It has been a great cycling season so far, many interesting races in many different locations: the Arrowhead 135 in Minnesota; the Birkie Bike in Wisconsin; Alexander in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin; and the Gold Rush in South Dakota to date. The MUERTO Summer Challenge, however was one event that I was looking forward to the most (besides the CTR later in July). I was really looking forward to the opportunity to explore Manitoba from border to border (well almost border to border) on roads that you seldom if ever travel.
Looking at the map and guessing the distance that needed to be covered I thought that the ride could be covered in 24 hours; as Dan, my riding partner this summer, knows I am a bit of an optimist – the glass is always half full. My guess was well, a little too optimistic, it took us just under 40 hours to finish the Challenge. It was 39 plus hours of fun, determination, beautiful scenery, and interesting challenges.
The fun began at 11:30 PM on Friday night, June 14, 30 minutes after Dallas delivered us to Virden. Rather than get a room for the night we decided to start riding right away, the weather reports were favourable and rather than risk bad the possibility of bad weather down the road we thought we would get as many miles in while we could (my mantra for riding events this year is to make hay when one can make hay – push when the conditions are in your favour). Well the weather never stopped being in our favour, other than one brief shower the ride gods blessed us with moderate temperatures and strong southwest winds, and it was about time we received something good from those gods as they cursed us on many of our earlier rides this season with rain, 40-60km headwinds, horizontal snows, and a spring that would never arrive.
There are so many parts that made the ride for me: the rolling hills in the west, two sunrises (sunrises following a ride through the night is always awesome), the farm fields of the prairies, small town restaurants, and the woodlands in the east. I also liked meeting the challenges that are presented by long distant rides: keeping in good spirits, pushing through the fatigue, and solving issues that keep you from moving forward.
Here’s hoping that others are ready to accept the challenge.