Last week I put out the call to the usual suspects for an overnighter. Life was getting in the way for some folks, but we wound up with a solid crew of four committed to an early June overnighter. Joe, Sean, Tim and I each showed up at work Thursday morning with our bikes loaded up.
Tim was riding his mean, Rolhoff-equipped, El Mariachi, the rest of us were on Fargo's. Between the four bikes, we had a fresh combination of frame bags and rack and pannier systems.
The weather here has been awesome for riding, but not so good for growing crops. We're in a drought really. The month of May was the Twin Cities third driest in recorded weather history...or something like that.
For this overnighter we rolled east on the river trail, crossing the Minnesota river at Hwy 77, and heading through the 'burbs of Eagan out to the campground at Lebanon Hills Park.
Once we reached the campground and got a site, we dropped off some of our gear, built a firewood cooler to hold some ice, and left the beers to chill. The Lebanon Hills mountain bike trails are just up the road so we headed over there to get a lap in before darkness settled.
I rarely drive out of my way to ride MTB trails so I hadn't been at Leb for quite a while. It was also my first time putting the Fargo through a more rugged off-road experience.
Here is my mini-review of the Fargo's performance at Lebanon Hills. Much of this I already knew or suspected, but it may interest folks considering the bike. Also, keep in mind that I did not do the XX Loop this time around, mainly because I already had about 50 miles on my legs before getting to it.
-The steering is agile. The front end is quick to respond, and allows for aggressive maneuvering.
-Lifting the front end is not as easy with a drop bar, but can still be done. I preferred to have my hands on the tops if I was going to lift the front wheel or ride over a large log pile.
-Rock gardens were all conquered without issue, except the one where I always get suckered into the wrong line and wind up jammed in the corner. Personally I feel I ride many rock gardens better on a hard tail than on a full-sus. I think this is because I drop my momentum and on a full-sus that really takes the steam out of the engine.
-Braking is effective from the hoods, but when the going gets rough I want to be down in the drops. This means thinking ahead and getting there before it is too late.
-Bar end shifters also encourage you to plan ahead.
-Big wheels still smooth out a trail. I feel the 'longer' wheelbase of the Fargo helps in this regard as well. Interestingly, by staying seated and spinning I have yet to find a climb where the 'longer' Fargo wheelbase is a negative.
-It is fun to catch up and pass someone on a suspended mountain bike while you're riding a drop-bar, rigid bike. Not in a 'Look at me, I'm a jerk' way,' but in a 'Reality check, hmmm, look what two wheels and a frame can accomplish' sort of way.
One note on the trails at Leb.
It had been a long time since I'd bypassed the XX loop and boy was I glad I did. There has been so much trail added in that non-XX section that is so much fun. I loved it. I am really looking forward to hitting it again now that I've seen that stuff. Nice job to the folks that designed and built it. Super flow. Super fun.
After hitting the trails we rode back to camp, got a fire going, and started cooking the grub. This overnighter was not lacking in the good eats department.
-Ramyon and pad thai noodles
-Steak for Joe
-Chocolate chip cookies
If you are going for an overnighter, I suggest working Tim into your plan! In a former life he guided road touring trips and he pulls out all the stops for an enjoyable campsite experience!
After dinner we listened to the coyotes howling nearby, an owl hooting, and enjoyed fire lit conversation. Much of the conversation was in anticipation of Joe's upcoming Tour Divide Race. A clear sky and forecast allowed us to sleep out under the stars.
Friday morning as Tim brewed up some coffee, we had two large snapping turtles move close to our camp. The turtle shells were a good 12" to 14" long. We suspected they might be looking to lay their eggs and that seems to have been confirmed by the third large turtle we came across doing just that while riding back to work an hour later.
June overnighter...a success.
July overnighter...planning has commenced.
Go sleep outside.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.