We made it to Bemidji today.
It should have taken us three to four hours, but it took nearly eight.
Tom drove his van in the morning and Daven was going to relieve him at one of the communities where there are trailheads along the Heartland or Paul Bunyan — the two trails we rode today.
Bob heads for the trailhead of the Heartland Trail in Park Rapids.
As the ride progressed Tom decided that Laporte was the place to do the exchange.
I arrived there sometime after Bob and Daven. I was happy because I had ridden 40 miles of a 60-mile route and knew I’d be in Bemidji soon and could give my sore butt a break from my bike’s saddle.
But Bob and Tom were talking when I arrived in Laporte and that’s never a good sign.
Bob thought we should ride back 11 miles on the Paul Bunyan Trail — back the way we had just come — and take the Heartland Trail along Cass Lake.
It would only add about 20 miles to the ride and Bob and I could ride a trail we hadn’t ridden before.
In other words, instead of being two thirds done, I would be only half done with the day’s ride.
I wasn’t interested.
Daven laughed as he heard me muttering something about crazy old so-and-sos trying to permanently injure me where the sun don’t shine.
Daven and Bob pose with Nevis’ most famous resident.
But the gang pointed out to me that it’s supposed to rain Thursday so we have to ride while the sun is shining.
That made sense and, realizing I’d ride very little if at all Thursday, I reluctantly agreed to go with them and take the longer route to Bemidji.
And the sun was truly shining.
It was a bit windy, but it was mostly a cross wind or a tailwind helping us to our destination more than hindering.
Then the trail ended.
As we were trying to read a map Bob had and figure out where we were, a pickup truck pulled and a woman in it gave us directions to the next segment of the trail.
“People are always getting lost here,” she said.
When we were back on the trail, Bob took off like a shot and soon we couldn’t even see his bright yellow jersey on the horizon.
Gary, right, and I ride together.
Tom, Gary and I rode the trail until it became a bike lane in Cass Lake and then disappeared completely on a county road.
But we could see a busy road up ahead and figured it was U.S. Highway 2, which we knew we’d have to take to Bemidji.
It was U.S. 2, so we crossed, stopped at rest area to refill our water bottles and headed for Bemidji.
A few minutes later I saw a sign that said “Bemidji 14 miles.”
I had already ridden 78 miles and really hadn’t planned on riding 92-plus miles today.
As I was adjusting to the idea of a much longer ride, my phone rang.
It was Bob. He was still in Cass Lake.
He had seen a newly paved road that was closed and decided he was going to be the first cyclist to ride it.
So Bob was behind us. I told him to head to U.S, 2 and take a left.
He caught up with us as we were on Bemidji’s outskirts rode with us the rest of the way to our hotel.
Of course we stopped on the way for photos with the city’s best known residents.
I join Bob and Tom in posing with Paul and Babe.