Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gitchi-Gami State Trail, Iona's Beach to Split Rock (and back): May 10, 2012

My first bike ride on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail was difficult.  It's amazing how one can hike for hours, run for minutes (well, maybe 20 minutes), and ride the bikes at the gym with no problems at all...but when faced with a Big Hill in the Real World on a Real Bike...things fall apart.

Last Wednesday (Fantasia Overlook day of beauty) was followed by an equally beautiful Thursday.  Still on a high from Wednesday's hike, I decided that it was time I got out my bike and took on some of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail.  The Gitchi-Gami State Trail is a paved bike/multiuse trail that lives between Highway 61 and the lakeshore.  It is still being built, but when it is done it will be 88 miles long.  Another great trail project in Minnesota!  I love Minnesota.

This trail brought to you by the awesomeness that is MINNESOTA

I considered starting at Gooseberry Falls State Park, but missed the exit.  I drove a bit further until I found a place to hop on the trail by Iona's Beach.  I decided to head northeast towards Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  The Big Plan was to bike to Split Rock, turn around, bike back past Iona's Beach, go to Gooseberry, turn around, and come back to my car.  That's about 12 miles total, all on the trail.  And it's so beautiful!  What a beautiful day for a ride, right?

Cliff, lake, small island covered with birds

Things did not go as planned.

I struggled on the hills.  Oh, how I struggled.  My legs ached, my muscles felt weak.  At first I thought that perhaps I just needed to power through the first mile or so to get to "the groove" (like I do when I am running), but no.  It wasn't a matter of power, it was a matter of strength.  I had none.  I was in agony.  The downhill sections were nice, but I knew that I would pay when I had to back up them on the way back.  The worst was a very steep switchback hill right near Split Rock: not only did I have to brake to get down it, I knew that I would have to walk to get back up.  I passed a curious Ground Squirrel on the way down.  I think he made fun of me.

Ha ha!  You suck!

I did make it to Split Rock. 

Proof that I did, indeed, get to Split Rock

I didn't want to spend any more time than necessary just standing around, so I hopped back on the bike and headed back towards the steep hill.  When I came to it, I hung my head a bit as I hopped off my bike and walked it up.  The Ground Squirrel was still there, still making fun of me.

Ha ha!  You still suck!

Okay, the hill was probably no more than a quarter of a mile total...a small part of the whole trail.  But I still felt bad about my Big Huge Failure.  I biked back to Iona's Beach, feeling low.  I knew that it would be silliness to try and get to Gooseberry and back.  I pulled up to the parking lot, and saw a bike rack kind of hidden in the trees. 

Wondering what the bike rack was for, I wandered over to it.  There was a path leading towards the shore: "duh," I thought. "It's Iona's Beach."  I locked up my bike and followed the trail. 

Beautiful Beach

Iona has a nice beach.  Good place to sit and think.  I didn't let myself wallow too much:  I guess I just need to bike more often, get in better shape.  Nothing wrong with being rusty on my first hills of the season, right?

Well, it did bother me.  I wound up feeling pretty low about it for...well, a week.  That's why it's taken so long for me to write this post.  Hiking comes easily to me, biking does not.  I need to be okay with that and I need to embrace new challenges.  Like...hills.  :-)

Total miles biked today: 9

Total miles biked (in 2012): 21.5

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