David Freeze Day 12: Still with challenges, things are looking better!

Published 10:42 pm Sunday, August 6, 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 couldn’t wait to get started this morning, because I had lots to think through and plenty of time on the bike to do that. My evening at the Forest Lake Motel was another good one. The motel is made up of multiple buildings and really nice people, but it reminds of the throwback motels along Route 66. Older but well kept, and usually with something extra. The extra in this case was that Forest Lake was right outside my window. I’m beginning to sleep better, especially on the nights that the details seem lined up for the next day.

For the second straight day, I was out when the sun broke the horizon and my exit from Grand Rapids was easy. I planned to ride U.S. 2 all the way to Duluth, and almost all the way to the motel.

With less than two miles riding complete, I got stung by something big on my leg while riding. Can’t remember that ever happening. I rode through Blackberry and nothing was moving. I felt an ongoing gradual uphill, but the pace was just OK. Then came Warba, with not much there either. Long spells of boring sameness in the landscape made the day even longer.

By Fleetwood, I needed a boost so I got a Diet Mountain Dew and some cookies. A serious boost would have also required Reece’s Cups, but they weren’t needed this time. Fleetwood had a couple busy convenience stores and a few other stores, plus their festival, Catfish Days, is coming up. Next came a long and hilly section through the Fond Du Lac Indian Reservation. Proctor was a little suburb of Duluth.

During the Fond Du Lac segment, I noticed a van park the opposite way as I pedaled nearer. An arm was out the window with a canned drink and two bikes were on the back. The drink was cold, something I needed and I had a nice conversation with Anita and Mark Goellner. They offered me a place to stay, which would have been wonderful except that I already had a place and it was most likely too late to cancel.

I’m in the Allyndale Motel in Duluth, way on the south side. Which means that I will try one of two options in the morning. Most likely, I will try to make my way out of town headed north as soon as possible to U.S. 61 to begin riding up the Lake Superior shore. Tomorrow is predicted to be rainy and it is already chilly outside, so since I toured downtown Duluth several years ago, I will likely begin riding toward Silver Bay.

Did you notice that I mentioned U.S. 61? I used it early in this ride and for much of last year’s journey south on the Mississippi. Tomorrow, I will join it again. I have varying reports about what I will find about the road north and won’t know for sure till I get there.

One of my dilemmas was how to break up the ride along the shore. It is about 147 miles to Grand Portage, the northernmost point of interest before entering Canada. I am undecided about Canada at this point. The area just north of the border has little to see. At this point, I have rooms lined up in Silver Bay and Grand Marais, where the room is a quirky private cabin. Silver Bay is 61 miles away and Grand Marais is just less than that from Silver Bay.

So again, the uncertainty is lessening. I am hoping for a better forecast for tomorrow by morning, but I will make the best of it. I had a solid 80 miles considering the hills.

With that, it was a good day! My shower is about to happen and an interesting day is ahead. Plus the next two day’s accommodations are reasonable and have great reviews! Join me back here to see what happens!