St. Paul Going North: Day 4, October 12, 2016
Yesterday, I enjoyed too many conversations and cycled too few miles. Today, I was determined to change that, and I did. I enjoyed even more conversations and cycled even fewer miles. ”Solo cycle camping” may be the wrong name for what I do. It’s more like “Solo social camping, with some cycling.” I cycled about 25 miles and met some people I hope to stay in touch with, hard to imagine I cycled 90 just a few days ago.
My cycling started by leaving Knife River Campground. I started on a busy road, Highway 65, but then, a wonderful small road came up called Old North Shore Road. It’s hard to go wrong with a name like that.
Eventually, the road showed an older touch. It changed to gravel. Loose gravel is bad for biking, but this was packed, which was fun. The scenery of the road was fun, but I should have taken pictures of some strange diversity by the road, involving the buildings. Some houses were large and expensive. Other sheds were run down and littered with old equipment. That represents a deeper part of my first American cycle tour. It’s been a combination of amazing natural beauty, massive houses, run down buildings, and other bits I haven’t figured out yet.
Those deeper bits occur to me during any cycle tour, since I move slow, but the challenge and sights of cycling quickly come back. Something that came back today was fatigue in my legs. They were really tired. Usually, they complain a bit during the first hour but calm down after that. They complained for most of today. Fortunately, the hills were mild, and pretty.
My morning plan is usually to cycle for a few miles and find a coffee shop, to satisfy my caffeine addition. That and a bit of exercise also puts me in good mindset for writing, in this blog. I knew there would be some nice coffee shops in Two Harbors, about 15 miles away. Just before entering that town, I had to cycle on busy Highway 61 again, with semis full of logs and taconite going by me. There was still a fun moment. I’ve always wanted to cycle through the tunnels on the North Shore, since they go through intense rock. I’ve since learned about more impressive tunnels. In Switzerland, tunnels spiral up the inside of mountains to serve towns higher up, but that’s another story.
When I got into Two Harbors, I saw a sign for a combination coffee shop and bike shop. That’s enough to make any self-respecting cyclist to stop. It was off my route, but Google told me it was only 3 minutes away. The other coffee shops would also be on busy Hwy 61, so I decided to check out the place. It’s called the Cedar Coffee Company and SpokenGear. That little turn changed my day, this cycle trip, and hopefully, future trips.
The coffee shop has a wonderful balance cosy tables, local artwork, and large windows to show the wonderful woods. I soon met Dan, the owner. He started a backpacking business many years ago, sold it after it grew, and started the Coffee and cycle shop this summer. We talked about bikes and biking for a while, but I wanted to get to my writing, at a very cosy table. I replied to some nice comments in this blog, added a blog post, and chatted with a German friend on Facebook.
Later on, Dan stopped by again. We took a picture r, and he introduced me to the Executive Director of the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association, which is making a wonderful bike trail. I think her name is Michelle. She saw my loaded bike and was curious about it, so of course, I enjoyed talking for a while. I mentioned to her that I’d like to get more active in groups like hers, so hopefully, I’ll do some writing for them some day. Michelle asked if she could take a picture of my bike, since she may mention it in their newsletter. I said that was fine, and after she walked out, I wondered if I was just shown up by my own bike. After all, she wanted to take a picture of it and not me! 🙂 Later on, she took a picture of both of us, me and Spirit (the name of my bike).
After enjoying those conversations, I had a less pleasant conversation, trying to arrange transit back to St. Paul. My plan was to get home by putting me and Spirit on a bus. I called Jefferson Bus Lines, and they told me that I needed to box up my bike, which is takes a lot of time. To get the bike in a box, I would need to find a bike box, take off the racks, fenders, and maybe the handlebar. Then, in St. Paul, I would have to put it all together again. I finished the phone call and looked for other options.
The staff in the café and bike shop continued to be friendly and found some options for me. One of them involved a mechanic in the shop, Erik, who lives in St. Paul. He will be driving back on Sunday at 2pm. Talking with all these folks was great fun, but it meant that I got back on the road around 4pm, which is sometimes when I finish a day of cycling.
I almost camped by the café, but the day was too nice not to cycle.
After getting my camp set up, I enjoyed seeing the sunset by Lake Superior, about a 2 minute walk from my campsite. That’s wonderful stuff, litterally full of wonder.
The pictures above are panoramic, so you can click on them to see a lot more.