I have never had a truly Great Ride on one of these, and I have collected a handful of rails-to-trails rides now, including:
- Gandy Dancer in NW Wisconsin;
- Willard Munger from Duluth to Hinckley,
- Dakota Trail between Wayzata and St. Bonifascius
- Red Cedar south of Menomonee
- Chippewa River Trail from Chippewa Falls to Cornwall(?)
Not on my life list: The Luce Line. This trail was the scene of an aborted ride about a year ago, and it ends/starts blocks from where a friend/riding partner lives, so I was determined to give the Luce Line another shot this season.
To that end, I took Friday off and set out for Winsted, MN around lunch time with my co-conspirator and colleague. What with packing up and a lunch stop, we didn't make it to Winsted until about 2:00, so we got a later start than planned. To add to that, we faced a pretty stiff and relentless headwind and/or cross-wind the whole ride, which made for some slow going.
But wait - there's more!
Early on I got a warning of things to come when my front derailleur failed to through the chain onto the big chain ring. Instead, the chain would fall between the small and large chain ring (here's a little foreshadowing for you - the chain shouldn't really even fit there to begin with if you stop and think about it). I stopped and futzed around with the FD thinking I had a slack cable or something to no avail, so I reconciled myself to riding the entire trail in my small chain ring. It could be worse, after all.
I have heard of this happening, but it's never happened to me. Not once. It was also a long walk home, too. With no other option, I repositioned one of the two remaining bolts to get a bit more even purchase on the crank spider and then wrestled the chain out from behind the crank because it was really sucked in there. I gingerly rode all the way to Plymouth like this without any further problems.
What's odd is that I just rode this bike to and from work a day before with no problem whatsoever. I don't know if the constant chatter and vibration from the limestone trail worked the bolts loose or if I have been riding around with less than my parts for weeks. At any rate, when it failed, the failure was sudden and severe. I have made a point to really torqued these bolts down tight when I assemble a crank, but I have never once thought to check the tightness of these during routine maintenance on my bikes. As of about 3:30 PM yesterday that has become standard operating procedure, however.
Between the wind and the mechanical problems, I won't be counting this one among my "great rides". The Luce Line is nice enough, but the crushed limestone surface was surprisingly loud with two bikes riding side-by-side on it, which was sort of annoying. I can't really blame the Luce Line for the wind or mechanicals - those can happen anywhere.
I'll probably give this another go at some point, but I'll make sure every damn nut and bolt is battened down before I set out.