First 80. Then 102. Now 115. That is the number of times my heart is beating per minute (bpm), according to my Soleus heart rate monitor. I just unpacked my bike and started my ride to Pincushion Overlook from downtown Grand Marais. (For those who know this town well: I haven’t even made it to Hwy 61 from the parking lot by Stone Harbor.)
125 bpm. I am riding on the paved bike trail towards 4th Ave E, where I will turn north. Upon turning north, I am immediately introduced to the incline that is the Sawtooth Mountains. One and a half blocks later, my frame is pelted by rocks from the now gravel road and I can see the trailhead.
142 bpm. Here we go. As I enter the 10 foot wide trail (part of the North Shore State Snowmobile Trail), a smile automatically stretches across my face and I can smell the damp woods, fresh earth and see the lime green buds on the bushes. As I often do while biking, I wonder whether I’ll see a snake today. Actually, I wonder this every single time I get on my bike. I do not like snakes. But I digress.
The climb from downtown Grand Marais to the parking lot at Pincushion Mountain Overlook is about 1000 feet in 1.5 miles. Yes, it is pretty much uphill the whole way. That is why I do it. And that is why it’s a sick sorta fun. The payoff, of course, is the return trip down. Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaa!
154 bpm. There is a well-worn path (“single track”) in the middle of this trail where I prefer to ride to avoid widening the trail or causing erosion. This path is strewn with rocks, roots, pieces of tree limbs and the occasional yet unyielding dead fall. Heavenly. And the ride has just begun.