Random Cyclists From Portland: Day Two

You didn’t think I was going to let my random cycling friends escape town without me intruding on another one of their touring days, did you? What bike touring couple needs “alone time?” Especially when they can be entertained by a doofus like me who just won’t go away.

They got a second dose of The Feeshko as well. She drove over to the motel bearing treats of all kinds–Gatorade, grapes, almonds, crackers, ice water, trail mix, beef jerky, Cliff Bars, and who knows what else. I tried to stop her. I really did. I tried to explain to her how bike tourists are self-sufficient and don’t need to add all that extra weight to their load.

Scott and Rocky totally threw me under the bus when they started saying stuff like “yeah, I’ll take those grapes” and “the trail mix sounds good because all we got for breakfast at the motel was a pastry wrapped in cellophane.” And they thanked her and praised her and it all made me feel like a jerk. To add insult to injury, The Feeshko made me stuff everything they rejected into my pannier just in case they changed their minds later.

Two Andersons and a Gregblood with “thumbs up” just before taking off from the motel. (In her own way, The Feeshko got her thumb in the picture too.)

Last evening I told the Portlanders about the road construction going on at the edge of MY Town. It would prevent them from following their proposed route. “The good news,” I assured them, “is that I scouted out an alternate route that would add on the least amount of mileage.”

Little did they know that my route would take them through a stretch of single track dirt and grass, into the lot of a Chevrolet car dealership, past the National Guard Armory where soldiers in full camouflage gear were assembling, around a big orange barrier, over a bike trail in nasty disrepair and–the final insult–down into a grassy ditch and then back up to the highway.

Exciting single track riding with road bikes.

I tried to sell them a new Chevrolet, but they claim they won’t have much need for a car anytime in the near future.

The National Guard Armory parking lot. The orange traffic barrier is up ahead. For cyclists, it’s not much of a barrier at all.

Like riding on alligator skin.

I don’t have a picture of the grassy ditch, but I think Scott does. Again, I refer you to his Cycleblaze blog for THE REST OF THE STORY.

Once back on the main route, we had some pretty pleasant riding through farm country and a few wooded areas. In the next picture you will see that I backed off to get a photo of Scott and Rocky climbing a super-gigantic monster hill. At the summit, Scott wondered why there wasn’t a big sign showing the name of the pass and its altitude.

I don’t actually know the altitude, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere around 10,800 ft. Oops, that was a typo. I meant 810 feet. Then there was a steady downward trend, followed by a wind-assisted turn to the east, followed again by a sharp descent into the valley of the Cannon River. It was fun. G-2 and I raced down there first and filmed the Portlanders coming into the village of Welch, MN.

At that point, we were very near the Cannon Valley Bike Trail. Rocky really had to, um, “go” by that time and she pointed at some Garceaus (portable-toilets) down in a park to the left. I, perhaps not fully understanding her desperation, told her to hold it because there was a REAL restroom at the trailhead, which was only a couple hundred yards ahead. I just thought it would be more comfortable than a sweaty Garceau under a hot, hot sun.

The Cannon Valley Bike Trail was a delight–particularly because the Andersons paid for my trail pass. Ever since Covid began, I almost never carry cash. The trail association doesn’t take credit cards, so once again I am indebted to these people. I’ll NEVER be able to fully pay them back.

The trail was wonderfully shady on this increasingly hot day. The weather people are predicting a high of 95-degrees (F) with high humidity, but you wouldn’t know it under this tunnel of tree branches.

Scott passed Rocky as if she was standing still. She WAS standing still.

At some point along the trail, Scott casually said, “Hey Greg, make sure you thank The Feeshko for giving me your Caribou Coffee jersey.”

What the hell? I knew Scott had been coveting that shirt ever since he saw it, but I didn’t know The Feeshko knew that. At first I figured he was joking. But then I thought possibly he had conspired with my wife last night at dinner. Maybe he convinced her to bring it to the motel this morning under the pretense of simply offering almonds, trail mix, grapes, energy bars, etc.

“Nah, that couldn’t be true,” I thought, and I put it out of my mind.

All too soon, we got to the point where I would have to head back to MY Town. I told them I would miss them, but I’d be following their journey all the way. I wished them luck for the next few thousand miles to Rome. They never wished ME luck for my next 20 miles back to home.

Then, once again, Scott told me to thank The Feeshko for that Caribou Coffee jersey. Now I was very worried.

I pushed my bike up the hill to get onto Highway 61. I took a picture of my good friends from the bridge over the trail before they headed off to their incredible adventure. I was so envious.

Farewell, random strangers, farewell!

It was a very hot slog back up out of the Cannon Valley River. The sun was intense. I hate to admit it, but I was thankful for the extra water The Feeshko made me throw into my pannier. I drank half of it, and poured the other half over my head occasionally to cool me off.

I thought about Scott and Rocky. I wondered whether or not they decided to do that non-required climb up to the Afton State Park overlook onto the Mississippi River. I wondered if they made it to Lake City before I made it to MY Town. I wondered if Rocky enjoyed her Ice Cream Sandwich at the Button Factory as much as she did four years ago.

Then my focus turned to this month’s scavenger hunt. I managed this picture of a country church with a nice steeple.


From there I raced home, if for no other reason than to confirm whether or not The Feeshko gave away my precious Caribou Coffee jersey. Thank goodness, there it was.

9 response to "Random Cyclists From Portland: Day Two"

  1. By: NancyG Posted: June 4, 2021

    Those random cyclists are so fortunate to have come upon you and the Feeshko on this tour. Great company for all, and such a delivery of wonderful trail food and drink — who would pass that up???
    So glad you go to ride with those two and share some good time wth them.

  2. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 4, 2021

    An excellent and memorable start to the tour. Ya done good Greg and Freesko!
    Enjoyed being able to be a part of it thru cyberspace.
    Will look forward to following along on CycleBlaze

  3. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: June 4, 2021

    Looks like you guys had a great time together. Would be good to meet up with my computer cycling buddies in real one day, you never know.

    • By: gregblood Posted: June 5, 2021

      It really is fun to meet up with people you know from cycling websites. You already know you have many things in common with them and then you find you have even MORE in common than you thought.

      I’ve already been tricked into buying one guy a beer, so I’m not going to fall for that again. If you were to show up in MY Town, I’ll gladly buy you a beer simply out of the kindness of my heart. Come on over to the other side of the world.

  4. By: Bill Stone Posted: June 5, 2021

    Bravo! Also, extra points for leading your helpless visitors on that bushwhacking tour!

    • By: gregblood Posted: June 5, 2021

      They were too polite to say anything too negative about most of that alternative route, but when we got to the ditch, Scott just had to stop and photograph what I put them through.

  5. By: Rocky Posted: June 5, 2021

    Great write up of the ride! We did skip the lookout, it was just too hot to do the climb. The photo of Scott and I on our bicycles is one of the best we’ve ever had of us. Thanks to you and Feeshko for everything! We look forward to seeing you again!

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