When the going gets tough


We woke to sunshine and a light wind over the lake. Mom’s caregiver arrived at 9:00, and Dad, Tom and I pulled out of the harbor shortly after. We started out at Potato Islands and it was my turn to have some serious fun fishing.


I hauled in two 13” crappies…my favorite fish to catch! They strike hard and put up a fight, need to be landed due to their fragile lips, and are beautiful to behold with their silvery, sparkly scales. Unfortunately, Dad and Tom weren’t able to find anything between the islands, and overall things were slow so we moved on.


First we moved to Allen’s Bay, then to a little stretch of the Mississippi river between Cass Lake and Lake Andrusia (where Tom pulled in a nice perch), and then to the spot we’ve named the “Green House.” No luck there today. We finally called it a day with our catch of three around 1:30.

Fishing in the Mississippi River

Fishing in the Mississippi River

Tom cleaned fish while I spent a little time in the lodge. Even though it was windy (10 mph from the South), I really wanted to ride around Cass Lake, a route I hadn’t done for a couple of years. Tom and I geared up, and after our pre-ride sustenance (ice cream, of course!) with Mom and Dad, we took off. It was about 4:30.

Let me just say that not every ride is the kind I want to save in a bottle for later (like this one). This ride, in many respects, would be better off dumped down the drain.

I was in a bad mood before we even started. Then we rode into the wind and uphill, and I started complaining about how I would never make it. Luckily I have an encouraging bike partner/husband who reminded me that the whole ride wouldn’t be into the wind, and that I’d feel better once my muscles warmed up.

After two miles, I realized I had forgot to turn my Cyclemeter on to track my ride. I said a few choice words and stopped to get it going. Then about two miles later, I had to make a sudden stop which was anything but graceful. I threw my right leg into my bike frame and my knee into the tire, leaving an inch long bloody burn/scratch (and bruises the next day). Before we left, I had layered on the sunblock and bug spray, to which I added sweat as I rode. Now I had blood on my right leg, and a touch of grease from my chain on my left. Let me tell you, I was never so glad to take a shower when we returned home.

Besides the layers of yuck I was covered in, I was not thrilled with the trail. Even though I’d done it before, I forgot that it’s quite boring. It’s almost all on-road (rather than trail), and there’s a very long, straight stretch along the east side of the lake that seems to go on forever, made even worse because that’s where the black flies come out, buzzing around your back and head, and occasionally stinging you on the butt, which really adds to the fun! Not.

I think my endorphins finally kicked in near the 27-mile mark (of the 32-mile loop). The end was in sight and we hopped off the road at that point and into the Norway Beach Recreation Area (part of the Chippewa National Forest). We took a quick peek at Cass Lake from a side we usually don’t get to see, and then rode through the park on the paved bike trail. It was such pleasure after all those miles of road biking and left me feeling happy and accomplished that I was nearing the end and still feeling strong.

We finally arrived back at Birch Villa around 7:30, and found Mom and Dad ready and waiting to go out for dinner. (We had told them earlier we would go out when we got back). I quickly showered (best shower ever!) and then Tom did. We were out the door by 8:00, drove to C.K. Dudley’s in Bemidji, and filled up on pulled pork, brisket, chicken and ribs.

Why is it we often don’t realize how good life is until we look back on it? In the middle of the struggle we whine and complain and say “Woe is me!” But when we get through the tough times, we realize we’ve grown and still have much to be thankful for.

Perhaps this is a ride (and a lesson) I should bottle up and save for later after all.

Linda HanstraComment