Despite a threatening forecast, two friends and I boarded the Northstar commuter train and headed north and west for a longer ride this morning. The guys I rode with have done this route about 5 or 6 times this year. One of them talked me into tagging along during our last 3-speed ride, so after a failed attempt last weekend due to scheduling conflicts last weekend, we mounted our assault on the northern 'burbs today.
As far as "long rides" go, this really wasn't anything to write home about, but I really have not done any long rides this summer, so I was a little disappointed (but not surprised) when my legs noticed the 3-hour ride.
We did not go all the way to Big Lake; instead we headed out from the Elk River station, due to commitments back home in the late afternoon. The ride was great - traffic was low and it was fairly scenic, but what was a interesting was that we got a little of everything on this ride; farm fields, residential neighborhoods, park lands, some urban stuff downtown and in North MPLS. It was all there.
The company was great, too. I don't generally ride with a partner much, but for longer rides a few other people make the ride so much more enjoyable. The trick is finding the right partner; it's no fun to be hanging on to somebody's rear wheel the whole ride or to be waiting for everyone else at the top of the hills. Today we were pretty well-matched on the flats but these guys kicked my butt on the hills. Of course, they have probably ridden a thousand more miles than I have this year, so there's that.
Unfortunately, I could not begin to describe the route. The link is close to what we did, but it was a pretty convoluted journey that capitalized on some little cut-throughs in residential areas here and there. I should have sparked up my GPS and grabbed the route that way, but I totally spaced that out when we started the ride.
Fortunately for us, the rain held off until I was all the way back to the Greenway and only a few miles from home. All told, it was just under 50 miles, counting the ride to our meeting place and then on to the train station. Like I said, not anything to write home about, but a significant ride for me this year.