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Good Friends and Bad (Good) Ideas--Mullin on the Falls 170 Ride

by Ben Mullin  

So May 21st I’m thinking about the upcoming MS150 ride and how prepared I am to be completely comfortable on the bike for 75 miles each day. I mean I had ridden close to 400 miles this spring including the Strada Fango Spring Classic. I’m ready right?

Then I looked in my training log. Data, dang data. It showed me I was all pumped after buying my new bike back in March and that I did a whole bunch of riding early, but then due to work and travel commitments I had only been on my bike twice in all of May. I’ll certainly survive the MS150, but not as comfortably as I thought.

I hit the trail that night for an hour ride since that was all I could fit in. As I’m riding all I can think is I’ve got to get a few more long rides in over the next couple of weeks. Not more than an hour after I get off my bike I get a text message from Ben Jonjak. An abbreviated exchange went something like this:

BJ: “Hey, I’m thinking about riding from the shop after work on Sunday to Chippewa Falls and then back on Monday. Interested?”

BM: “You aren’t right in the head. I gotta be back by 6:00 on Monday to hike some Cub Scouts around Interstate Park. Also will we make it to CF before dark?”

BJ: “We shouldn’t have any problems with either. Jeff Evans sounds interested too.”

BM: “WTF, I’m in”

Thus started a few days of excitement and angst about a big weekend of riding. The distance really wasn’t all that scary. Sure the longest bike ride I had ever done previously was 80 miles and this was going to be 85 miles each way and completed in 24 hours. What had me a little worried though was riding to Chippewa Falls with all I was going to have for that 24 hours other than what was going to be provided by the Jonjak’s (bedding and a towel).

My awesome mom has been helping me planning to make a frame bag for my mountain bike for the Gravel Conspiracy this fall. She actually went as far as making a prototype back from some “lovely” plaid fabric to test the pattern she made for fit in the frame. So on about an hours’ notice I visited her and “we” modified the bag to be fit my road bike. Sweet, not everything had to go in my jersey pockets or my saddle bag.
Everything for 24 hours loaded up
That picture contains everything I left home with except two water bottles, helmet and bike shoes. My bike kit, the Cyclova cycling jacket, the plaid frame bag under the top tube containing a pair of running shorts and a light t-shirt (Sasquatch Dash t-shirt to be specific), a toothbrush, $6 cash, driver’s license, bank card, flat kit, multi-tool, cheap Wal-Mart headlamp, a red blinky light, and a few gu’s, Stinger Waffles, and electrolyte tabs.

We ultimately left from The Wolf Den in Dresser instead of St. Croix Falls. This is what made it only 85 miles each day instead of closer to 100. It wasn’t long after departing before we knew it was going to be a long day. The winds on Sunday were about 15mph out of the ESE, exactly the way were heading. Just the flats were work, and then there were some good rollers on top of that.

The first few miles were particularly tough on Jeff. Just a week after Almanzo and on a freshly refitted single speed (2 whole whopping miles on it as a single speed) he was having a little trouble getting into the ride. Thankfully by about mile twenty he was settling in and cranking out the miles. By Monday afternoon he had increased his miles on the single speed by 8600%.
Rolling down the rural country roads. Jeff off in the distance after finding his groove.
The route Ben planned was very good. Relatively low traffic the whole way, decent roads, and scenic views made for good riding despite the headwind. It took us through a number of little towns along the way so we could make some refueling stops. You know, for things like a convenience store bacon cheeseburger personal pan pizza complete with pickles and mustard (mile 40 day 1, seriously tasty).

Unfortunately with that headwind we were a little off schedule getting into CF on Sunday. Sunset is 8:45 and civil twilight ends at 9:15. We had about 7 miles to go at 9:15… Blinky light and headlamp time. Thankfully I don’t think we actually had a single car pass us in the next 6 miles and by then we were into town and had street lights. Ben also called ahead at 9:15 to have the red carpet rolled out.
When we rolled into Casa De Jonjak, Zulma had cold beer and hot pizza ready for us. Red carpet baby!
Suck it in. No, seriously, that's what Zulma said
Beer, pizza, a hot shower, and a little "Empire Strikes Back" before crashing for the night were the perfect end to the day. The wake-up call the next morning came from a cute pig-tailed girl and some Dora The Explorer inspirational videos (We did it, we did it, we did it…). Bacon, eggs, toast, and OJ, and we were rolling again at 9:00 am.

Mother Nature decided to play nice Monday and kept the wind out of the ESE. We soft pedaled all the way back to Dresser. Maybe not the whole way I guess, but my effort level was overall quite a bit lower for a faster ride. Some of the highlights on the way back included racing the tractor for about 5 miles on the big rollers and a gas station that didn’t have the powdered donuts that Ben Jonjak was craving badly at about mile 77. Seriously, what gas station doesn’t have any powdered donuts?

We got more red carpet at the conclusion of the ride as Jeff Wolf rang the cow bell as we rolled in and had spaghetti cooking on the stove for us. Awesome!

I told Ben he wasn’t right in the head when he proposed this adventure. In reality it was exactly what I wanted/needed and the timing was incredible. We had a great 11 hours on the bike in that 24 hour period and talked about more adventures for the coming summer. I am grateful for the all of the friendship and bad (good) ideas that I have found in the CyclovaXC community. I may not be right in the head either, but I love it.

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