Any Road Tour: Day 26 – Big Ole and Little Aaron

I checked into a motel last night to avoid thunderstorms. None occurred.

My ride today involved following a rail trail 70 miles to a place called Fergus Falls. Shut brain off, pedal, and be grateful for defunct railroads and favorable winds. (Something like 6 of the last 8 days have had favorable winds. I fear I’ll pay for this.)

Before riding the trail I took a short tour of Sauk Centre. There’s the Palmer House Hotel and a bunch of old buildings from the 20s. I’ll bet it was a hopping town way back when.

The trail goes straight to the northwest. Ahead the sky was dark. I could tell that I was going to get wet but I was more concerned about wind and lightning. In West Union I noticed a gazebo next to the trail. Possible shelter, I rode on. Another gazebo. I rode on. No more gazebos and here comes the rain.

I turned around and made for the last gazebo. Just after I got there a young woman with a 4 year old ran in behind me. Then the skies opened up.

Ten minutes later the storm had passed. Had I left the hotel five minutes earlier I’d have been caught in it. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

An hour later I came to Alexandria. Our Alexandria has a statue of a defeated Confederate soldier hanging his head and facing south. Minnesota’s Alexandria has Big Ole.

The statue commemorates the finding by a local farmer in the late 19th century of ancient Viking artifacts including a rune stone. This material is believed to be from the 14th century well before Columbus’s voyage. I’m skeptical. But the town isn’t so they built Big Ole.

As the heat and humidity climbed I looked for a cafe to cool off. I found a coffee and ice cream shop in one.

Cone devoured, I was back on the trail for only 6 miles when I saw a steakhouse in Evansville.

The service was slow but the fried walleye sandwich was worth the wait.

A big storm was forecasted to hit Fergus Falls do I had to up my pace. Earlier in the day I had to deal with a trail closure by portaging The Mule over 40 yards of dirt and mud. A few miles from Evansville I got another muddy trail interruption. I slogged through annoyed that I’d have to clear the mud out of my fenders.

Near Dalton, the penultimate town on today’s ride, I encountered Aaron, who is riding from Portland Oregon to Bar Harbor. Maine. We stood and talked for about a half hour, long enough to feed every biting insect around.

With severe thunderstorms nearly certain for the overnight and a tornado watch in effect, I headed for yet another hotel.

Tomorrow is Fargo. Oh gee.

Today’s mileage: 75.5

Tour mileage to date: 1,873.5

9 thoughts on “Any Road Tour: Day 26 – Big Ole and Little Aaron

  1. I looked up the distance between Evansville and Fargo and thought, “Oh, he’s so close! He’ll pass it on the way into North Dakota!”

    Except that tiny space on the map was really 86 miles. Everything must be bigger out there.

    Cannot get over that walleye sandwich. Every time I see that photo, I get hungry.

    Happy trails!

  2. Thank goodness for well-placed gazebos and good luck with the wind and weather.
    Fargo is awesome. Be sure to visit the bike shop in the former train station. They will pump up your tires and provide invaluable info on what to expect once you head into the deep end of the pool.

  3. If you are still on trails you won’t have to see 800 signs for Wall Drug, I remember 3 things about going through the Dakota’s; the badlands, Mount Rushmore and sign after sign of Wall freaking drug. LOL. Hope you have tailwinds, smooth trails and (and no billboards) clear skies sir.

  4. Nothing like a Viking and a Walleye sandwich to bring you back to reality. Loving your blog. Safe travels. BTW, did you get feeling back in your thumb? How’s your leg? Don’t ignore your body.

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