Saturday, 28 June 2014

On contrary winds

June 27
The day arrived bright and sunny. Unfortunately, the wind was strong and very much a factor for the day as it was something like SSE at 20 mph all day. There was also a fair bit of humidity something that I didn't notice much until I came out of the Subways in Thief River Falls and it hit me. Fortunately, once I started moving again, I didn't feel it directly. I was however craving cold drinks and stopped at most of the little towns along the way, mostly for Gatorade, but also the odd ice cream sandwich or other cold item.

I probably should have bailed at Thief River Falls, but stubbornness drove me on. Route 59 (which connects with the Manitoba Route 59) follows part of the Soo Line Network now owned by CPR. I was over taken by a slow moving train headed by a Canadian Pacific locomotive. I waved at the engineer who waved back a blew the horn/whistle for me. It was hauling a line of grain cars some which were Government of Canada and others from Alberta or Saskatchewan. Not terribly surprising as North American railroads swap loads and cars around a lot as Lac-Mégantic discovered to its regret.

I am quite the curiosity for the locals as a number of people have asked me about my trip. At around 6:30 this evening, after I had turned onto the big highway 2 from the 59, I came across another long distance cyclist. He spoke bad English in a way that lead me to ask if he spoke French. It turned out he was from Quebec City! Even after I gave him my particulars, he complimented me by saying my French sounded "français de la France". He wasn't the first Québécois to say that about about my French. The truth is that as I learned my French mostly from school, my diction is a bit more formal or possibly stuffy.  He had started in Quebec City and was on his way to Winnipeg! He said he hadn't encountered many American cyclists, only Canadians. I theorized that U.S. cyclists tend to ride a bit further South.  I wished him good luck on the 59 to Winnipeg.

After I left him in a bid to beat some menacing rain clouds to my B&B in Fosston, I realized I had neglected to mention the detour near Lancaster. As I wrote, I also realized, I should have given him my Manitoba road map.  My B&B is run by Swedish-American Lutherans. Interestingly, there is a picture of a US Navy sailor in their wall of family photos.  I can't but wonder if growing up in Minnesota made really want to get away to sea. ;-)  Truth be told, Dean and Bev, the owners of the Amanda House B&B are very nice and wonderfully friendly.

Stats for the day are 140 kms at a slogging 16 kph. Given the number of Americans I talk to, I have made a conversion kms to miles function in my mileage database in my iPhone, hence the stats are about 88 miles at a slogging 10 mph.

As a result of the haphazard application of sunscreen, my sweat cap and biking gloves, I now have some rather distinctive sunburns.

June 28
I am now at the headwaters of the Mississippi, having left the Hudson's Bay drainage basin.

Breakfast with Dean and Bev was a very sociable affair but did take quite a lot of time. Bev asked me if the rain during the night had awoken me. I had to think for a moment before realizing that I hadn't! I lingered over breakfast.  This was not a serious problem as I only expected to do about 73 klicks. A relative walk in the park. I was tempted to take my rest day in Fosston, but something drove me on.

Before I left Fosston, I stopped to examine an M-60 tank and a Hueycobra attack helicopter that formed part of a veterans' memorial. The names included where or when they had served the most unusual was Desert One.

Highway 2 took me up some mild hills more or less due East with lots of trees to shield me from the SSE wind.  As a result, I made much better time today.

I was riding along when my iPhone rang. I didn't answer it in time, but I could see it was my sister Alice!  I rang her back. When she answered, I immediately asked if it was a boy or a girl. ;-)  Alas, I was wrong about the nature of her call: the babe hadn't arrived (Alice is only due July 1st and babies can't read calenders) and Alice wanted to talk about something else. She was surprised to learn that I was on the road to Bemidji, Minnesota. Between two toddlers and imminent arrival of number three, she hadn't realized I was away. Quite understandable.

I must confess I was a little disappointed that it wasn't the joyful news. Que sera, sera.

The weather was cloudy with sunny patches but carried the menace of rain (or worse). However, I made Bemidji in decent time with only getting hit by a couple of drops. I made my way to the tourist information office next to statue of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe in search of a bed for the night. As it was a Saturday night, this proved a mite elusive. As a result, I ended up at an old but nice lakefront resort a few miles North of downtown Bemidji. (A bit expensive but they have good selection of micro-brews on tap including something called "Fat tire" which made me think of the 700Cx37s on Leonardo.) I got there just before a violent downpour began. After a bath, I collapse onto my bed in a tired but relieved stupor.

1 comment:

Susan Gwyn said...

The comment on your French was positive, compared to one I got at the Marathon this year. After I had said that we were taught French at school by Mlle from France, Maria, the American, asked Annie, the Québecoise, if my accent was more French or Québecois. Annie said it was mostly English. I was miffed!