Terry and Joshua completed a quick out-and-back S24O (Say "Es-Two-Four-Oh," a sub-24-hour bike trip). On a first ever bike overnight for either of them, they chose an easy, non-technical route for young Joshua.
Bicycle Adventurers: Terry and Joshua
When: October 2015
Accomodations: Sakatah Lake State Park near Waterville, MN, sixty miles south of Minneapolis.
Distance: Twenty-eight miles over two days on this out-and-back between their start in Faribault, MN and Sakatah Lake State Park.
Bonus tips for this adventure:
- Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a beautiful ride, especially in the fall with the changing leaves. The trail is set on an old railway and almost completely flat. Except for crossings, this route involves no riding on roads. In short, look no further for an S24O bike overnight that can accomodate a novice rider: this trip fits the bill exactly.
- Sakatah Lake State Park is a smaller park as Minnesota state parks go, nestled in between Sakatah Lake and MN Highway 60 just outside of Waterville, MN. The noise from the highway is easily heard, so don't expect the illusion of a wilderness experience. The park's visitor center is located about a half mile off the trail, up a service road. The road is fairly coarse gravel with lots of aggregate, so skinny bike tire people beware!
- In Faribault there is a Dairy Queen right on the trail! Just sayin'.
Our trip started from White Sands Park in Faribault, MN. Though not necessary, I contacted the Faribault Parks & Recreation Dept. to let them know that my vehicle would be parked there overnight. They were very gracious and promised that they would have an extra patrol to keep an eye out on my vehicle. It pays to call!
On the trail we made slow time, being Joshua's first time riding any significant distance on his own two wheels. We have spent a lot of time on the tandem, so I knew that he had the legs to go the distance. But this time he had to handle his own bike instead of just sitting back and stoking. This proved a little challenging at first, but we learn by doing and by the time we reached the park he was doing a great job of holding his line.
At the park we did take the ride up to the visitor center to register and that's how I found out about the gravel road. My bike has 700x28 tires and I felt a little anxious on that surface, especially on the return trip going down a small hill.
In the bike campground, the ground is an uneven clay-like dirt with weeds and creeping charlie and no grass. Even though we had the run of the area, we found it challenging to find a perfect spot. And on this unseasonably warm day, the mosquitos buzzed. I suspect the bugs are a whole lot worse in the summer. Bug spray is a must!
Not too long after sunset we were accosted by a pair of red foxes. They began closing in on our position with the lead fox crying out, sounding like this example I found. Our headlamps picked up their eyes, and we observed them making a beeline toward us without hesitation. I have to admit that I have never had that happen and their boldness unnerved me, so I stomped on the ground and called out, "Get out of here!" It worked and they skirted around us through the woods. One thing's for sure, it gave Joshua something to talk about for a while. You don't get that kind of excitement at home on the couch playing Nintendo.
We went to bed that night with bellies full of bratwurst and s'mores: all stuff that was very easy to pack in. "Keep It Simple, Stupid" was my motto for this trip.
We kept breakfast simple too. Joshua munched on a baggie full of cereal while I got the fire going again and warmed up some little smokies sausages we had packed. Before long, we rolled back on the trail.
We made a lot better time on the way back to Faribault. Joshua handled his bike better and with no wind to speak of, I bumped up the speed a little bit and spaced out the stop breaks a little more. After getting back to White Sands park and loading up, we drove over to the Dairy Queen and had some well deserved ice cream to celebrate our new status as successful cyclotourists.
Your favorite local bike shop? Behind Bars Bicycle Shop in Minneapolis, MN goes out of their way to only stock products you won't end up hating.
Bike overnight tips and tricks?
There is a difference between a caffeine addict and a coffee addict. For me, black tea is way less complicated to transport and prepare.
Keep the meals simple.
Keep the entertainment simple—no electronics! (Exceptions: Taking pictures and texting mom pictures of her precious baby holding things like tree toads and stink bugs!)
Whenever camping with kids, err on the side of bringing too many treats.
You need a lot more water then you think. Pack in a couple of empty nalgenes and fill them at camp so that you don't have to transport the additional weight.