The outing I had planned for this summer was a bit different than our usual hike at an area park. Hiking in midsummer can make one very sweating and stinky, especially when the humidity is high and the temperature is around 95 degrees as it was on July 18. There is also a risk of heat stroke and dehydration. But for this summer’s event I had planned a bicycle ride along the Hennepin Canal starting with a picnic in the Colona park. From there we would ride east along the canal until we felt we had gone far enough and then turn around. For those who ride their bikes more than two or three times a year, they know that the breeze you create on a bike helps keep you cool enough to ride farther than you might expect. I had invited those who don’t bicycle, to come to the picnic and if they desired, they could take a short walk along the canal. Those who chose to ride would be asked to sign the waiver that makes them officially on the outing and prevents them from suing me or Sierra Club if anything should go awry. As it turned out, there was only one person (besides me) who was willing to accept the challenge of the weather (there were storm alerts in the forecasts) and what, if any, obstacles we might encounter along the unmaintained trail. That person was my neighbor, Debbie. Debbie and I had the park shelter to our selves when we ate lunch. I should say here that one big reason for the low turn out besides the hot weather, was that a member of our EXCOM, Olivia, was getting married that afternoon. I’m sure if it weren’t for her wedding, she would have been there as well as a few others, as Sierra Club members are a hardy bunch.
So, staying on schedule, because I was going to Olivia’s reception later that afternoon, Debbie and I mounted our two wheelers and set forth on our adventure. The first mile was quite pleasant with a few curves in town and a smooth blacktop surface. Our first challenge was riding through the culvert underneath I-74. Inside the tunnel it was quite dark as we rode through about an inch of water. We focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and soon we were out in the sunshine again. Our second encounter was a wash-out of the path. Luckily, there was a path that was dry around the wash-out and we were able to walk our bikes around and back onto the path. Not a problem. I forgot to mention we had passed two signs that read “Path Closed.” Back in the saddle again it was smooth sailing for several miles as the canal has many stretches where it is straight as an arrow. We had passed several locks in various states of decay. The trail surface is pretty good most of the way with an occasional partial wash-out so a rider has to be alert. There are also low hanging branches to make things more interesting.