David Freeze Day 18: Things didn’t come together, trying again tomorrow!

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, August 13, 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. He is now riding around Lake Superior. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

I left everyone yesterday with hopes of a big day today. I was happy that the morning started well, even in the rain and I buzzed into Duluth and most of the way through town. The wind was behind my back and I felt good at about 18 miles.

Then things started to slow a bit. I joined the Willard Munger Rail Trail in hopes of a long day, extending close to Hinckley, Minnesota. I found out after writing yesterday’s update that rooms most of the way south of Duluth were mostly unavailable. A weekend concert series had taken all the rooms at ridiculously high prices. I called about eight places late and couldn’t believe what they were charging along my planned route for the day. I went to bed after being quoted $400 for one night.

Even if I could have ridden as much as I hoped, there would have been no rooms and very limited camping. I started riding the Munger Trail and felt a steady upgrade coming up from Duluth. The rain stopped, but I made slow progress.

There were no towns early on the trail, then a few popped up. Mahtowa, Carlton and Barnum were the towns along the way and gradually U.S. 61 started running parallel with the trail. I met the Arends family from the Carlton area and told them about my dilemmas for the day. My cellphone charge was running low already by midday, and I left it with the Arends to charge it. We all laughed that I would trust them with the phone for 90 minutes. I rode on and they met me at a popular country store called TJ’s. We talked about lots of things including the drought, Kevin’s cycling and racing, plus a building storm that was going to hit in an hour or so. I really enjoyed meeting their family.

I bought some snacks in the store and planned to ride until I had to set up camp before dark, hoping to have a bigger day. That is always a big gamble since cell coverage seems more spotty than I would have thought. Kevin told me I had an hour before it hit, so I called the Barnum Inn and asked if they had a room. The owner told me she could get a room ready and to head her way. Meanwhile the storm hit with steady rain, lightning and thunder, all of this unpredicted but greatly needed in the drought laden area. Reports of hail and some damage came in. Later the storm cleared but another looks to be building.

Bottom line, I got only 55 miles today and must have a bigger day tomorrow. It’s a straight shot to St. Paul, and I hope conditions are favorable and the bike runs well. I need to get close enough to St. Paul to get to the airport for a one-way rental back home on Sunday for me and the bike if that comes together. A pretty day is predicted.

I hope to do my part and make tomorrow a great day! Join me back here and we will see what happens.