Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Minnesota Trippin'

We started our journey to Minnesota on July 1st about mid-morning.  We packed the truck as if we were taking the house with us.  Our first stop over the next two days would be with my some of my in-laws in West Virginia, and to pick up our nephew.  It was just like all of our previous trips up to West Virginia, nothing exciting just six hours of highway driving.  We got to the in-laws some time after 4pm and got out what we needed for the night.  We hit up a Mexican restaurant that night for dinner and I called it a night around 10pm since we would be up the next day at 5am and I was the designated driver. 
The next morning came and we loaded the bicycles on the back of the truck.  Loaded up the kids in the backseat with enough electronic devices from DVD players to Nintendo DS's to keep them entertained for the next nine hours to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Our secret weapon that my wife packed was lollipops for when the natives started getting restless.  Of course that would happen when you have a three year-old strapped into a car seat for that amount of time.  After the nine hour drive we pull into Hawthorne Suites, and unpack the necessities for the night.  I get the boys and we unload the bikes and take them for a two mile ride down the Cedar River Trail to work the legs out after sitting for that long. 

Rockin' the Twin Six
 After waking up we grabbed some breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the last four hours to Minnesota.  We pulled into the farm right after noon.  The farm is where my wife's grandma lives in farmhouse that is around one hundred years old and nearly four tenths of a mile off the road.  It is surrounded by a few ponds and corn fields as far as you can see.  After unpacking the truck and grabbing some lunch I headed out for my first gravel ride.  Never done a gravel ride and on the drive in we passed kept passing gravel road after gravel road and I had to put some miles in to see what it was like.  I did a thirty mile ride and was eating up every mile of it.  I was on the Niner One9 and was running a 32x18 gearing which I needed my Fisticuff with the 2x10 to really crank some miles, that will be with me on the next trip out there.

For the Fourth of July we took the kids to the town of Okabena for a parade.  They collected more candy than what they have gotten combined for the last two Halloweens.  The following day we took a two hour trip north up to Minneapolis.  First stop, Twin Six.  Great visiting the company that I am racing for this year and hopefully down the road also.  I was a kid in a candy store with all the T6 gear around me.  The crew there was awesome in giving us the tour and seeing a few things that are coming down the pipe.  We checked into our hotel right across from the next stop at Mall of America.  We ended up spending 6+ hours in there from lunch until dinner.  We covered all three floors and went to the aquarium before grabbing dinner at Tony Roma's.  One of the only places the kids and I wanted to go was the Lego store.  Which we waited until almost last to visit, so that I would not be carrying around the bag of legos the entire time.  They had above the store these gigantic lego scenes that were larger than life.  One was a thirty-four foot robot, another was a helipcopter with lego SWAT members repelling down, a knight fighting this creature with a bull-head.  To believe that all of this was made completely of legos.  Along with this were pictures outisde the store made completely out of legos.  The next day we took the kids to the Minnesota Zoo.  It was fairly warm out that day, but since Minnesota gets so cold right much of the exhibits were inside which gave some relieve from the heat. Afterwards we drove back to the farm to make it in time for dinner. 

I was needing to hit some singletrack and had found this place up in Mankato called Mt. Kato Ski Resort that has mountain bike trails from May to October.  It cost $8/day to ride there.  Being my first experience at singletrack in Minnesota it was good riding.  Any day on the bike is better than none.  I found one of the people in the office there and he gave me the lay of the land on how the trails were laid out and a map.  First trail that you go up is Kato Climb and that is what you do to get to the top where all the ski lifts drop you off in the winter.  My first loop out went like this Kato Climb>Frog Pond Loop>Outlook Traverse>Back Loop>Get Tight>Cedar Climb>Killer Toad Climb>Dead Horse>The Maze>Staircase>Compressor>Cabin Run.  The only trails that really had me on my toes and using a lot of braking on the down hills were Dead Horse and Compressor.  The switchbacks on Compressor had you almost doing track stands to make the turns.  Cedar Climb and Staircase had the tougher of the climbs.  My second loop went like this Kato Climb>Frog Pond Loop>Outlook Traverse>Back Loop>Get Tight>Cedar Climb>Killer Toad Climb>Low Line>The Maze>Staircase>Ridge Run>Back Home>Cabin Run.  After getting out of the new Twin Six Masher jersey and socks I picked up the other day at Twin Six.  I went and got two chicken tacos and chicken burrito from Taco John's. 
Friday we got up at 4am to start our nice 14 hour drive back to West Virginia and that was one hell of a caffeine induced drive.  Had some Little Caesar's Pizza when we got to my brother-in-law's house hit the sack at 10pm and didn't wake until 9am.  That was some good hard sleeping and much needed with another 6 hours of driving to get to the casa.  It was nice vacation with lots of driving, but that is the best way to see this great country that we live in and to see how other parts of the U.S of A is living. 

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