My wife was talking with a guy at the Jefferson Rec Center the other night.  “Is your husband the guy with the fat bike?”  he asked her.

“That’s him.” she replied.  He’d seen me out and about.  I don’t have a lot of company these days.   It has been brutally cold for a long time…since before Christmas.  This is the longest stretch of below zero temperatures I can remember, and I go back a long ways.

Every town in these parts has a water tower. I’m amassing quite a collection of pictures.

“You know” he continued  “…back when I lived in Northfield, Minnesota, everyone rode all winter long.  It didn’t matter what the weather was.”  I know he’s right.  Northfield is a college town just southeast of the Twin Cities.  It’s not far from Cannon Falls and one of the best bicycle trails in America.  The Cannon Valley Trail connects the town to Red Wing on the Mississippi River, some twenty miles to the east.

The Cannon Valley Trail is on my bucket list for 2018.  It’s a three hour drive from Jefferson, so why not?   Before that, I want to check out the Root River Trail.  It’s even closer, just across the state line in the SE corner of Minnesota.  This is seriously pretty country.  Most people have no idea just how beautiful it is.  We could do it in a day or break it up and stay along the trail.  That’s my idea of fun.

I track where I’ve been on my bike (blue) and where I want to go next (orange) on a Google Map and it’s really starting to fill up.  It’s fun to play around with this.

For 2018, my big cycling event is the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic in July.  We’re driving out with the bikes, so I’ll have a chance to cycle in Montana and Idaho on the way as well.  I’d really like to do the Route of the Hiawatha some day, but we won’t have time on this trip.  Besides, that part of the world deserves its own week or two what the the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes and the mountain biking resource around Kellogg and Silver Mountain.

Closer to home, Jan has her eyes on the Mickelson trail through South Dakota’s Black Hills. To me that’s like going to the Rockies without the crowds, especially in the fall.  Lower elevations mean easier breathing and a longer season, too.

The death of the Midwestern small town has been greatly exaggerated. One of the great joys of trail riding is discovering these gems.

There are a lot of other places on my cycling bucket list.  I want to go back to Minnesota’s North Shore and I know a guy over in Marquette Michigan who raves about what they have there, too.    Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail has a hold on me as well as does a cross Missouri ride on the Katy and Rock Island trails.  So do some routes in the south and east like the Natchez Trace, Blue Ridge Parkway and the GAP from Pittsburgh to Washington DC.

Cycling makes life better in a lot of ways.  For me, one of those ways has always been about exploration and discovery.  I love seeing new places and I’ve learned that when I’m on a bike even the old places look new and different.

So my wish for you in 2018 is that you get out and explore on your bicycle.   Let me know where your cycling adventures take you.  Send pictures and I’ll post them.  Better yet, let me know if you want to blog about them and share them with others.  I’ll give you access and let you post.

Happy Trails in 2018.   Ride.

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