Adventure Cycling Bunkhouse to North Branch, Minnesota: Closing the Circle - Minnesota Matrimonial Evaluation Tour - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2017

Adventure Cycling Bunkhouse to North Branch, Minnesota: Closing the Circle

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Old habits are hard to break, so this morning, despite the availability of what amounts to a full kitchen in the Bunkhouse, we still fired up the backpack stove to make our instant coffee and oatmeal. I hope the other bikers didn't think we were being stand-offish. One final note about the wonders of Donn's Bunkhouse .... the wifi signal reaches into the outhouse, and I can attest to the fact that one can check one's email while doing your "business." TMI, I know, but still an important journalistic note. The MS riders all pretty much were on the road by 8 AM, so we dithered a bit to pack up until after they had departed so we didn't have to compete with them for the outhouse and the rest of the facilities. They were an interesting crew. A real hodgepodge of people, ages, and outlooks. The Bunkhouse represented their halfway point (in terms of the number of days on their itinerary) of the trip.

Last night we had the pleasure of chatting for about two hours with two young women who were a couple days from finishing a Seattle to Twin Cities ride. They are sisters - Anna and Ellie - originally from North Caroline, but having attended college in Minnesota, at Carleton and McCallister Colleges, respectively. They are 24 and 22 years old, and what WONDERFUL young woman they are. If we Baby Boomers find ourselves criticizing the generation of 20-somethings that is a sign we are not getting out enough to actually meet them. If the world is in the hands of a generation with these kind of people we are going to be in MUCH better shape than we are now. They reminded us a bit of our two daughters Riley and Avery, who are exactly the age they are.

The two of them came up with the idea of doing their ride about a month before they started it. The ride marks the fact that Anna (the elder sister) was entering medical school and that Ellie had just graduated with her undergraduate degree. One used her mother's 1985 Fuji touring bike (which had been used on a cross country ride by her mother, with the girls' father) and the other a bike purchased off Craigslist and they simply went and did it! No fear there, just a strong vision and urge to have an adventure, and plenty of grit to get it done. Formidable girls. Meeting these two great young women was one of the highlights of the trip for us.

Our new heroes, Anna and Ellie.
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This being our final day of riding, there was a increasingly bittersweet feeling, and the closer we got to North Branch, the stronger the feelings of accomplishment and sadness became. With 10 miles to go we stopped at a little rural town hall to use the bathroom and had a mini-conversation about the conclusion of the ride and how we were both feeling a sense of regret that it was almost over. I knew the hook was set with Marg on this bike touring stuff when she began listing the things she would do differently in terms of gear, lodging, riding, etc. on our "next trip.

We are set to depart from the Bunkhouse.
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Marg mails the last two Art Cards from the Dalbo Post Office.
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A massage parlor in the middle of nowhere. Legit or sketchy?
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The rate sheet.
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The massage cat on guard duty.
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Final shot of Margaret at the end of the ride. She actually looks none the worse for wear.
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Mike, however, seems to have decayed a bit.
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At the end of these tours there is a tendency to over-emote about it in one's journal. Certainly there are strong feelings at the end, but for me they are hard to describe. No amount of verbiage or overuse of exclamation points can express the thrill of having done a ride like this or the inevitable melancholy that comes with its conclusion. I have read the journals of other riders on CGOAB who have shared a feeling of near depression upon completing their tour, especially those who have gone cross-country. There is an addictive quality in the simplicity of bike touring. It is almost monastic in a way. Ride, eat, observe, sleep, repeat. It is a form of meditation. There are no complications, you leave the world and the political news behind, and just get out into the "real" world in all its shapes and forms.

The ride was fun, the things we saw were great, and the people we met were beyond wonderful. Our politicians should get out and see the world in all its complexity. People and their needs are a much more nuanced thing than our elected officials make it out to be. Hmmm ... given that we choose our elected officials, perhaps we should ALL take a bike tour and get a feel for the world so that WE can all appreciate the nuances of the lives people lead. It will help us shed our stereotypes and biases, and get outside the bubbles we live in.

Thanks for reading everyone! We'll do a wrap up in a day or two. The ride was great, and we confirmed that our 30-year marraige is not a fraudulent house of cards after all : - )

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 696 miles (1,120 km)

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