Today was the first full day of my retreat. Oh, I didn’t mention that I was going on retreat, did I? Long story short: I haven’t had a break that was longer than 1 day or two for more than 3 years. (And it is difficult for me to count 3 years ago, since that was when I took 6 weeks off to care for my dying father.) So I’m taking 4 whole days off to read, relax, and ride my bike.
The location I selected for my retreat is Albany Minnesota, a little town about 90 miles west of St. Paul. It happens to be on the Lake Wobegon bike trail, so I thought it would provide for some easy biking. I did a 20 mile ride yesterday evening after I arrived, heading east towards St. Cloud. I’ve ridden that section before when I’ve come for the Tour of the Saints bike ride, and it is lovely. In fact, I prefer the trail to the actual Tour of the Saints route, mainly because I am wimpy and don’t like a lot of hills. Today I decided to head west to try out some of the trail that I’ve never attempted before.
Let me just say that those 26 miles (13 each way) are probably the most boring I have ever ridden. Yes. Most. Boring. Evah.
That isn’t actually a complaint. One of the problems with riding from my house is that I have to avoid traffic, construction, and the occasional hazard. But this section of trail had nothing on it. In fact, the whole trail pretty much looked like this:
No bends, relatively flat, weeds, trees, and farmland. Oh, and the interstate. The trail runs along I-94, so especially during the first leg of the ride there was a lot of car noise.
There were two towns I encountered during my ride. The first was Freeport, which has a lovely water tower with a smiley face on it. Unfortunately my picture didn’t come out, but you can see a picture of it here on the town’s website. (Apparently their catch phrase is: “The city with a smile”, which explains the smiley face.)
It also has this cool stone marker for the trail:
And it has this interesting bicycle flower holder:
But the best thing Freeport has is this sign:
Actually that sign has nothing to do with Freeport except that it is outside the town, and actually refers to a “veterinary outlet store” in the next town. But really – how often do you see a sign like that?! I had to snap a picture.
The next town is Melrose. Melrose appeared to me to be a little bigger than Freeport. Certainly the water tower was bigger (take my word for it):
There was also a tank near the water tower. Unfortunately the picture didn’t turn out. (Hey, I’m a crummy photographer I know, but it was my crappy cell phone camera, so cut me a little slack.) I didn’t get a chance to find out what the tank was doing there.
It appeared that the trail went on for miles and miles and miles. And actually I think it does, but I decided not to test out this theory and instead came back to Albany.