August 2008 Bike Trip
Sunday July 20
Started: 2 PM Finished: 5:30 PM
Average MPH: 10.4
Biking Time: 2 Hr 57 Min
Weather: sunny, light wind, dark clouds toward the end.
We left home at 8:30 and drove to Baxter and visited and had lunch with Lorraine. It was all very nice; Lorraine had a really nice and spacious place. Her house is also just 3 blocks from the start of the Paul Bunyan Trail.
We started out, the trail was flat, in good repair, all was fine. The trail goes through Merrifield, Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Jenkins. All of the
cities are quite charming. We saw a million trees and many lakes as we were biking. We saw quite a few bikers and the only wildlife was one little grass snake that wiggled across the trail in front of us.
We stopped at the Pine River Campground and got to set up our tent right by the swamp; the mosquitoes were bad. We were both exhausted and went to bed around 8:30. We got a little bit of rain, but slept great.
Monday July 21
Started: 8:45 AM Finished: 7:30 PM
Average MPH: 9.8
Biking Time: 7 Hr 32 Min
Weather: sunny, very cloudy in the afternoon with short spurts of rain. Slight wind.
Today just as we started out we saw a deer standing right at the edge of the trail. John also saw another deer at some point that I missed.
Again the trail was mostly flat, in good repair and we saw quite a few other bikers, roller bladers and walkers. We biked through Pine River, Backus, which was the home of the corn festival, and we biked through Hackensak. All really nice places with trailheads that offered nice resting spots.
From there we went another 5 miles or so to get to the connector trail that hooks up the Heartland Trail to the Paul Bunyan Trail. The thing is that the connector trail is not on a railroad bed and there are grades up to 8% on the 8.5 mile trail. It was fun though. You'd work quite hard getting up and zoom down. The whole trail was curvy and zigzagged all over the place. The worst part of all were the deerflies. They would swarm around you and it was almost impossible to get rid of them.
After the leaving connector trail we biked through Ackley and Nevis with the plan being to camp at Nevis. However they do not do a good job of marking where things are, such as campgrounds. We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce but no one was there. We did go in search of the campground and even asked someone but we were unable to find it and so decided to bike into Park Rapids, the end of the Heartland Trail, because we knew there was a campground there and many motels.
As it turned out, we found the place where the campground should have been and it was beautiful; just no longer a campground. So John started to call at least 5 of the motels and every single one was booked up. There was some kind of a police K9 thing going on and there was no room in the inn. On the GPS was listed (what we thought) was a motel and they had a room!! So we turned around and biked back to Nevis.
Our motel turned out to be a Bed and Breakfast and we got to stay in the Rose Room. The place was called the Park Street Inn. It was very nice and we were on the 2nd floor and had a balcony with a table and 4 chairs out there. It was great.
Started: 10:30 AM Finished: 2:30 PM
Biking Time: Hr Min
Weather: sunny, more wind than yesterday and in our face.
We were told that breakfast would be at 8:30 so we got down to the dining room at 8:30 and there was one other couple there. They were in the Blue room. They were from Blaine and also had come to bike the trail. We had a wonderful breakfast of raspberry filled French toast, pork sausages, fruit and a muffin. At 9 o’clock the 3rd couple came down. They were from Fort Collins and the husband was originally from the city of Nevis. (where we were staying). We had such a nice time visiting with everyone and that is the reason for the very late start this morning.
Even though we had wind in our face, the trail remains ever flat and in good repair, so biking was fine. The reason there is no average or biking time listed above, is because my bike computer went crazy and I didn’t know how to fix it.
Right now we are at Moonlight Bay on Leech Lake, at a resort and campground. It is nice. We will be biking a mile and a half down the road to a place to eat.
Wednesday July 23
Started: 8:45 AM Finished: 3:45 PM
Biking Time: Hr Min
Weather: sunny, cloudy, some wind.
Today we continued to the other end of the Heartland Trail, which is Cass Lake. We saw 1 fawn and 1 grouse. Unfortunately we encountered probably a million deerflies. Enroute, John thought it would be a good idea to fix my bike computer, but neither of us could remember the length of my tire, in millimeters. So every 5 miles he would readjust it, till my mileage came close to his mileage. The deerflies loved that. However, by the time we were done biking, my mileage was nearly exactly the same as John’s.
When we hit Cass Lake, the trail ended so we asked a lady if she knew where a specific road was, because we were going to Bemidji. She said that we just had to take the road we were on, because in the old days, they used to call that road “the road that goes to Bemidji”. We stopped off at a rest area and had some lunch and observed Cass Lake.
We then took “the road to Bemidji” and it was fine. The trail wasn’t flat any more, there were some rolling hills but it was fine. When we hit Bemidji, John was able to find the end of the Paul Bunyan Trail that took us into the state park. In fact the 6-8 mile ride along the lake and then into the park itself was very beautiful.
We camped at the Bemidji State Park. It was my favorite place. There were very few people, plus we were camped under huge pine trees. It rained a little that night, and our tent was dry in the morning. It was the strangest thing. We also took a walk down to the “bog walk”. We sort of jogged through it because it was getting late and the bugs were coming out. It was really neat though.
Started: 8:30 AM Finished: 3 PM
Average MPH: 9.2
Biking Time: 6 Hr 38 Min
Weather: sunny and nice, some wind
As we were biking on the trail, 1 deer and 2 fawns crossed the trail in front of us and the fawns hung around on the side of the hill, quite near to us, to observe us. It was pretty neat. Then after we biked another couple miles there was another fawn, this one a little bigger, that was running on our right about 40 feet out, curved ahead of us and then ran in front of us (still 30 feet away from us). But it was just running super fast the whole time.
We also saw many hawks today, and 2 grouse. We also saw one other deer; this one running from our right and crossing in front of us to the other side of the trail. But this deer wasn’t running, it was leaping. It was so beautiful. It had to get over a high fence and it just leaped right over in one graceful move.
Today we were in search of the trail that has not yet been paved. We took the trail out of the campground, back into the city of Bemidji. John found the unpaved trail and it was not too bad, although it was fairly slow going, so we decided to get off at highway 9 and take highway 36 all the way down to highway 200 and eventually landed back on the paved part of the trail. From that point, we had to get on the connector trail, the trail with some 8% grades. It seemed to me that in this direction, that there were more downs that ups. Yes, still deerflies but not as many as the last time we had been on this stretch. We exited this connector loop when we got to highway 49. Highway 49 was not paved, it was gravel, but most of the gravel had been smashed down so it was quite easy to bike on. Our goal was Quiet Woods Campground and Resort on Ten Mile Lake.
We found the campground. It was my least favorite campground. But nevertheless, a place to stay.
Started: 8:20 AM Finished: 4:01 PM
Average MPH: 10.8
Biking Time: 5 Hr 27 Min
Weather: sunny, nice, wind pushing us quite a bit
We left Quiet Woods and had to take the gravel road (which was still fine and easy to ride on) to another back road (which was paved with very little traffic) to another road and eventually found our way back to the Paul Bunyan Trail. There are so many lakes in this area that it is almost impossible to find any straight roads; they all curve around the lakes.
After we got back on the trail we just headed back for Baxter, where our car was waiting for us. It seemed like whenever we got to a couple of miles near a city, we could encounter bikers. Otherwise we didn’t see too many.
However we did see a ton of people when we got to Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. The trail goes right through the city and it was Friday so there were many tourists out and about.
We tried to get back to Baxter by 4 PM but missed it by a couple of seconds. Darn. The drive home wasn’t too bad.
All in all, it was very nice except for the deerflies. They did seem to die down near the end of the trip. I’m glad we got to stay at a Bed and Breakfast as it was the first one we’ve ever been to. My bike, which I had just gotten a couple of months ago worked great. It was a good trip.