I left off at St Paul heading towards Moorhead/Fargo and in anticipation of the journey through North Dakota.
My host in St Paul, Mary Sullivan, directed me towards the Gateway State Trail, an 18.3 mile scenic and (thankfully) paved bicycle trail which took me as far as Pine Point Regional Park. There I encountered several groups of road cyclists and numerous people out for a leisurely ride. We chatted, they gawped at the journey I was on, and then we all went our separate ways.
I soon found myself in the quiet little town of Marine St Croix and specifically Marine Cafe, clearly a cycling friendly refuelling point:
A local resident exited the cafe while I was gathering my thoughts and introduced himself as Thomas E Warth, originally from Cambridgeshire UK. He’d just celebrated his 80th birthday which I must admit took me by surprise as I didn’t think he looked much beyond 60/65! Maybe the local waters have done him some good. Anyway, we had a great chat about my tour and other trivial matters before Tom disappeared off home.
Tom is something of a literary guru and the founder of a well reknown charity called Books for Africa. If anyone who reads my blog is able to offer support or assistance for this charity I’m sure Tom would greatly appreciate it.
Here’s one of Tom at a recent charity event:
Cycling in Minnesota is definitely a pleasure and great trails abound. They even have fully equipped bike repair stations at many of the rest stops. What a great idea for the Tarka Trail…..
The longest trail section awaited me at the pretty town of Bowlus. I had cycled there from the Adventure Cyclist bunkhouse at Dalbo with a great guy called Tony Rucinski
Tony was on his way home to northern Montana having cycled in the opposite direction earlier in the summer to visit friends and relatives in Michigan. Bowlus offered up a great breakfast at Jordies Trailside Cafe where we chatted away with the locals, almost forgetting we needed to hit the trail itself and move on to the next stage.
Tony and I said our goodbyes. Though we were riding much the same route our daily plans were somewhat varied and overnights sought in different locations (Tony was camping in the main; I sought out Warmshowers hosts wherever possible). Look out for Tony in a later blog.
I hit the trails – 107 miles off road and all paved. First the Soo Line Trail linking Bowlus to the lake Wobegon Trail at Albany. Then it’s north all the way, flat and straight with a fine tailwind, to Osakis whereupon it becomes the Central Lakes Trail, ending in Fergus Falls.
The day I set off for Fergus Falls began with a severe thunderstorm warning. I had departed from my Warmshowers overnight stop in warm sunshine and cycled through some beautiful lakeland scenery before the clouds started to build, the promised heavy rain began to fall, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled – my pedals turned like they never had before! Twenty miles later, soaked to the bone and feeling rather sorry for myself I arrive in Fergus Falls and headed straight to the nicest looking cafe I could find for some caffeine and donut indulgence.
My phone flashes up a message from Anne at the See Hear Centre to say a TV station in Fargo would like to meet up for an interview and it is arranged that this will be in Barnesville, a small town 30 miles north and on my route for the next overnight in Moorhead.
An hour later, dried out and fortified I set of for this meeting, excited at the prospect of being on the telly but nervous at the whole idea of being interviewed. I needn’t have worried, Nick the interviewer and Patrick the cameraman made me feel at ease and the whole experience was actually quite good fun. For his sins, Patrick revealed himself to be a Liverpool FC fan, never the best move in the presence of a supporter the Almighty Chelsea:
Watch the TV Interview in Barnesville
I finally reach my Warmshowers destination for the next two nights in Moorhead, a city in Minnesota that is separated from Fargo, North Dakota by the Red River.
Saturday morning arrives and, feeling suitably refreshed, I set off from Moorhead for my next stop, somewhere, as yet not fully decided, along highway 46 in North Dakota. The whole nature of the ride changed quite dramatically the moment I left Fargo. Tune in for the next edition to find out more.
I must apologise for rattling the collecting tin once more but I do feel a timely reminder is due that my journey is not just a personal quest. It is already well known that I am fundraising for the See Hear Centre in Barnstaple so please click on this link to go to the donation page and learn more about the valuable resources and services available to people with a sight and hearing impairment: Mark’s donation page
Thank you for reading.