David Freeze Day 8: Bigger miles with the Mississippi source in sight!

Published 8:10 am Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Editor’s note: David Freeze is cycling along the Mississippi River. This is part two of his adventure, riding from Dubuque, Iowa, up to the source in Minnesota. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

I had a wonderful room last night at the Super Eight at Baxter. I didn’t sleep especially well due to the activities of those in the room above me. Hopefully I can make some of it up tonight. This morning had some pressure because I had to get to Grand Rapids and it was a longer ride.

The ride began at first light, about 6:15 a.m. My plan was to mix the Great River Road and a slightly shorter route where sightings of the river and towns were less likely. Towns are far apart in this area anyway. The whole ride for the next few days will be in Minnesota.

First towns visited were Ironton and Crosby, almost touching each other. They are considered twin cities but both are very small. I asked several people where the Mississippi was and no one seemed to know. Big lakes are scattered throughout the day’s route. I rode on and found the river just north of Crosby, and I was shocked at how small it is.

Iron mining was a staple of the economy for many years locally and a beautiful mural depicts the miners.

I visited a little town called Emily. Very small, I stopped only to eat a breakfast biscuit that I already had. As soon as I left town, a major thunderstorm hit hard. With the long route planned, I rode it out, complete with lightning and heavy rain for about an hour. And with serious rumble strips forcing me into the lane constantly during the low visibility.

I rode north on State Road 6 for more than 50 miles. During that time, I revisited Remer, which earlier called itself the Bigfoot Capital of the World. Instead of a life size Bigfoot stationed at each town entrance, there was only a small sign. The Bigfoot store is still open. I stopped in Remer on my Washington to Wisconsin ride several years back.

After leaving Remer on the way to Grand Rapids, I was hit by a second storm not nearly as intense as the first. After both storms, the sun came out and my clothes dried quickly. The afternoon especially had lots of small hills that slowed the pace but I did finish 86 miles.

I made an agreement for a room last night here in Grand Rapids, at a remodeled older motel now called Hotel Rapids. Upon arrival, I had to argue for the rate given last night, and although it is now a trendy and upscale place with its own grill and bar, I would have preferred the simpler place down the road.

Tomorrow, I will end up in Bemidji, the last real town and jumping off point to visit Lake Itasca. This large lake is the source of the Mississippi and I will see it again in two days.

I had a tailwind today amid the rain storms. It was also the coolest day so far. The forecast calls for warmer temperatures for the rest of the week. No ice cream tonight, but I will resume that practice tomorrow. Join me back here for the latest update.