It was 1984.
My best friend, Laura, and I were 13.
On a whim, we decided to hop on our 10-speed bikes and ride out to my grandparents' lake cabin on County Road 16 to Ideal Township from Pequot Lakes, a 12-mile trek.
It was a hot day that felt even hotter as the sun beat down on us while we biked along the hot asphalt. The hills, I remember, were horribly steep but we managed to huff and puff our way up them. If a car was coming, we'd have to hit the gravel along the side of the road and hope we could maintain our balance. There wasn't much of a shoulder back then.
We passed the time by talking about Duran Duran, Madonna and other highly top secret junior high topics I have long since forgotten. It felt like eternity before we were pedaling our way up the quarter-mile dirt driveway to the cabin with the single-handed goal of seeing who could be the first to run and jump off the dock.
So with this rose-colored memory in mind, I'd been watching for weeks as construction workers paved 8-foot-wide bike lanes on each side of Country Road 16, from Jenkins to Crosslake, 11 miles long.
My almost 9-year-old and I love to bike on the Paul Bunyan Trail -- I upgraded from my beat-up 10-speed years ago -- so I decided we should christen the new bike lanes on County Road 16. My grandparents' cabin was replaced by my parents' year-round home when I was 16, so it was time for my daughter and me to bike out to her grandparents' home using the new lanes.
But I have to concede, I was worried. Very worried. If you've ever traveled along County Road 16, you've noticed it isn't just a typical country road. There is a lot of traffic, and motorists tend to drive fast. The bike lanes looked nice enough, and I liked the idea of being able to ride through the countryside. But they also seem very close to the roadway.
The Paul Bunyan Trail from Pequot Lakes to Jenkins was busy with bicyclists and inline skaters. We crossed Highway 371 at the A-Pine intersection and starting riding on a new bike lane, a trip that began with my typical barking of orders.
"Stay close to me," I told my daughter. "If a car swerves into our lane, hit the ditch."
"OK," she said. "I'll hit the ditch, and you be the road kill."
After a short time, we grew used to the cars whizzing by us. Most of the time motorists made sure to slow down and leave plenty of space between us and their car tires. I appreciated that.
The best part of biking the Paul Bunyan Trail, besides less traffic, is there is always somewhere to stop along the way for an ice cream cone. That's our incentive for biking to Nisswa or Pine River from our home.
We decided to check the Ideal Store, about a mile or so from my parents' house, to see whether they had ice cream. Not only did they serve ice cream cones, the store has licorice chip ice cream, which was an awesome treat at the end of our ride.
My daughter thought jumping off the dock into the lake, however, was the greatest reward of all.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.