Day 31: Dalbo, MN to Cumberland, WI

enormous, inexpensive breakfast in Harris, MN

enormous, inexpensive breakfast in Harris, MN

We left the Bunkhouse after gorging ourselves on sugary cereals available there, and headed out into the wind that would mostly push us along. After about 30 miles, we made it to a cafe in Harris, MN that Don had recommended. We decided we were ready for Breakfast II, so we stopped. Nick got apple fritter french toast with hash browns and eggs, and Rachel got eggs, hash browns and toast, and the entire meal was about $10 total. It was amazing, and it really helped power us along for our long day of riding.

Hooray! A few days in our home state!

Hooray! A few days in our home state!

The upper midwest was experiencing some very hot weather, so we stopped frequently to get water and to soak our clothes in the bathroom sinks of gas station bathrooms — this really helps with the heat. We were very excited to cross into our home-state, and we stopped in the cute vacation town of Osceola, WI to have an ice cream cone and sit in the air conditioning. We vacillated between feeling strong and happy to ride, and then feeling weak, tired and hot. We were excited to go to a Warm Showers (free lodging for cycle tourers) location, and we were feeling the pressure to make it to Eagle River by the weekend, so we managed to push on for the longest ride we’d ever done. Northwestern Wisconsin proved to be a bit hilly, with many beautiful lakes with cranes and loons in them. When we rode through Amery, we were excited to find a health food store, where we stocked up on a few cooking supplies that are hard to find at typical grocery stores.

northwestern Wisconsin farmland

northwestern Wisconsin farmland

Mike and Paula, our amazing Warm Showers hosts

Mike and Paula, our amazing Warm Showers hosts

As we rode into Cumberland, it was starting to get dark. We felt badly about keeping our Warm Showers hosts up so late, but we were going as hard as we could. It was a shame that we arrived too late to see much of Cumberland, which seemed like a cool town. When we arrived, we met Mike and Paula, two retired teachers that are avid cyclists and *amazing* hosts. They helped us get our bikes into their garage and welcomed us warmly into their beautiful, comfortable home. Then they shows us the dinner they had prepared for us: delicious grilled asparagus, brussels sprouts, potatoes, peppers, and carrots, along with rolls, pasta salad, fresh berries, and brownies. They also gave us a delicious Wisconsin beer that we hadn’t tried before, a Valkyrie Australian Pale Ale. We enjoyed getting to know them and learn about their cycling adventures, and after dinner, they showed us to our own bedroom and bathroom for the night. The bed was the most comfortable place we’d slept over the course of the trip, which was a real treat. We only wish we could have spent more time there!

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 121 miles
time in the saddle: 10 hours, 15 min
total distance: 2,296 miles

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Day 30: Long Prairie, MN to Dalbo, MN

Minnesota farmland

Minnesota silos

Minnesota silos

We woke up a bit later than we should have, given the heat and the long day of riding we had planned. There was a slight drizzle and some fog as we headed out of Long Prairie, but it quickly burned off into a hot, humid day. The ride was pretty, but difficult to capture photographically, especially since we felt stressed about rushing through another ~100.

crossing the Mississippi

crossing the Mississippi

We crossed the Mississippi River, passed a lot of farmland, and eventually reached Dalbo’s Bicycle Bunkhouse just as the sun set. The Bunkhouse is run by Don Olson, and it serves a great purpose of being a comfortable respite for cyclists.

the bunkhouse's silo

the bunkhouse’s silo, and a strange view of Nick’s face

There are bunks with pads and pillows, a very nice outhouse that smells of cedar wood, a solar-heated shower, and there are even cots to sleep on in the old silo. Don generously provides basic foods like milk, jam, and peanut butter for free, and also has tons of junk food, canned soups, and frozen meals available for $0.25 to about a dollar. He also gave us plenty of advice about our route, and we happily went to bed in our comfortable room.

Stats:

today’s distance: 95.1 miles
time in the saddle: 8 hrs, 33 min
total distance: 2,175 miles

Day 29: Pelican Rapids, MN to Long Prairie, MN

hiding from the storm

hiding from the storm

We slept in by an hour or so in celebration of Rachel’s birthday. As we headed out of Pelican rapids, it began to rain. It would continue to rain most of the day. After about 15 miles, the thunder sounded quite close, so we rushed into a nearby barn to wait out the storm. We watched an enormous storm move over the area on the radar maps on our phones, and eventually felt comfortable riding again. After another 10 miles, we were starving. We stopped at a convenience store for some junk food and a coffee, and then headed on for another 10 miles, when we arrived in a town with some lunch options, Battle Lake. After having peanut butter-banana sandwiches for breakfast, and being trapped in the rain, we weren’t too keen on making sandwiches outside for lunch. So we stopped at Stella’s for grilled veggie sandwiches, and we ran into all 8 cyclists that we’ve been seeing the past few days. Among them, Scott was about to depart via car with his son so that he could get to Minneapolis in time to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife.

As usual, people were pretty curious about our trip. When we asked a man about restaurants, he asked where we were headed for the day. When we said Long Prairie, he said “that’s not bad. You can do 60 more miles.” It was about 2PM and raining at that point, but we mostly agreed. The next person we ran into, after asking the same question, said “There’s no way you can do that.” He proceeded to tell us that it was incredibly hilly and that we couldn’t handle it. This just made us more determined to finish the ride, so we pushed onward through the moderately hilly terrain, through the consistent rain, and eventually were rewarded with an hour of dry weather and pretty views as we headed into Long Prairie. Of course, then it started to rain again. We were happy that we had already decided to stay in one more hotel for Rachel’s birthday.

Stats:

today’s distance: 98.2 miles
time in saddle: 9 hours, 9 min
total distance: 2,080 miles

Day 28: Kindred, ND to Pelican Rapids, MN

After waking up at 3AM due to a very loud outburst of birdsong, we fell back to sleep and woke up at 5AM with the remains of the night’s rainstorms dripping off the trees onto our tent. We got ready in record time (usually 1 hour and 15 minutes, but just 1 hour and 5 minutes today) and headed out into the foggy morning. Visibility was terrible, but the temperature was nice and cool. As the fog burned off, the sun’s warmth hit us along with a mild headwind. We were finally in the kind of land we assumed the plains would be made up of — flat land in all directions — but with the headwind, the riding was still rather challenging.

technically, this photo was taken as we left Minnesota to head to Wisconsin. But there was no Minnesota sign when we left North Dakota!

technically, this photo was taken as we left Minnesota to head to Wisconsin. But there was no Minnesota sign when we left North Dakota!

Minnesota!

Minnesota!

About 30 miles into the ride, we reached Fargo, ND, where map 4 ends (Dickinson to Fargo) and map 5 begins (Fargo to Dalbo). Unfortunately, map 4 brought us about 5 miles too far for the starting point of map 5, so we had to backtrack a bit. Fortunately, this meant that we got to see more of Fargo. It’s a nice looking town, with independent shops in the downtown area, including a cool bike shop. We noted that it feels much more midwestern than the towns we’ve been in recently, being flat and having many trees.

world's largest pelican, in Pelican Rapids, MN

world’s largest pelican, in Pelican Rapids, MN

We crossed into Minnesota without a sign welcoming us, so we don’t have a picture of our seventh state/province, but we are definitely in Minnesota now. We passed many lakes, and the cashier at a general store called our drink “pop.” Incidentally, that general store in Sabin, MN, was actually a great stop. They have hundreds of varieties of soda, including the usuals, but many more made in the midwest that we had never seen before: butterscotch root beer, pepper soda, blueberry pomegranate soda, ranch dressing soda…. so perhaps not all delicious sounding, but interesting either way. We also had excellent ice cream from the Sabin general store, adding a few more needed calories to our usual lunch of peanut butter-banana sandwiches.

Just before lunch, we had started to drag quite a bit. Along with the food, we also shared a coffee, so we had some more energy for the afternoon ride. We moved along quite quickly despite the headwind, making it to our goal of Pelican Rapids before 5PM. The Pelican Festival is happening this weekend, so we arrived to town in time to see an enormous corn hole tournament. We visited the world’s largest pelican (statue), bought some groceries, and headed to the motel where we are staying — it’s been almost a week since our last hotel stay, and we are eschewing camping for Rachel’s birthday. The Pelican Motel is clean, cheap, and the owner is friendly, though it is next to a turkey processing plant. It doesn’t smell or anything like that, but given our feelings about the meat industry, it’s not our first choice of locations. No matter what, it’s nice to be indoors with the thunderstorms predicted tonight!

Stats:
today’s distance: 92.5 miles
time in saddle: 8 hrs, 6 min
total distance: 1982 miles