A Not-Quite Century Ride

My friend has been a cyclist for ages. Now that I have taken up cycling, we've been talking all summer about going for a ride together, and today we finally made it happen. Our first hurdle was the start time. She informed me that my proposed time of 6:30am was the middle of the night. I retorted that her 9:00am suggestion was the middle of the day. We compromised on 7:30.

We chose to ride on the Munger Trail. Since the start of the trail was closed due to the flood damage, we drove to Carlton to start there. Numerous times I tried to pin her down on the distance. She was interested in a long ride, but I didn't know what that meant in the context of her cycling experience. So we set off and decided to just see how it went.

Munger Trail

While the start of the Munger Trail climbs out of Duluth, by Carlton it flattens out. We cycled for miles and miles in a long, straight, flat and smooth trajectory. There were few other cyclists on the trail, making it easy to ride side by side and talk the whole way. We have never been known to run out of material to talk about and today was no exception. And as we talked, the miles flew by. It turned out that our paces were perfectly matched, and we were loving the beautiful sunny day which was perfect for flying down the trail.

As the miles mounted, so did our ambition. It was an out and back ride, so we had to judge when we felt we'd gone half way and turn around. That's always tricky – how do you know when you are half spent? Should we set a max, I suggested? Nah, let's just go a little further. There's one hilly spot that's fun to ride – let's not stop before that. As the 40 mile mark loomed, a bigger question presented itself… Should we make this a Century Ride? It suddenly became soooo tempting!

Now I am rarely the one to hesitate when it comes to a challenge. But I have to own up to being the voice of reason this time. It was hot, we'd gotten a late start (!), and I had a husband expecting me back before dinner. So pledging to return for the full century ride soon, we did an about face at around 41 miles. It did give us time to take in a town festival at Willow River, and make the requisite stop at the Dairy Queen in Moose Lake. And neither of us complained when we reached the car at the end of 83 miles.

But next time we won't let that century mark elude us. Even if we have to start earlier to make it.

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