By Fred Kamp
The OBS Touring Geezers have returned from the October 10-14 tour of bicycle trails in Southern Minnesota. For trail maps, see http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/maps.html. No flats, two spills, none disabling. A couple of folks brought stomach problems with them but soon recovered.
- Gary & Suzanne Cannon
- Joe & Margaret DiMonico
- Ivory & Maxine Grayson
- Jim & Joanna Gregg
- Fred & Bonnie Kamp
- Dwayne & Jerri Lee
- Harry McQuown
- Tom & Karen Russell
- Jim & Penny Speck
- Steve & Cynthia Wade
Jim Foreman helped with initial planning and made the hotel reservations, but didn’t get to go.
The participants made the 800 mile trip to Lanesboro, MN in various ways. Most spent the night in Des Moines in the Baymont Inn in the suburb of Clive. Gary and Suzanne led a small caravan, showing that at least some of the Geezers had the ability to organize a two car funeral, as the saying goes. The Kamps and DiMonicos traveled via the Black Hills of SD, narrowly escaping arrest in Nebraska while wearing Sooner gear. The Greggs rode the trails a day early with MN friends. The Specks RVed via Indianapolis and Minneapolis. Of the two routes from I-90 to Lanesboro, Fred chose the wrong one to map and distribute, resulting in encountering the Mother of All Detours. In Lanesboro we stayed in the Cottage House Inn, a sort of combination motel and bed and breakfast. We did without phones and with only one TV in the lounge, and enjoyed it. The Cottage House was two blocks from the trail head and in easy walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the bike store. In fact most everything in Lanesboro is in walking distance of every thing else.
We rode the Root River and Preston – Harmony trails both directions out of Lanesboro on Monday and Tuesday. Some of the ladies managed a guided tour of several Amish farms and craft locations. We all had wine and cheese at the Speck’s RV Monday evening. Bonnie and Suzanne took a short ride Wednesday morning before the rain started, and then most had lunch, entertained by an oompah band. Then everyone moved 120 miles to Mankato in the rain.
The trails in Lanesboro were paved, scenic, and not too hilly. You could ride 30 miles east to Houston along the Root River (allowing a 60 mile round trip). Most rode one way or shorter loops. To the South, you could ride about 20 miles to Harmony via Preston. Several rode round trip.
Mankato proved to be a larger city and we stayed in the Down Town Holiday Inn, requiring the use of the parking garage and juggling the bikes on the elevator. We coped just fine. We were only a block and a half from trail access. We rode the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail there on Thursday and Friday. On Friday, many of the ladies went to shop in the quaint town of New Ulm about 25 miles away. We had our survival dinner in an adjacent sports bar and grill, somewhat delayed while Suzanne and Cynthia took a short spin on the trails as the sun went down.
The trails in Mankato were also paved and scenic and perhaps a tad more hilly. You could ride 40 miles east to Faribault. Some rode the entire length one way. Most took shorter loop rides. On Friday, most of the ladies wanted to shop in New Ulm, so cars had to be juggled to help those who were riding. The riding plan was to ride from Faribault to Mankato because we thought wed have a tail wind (WRONG!). Two cars had to be left part way for those wanting only a 20 mile ride. We almost phoned Derral Idleman to come up with a transportation plan, but finally figured out one that would work.
Saturday and Sunday most everyone returned via Kansas City. In KC we stayed in a variety of motels. The La Quinta in Lenexa, KS, (a suburb of KC) was used by some and the Days Inn by others, when the La Quinta ran out of non smoking rooms. A lesson learned: Don’t try to traverse KC on I-35 on Saturday at sundown. On Sunday we were escorted along I-35 by many Sooner fans returning from the OU-Kansas game which had occurred in KC.
We knew that we were rolling the dice with respect to the October weather. We lucked out. In Lanesboro there was a morning fog that burned off around 10:00 am. We usually started out with temperature in the low 50s and it usually got up to the mid 60s. The wind was not too much of a factor except for those who rode both ways to Harmony. In Mankato there was no morning fog and the temperatures were a little higher. The wind was a little stronger and did become a factor on Friday when we rode from Faribault towards Mankato. As for the foliage, some leaves were dropping, some trees were turning, and there were some that displayed vivid fall colors. We were probably a little early for maximum fall foliage colors. On our return, passing through Iowa, it looked like trees chosen for their fall colors had been regularly spaced between evergreens along I-35.
There was a broad spectrum of bike types used. The Greggs and the Russells rode tandems. The Greggs had a spill which left them a little abraded and bruised and shook up. But they continued to ride. The Specks rode their folding bikes, although Jim did ride 30 miles on Bonnie’s comfort bike. Bonnie and Suzanne took rides on their comfort bikes. Gary and Ivory rode recumbents, and the rest rode mountain or hybrid bikes. Road bikes would have been OK.
The ladies carried shopping to a new plateau. Luckily Harry had his pickup to carry Amish furniture, miscellaneous purchases, as well as two bikes.
We all had a good time and would recommend the trails to everyone.