St. Paul Going North: Day 1, October 9, 2016
My trip started on the same day as the Twin Cities Marathon. That seemed fun at first because I ran it twice. It felt good to start my first American cycle tour on the same day that other Minnesotans are starting a marathon, which goes right by my apartment. But then I learned that the city would close the streets at 7:00, to prepare of the marathon. They would probably let a bike through, but I didn’t want to risk it and planned on leaving 6:30 AM.
It takes a while to load a touring bike, and I didn’t want to do that in the morning, before 6:30. I loaded it up the night before, on Saturday night. Then, I left my bike in a locked up area next to my apartment, where my landlord has her hot tub. When I walked to my bike on Sunday morning, parts of it were covered in towels, the seat and handlebar bag. That was the work of my very nice landlord, Sue. She probably wanted to keep the seat and bag dry, since there’s a lot of dew these days, but it looked downright cute, as if she were trying to keep my bike warm on a cold autumn night. Thanks Sue. My bike was dry and maybe even thankful.
I took pictures of my towel-covered bike and cycling through the pre-dawn marathon prep, along Summit Avenue. Unfortunately, I forgot a gadget that I need to transfer pictures from my camera to my computer, so I can’t add pictures from my camera right now, since I’m writing this on Monday and only using the gear I packed. I can add pictures from my phone, since that uses a cable I did bring with.
Back to Sunday morning, it’s always fun to cycle before sunrise, but it was even better when volunteers are getting a road ready for a marathon. People were putting up water stations, adding barriers to separate the running route from the roads, and there were a lot of friendly police getting ready to keep things in order. I said good morning to many and always got a friendly reply, good folks.
I turned off the marathon route and headed to downtown St. Paul, to the spot where my route started.
In autumn, it’s always wonderful to see steam coming off a lake or river, especially at sunrise. The picture above shows that a little. This one shows a close up.
The route I’m taking is officially called Route 41. For the last few months, I read some small stories about Route 41 online. The little I knew was that it would start in St. Paul and go north a ways. But a few weeks ago, a colleague at work told me that a new route was opening up, from St. Paul to Canada. That instantly excited me, for a few reasons. St. Paul is my adopted hometown. The route would go through some wonderful northern woods, and better, it would go along Lake Superior. A final reason is that I hadn‘t gone on a cycle tour in 3 long years.
A few days ago, I learned that Route 41 isn’t officially open yet, which I learned first-hand during the first few miles. I created the entire route in my GPS, but
some signs would still have been nice. It would have been even nicer if the trails for it were connected, to avoid wandering into places like this.
Further on in St. Paul, the trails showed a combination of old-world industry and woods.
Once I got out of St. Paul, finding my way around was much easier. That’s actually a very common comment from Minnesotans, especially those who live in Minneapolis. North of the Twin Cities, I spent many miles on dedicated bike trails, so the sounds came from birds much more than traffic. Those sounds with the woods was wonderful.
After about 50 miles, the nice bike trail ended, and I had to cycle on a road, which looked like this.
That was much less pleasant, but when you’re doing what you love, some unpleasant moments are fine.
Something else happened around mile 50. I realized it was around 1:00 pm, which meant I had many hours of sunlight and cycling left. I thought it could be nice to have my first 100 mile ride. I’ve never done that before, and it would be fun to do it on a loaded bike. In cycling, 100 miles is roughly considered to be a marathon, and the day was perfect for it. A breeze was behind me; the sky was clear; and most important, the terrain had few hills. I was still on busy road, but the thought of my first 100 mile ride picked my pace up a bit.
As you can tell from the title of this post, I didn’t make it to 100, but I have no feelings of having lost or not making it. That’s something I learned from running marathons. With some things in life, finishing is winning, at any time. The best reason I have for finishing faster is so I can move on to the next bit.
Daily Facts & bits
Miles cycled: 90
Starting Point: St. Paul, MN
Ending Point: Hinkley, MN