Bike weekend May 2003 in Minnesota
I figured it might
be one of the last weekends that I am by myself and there is plenty of daylight
now as we’re already in the middle of May. I wanted to go for some nice long
bike ride on the weekend. And I figured the better area to go riding is where
the hills are, the forest and the lakes. Finally, there is unstable air moving
in from the West and the weather forecast already calls for showers on Saturday
and Sunday. Hence I decide to head East towards the land of
I am leaving the
This time I am a
bit too late and don’t get quite all the way to
The frogs raise hell in the evening, but I am too tired to really care. In fact, it feels good to hear the various sounds of nature again: Frogs, birds, geese flying overhead, the wind in the pine trees – it is just perfect.
The birds sing loud and wake me at. The sun comes up at and paints a nice color on the tent.
I pack my stuff and
continue driving towards
About 15 miles
I had picked out a
loop starting in Two Harbours –
about 20 miles North-East of
I stop at a gasstation
to re-fuel, buy drinks and cereal-bars and change my cloths. And there is a bit
of a shocking moment here: I dig in my rucksack and don’t find my bike shorts
and short! I had left it in
At the beginning
the road steadily climbs in long straight aways to a total of about 500m above the
When the roads go
straight to the horizon, and with all this forest here, this always reminds me
North brings me into the
Occasionally you see something else besides trees: Lakes! Many lakes here have public access ramps for boats. I stop at one beautiful lake directly next to the road and stretch my legs while resting, eating some bananas and drinking. All the while I am watching some fishermen pull their boats out of the water onto the truck trailers.
When you ride for hours, you better find some rhythm and start thinking about something, let your mind wander, otherwise you focus more on the physical discomfort of sitting in the saddle for so long or the muscles getting tired and sore. I often play number games with how many miles left to the next turn or to the next rest. And of course, you look around and watch live in the forest. Seeing all the landscape for me is a big part of doing such rides. There is just such freedom and natural beauty in this!
Going back on
South-East on Highway 1 towards the
I stop at a ranger station for a snack, lots of fluids and then for a ½ hour nap in the sun. That feels good! I also chat a bit with the elderly woman in the ranger station – she seems to enjoy the company of any visitor, probably a bit lonely out here! I learn a bit about the Canadian Boundary Waters wilderness and the various canoe portage trails. Then I get on the bike and continue fighting into the wind. Tucked down low, head down, this is what the bike rider sees the whole day:
Shimano (shoes), Campagnolo (shifters, brakes). My frame is titanium, many
other parts are made of carbon, 3 * 10 gears and the entire package under 20
pounds! Quite remarkable technology! There is a little “town” (make that a
dozen houses or so) called
What’s definitely great about the day is that the sun stays out the entire day, the air is cool but not uncomfortable, and there are no moskitos yet! (They are about to hatch any day now.) In 2 weeks this ride would have been much more unpleasant because of those bugs. You stop and you get eaten up alive! Good timing all around.
From the ranger
woman I learnt about a shortcut close to the
It’s getting late
afternoon and I start thinking about how many more stops I can afford. First I
continue and after a short climb out of the lake basin there is a long downhill
In fact, with the
road now pointing South-West, the East wind pushes me along nicely. The next 25
miles or so have got to be some of the nicest riding in a very long time. With
great ease and much above average speed I glide along the scenic
There is still fog
out over the water, but on the shores it has broken up. When patches of fog are
blown over the trees it feels a bit like sitting on Monte Cucco in
Climbing 171 steps back up the stairs brings the visitor back to the parking lot – not many however have their vehicle hanging over their shoulders:
Talk about a string of high-lights towards the finale!
But wait: There is one more: Just a few more miles down the road I see the Grand Superior Lodge (www.grandsuperior.com) – an impressive grand lodge built of logs right next to the water front. They also have a restaurant, so I check it out. And almost too good to be true, there is a balcony with sun and the wind is blocked by the building, so it is actually quite warm and comfortable in the evening sun closing in on. And check out the view:
Reminds me of the stop at Lutsen mountain resort last August. With a coffee and an apple crisp plus vanilla icecream I savor the moment and think back about the long day: 6 ½ hours in the saddle for a total of 115 miles (190 km), 10 hours total trip time – so I got plenty of breaks and rest. It is simply amazing how many impressions you get in a single day like this.
I drive back to
I can’t quite find good sleep and am tossing and turning at night in the car. Sleeping bag too hot, car-seat not very comfortable, some other cars driving by, at one time some drunken kids roaring by at and throwing beer bottles out at night which break on the asphalt. Anyway, every night comes to an end, even the ones where you are not so comfortable.
First I have
various phone calls while sipping coffee at a Brazilian coffee and bakery shop
– a flair of
After a few miles
of heavy traffic highway a more quiet and more scenice byway starts to follow
the lake – at places up on a little ridge, which makes for good viewing of the
lake for extended periods of time. That is not always the case, as I remember
Going South on the East side of the lake is tough today, as there is a 15 mph South-East wind. So I stop after about 25 miles for a late lunch. I am having pizza and then lay down for a little nap right next to the water. Lunch in my stomach, the cool wind around my face and the light waves in my ear put me to sleep for ½ hour.
I was hoping for this nap to be more refreshing. It turns out that the pizza still lays heavy in my stomach, going into the wind still is hard work and my behind is hurting from the saddle – it will take more than ½ hour to feel fresh again. So I continue hoping to round the next corner until I can go sideways to the wind and finally coming back with the tailwind at the end. The scenery is nice, often there are additional side-streets through camp-grounds and resorts so I don’t have to ride on the main highway all the time. At times this is very similar to the East-side of the Starnberger See in Bavaria, where there is a small street ride along the water with very little, local traffic.
I have to stop more often now to relax – nevertheless my entire body starts feeling tired which diminuishes the joy of riding to some extent. At least the weather is holding up nicely and my legs are still going reasonably strong. At one point I find a nice hanging chair to relax in for another little nap with the cool breeze right on the lake shore.
The West side of the lake is flanked by Highway 169. This must be some major throughway as there is more traffic here than any I have seen in many months. Probably lots of folks heading back down to the twin cities after a weekend up North near the many lakes. I had hoped to be blown away by the strong tailwind, but either the oncoming traffic slows the wind, the wind has slown, or I am just too tired: It still feels like more work than I had hoped. Well, maybe 370 miles (600 km) in one week, half of it on this weekend, 3 days since the last shower, not exactly a very steady diet, not a lot of sleep, and 20+ hours of sun and fresh air in the last 36 hours – all of that probably adds up to some good sleep later tonight! (after the shower J)
I feel great when finally Garrison comes into sight and I recognize my car at the parking lot. There is a pier with a huge fish where I stop for one last picture and chat a bit with some locals.
It is. I change and drink lots of
water. From here it is just a 2 ½ hour drive back home, gradually leaving the forest
and lakes behind on the last 50 miles towards the