in which the author documents his newfound insanity, meets some interesting people and works on his tan. The hard way.

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Minneapolis

It’s been a fun couple of days in the twin cities, with delightful weather, a nice respite from life in the saddle. I stayed in a B&B next to Lake Como in St. Paul, recommended by a fellow cyclist we met on the road north of town, and it turned out to be an ideal location for lots of city adventures. Wednesday included a movie, visit to the nearby conservatory and zoo, followed by a St Paul Explorers baseball game. The team is owned by Bill Murray, so the game was full of comedic touches, like a live pig on the field (their mascot), and a karaoke sing along with a gentleman with a strong Japanese accent during the seventh inning stretch.

Thursday was the first day of the state fair, which was almost next door. I ate fair food, learned the pros and cons of various dairy cows, and participated in a sing-along art installation done by a couple of other B&B residents.

Minneapolis was also full of good food: Ethiopian, Asian and Afghani (thanks for the recommendation, Eric). There was, of course, the obligatory ice cream as well.

I’m now on the train to Chicago. Part two of this adventure begins tomorrow morning in Michigan City, Indiana.

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The Bunkhouse

Donn Olsen is one of those remarkable people you meet when traveling. He’s a gentleman farmer and retired military officer, who now lives on the farm he grew up on just outside of Dablo, Minnesota. One day he saw a couple of bikers pushing their heavily laden bikes through the sand at the edge of road construction in front of his house, took pity on them, and invited them in. Once he discovered he was on a national map for cyclists, he converted the first floor of his barn into “The Bunkhouse” for cyclists. It has real beds, a fridge stocked with food, a place to cook, television, and an outdoor shower: for a cyclist accustomed to sleeping in public parks and showering in public pool locker rooms, it’s like staying at The Ritz.

It was especially nice to be there last night, because at five in the morning a huge Midwestern storm blew through with enough thunder to wake the dead, and lightning strikes so close I was sure Donn was going to loose a tree. It was great to be able to roll over and not worry about a leak in the tent. The Bunkhouse was a fortuitous find.

The road to Minneapolis was guarded by a stiff headwind from the south, and that in addition to the hot humid weather slowed progress. I missed a key turn on the bikemap that would have brought me into town on a riverside bike trail, so we rode a fairly major thoroughfare into the Dinkytown area next to the University of Minnesota for the requisite afternoon ice cream treat, which in this case was frozen yogurt.

We had passed a cyclist on the road the day before, coming from the twin cities, who glowed about the b&b he had stayed in on Lake Como, so now I’m there, enjoying a touch of luxury and cooler weather until I catch the train to Chicago on Friday morning. Thursday is the first day of the Minnesota state fair, which is just down the road, so there might be a stick of fried butter in my future.

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Fruit!

You really appreciate things when they go away. North Dakota and Montana were largely devoid of fruit, so it’s been great to be in Minnesota, where you can find people selling fruit on the roadside, and here a jordie’s cafe in Bowlus, where we were offered this free tray of fruit with our breakfast.

We continued on the central lakes biketrail yesterday, stopping for all-you-can-eat pizza in Osakis for lunch, and an afternoon milkshake at the Sauk Hop in Sauk, where we were briefly mistaken for Paul and Caroline, who had, unbeknownst to us, stopped at the same sofa shop for fried twinkles three days earlier.

The bike path ends in St. Joseph, but I was keen to get back on the ACA route that runs north of the bike trail. Luckily, the Soo line trail linked up with the one we were on, and we could take that northeast to Bowlus. We wouldn’t have known about the Soo line path without a map, and we wouldn’t have gotten the map if we hadn’t stopped to help a fellow cyclist who had broken her cleat. Karma worked in our favor

Bowlus has a lovely city park, but sadly, no showers. On the other hand, it has a lovely cafe across from the park that serves breakfast. We’ll be heading to Milanca today to pick up a care package (thanks, dad!) before turning south to get to St. Paul.

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Riding the rails

At the suggestion of Paul and Cariline from post 1, I’m off the Adventure Cycling map, and riding the Central Lakes bike trail, which runs from Ferguson Falls to St. Joseph. Iove trains, so I’d much rather have this route be a working train line, but being able to cycle it is a great alternative.

Ironically, after obtaining the right of way, the state of
Minnesota seems to be in a quandary about how to promote the path. As we started on the route, we came across a state employee doing a bike count, to try to gather use data to figure out how to market the path. We told him that marking the path entrance would be a good start ( we spent the better part of an hour finding the trailhead), and telling the ACA people about the route would be a good start.

After a mexican lunch in Fergus Falls, and ice cream in Ashby, we camped on the shores of the THIRD Pelican lake we’ve passed so far. Clearly, when you have 10,000 lakes, it’s a bit difficult to find original names!

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Beefaloes!

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Bacon cola?

The general store in Sabin had a HUGE selection of colas. This was by far the most unusual.

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Wrong turn

I missed the turn to cross the Red river south of Fargo, and tried to take a detour. That was great until I crossed the river and the paved road turned to this on the Minnesota side. Quite a welcome!

My thin tire fishtailed in the new rock. And then it started to drizzle. Perfect!

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