Wednesday, June 12, 2013
From Proctor to Hinckley: A Tale of Two Crashes
I was spending this evening staring at the TV until a thunderstorm rolled through that killed our satellite signal. So I decided to turn off the tube, turn on some music, and write while I listen to the thunder and the rain outside my windows.
I promised to write part II of my cycling adventure this past weekend so hear it is.
We were so lucky with the weather on Friday night into Saturday morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temp only dropped into the lower 50s. Wow, such a change from prior years when the tent and grass surrounding it were covered in frost. It was definitely a welcomed change. We were awake and up by 4:30 when everyone else around us started rustling in their tents. I never sleep well on the ground so I did not get a full night's rest but I was up anyway. Dad and I assessed the weather and dressed appropriately. There was a chance for rain so we had our rain gear in tow. We got our teeth brushed and broke down the tent, packing things away. The MS 150 organizers allow each rider two pieces of luggage, which we both utilized. Camping gear sure does take up a ton of room. The other great thing the organizers do is transport your luggage from Proctor to Hinckley, and then again from Hinckley to our final destination in White Bear Lake. After we got our baggage on the truck, we decided to skip the lines for the complementary pancake breakfast and get on the road. The ride didn't officially start until 6:30 but we departed right around 6:00 to beat the crowds. There were 3,800 riders this year! That's a lot of people to share the road with.
We were off! The air was a little chilly and the side roads we certainly bumpy. Because of last year's flooding in Duluth (pictures) we had to delay our entrance onto the Willard Munger State Trail. This year's high rains still made some of the rivers a sight to be seen. We finally hopped on the trail in the town of Carlton where our first rest stop was located. Ride organizers place rest stops every 10-15 miles along the route. It's helpful to break down the ride into smaller segments; it doesn't seem so daunting.
The ride was going smoothly until we got to a curvy part in the trail. Most of the trail is an old rail line so, as you can guess, the trail is pretty flat and very straight. These curvy hills really snuck up on us with no warning. They were fast and fun. That is until we came up on a group of people stopping us at the top of a hill. A rider was on the ground off to the side of the trail. Another man was holding his head still and blood was dripping heavily from his nose. A few other riders were stopped on their cell phones. We jumped off our bikes and started walking, along with the other cyclists that had been riding near us. We were told an ambulance had been called and was coming. That was true. We were forced off our bikes again, happily, when we encountered the emergency vehicle a few miles up the trail. We later heard that he was passing another cyclist on one of the uphill climbs and the person he was passing lost control of his bike and swung out in front of him, hitting his tire and causing him to crash. As far as we heard, he broke his collar bone but was going to be alright.
At the last rest stop, Dad and I slipped in with a group of riders that said they average about 15-16 mph, just a little faster than our 14mph averages we typically ride. We were keeping good pace with them for the last 12 mile leg of the ride into Hinckley until we came up on the second crash of the day. This time though the trail had been shut down with a SAG vehicle blocking the path at an intersection. We were told there was a multi-rider crash about a mile up the trail and they were not letting us through until it was cleared. Understandable. Dad and I waited for about ten minutes before we decided there had to be a detour around the crash. We asked some of the support volunteers where the highway was. We found out it was just half a mile from where we were. We were warned by the SAG that we would not be supported. I dont think they realized that we never ride supported and that we would be fine. Dad, another rider from our team, and myself set out on a great adventure down the highway. We soon found that a lot of the rest of the stuck crowd followed us. We were sure glad we did that. We later heard that riders that stayed waited another hour and a half after we left. The crash made the local news. We also found out that one of the members of our team was involved but was deemed alright with a concussion.
We soon found our way into Hinckley. Saturday's festivities were being held on Grand Casino's grounds. Our team tent was set up with tables, chairs, pig roast and beer. Oh! That beer certainly tasted wonderful! I had one as we were walking to the shower trucks (semi trailers set up with shower stalls) and another soon after my shower. There is nothing as good as a hot shower and a cold beer after riding 73 miles on a bike in one day. Mom and Alyssa drove to Hinckley to join us for dinner in the tent. There were awards given, more beer drank, and a team picture taken. Since it was supposed to rain early in the morning, Dad and I opted to set up our tend under the big top. After the tables and chairs were broken down in the team tent, we set up shop, along with 5-6 other campers that didn't want to brave the rain in the morning.
Join me next time for Part 3. "From Hinckley to White Bear Lake: Mostly Rain and a SAG Wagon