Any Road Tour: Day 27 – Headwinds to Morehead

I survived Fergus Falls. Torrential rain and swirling winds were lit up by incessant lightning. I’m not at all sorry that I didn’t camp.

Main Street in Fergus Falls looked like s snapshot of my the 1950s.

The road northwest was, well, a road. No more bike trails just The Mule, me, some rolling hills, and 10,000 expansion joints. Did you know that Minnesota has more lakes than expansion joints? It’s true!

After 18 miles I pulled into a diner to top off my hotel breakfast. They were having a Father’s Day brunch by reservation only. Having not planned ahead for the repast I left.

More hills and lakes for 12 miles until I found Zorbaz, a local pizza and Mexican place. The parking lot was overflowing so I went in to see what the crowd was eating. I immediately grabbed a table and was eating a burrito with chips and salsa within five minutes. They must have heard I was coming.

In addition to rolling hills today featured the first headwinds in a week. And I got rained on which actually felt splendid even in the cool air of the north.

It gets much colder in the winter so people burn a little firewood.

I found a fine place to entomb my wife’s car.

The headwinds were wearing me out as I rolled through Downer. Then it was on to Sabin for some gas station junk food. I think I’m finally tiring of chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.

As I was leaving two eastbound bike tourists pulled in. Anna and Keith are doing the full Northern Tier from Anacortes Washington to Bar Harbor Maine. We traded intel in the road ahead. I learned that Anna started riding in January. Unreal.

I left the Northern Tier which follows the road grid west then north the west to Fargo. Instead I took a highway diagonally to Morehead Minnesota across the Northern Snake River from Fargo. They have trains out their wazoos up here, many transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields.

I swallowed my introversion and arranged to stay with a Warmshowers hosts. The Trickle family. Terri immediately made me feel like family. Drew and I got into an ugly fight about politics and I started smashing things. Okay, I made that up. We sat around and drank wine in the cool evening breeze on their back patio. Son Scotty came home and poured me a glass of chocolate milk because nothing quite goes with a good Cabernet quite like some brown moo juice.

Their house dates to the postwar era. They even have an old pink built in range in which Terri bakes junk food. I have photographic proof!

Suffice it to say these are incredibly nice people who love hosting bicycle tourists from all over the world.

And so I end my days in Minnesota. On to Fargo, the land of the wood chipper.

Big thanks to Terri, Drew, Scott and Poppy the goldendoodle.

Miles to day: 82.5

Tour total: 1,958

I’m now about halfway.

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