Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sometimes being hedonistic isn't all that bad

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Riding some "easy" gravel to Illinois
As I write this, I "should" be up North, in Two Harbors, Minnesota, participating in the Heck of the North Gravel Race.  I'm not.  Instead, I'm sitting comfortably in my home in Madison.  Warm and dry with a sun kissed face, 160 beautiful miles on my legs, with a glass of bourbon sitting next me.

At precisely 12:30 on Thursday, I decided to "bag" Heck this year.  After checking the weather report for several days and noticing "showers" changing to "rain" and "10mph winds" changing to "18-25mph winds", I made the difficult decision to stay put and not make the 6.5 hour trek North.  This wasn't an easy decision.  I flip flopped for hours--"should I?", "shouldn't I?", "do I have the correct mindset for it right now?"  This Spring, I was the first of my riding group to send out my entry postcard, my bags were packed, my gravel bike was ready--I even switched from 33mm cross tires to 40mm cross tires for this occasion, and I was excited to head into the Northern Minnesota woods--a place that introduced me to the wilderness over thirty years ago.  This disappointment in the conditions quickly turned into a disappointment in myself.  Was I being a total wus about a little rain, cold and wind?  I used to drive to Montana straight through solo...what was a measly 6.5 hour drive?  The self disappointment disappeared quickly when I realized I could bathe myself in pleasurable rides--hit one of my favorite Dane County loops called Red Barn Delight with Chuck Haney so he could write an article for Adventure Cycling, ride down to the Illinois border with a good friend, and roll through town visiting with friends I hadn't seen in far too long.

Capturing Chuck Haney at the end of our photo shoot

Riding the driftless hills with Chuck Haney from Adventure Cycling

There was a time, not long ago, when I would have sucked it up regardless of the conditions and gone to the gravel event.  I think I can count the times, on one hand, in which I've backed out of something big I've planned to do.  Backing out is just something I don't do.  Once I commit to something, it's full speed ahead.  In my ripe old age of 39, I'm finally starting to become wiser.  I'm viewing my spare time as a precious commodity and am learning to say "no".  This isn't really all that easy.  I have to allow the jabs from others to roll off my back and just have to keep asking myself "What would make me happier?" as well as "What are the consequences of my actions?"  This time, I felt I could live with not following through.  Oh sure, I'm guessing I'll sift through my friend's pictures as they post them from Heck and a pang of guilt/pain/self loathing will drift over me, but for now, I think I made the right decision.

Being that this post was supposed to be about Heck of the North, and I would show you pictures of the woods I grew up playing in, as well as some bike smut, I must now switch gears and show scenes from my hedonistic weekend.

My partner in crime on the Illinois border ride.  Thanks Zanna!

The kind folks at Minhas brewery allowed us to park our bikes inside while we did some carb replacement

Markham, my husband, riding by one of the many red barns on the Red Barn Delight ride
Me hitting the Illinois border


  1. Sounds like a great ride. Where can I get information on the Red Barn Delight route?

    1. Marjorie, there isn't any information on this ride, however, if you head West into the driftless area and hit Vermont Church hill, Garfoot, Sutcliff, Moen, Braun and JJ, you'll be on most of the roads. Enjoy!