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2009 MS-150 Bike Tour

Photo by Jim Scott

Photo by Jim Scott

Once again, this past June, I loaded up my bike, packed a backpack and trekked north to Proctor, MN for the MS-150 bike tour, just as I have done for the last 14 or 15 years if I’m correct, pretty much, since I’ve been able to drive.

This year, the tour started in Nowthen, MN at the Nowthen Threshing Showgrounds so I was already a little excited to see some tractors, seeing as I’m pretty much obsessed with Rollag.

Back to the point – Hopping on the tour bus that takes all of us 3300 riders up to Proctor, I ended up sitting with a crew from Capella University (Capella Cruisers) They were a good crew to chat with on the way up, since the rest of my team was still a few hours behind me in getting out of town.

Our team, The Wheels of Fortune, was formed many years ago from friend of mine who had ridden, and a few of her friends, along with a few of my friends. Over the years, our team has dwindled down to 3 of us from about 10, due to the simple fact that ‘life happens’ – We are hoping to regroup for 2010, bring on more riders and get a good team back (and with support staff too)

Upon arriving in Proctor, I pitched my tent and called up Mike, to let him know that the year he doesn’t come, the weather is sunny and 75, which i think is a first for the ride. Typically it’s sunny, but in the 60’s and rather chilly on the return trip from Canal Park, and cool for camping out. You have the option to reserve a hotel room and reside in nice warm comfy beds, but I don’t have the extra cash laying around, and I also look at it this way, ~ I can spend two nights in a tent, and two days on a tiny bike seat and endure being uncomfortable, if it helps raising money to find a cure for something that causes many people pain and a lessened lifestyle each day of their life.

I had arranged to meet up with some friends from Comcast, who had chosen to ride UP on their bikes that day, and then back down for the regular ride, wow, that’s alot of biking, even for my standards in a few days. We met up at Grandma’s amidst a large number of other bikers, and ordered some supper and drinks. After that, we all trekked over to the sports bar for some more beer and Big Safari Hunter or whatever the crap it’s called. Either way, it was a few bucks for about 40 minutes of entertainment for 4 of us, something I have never seen from a video game.

We headed back up about 10 or so to Proctor to get a good nights sleep and be ready for the ride ahead of us. Waking up Saturday morning about 5:00am to other bikers breaking camp and getting ready, my crew got ready as well, and waited in line for breakfast. The breakfast process is really something. They funnel a few thousand riders thru a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, cereal, yogurt, fruit, coffee, juice, milk, whatever, in very short time. – You /never/ go hungry on this ride, that is for sure.

We hit the trail shortly before 7am and began the venture down the Munger trail to Grand Casino. After encountering a little rain on the first leg, the skies opened up and the sun poked out early into the ride, and made for a great day for riding. We kept a pace of 18-22mph on Saturday, which was great for me since I like going quick and getting out of the baking sun. Jim and his son have been riding since his son was in a trailer bike, and now he’s a young man and the stoker on a tandem, and wow, when those two put it down, I have to work to keep up with them! I’ve spend most of 2009 eating much better, working out and laying off the Captains, and I’m sure without that, I would have really struggled to keep pace with them for the ride.

We rolled thru our lunch stop, seeing familiar faces along the way, either from past rides, the ride up, or from the night before and exchanged greetings and picked up our lunch. Now, I understand it’s hard to feed 3000+ riders food, however, the Subway option is getting really old. The subs taste like they were made the night before, the bread is soggy and they just have a… not so good taste to them, however the watermelon is always a win! – While I’m quite thankful to have meals provided, maybe the MS Society can look at another option for Saturday lunch, such as Jimmy John’s, Quiznos, something not a day old and tasteless.

We carried on and made our way into Grand Casino in a total of 4.5 hours on the bike, not bad for just shy of 75 miles. Mike had decided to come up and visit since he was unable to make the ride this year. We are very glad he did, not only did he bring some cold beer and snacks, he brought a pop-up shelter that was a godsend when the skies unleashed a less than small amount of rain in the evening. We stayed dry under the shelter which was totally awesome, so THANKS MIKE! We scarfed down some BBQ pork sammiches for supper, which was a big hit over the pasta over previous years, it was pretty dang good after a long day on the trail, and warm and filling on a damp evening.

We all retired somewhat early again, as we had another day of biking ahead of us. Waking up again about 5:30 to the sounds of camp around us, and the rising sun peeking into my tent, we got up, and again headed off in search of the might Chris’ Cakes for breakfast. These guys are out of Iowa, and have been on the tour every year I can recall pretty much, and are just awesome! It’s always a treat to see these guys serving breakfast, as they’ll often flip a stack on your plate from 20′ away. Just beware, turn your back, and you might end up with a flap-jack on the back of your helmet!

Photo by Tim Dachtera

Photo by Tim Dachtera

We ventured back out on the trails on a crisp sunny morning, no rain today, and not much of a pain getting back on the bike. I think the training rides this year really saved my bacon. We rolled along back country roads on our way back to Nowthen, stopping for lunch in Isanti. Dominoes, awesome. A few slices of pizza sure hit the mark. Mike tagged along with us, running support for whoever had a flat or needed help along the ride, so if you happened to get assistance from some guy in a green lincoln, you’re lucky. Mike is an awesome guy, and always willing and ready to lend a hand. (he also had cold beer in his cooler) – He met us for lunch, and setup the shelter again so we could sit under out of the sun, as we were a little red, even with sunscreen. Not waiting around too long to stiffen up, we started our trek back on the final 30 miles of ride.

The event as a whole for me, and our team was pretty uneventful. The only real issue was the last leg, I popped a spoke, which I have yet to fix, so I babied the bike in the last few miles. We arrived back to Nowthen among fellow riders and spectators welcoming us all in.

I’ve already signed up for the 2010 ride, so if you want to join up, check out the MS Society website, and register for the 2010 Minnesota MS-150 tour, under the team of Wheels of Fortune!

See more photos from the ride