow. I started to zig zag (north and east) on gravel and paved roads. I came upon a DNR Management area with a Minimum Maintenance Road running through it...I took it! It was actually better than the gravel outside of Milaca.
I was coming up on Mille Lacs Lake and had to make a decision, go around it or under it. I went around. Knowing I had a long push into the headwind I stopped just south of Isle and reloaded with food. Damn that is a big lake. While the scenery was nice it never changed for what seemed like an eternity. I ride with my Garmin in the map mode and the view on that seemed to never change as well. I finally made it to Malmo where I started my slow turn to the West. This brought me into Garrison where I jumped on Highway 18. This goes into Brainerd but I jumped off it onto a sweet gravel road that circumvented tiny lakes. A very cool road I'm likely to never ride again.
Eventually this ran into Crow Wing County Road 8, which I knew ran past Jen's parent's cabin...I knew where I was at! The sun was setting and I was starting to get a bit chilled. I stopped to put on my vest and swapped out gloves. I wish I had brought knee warmers too, but alas I didn't. My next refuel stop wasn't till Buckman. I was afraid I missed it as everything looks different at night. But I rolled up to the gas station sometime around 6:30. I was really hoping they had a cheese pizza slice or just maybe a veggie wrap...nope. So I grabbed some Combos, a 100 Grand bar, Gatorade and made the push for home.
Shortly after leaving Buckman it started to mist. I knew rain was a possibility but was really hoping to miss it. The closer I got to Rice the more the rain picked up. Maybe it was the tailwind or maybe it was that Rice is about and hour from home but I didn't care about the rain. I was feeling great. Had it not started to rain I think I may have extended the ride some.
I made it home in 11 hours 17 minutes and 204 miles. The longest training ride I've ever done. Super stoked on how I felt. The under carriage is tender but not bad. I know the strong tailwind gave me a moral boost and I'll take it!
Truly not sure on the rest of the week. It's still raining and it's suppose to turn to snow this afternoon. Saturday is a big day at the shop and Sunday is our last ski swap. Hoping to ride those days but when and what is up in the air.