Bags of Bran

Yay! School’s out!
May 17, 2013, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Bike, Biography, Personal Adventures

The other day I posted a little something about a recent bicycle ride. Today, I supply pictures to furnish your imagination.

Rock Garden at Murphy

Rock Garden at Murphy

This is a picture of a rock garden at Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve. The picture does not particularly capture how harrowing it really looks: it’s not so much that it is difficult to ride up, but that big tree hogging the left margin of the picture has claimed a few people over the years. I was one of its victims once, and it has a way of reminding me of my past failures when I’m halfway up.

This guy was out for the Strava KOM on the Murphy expert loop.

Wildlife action shot! While I was riding Murphy I saw a turtle shuffling down the trail. I am pretty sure he wanted to race me, but I told him I had a long day ahead of me and would need all my energy for the trip home. Plus, look at him: his shell’s all dirty. Dirty old turtle…



About 20 miles into the ride, and for some reason (such as I’M DONE WITH SCHOOL FOR THE SEMESTER, AT LEAST MOSTLY SO), I’m still smiling. This is on McAndrews Road, a serpentine four-lane roller coaster that more or less connects the two parks. It happens to go past the Minnesota Zoo, and when the wind is just right, you don’t even need the sign to confirm its presence.



This is the entrance into the Lebanon Hills expert loop. It is accessible by means of a three-mile chunk of trail, the last half-mile or so being a royal hoot. This trail intersection functions rather like a coffee shop without the Apple products or the funny smells: you usually stop here for a layover of variable duration, whether to eat and drink or just to chit-chat with your fellow cyclists. It was getting mighty hot out by this point in my ride. This was also the inevitable time during a long ride when I had dumb songs stuck in my head.



I’m so grateful that they put this beautiful facility up in the Lebanon Hills parking lot! I used to have to carry four bottles when I wanted to do this ride, and now there is water at both ends. Nuun is a lifesaver on hot days: It’s easy to carry, contains just enough electrolytes to stave off the cramps without tasting like the Dead Sea, and it fizzes. It gives you something to listen to, I guess.


Here’s a shameless plug for the best convenience store chain in the Midwest. I stopped and bought a big bar made out of Fruity Pebbles, and as the old saying goes, it added life to my years. By this point, I was nothing you would have wanted to smell: my aroma was one part slaughterhouse, two parts catcher’s mitt, and let’s just say that the Speed Stick had long since called it a day.

Oh, and I remember when gas was… never mind.


For whatever reason, my olfactory sense goes hog-wild on long bike rides. For example (and why I snapped the picture), this intersection smelled exactly like tomato soup. I pretty much hallucinated about grilled cheese and tomato soup for the rest of my ride.


Yup, I’m tired. One more lap of Murphy to go!

Evil Choice

Evil Choice

This is the entrance to the Murphy expert loop. I deliberated: cross the jagged threshold, or turn back… From this point, I could have chickened out, taken the Intermediate trail back to the parking lot for about 3 miles, and despised myself for the rest of the day. Nothing doing. The rest of the lap made me consider fishing as an alternative hobby, but I had just recently read Horton Hatches the Egg, and to fail to see the thing through at this point would have just been wrong.



How windy was it? This tree wasn’t on the trail the first time I came through. Glad I wasn’t here to experience it first hand.

I could have easily named this post “Biting Off More Than I Could Chew,” or something of the sort. That last lap at Murphy was probably the slowest I can remember. I had lots of time to think, which is a rare commodity these days. I don’t do headphones so I can talk to people, hear the birds singing, and avoid traffic. My mind flits around a bit in these times without structure, but it is also a good time to think a problem through.

I also use these times away from busy life to commune in the quietness with the Creator of everything. I think about Psalms and the texts of great old hymns such as the Te Deum, which I’ve been trying to memorize haphazardly for a few weeks. I am thankful for cycling as a means to various ends, but it is especially in these occasions that I remember that, as a Christian, I am forbidden to let it become an end in itself.


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