It’s Nice To Slow Down and Smell the Roses

After my 50 mile soul-transforming odyssey last Monday, I decided to take all of Tuesday to rest and relax. By Wednesday, I was back on my bike and I did a cool 10 mile tour around St. Croix Falls. I’ve been so focused on speed and distance because I have a distance-based goal, but I really enjoyed slowing down and just biking around town like I did when I was a kid.

I didn’t have a plan or a route. St. Croix Falls is built on the side of a hill (the St. Croix river cuts between St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls) so I knew that unless I biked on the Gandy, I’d be facing some challenging climbs ahead of me. Well, I like a challenge and I figured that doing some hill “work” would help get the blood flowing back into my muscles. So I biked around the residential area and then I turned on to the paved multi-purpose trail that connects to 3 amazing trails: one for mountain biking (Wooly Mammoth trail), one for normal biking (Gandy), and one for hiking (Ice Age Trail).

This is the reason why St. Croix Falls is called “The City of Trails.”

The multi-purpose paved trail cuts through Royal Park and goes past the Gandy Dancer trailhead, then it goes down hill beneath Highway 8 and out onto the old Highway 8 road. Then it connects back up with the paved walking path and comes out by the Information Center/City Hall. Then I crossed Highway 35 and tackled the first steady climb up to the Wisconsin side of Interstate Park.

Upon entering the park, I took the main road down a crazy steep and long hill that goes past the Glacial Pothole trail and another hiking trail that leads to an old copper mine. The road spits you out in a campground that boarders the river. I followed this road back to the trail which passes the Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Fish Hatchery, then it comes out at the Scenic Overlook by the hydroelectric damn. I could’ve stopped there but I was having so much fun just touring around and listening to The Dresden Files, so I continued on to Gaylord Nelson park, down a residential road out to Highway 87, and turned around in Lion’s Park.

This view never ceases to make me happy.

I verbally outlined all of this because although I “only” went 10 miles, I enjoyed each and every mile as a new and exciting journey. I live in this town. I know these trails like the back of my hand. I’ve ran 5K races on these trails. But biking around your own town holds a special significance.

As Oscar Martinez quipped in the television show The Office upon buying a new road bike for himself: “I feel like a tourist in my own city.”

I’m hyper competitive and I hold myself to high standards. These aren’t vices or sins but they can backfire, especially as a depressive person, so keeping this journey in perspective makes me appreciate the journey in addition to focusing on the destination.

After that 50 mile bike ride, I almost (jokingly) said to my husband: “I’m never biking again. That was a horrible experience.” (Side bar: It wasn’t that bad. I’m proud I did it). But this thought did raise a red flag in my mind. This cross country goal shouldn’t make me hate biking. I shouldn’t be doing these longer distances because “I have to” in order to feel good about myself. Logging milage of any sort counts for this goal and all milage is equal.

A 50 mile lung-searing, muscle-burning, spirit-crushing ride is the same as a 10 mile stroll around town. The intensity will help with my Korte training, but I shouldn’t burn myself out because I take things to the extreme.

Life is about balance and I enjoyed this ride.

Biking isn’t just a means to an end for me. It is part of my life.

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