My wife, Jen, and I have roamed many of Minnesota’s parks and trails and every trip has brought new experiences and new lessons. Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts we’ve learned the hard way.
Do talk your travel partner about the route, mileage and pace before you leave on your trip. Everyone needs to have similar expectations and abilities for the journey to be enjoyable.
Don’t forget to apologize ahead of time for the insults you will be hurling at your friends when things get rough. There may be a time when you break open a knuckle while struggling with a flat tire on a road as hot as a skillet, and someone makes a smart comment.
Better say you’re sorry, now.
Do ride your route. Make sure you visit all the places you want to see, and do all the things you want to do. Your vacation time is precious.
Don’t let your route ride you. If you’re not having fun on the bike, it’s time to stop. If you’re exhausted, rest, and keep going the next day. Take in an unexpected concert, stop at the Historical Society, or linger at a local town festival.
Make memories you’ll want to remember, not forget
Do exhibit your best behavior when you meet people. Your fully loaded bike leaned against the wall of the local cafe will attract curious looks and questions.
Be prepared to talk about your trip, your gear, and the weather with a smile, even if you’re tired and grumpy (Why are you grumpy and tired? See # 2 above.)
Don’t use restrooms in local businesses without asking permission or accept help without offering to pay for it. An owner of a rural hardware store once charged me a dollar to borrow an Allen wrench. I paid it without gripe, because I wanted to leave a good impression for all bicyclists.
Do your own cooking when you can. I love to eat at local cafes, but they’re not always open when I’m passing through. You can make a tasty meal with rice and noodles and buy fresh ingredients along the way. My favorite dining room is on the rocks over looking Pebble Beach in Grand Marais.
Don’t under estimate the effect good food has on your psyche. You’re asking a lot of your mind and body during a bike trip away from home. Why punish both with roller grill meats of questionable pedigree?
Do keep a journal. When you’re standing on your pedals crawling up a very steep hill, you may ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” Writing down your thoughts and experiences every day may help you find the answer.
Don’t forget to take pictures. Take lots of pictures of anything that catches your interest, even the most insignificant details. Together with your journal, these pictures will make a great story like the ones in this magazine.
Do bring these items: First Aid kit; Immodium and Pepto Bismol; dental floss-use it on your teeth and to tie stuff down and as a makeshift clothesline, Duct tape to patch holes in your tent, wrapped around your seat post, Baby wipes-they also work on your face, hands, and dishes, pillow case-stuff it with clothes to make a- pillow, flip-flops, Zipper bags.
Don’t bring these items: jeans; bring a lightweight pair of breathable hiking pants with zip-off legs, mess kit-bring a plastic spoke, it saves much weight, plate; bring a thin, flexible cutting board.