Today we had all the ingredients of a promising ride: 9 am start, not too hot, favorable winds and mostly bike paths. As a result we made it to Sauk Centre, 76 miles from Monticello, and basically half-way across Minnesota. Unfortunately Marie is coming down with something- runny nose, sore lymph gland....so she was not loving the last 25 miles. However she's stronger than I am so this evened things out.
Most, but not all, of the day was on the Lake Wobegon Bike Trail. This part wasn't. But still, tolerable. Also this photo constitutes the weather report.
Finally, some amber waves of grain.
When Paige and Chase visited us outside of Chicago, Paige asked a really penetrating question: what has surprised you? Certainly one thing is the amazing amount of bicycle infrastructure. We are finding "rails to trails" paths everywhere. In the Twin Cities, you could see those were not just paths, but bicycle superhighways (as Hoppo put it). Today we rode 35 miles or so on the Lake Wobegon bike trail. Apparently in 1998 local authorities decided to capitalize on Garrison Kiellor's depiction of small-town Minnesota. The path is fully paved and smooth enough to roller-blade on.
In addition to the path, and "facilities" in this case they had a bicycle repair station with tethered tools. From this place you could also see the sign for a legitimate bike shop, so if you screwed up the DIY repair, there was a place to take your bike.
Here's Marie making PB&J for lunch. Some days I actually prefer this to spending an hour at a restaurant. Plus, you know exactly how your body will run on this fuel.
There are a lot of nature preserves, lakes and mosquito-infested swamps (I mean wetlands) bordering the trail. Plus, the trail is a snowmobile route in the winter. Multiple constituencies, the way to get things done.
Given the names of the towns we were passing through were St. Michael, St. Joseph, St. Paul, etc., we encountered a lot of Catholic Churches. Here is one of the more interesting- in a tiny town.
For whatever reason, I am particularly attracted to churches and graveyards. Also to biker bars, but I understand that attraction.
Ok, now for the didactic part of the post. We are staying tonight in Sauk Centre, which is the birthplace of Sinclair Lewis, who wrote the 1920 best-selling novel "Main Street." In fact we are staying at the Palmer House, a 1901 historic hotel at which Sinclair Lewis worked, and which was portrayed in the novel. Sauk Centre was the model for the fictitious "Gopher Prairie" that serves as the prototypical small-minded small town that the novel satirizes.
Unless you knew the history behind it, you might not be attracted by the hotel. It's at the epicenter of Sauk Centre, so we might have traffic noise tonight. Or not. The town is hurting, with lots of commercial space available for rent. All the chains are out on the interstate.
So apparently the ticket for a writer born In a small Minnesota town is satire: Garrison Keillor, whose bike path we rode here, and Sinclair Lewis (First American Nobel prize winner author).
We have bike paths all the way from here to Fargo (125 miles) so whether it takes us 2 or 3 days will depend on how Marie feels.