Odd how same, yet different a year can be.  Last time this year, the human and I were in the desert heading towards the Mississippi.  This year, we found ourselves 2000 miles north, in the forest and mining areas of Minnesota, heading towards the Mississippi.

We cross the “mighty” Mississippi near its source, where the water is clear and the bridges short.  Then we road for miles down the Mississippi River Trail crossing and visiting it yet again.  Our final crossing was in Brainerd where the Mississippi began to take on the size and flow of a formidable river, yet still just a tiny fraction of what it would become as it picked up water on its tumble down to New Orleans.

For the last ride of the trip, the humans and I once again picked 20160918_103527up the Paul Bunyan Trail.  As usual, it was a beautiful ride with lakes and trees galore.  Over the course of the Paul Bunyan Trail, there were many statues of Paul, of course.  In one town there was a statue of Paul’s “wife” (uh….not really…Lucette is the imagination of the marketing arm for the town of Hackensack….nice try folks).  But, no where was there an image of Babe.  WTF?   Paul Bunyan is not the main character of the tales…no way….Paul is just a “human”…oversized in time, but just a human…Babe, now, was the main character.   So, to my surprise!  Finally a Babe statue.  Whaddaya think?  Pretty impressive, eh?

But, alas, the trip is over and soon I will be partially dissassembled and forced to suffer the pains of Edwin kicking me in the head tube for the 6 hours it will take to get home.  The human has promised me that we will get out again before Tucson.  We were lazy on this trip, taking our time, smelling the pines, sipping chai and being pampered by the awesome Timberline crew.  Now it is back to work, training for the Southern…well, work for the human, adventures for me.


Relative..it is all relative

Would you believe, dear reader, that the human and I are being accused of being fast? Heehee…makes me laugh just thinking about it.  But, yep, on this trip, we’re fast!  Hard to believe, but, it is all relative.  Traveling with PAC Tour, we bring up the rear; travel with this group and we (sorry, hard to type this) we have to wait and give the rest a head start and we still finish an hour ahead of them.

But it is a good group of riders with us on the trip.  New riders that don’t give up — and that is really neat to see.  While we’re out toodling and enjoying what for us is shorter rides, the others are seeing a challenge and, best of all, meeting the challenge.  They also thought Minnesota would be flat and easy….but we’re seeing some good-sized hills, even on the bike trail.

Which, brings me to the trail…so, what do you do when the iron ore is gone and your landscape is blighted with open pit mines and tailing piles?  Apparently, you reshape the land, bringing in top soil, planting birch and aspen.  Then you pull up the rail beds and put in bike trail, but to make it interesting, sometimes you take the trail up, over and around the tailing piles.  Tailing piles that have been shaped, topsoiled and planted so that unless the rider looks closely, they don’t know it.

Swing that trail through as many little towns as you can along the way and what do you get?  130 miles of paved bike trail that winds through forest, past lakes (some built by Mother Nature; some the result of mining) and, surprisingly, absolutely gorgeous.

Rain. Clouds. Rain.

What is it with this rain thing?  We can travel for days with PAC Tour and nary a drop of rain.  But, join up with Timberline?  Watch the rain fall.  What?  Don’t they like me?  Do they think I look better with a coat of mud?  Seriously?  Hrrmph….

Needless to say, today we got wet.  Not wet enough to bother the humans, but wet enough to bother *me*.  And what is more important?  The humans?  Or me?  Hmmmm….?

Heck, it was so wet that I picked up a leech.  Gross, eh?  Little thing, probably got tossed up when the human rudely rode me through a puddle.  Turns out the little suckers will travel on land, but it could just as easily been a descendant of one that traveled by deer.  Who knows.  Didn’t bother me (not much blood in my steel) but it freaked out Edwin’s human — that was pretty entertaining to watch!

Despite the rain and gloom, it was a really nice ride…lots of that awesome Minnesota bike trail…twisty, turny roads just for me.  Of course, now that I’m save and warm in the hotel room, the sun is out.  Oh well.  Glad to be indoors tonight.  Overnight temp is to be 38.  Fall does come early here.


Silver Bay to Ely.  Northern Minnesota.  Glaciers.  Lots of glaciated land.  Should be flat, eh?  When they use terms like “mountains” they’re just using affectations to make it sound like you’d want to come here, right?  You know, like Rib Mountain in Wisconsin?  The hill that never will be a mountain?

If so, then, please explain to me why we rode uphill for 20 miles!  Twenty continuous miles of uphill!  Granted it wasn’t Rocky Mountain climbing and there were a few, short downhill reprieves every now and then, but sections of 8-10% and 2000′ of elevation gain and long sustained sections of 3-4%.  We worked!

OK, not really.  We toodled and enjoyed the scenery.  Another absolutely gorgeous day.  As we got closer to the Boundary Waters, more and more streams, rivers and lakes.  And a lot more rock formations and sparser trees.  Tonight we sleep with the canoers looking to set their boats in the water.

But after all that work today was I treated with respect for hauling my human up the hill?  Nope.  We pulled into town early so the humans decided to check out the town, see all the canoe outfitters and, of course, stop at the local brewery.  Which meant leaving Edwin and I behind.  In the hotel room?  Nope.  Stuffed under a staircase.  Oh, the indignity.  Sigh….I sure do hope the humans thought that beer was worth it (editor: Boathouse Brewery’s Basswood Brown Ale is very good and Edwina was dry and out of the rain).

On the Shores of Gitchigami

Ah, to ride…finally, to ride.  And a loverly ride it twas.  We left Duluth and headed northeast up the coast of Lake Superior.   You couldn’t ask for nicer riding weather — high 60’s and a tailwind.  Even with my out of shape human we just flew up the road.  Heck, we traveled so fast we just had to stop for chai and cookies (such horrible punishment, eh?)

About a quarter of the time we were on bike trail.  First, coming out of Duluth and then through Split Rock State Park.  Now, lest you associate bike trail with those straight, flat spoke numbing rails-to-trails freeways for bicycles, this was not the case.  We twisted, we turned, we went up and we went down, prairie and woods.  Such a pleasant ride it was, we completely missed the turn to see the lighthouse…the “iconic” lighthouse that you just “must see”.

But, you know, we so enjoyed that ride, that it just didn’t seem important and we just continued on, enjoying the day.  Further down the road the humans went poking around a locked parking lot and found the dive start for the Madeira, a schooner-barge that sank in 1905.  Twenty-nine ships went down in that storm, after which the lighthouses were installed.  At the dive start you could see the point that took out the ship as well as the point for the Split Rock Lighthouse, that quintessential Minnesota lighthouse.  So, in the end, we saw the lighthouse after all, just not from the standard vantage point.

For a lake with a horrible reputation, in the last 3 days, we’ve barely seen a wave.  Hard to imagine that this placid body of water can generate 30 foot waves and see winds in excess of 50mph.  <shudder />  I’ll take placid.

I’m Free

Finally!  Finally, the humans came and let us out of that *&^$^! car.  They made it up to us by giving us a nice, fresh coat of chain lube and even polished us up (we are, after all, set to meet some new friends tomorrow and need to look our best).

So then we toodled down the lakefront.  It was a lovely day and the lake was so20160908_175322 pretty you had to wonder why Superior has such a reputation.  But, we watched the aerial bridge go up and headed down to the end of the isthmus.

Duluth has a very nice bike trail along the lake, so after lunch we continued our toodling and went north until we ran out of bike trail.

So, then the decision was….take to the road and go further or chill on a park bench and just enjoy the afternoon?  Now, I’m sure you think that I’d vote for ride, eh?

20160909_133737Nope.  After living in an abode under construction, it felt good to just chill under a tree.  Ah…the fresh air….the breeze…

Let. Me. Out!!!!!

This is getting ridiculous.  I am a sleek, beautiful touring bicycle.  It is bad enough that the human has not taken me on the road for a month.  The humans have been taking Galanas and Blue for rides while Edwin and I have sat in the garage loft trying not to get drywall, wood and tile dust on us.  And, given the state of construction of the human’s abode, not an easy task.

But, Wednesday we headed out for a vacation.  Well, the humans said it was a vacation, but so far, Edwin and I aren’t seeing it.  This isn’t a weekend trip out of the house, so we needed to transport to the start of the ride.  Fine.  I’m itchin’ to get into my travel box and go somewhere.  So, did we?  Nnnnooo….

Instead, they took off our wheels and squeezed us into the back of a car…a compact car.  For the last 2 days, I’ve been squished under a camping mat and Edwin has been jabbing my head tube with his pedal.  Ouch!  The *humans* say this is better because the start is only 7 hours away by car.  Maybe for *them* but this is not quality travel for a bike.  It has been 2 days!

Stupid humans didn’t even do the drive in a single day.  No, they wanted to “play” and take it easy.  Wednesday they stopped in Plover to eat at their favorite Asian restaurant, Bamboo House, and then went and had a flight at the O’So tap room.  This beer thing makes no sense to me, but the humans think it is fun.  No, fun is not trying the different beers and picking out the best; no, fun is riding their bikes.  Now??!!?!?!

So, Thursday we got our hopes up that the humans would take us out.  They drove into Duluth, parked the car, took out their bags and checked in.  Edwin and I were giddy over the thought that we were going to get to toodle along the lake.  Wheee….

….and then the humans left us behind to take a walk.  A *walk*?!?!?!?!  Sigh…and, along the way they stopped at another brewery…Canal Park….had another of those silly flights and dinner and then called it a night.

Hello!?!?!?  We’re still in the car!  Any time you want to let us out…….hello…??..??