It has been a while since I've taken a ride. I've been doing more running at noon and that's taken the place of the rides through the state fair grounds. I miss the wheel though, so this morning, Sunday morning, I mounted up and headed south over Highway 36 toward Bayport. My goal was the Minnesota State Penitentiary. Along the way I detoured into the cemetery to stroke up the two steep hills there. I was curious about whether my running had improved my leg strength, and I'd say that yes it has. The hills were still a challenge, but not a struggle.
On the way to the Stillwater Pen where I crossed over Hwy 36 you could see where the highway begins to curl north and alongside the western shore of the St. Croix River. The Valley is visible, and just a bit of the river. The Autumn colors are muted now, but still beautiful. There, I picked up a trail through a former landfill that many years ago was seeded to prairie. At the south end is a nice wetland. It ends too soon, though. Just when you feel like you are out in the boonies you ride up a rise out of the wetland and are abruptly confronted with a view of the towering Bayport power plant smoke stack and high voltage power lines heading toward the Anderson Window fabrication shops.
While looping around the Penitentiary I had a chance to check in on what I was feeling as I rode for the first time in a while. The idea that bubbled up was to keep my shoulders square. The crown of the road usually slopes down from left to right as you are riding on the right shoulder, and this can result in some skewed riding positions to counteract the slope. Too often I start leading with one shoulder and arm. But if I concentrate on keeping my shoulders square I can stay relaxed on the slope of the crown, and also improve my speed and balance when I'm on flat ground.
It was a fun ride, super scenery, quiet roads around the penitentiary, and back in time for the start of the Vikings game.