Friday, June 29, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I think I was the most exhausted I have ever been on a bicycle as we pedaled around Minneapolis and Bloomington. The temperatures started out in the 80’s thos morning and then hovered in the 90’s all day today. We were all sucking down water bottles, energy drinks, and Starbuck’s energy shots (I am not sure if 200% of my daily allotment of riboflavin and niacin helps, but they sure taste good).

We were making progress and our goal was in sight. At about mile 30, Drew suggested we sit down in a restaurant and eat. In hind site, I probably should have agreed. At the time, I was focused on moving forward and I did not want to cool off, get stiff, and have a belly full of extra weight baking in my stomach. So we grabbed something quick at a convenience store, I double-check the route on my iPad, and we continued on.

The night before I had conferred with Kevin MacAfee, a Minneapolis resident, partially retired financial planner, and part-time Adventure Cycling tour leader (a friend of Mac’s mom, Ginny). He concurred with the route we were taking and said he would meet us a few miles out to guide us in; nothing better than local knowledge. We met Kevin after 71 hot miles and he told us we had 18 miles to go. I was crestfallen; 18 more miles? I was relieved; I could turn navigation over to a local. I think the combination of those two things and the heat and not eating caused all energy to flow out of my legs. I started yawning and I could not stop. After each yawn, my jaw would ache. The slightest hill caused me to fall behind. I was used up, expended, depleted.

Despite that I was able to observe Minneapolis and its environs. First, like most cities out west that had lots of room as they were growing, it is wide in all directions. Second, just like home, on a Friday afternoon, everyone was driving out of town. Here, Kevin leads us into the city;

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Kevin led us on the bike trails that stretch everywhere, in all directions. Unlike Saint Cloud, where I never saw a bike rack or a bike lane, Minneapolis is criss-crossed with multi-use trails for people not using cars. He said there are five million people in the metro-area. I think one million of them were trying to drive out of town, another million was moving about on the trails, and another million were enjoying the warm day at the numerous lakes we cycled by. As we biked, we had to pay attention; there are one-way trails, and two-way trails, and intersections, and merge points. There are pedestrian only trails that shadow the bike trails. There seemed to be “express” trails and “local” trails. Bike trail stop signs, yield signs, warming signs.

20120630-093635.jpgDrew, Kevin, Ty, and Mac.

Eventually the boys and I parted ways after making tentative plans for a farewell breakfast the next morning. Kevin pointed me toward the light rail where I could find a hotel room and ride into the city (it was only $1.75). The rail terminus was in the Mall of America which owns the dubious distinction of “the largest covered mall in the USA”. It’s not often that you ask for directions to the train and get the answer “Go straight in the mall and turn left at the ferris wheel”. The giant mall is like the entire Berlin Turnpike (the commercial strip in my home town), from the Hartford town line to Home Depot in Berlin, stacked up four levels high, with a roof on it. And it’s just as hard to find anything.

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I rode the train to the terminus at the other end, Target Field. The Twins were hosting the Kansas City Royals. As can be seen in this photo, there are plenty of goof-balls just like me all over the country;

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