Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cuyuna, Duluth, Amnicon, Copper

At the tail-end of my vacation, I had a couple of days with Steve. We took our time travelling home. One of the reasons we were so excited to be in the Brainerd area is the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. I had been stretching, foam rolling, and icing faithfully in hopes of 45 minutes or so of flowing singletrack.

I had looked up a little information about the trails and saw that "Sand Hog Hill" was designated as one of two Flow Trails in the United States by IMBA. I happen to be a fan of flow, so that was the first trail I was going to hit. We started out on "Easy Street", the corridor that leads to Sand Hog Hill. The climbs were gentle and flowing. I could feel I was working, but never so hard I even considered walking. Nice, steady climb with some breathtaking views.
Steve, waiting for me as usual

Before the descent

Berms and lakes a'plenty!

Beautiful trail

Scenic Overlook

 Rode around a bit and came to "Screamer", which was highly recommended by a local rider. I was hesitant at first due to the warning signs.

Check out the video of this trail! This is from the LIC Ego camera I won at Wausau 24. Fun little toy. I am learning to edit video yet, so bear with me.

What a blast!! Sand Hog Hill and Screamer had me grinning until well after the ride was over. At about 1.5 hours we were back to the car. I had been taking it relatively easy so that my injuries would allow me to enjoy the trails. However, I still had more. I decided to hit Switchback which was also fabulous. Red dirt berms through lush green forest on either side of a small strip of land between two brilliant, blue mine lakes. It was as if you could launch right into the water, but the berm held you in. From there I went back to the car, grateful for the time I had on the bike, and Steve continued on to Bobsled (which he raved about). I rode the paved trail back to the parking area.

Hot day, covered in red dirt, and this is where we parked. Cool water to soak in? Yes, please!

Enjoyed some yoga on this rock before getting in the water.

Red dirt line :-) The kinesio tape did a great job of holding me together, too.

Got my tires dirty! :-)

My summary of Cuyuna Lakes MTB Trails:

From here we drove to Duluth. We were pretty hungry, so we picked up pizza (gluten-free, light on the cheese for me) and ate on the shore of Lake Superior. This is near where my grandparents lived when I was growing up. I have so many fond memories of hours looking for agates, pottery, bits of smooth glass, and seagulls.

Steve made some new friends.


So happy here. It was frigid cold, so I soaked my ankle as much as I could tolerate. We found a Whole Foods and picked up some camp grub.
Our walk-in site at Amnicon Falls State Park, just south of Superior, Wisconsin. We camped here for one night. Quite a change after the nice hotel room! It was over 90 degrees and humid. Perfect tenting weather (sarcasm). Nice place, nonetheless. The following are photos from our hike that evening.

Grow where you are planted?

Thimbleberries are delicious!

The next morning we stopped in Ashland at this unique coffee shop, in an old mansion with a view of the Chequamegon Bay. Next stop, Copper Falls for a hike.

And from there we went home!
What a beautiful couple of days with my sweetheart. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


Nice place!
As I write this post I am icing my knee/IT band. See, I got out for a little adventure today. No big miles, but noteworthy. I've been anticipating this vacation for months. My sweetheart is working at Brainerd International Raceway for Harley-Davidson, and I get the luxury of tagging along. I have 3 days to myself to explore the area. My original intention was to take some long road rides, and Monday we will ride together at the renowned Cuyuna Falls mountain bike trails.

Due to my injuries, I am unable to do those long miles. This is day 1. I took my time this morning, catching up on messages. I did a hotel room strength workout of 10 walking lunges + 10 pushups x 10 rounds. I stretched and iced.

Last evening I was so hungry when we went out. I did not ask for gluten-free chicken wings. I realized when we got them that they probably were breaded and I ate about 5 of them. Dinner was so nice. I feel incredibly spoiled to be eating out at nice places and staying in a hotel! About an hour after dinner, the belly cramps started. Suffice it to say I could not leave the hotel room until about 11 this morning. So, I took my time.

I could use Steve's car, since he biked to the race area, but I'd rather get a little exercise. So, I set out on my bike at the approximate intensity of a brisk walk. My Achilles and my IT band are kinesio-taped and I have no desire to push it. My first stop was the health food store. I picked up activated charcoal to help my belly feel better. I also picked up a couple of picnic lunch items, and krill oil. I asked the cashier for coffee shop and dinner recommendations, as well as some help with directions. There is a very busy highway between the hotel and.... well.... everything! They were very helpful.

My big plan for the day was to visit Northland Arboretum, find a beautiful place to sit, and read a book for as long as I wanted to. I rode around for a little while in search of the right spot. The scenery was lovely.

And then I found the perfect spot:

Curious what I'm reading? Check it out! I'd highly recommend this book.

Personally, learning to be in the moment has eluded me for years. Sometimes I feel like my mind is in the future so often that I completely miss out on the current moment. This is especially true of when my kids were little. There is so much I don't even remember, and I believe it's because my mind was not in the moment. I'm working towards being present and incorporating mindfulness in all that I do. I won't get those times back, but moving forward I can savor this amazing, miraculous life and all of the moments I'm given. 

I sat, laid down, stretched, counted my breaths, channeled Reiki, and nearly dozed off. It was very refreshing to have that time. Then, I wandered about the gardens.

I rode this trail briefly, to the very busy apiary :-)

And then I pedaled the few miles to Brainerd for some very good coffee and a gluten-free blueberry scone. I made sure to savor those moments. Delicious moments!

The trip back to the hotel included a lot of paved path as shown below. It also included a stiff headwind, and by the time I got back my injuries were more than ready for rest and ice. Good time to write a blog post!