By: Tim Ek
I often find myself wishing I had someone to ride with, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of my rides are by myself. Schedules with friends don’t match up or it’s hard to find another who wants to sign up for six hour ride. Therefore, it’s me, some head phones, and my bike. Although, I’m at times bummed about rolling out alone again, it usually ends up being a good thing. It’s a time to clear my head, take a look, and a listen in places most never visit.
It’s gravel season now as northern Minnesota is fighting it’s way into spring. That means trails are too wet to ride, but dirt roads are perfect. It’s true that Duluth is flush with trails within it’s city limits, but to find gravel one must ride miles of tar first. The mixing with traffic and mundane rollers that take a rider out of town are worth it, as the solitude and utter beauty of the country roads are breathtaking.
As I pushed out of my driveway on a Saturday morning, I felt that all too familiar feeling of being alone again on another training ride. My mind went numb as I was buzzed by pick up trucks passing at 60 miles per hour as they, like I, headed north to the woods. Most likely they were going to work on their cabins or ride their 4 wheelers. I was simply destined for gravel. Alone, I spun out the miles. Every so often I reminded myself to keep the intensity up, hit the climbs hard, and keep an eye on the heart rate. This was a work out after all.
Finally, my turn lay ahead, the turn that transitioned the smooth sound of my tires to a chorus of chrunchy, buzzing, the sound of rubber on dirt. A bald eagle soared above me, it’s white head and tail shimmered against the bright blue back drop of the sky. A murder of crows watched me pass from the branches where they rested. The flooded swamps were alive with the sounds of frogs celebrating the coming of spring.
I stopped checking my heart rate, I backed off the intensity, and I stayed in the saddle on the climbs for a tailwind had found me now and I resolved to keep my head up, and my eyes and ears open. I wasn’t alone anymore. In fact, it occurred to me that when I ride the gravel I never really am.
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If you’re interested to find out more about Tim, head over to his site, The Eki Chronicles.
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