Any Road Tour: Day 23 – Bridges and bonking

It was tough to leave the incredible hospitality of Kathy, Russ, Krista, and their owner Fluffy the wonder cat.

Clad in my WABA socks, I rolled out at 7:30 headed north through Saint Paul.

Near Como Park I picked up a side trail that had a well-divided path for pedestrians and bicycles. Maybe The Wharf can adopt signs like this.

This lead to a rail trail that extended well over ten miles. The weather could not have been better so riding in a tunnel of leant shade was the bomb.

I stopped at a repair station to give my tires a shot of air and clean and lube my chain. The Mule appreciated the TLC.

We cut over to another trail they took us directly to the Lower St Croix River in Stillwater Minnesota. Stillwater was a lovely town. It had a house straight out of the Addam’s family.

It would have been my favorite but for this one, whose owner had terrific taste in baseball teams.

I would have seen those houses at all but for the fact that the bridge across the river is out. It is being converted to a bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

The new bridge is beautiful and has an awesome side path. Unfortunately the people at Minnesota and Wisconsin DOT didn’t bother to put up any signs telling you how to get to it. I spent about 45 minutes going up and down hills until I found the secret entrance.

Finding my way on the Wisconsin side of the river wasn’t any easier as the local roads near the bridge are all being reconfigured. Another half hour wasted wandering about.

I finally got on the road to Osceola. It was 14 miles away and breakfast had been burned by my engine. Did I mention there were hills? Well, let’s just say that my granny gear got more use today than it has in a week.

I arrived in Osceola and took about an hour break for lunch (at 2:30) and to buy food for dinner. The food store gave me a senior discount and I didn’t even buy Polident.

I re-crossed the river to Minnesota where I was greeted by more hills. Lunch had not kicked in and I was bonking pretty bad.

After ten miles I made the turn for the campground. After 1 1/2 miles there was no campground. The Google informed me I should not have turned. After retracing my steps and obeying my Google Maps master, I found the RV park. They charged me $35 to camp. As I started rolling my bike away from the camp office, the manager called out to me. He goofed. The campsite was only $10 for bicyclists.

It’s time for dinner. PB and J on flour tortillas, apples, and pretzels. Basically my food choices came down to what was easy to transport.

Total miles today: 80.5

Total tour miles: 1,649.5

Any Road Tour: Day 22 – Rest day in the Twin Cities

Showered and laundered the Rootchopper express was ready for socializing. Kathy and her husband Russ took me to dinner at Surly (I am not making this up) brewery in St Paul. We had pizza and beer and it all was so good.

The pizza restaurant was on the second floor. My cranky attitude yesterday and the Hillary step feeling of one flight of stairs convinced me to take today off and recharge my batteries.

Today Kathy made me a breakfast of mass quantities. After hanging out and enjoying her landscaped yard we took off for the Mall of America. What a strange palace to American retail excess.

After lunch at Nordstrom’s overlooking the airport and a gigantic IKEA, we headed to REI. Kathy bought clothes for her impending trip to Scotland and I restrung my tent poles after some instruction from REI staff.

It’s going to be hard to break away from this wonderful hospitality but tourers gotta tour. I am back on the road tomorrow. I have decided to rejoin the Adventure Cycling route. It’s very easy to get to from Kathy’s house. I’m hoping to make North Central Lake tomorrow night.

Big, big thanks to Kathy, Russ, and daughter Krista for much needed rest and friendship. Oh gee, I promise to seek out some cheese curds in the days ahead.

Any Road Tour: Day 21 – St Paul force field

I broke camp just after sunrise (which was a nonevent thanks to overcast skies) and hit the road heading north with a cool tailwind. Whoever said it was all going to be headwinds is a party pooper.

I stopped st the first roadside eatery for breakfast. I bought the Trucker’s Special.

It was more than I could eat but I didn’t care.

Back on the road I was clipping along pretty well. In Red Wing I passed one of the Red Wing shoe factories and a 3M plant. Both places are looking for people if you don’t mind living in an iceberg six months out of the year.

I could have opted to cross the river back to Wisconsin to continue on the Adventure Cycling route but I chose the supposedly shorter route that The Google offered in Minnesota.

Google is not bad but it doesn’t know about road closures. I must have gone through five closures, one with a long detour.

In Hasting I started following a bike route and ended up, with some help from a dog walker, at a mill with a waterfall.

After that I decided to follow the roads according to a Google Maps. My phone ran out of power so I took a lunch break to plug in.

The last 20 miles were a slog with way too many turns and ominous storm clouds. From time to time it sprinkled which raised my anxiety level. I burn wprsec as the fact they for two hours I never seemed to get closer to St Paul. It was like it had an invisible force field around it.

I finally pulled up st my friend Kathy’s house. I am trying to decide whether to take tomorrow off. Once I leave I will probably follow Adventure Cycling’s route out of town. It’s longer but I won’t have the stress of navigating urban streets. Also it goes by an REI where I can get my tent pole restrung.

71 miles today today.

1,569 for the tour so far.