Sunday, August 16, 2009
It is traditional for bicyclists to snack on pie. If you have read chronicles of RAGBRAI (The Register’s Great Annual Bike Ride across Iowa), BRAN (Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska), or other organized bike rides, you know that pie vendors make a killing on bike routes. Pie! MMMMMM. $3 or $4 for a heavenly slice. Pie is perfect when you’re crashing. Instant energy until the next pie stand. In newspaper interviews these cross-state group-bicyclists talk hypnotically about the pie.
We were riding the Root River Trail in Minnesota when we became obsessed with pie. The trail stopped in Whalan (population 60) in front of World Class Pies, a small restaurant in a comfortable house, with the usual bicycle sculpture in front. We ordered our pie and sat on the porch. We casually put our books aside - no one seemed to be reading - and photographed the pie. There was strawberry-rhubarb (mine), blueberry (my husband's), cherry, banana cream, strawberry with whipped cream on top, and more. The strawberry seemed the most popular. Slice after slice of that whisked out the back door.
We ate and watched the hummingbirds at a bird feeder. But it felt very odd to take a break without reading.
The reading-relaxation addiction is problematic on the beautiful, scenic, well-maintained Root River Trail, which extends for 60 miles along the Root River, under 300-foot bluffs, through woods, past cornfields and wildflowers. It's very difficult to find a place to relax and read. Bicyclists spread out until you get to a town, and then everyone crashes at the same park or restaurant or whatever else they can find. Well, except in Lanesboro, a beautiful bluff town - the central destination - that has been converted into a bicyclists’ tourist town, with bicycles and inner tubes for rent, many restaurants, shops, etc. There IS space there. There are some nice restaurants there, but my husband frankly hates it. (I love it - it's not tourist ticky-tacky.)
I kept trying to read bits of H. G. Wells's Ann Veronica at a picnic table on a crowded terrace in Lanesboro (my husband presented me with a Diet Coke from a machine, because he refused to go into a restaurant). Wells loves to satirize social issues, and this coming-of-age-in-the-turn-of-the-century-suffragette-and-Fabian-socialist world novel is engrossing. Ann Veronica, a 21-year-old science student, wants to be independent, to transfer to a good college, and to escape her father's domination and the proposal of a very silly young man, because she does not intend to live under any man. So she runs away to London after her father appallingly, violently refuses to allow her to attend a masked ball. Ann Veronica is a sympathetic heroine, but many of the marginal people she meets at political meetings puzzle her, because they can't argue well and are of a different social class. Wells has intruded occasionally to point out that prostitutes are better-able to earn a living than Ann V., so we know she's going to learn a lot very quickly.
There was too much noise to read much, though. That made both of us sulky.
After 41 miles I began to get that welded-to-the-machine feeling. The last couple of miles were hard for me, though it's an easy trail, not hilly. It's the longest ride of the summer so far. It's just a matter of riding that distance regularly and then it is nothing. ALL of it seems easier after that road-riding we did a while back.
N.B. If you plan to ride the Root River Trail on weekends, note that there are some share-the-trail issues. Groups of tubers now walk the trail with their giant orange doughnut-shaped inner tubes and some very aggressively resist the single-file protocol. One walked right AT my bicycle and refused to get over until I said, "Excuse me" as a strong hint. There should be etiquette contracts one signs before going on the trail!
Posted by Frisbee at 8:46 AM