Bottom Of The Hill, Left At The Silos

The unassuming building in the background was a goldmine of riches for me.


The last of the beautiful fall weather left Minneapolis with me. It didn’t come with me though. I don’t know where it went. It’s not here. When I made the decision that I was going to do this trip, I only knew that I could no longer exist in the space I was living in. I mean that in every sense. The physical space I literally called home, the city I lived in, the neighborhoods I frequented, but also the place I was at in life. My fire for life had died down to just a few embers. I only knew that I had to commit myself to something that would make me leave comfort for the unknown and would challenge me, test me, and make me stretch. I had to take a leap out into the unknown and push myself to rise to the challenge. It was the only way I knew I could but a bellows on those embers and stoke up my fire for life.

I got a late start Friday afternoon, leaving about 1 in the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day. I rode the Luce Line trail. I went out about 40 miles or so. It was enough pedaling for the first day. I camped on the grass of the horse trail next to the bike trail, and next to a cornfield, just before sunset.

I’d heard rain was predicted, when I woke up about an hour before dawn, I felt relieved to not hear the sound of rain on my tent. But two seconds after that feeling of relief went away, it started raining. Luckily only for a little while while I packed up and ate breakfast.

I rode into Hutchinson and went to a coffee shop to charge my cell phone. I was there for about 10 minutes when a friend that I worked with at Midtown Bike Center rolled up and leaned his bike against the window I was sitting behind. Ha! I knew he lived out west, but I didn’t know what town.

“Good to see you Chief Two Wheels, of the Midtown tribe!”

We bullshitted for a little while. The sky looked like it was about to rain, and he offered shelter. I hesitated because I had just started this trip the day before. I was looking forward to getting tough. It’s not just the biking that does it, it’s living outside, dealing with that you’re dealt. But at the same time, on trips like this, running into a friend who offers shelter and company is something that should really never be turned down. Boy am I glad I didn’t turn it down. It would have been a miserable night camped in a muddy ditch next to a cornfield in a cold hard rain.

Instead I got to start the next day in good spirits, well fed, rested, and all my gear dried out and repacked.  I had a decent tailwind to Fort Ridgely State Park. I got there before 2 PM. I could have ridden further, but I really wanted to camp there. If I had known that I was going to be riding into a 30 mph south wind today through endless tilled cornfields, I would have stayed there. It was pretty damn nice. Although after rolling through endless empty farm fields I call anyplace with a couple of trees and maybe a stream pretty damn nice. So it had a couple of trees and a stream. But it also had a really bitchin’ stone building (must be WPA, or CCC built) with a rad stone fireplace. And, get this, an outlet where I could charge my phone! And, check it yo, picnic tables to sit, work, and eat on! And, I was able to slide those picnic tables up to the fire and string a line between them so I could dry a few pieces of clothing I washed in the stream. And, fo’ reals, it had a roof! A roof to keep the passing sprinkles off me. That building had everything I needed, and it was right next to my tent.  I love those old stone structures, and with a few minor modifications, I could very happily call that one home.

I’ve met so many really helpful people. My maps suck, and my plan to use a google maps bike route didn’t work, so I’m winging it. I ask people what the best roads to get me where I’m going are. Although, out here in rural farm country, they don’t use street names or hiway numbers. Most of these people have a feel for this land. They came from it, they know it by heart. They’ve been here a long time. They don’t need numbers or names. I once asked a fellow getting out of his car in a small farm town where County Road 2 was. He stared at me blankly.

I rephrased it, “Where’s the road that goes to Springfield?”

“Bottom of the hill, left at the silos.”

    • gorkey
    • October 26th, 2010

    Where’s all of your gear?

      • jbemel
      • October 26th, 2010

      My tent is just behind where I stood to take the picture. My front paniers and stuff are in the vestibule of the tent. Rear paniers on the the picnic table. All of that stuff in the exploded view of the gear packs up into front and rear paniers.

    • vy thorng
    • October 26th, 2010

    Very good prose J. This thing seems much bigger than it sounds. Keep it up!

    • Porter Million
    • October 26th, 2010

    J- Good luck with your adventure. I am enjoying your blog so far. Keep it up and stay safe!!! I know it will be a while but let me know when(IF) you return to MN. Take care.

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