Wednesday, I took a mental-health day and went for a long training ride on one of my favorite routes, a simple out-and-back over the gravel roads between here and Red Wing. Part of my training for a long race in mid-May, I had wanted to do this ride the previous week, but the lingering effects of my birthday strep made that impossible, or at least a bad idea.
So after unduly suffering on a fairly short and easy ride the previous Tuesday, I took another week to recover, which coincided with a week of gray, cold, rainy weather – definitely my least favorite conditions for riding. But since my body felt good (enough) and since the time until the race was growing shorter, I decided I had to hit the gravel, riding the Beast to make the ride a little bit harder.
And the ride wound up not being so much hard (though it was) as just ugly and gross. I did end up doing almost the full route, logging some very good miles (and going over the thousand-mile mark for the year). The weather stayed bad, dealing out a harsh northerly breeze that provided a crosswind almost all day, and even worse, the late spring meant that I saw more disgustingness than I have ever before seen on a ride. Within the first mile, I had passed a desiccated roadkill deer – one of at least three over the day. I also saw the usual range of run-over squirrels, rabbits, and other small mammals as well as one dead coyote, which was novel and gag-worthy.
And when I wasn’t looking at dead animals, I was looking at a staggering amount of trash. Seriously, Goodhue County is apparently one huge landfill: hundreds of pop and beer cans, scores of fast-food containers, a half-dozen sofas and easy chairs, at least that many smashed-up televisions, several heaps of castoff garbage bags, numerous piles of building-demolition debris, and on and on and on. The capper, which made me laugh more from frustration than humor, was seeing a black trash bag dangling from a tree into which it had obviously been thrown.
All this grossness made me feel bad partly because I don’t like looking at ugly things and partly because I’m saddened that my fellow Minnesotans are treating our beautiful countryside so poorly. I wish I had a way to clean up all the trash on the route, but I guess I’ll just have to settle for waiting till the foliage covers it all.