A pedaler’s paradise
April 29, 13
by Ivan Raconteur

It won’t be long now.

Based on the weather forecast, in just two days, I will be astride my sleek and stylish bicycle, gliding down a local trail for the first time this season.

I realize many people have been out on their bikes long before now, and some people ride year-round, regardless of the weather.

I, however, am a sedentary creature, and bone idleness is my natural state. It takes ideal, or near-ideal conditions, to lure me out of my winter lethargy and get me moving again.

Riding a bicycle is the ideal form of exercise for lazy people. It allows one to engage in physical activity, without pain or monotony.

The first ride of the spring takes me back to the days when I was 8 years old, taking my new Schwinn Sting-Ray out for the first time.

It was the first bicycyle I ever owned.

It was the best gift I received for Christmas the year before, and there is a long time between Christmas and spring thaw in Duluth.

By the time my old man finally gave in and granted me permission to take it out, I was more than ready to ride.

My bike was Campus Green, with a bucket saddle, MAG sprocket, and a Schwinn Slik back tire, and it was the grooviest bike on the street.

I climbed aboard, and the world changed forever. In that instant, I went from a permanent pedestrian to a mobile hepcat. I could buzz all around the neighborhood with ease.

If I really wanted to let people know I was coming, I would get a clothespin and attach a playing card or balloon to the back frame to make some noise, at least until the card bent or the balloon popped.

I am more sophisticated now, and I don’t need gimmicks to help me enjoy my ride.

All I have to do is get on my bike and go. As I fly down the trail, with the wind blowing through my hair, I become invincible.

OK, I was kidding about the wind blowing through my hair. I am a responsible rider these days, and never ride without a helmet, which reduces airflow. I have to protect my coconut, because a writer with a dented coconut is about as useless as a politician.

Anyway, when I get on my bike and ride, I experience a sort of weightlessness – at least on the level or downhill stretches.

I am very conscious of the pull of gravity when I ride uphill. It takes a lot of effort to haul this load up a steep hill, even in low gear. I don’t mind, though, because I know whatever goes up must come down, and the next exhilarating downhill run may be just over the next summit, or around the next curve in the trail.

Although it was only a few years ago when I re-discovered the joy of bicycling, it didn’t take long for me to discover Minnesota is a pedaler’s paradise.

There are countless miles of trails through every imaginable terrain.

Some are urban, some rural, and the variety of scenery is endless.

Many paved trails follow former railway lines, with gentle grades and graceful curves.

The state is a cyclist’s dream, and one can see it all, up close and personal, as one glides through forest and field.

These days, I take my bike with me when I travel. One never knows when one might stumble across some new trail that is just begging to be explored.

It makes a nice change from driving, as well.

A side trip in the form of a quick ride down a convenient trail can get one’s muscles moving and blood pumping, so one will be relaxed and comfortable when one gets back behind the wheel to resume one’s journey.

Trails in Minnesota are generally well-marked and easy to find. Maps are readily available, and if I am traveling, I usually check out the trail options for the area I will be visiting.

Winter may finally be behind us. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and I can hear the trail calling.

I can’t wait to start exploring and begin my next adventure on two wheels.

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