June 4, 2013
Route: Long Prairie to Park Rapids, Minnesota, on Todd County roads too numerous to list and U.S. 71
Distance: 97.3 miles
Time: 8 hours, 27 minutes
Average speed: too slow and wet
It was raining when we got up this morning and most of the day. We left the hotel at about 6:30 a.m. in a light drizzle and headed up U.S. 71. About a half a mile out of town, we discovered that the shoulder of the highway was gone, We knew there was road work from Long Prairie to Bertha, about 24 miles, but didn’t realize they’d torn up the shoulder.
Bob took a quick look at a map and we headed back to Long Prairie to take a different route on back roads. Most of those roads don’t have any shoulders either, but traffic on them is light so they are much safer than 71 without shoulders.
But the weather was dangerous this morning regardless of the road we took. And, as usual, my fellow cyclist in this adventure, Bob Hines, and I were each about half prepared. Bob had a great raincoat that was perfect for today’s weather, but no rain pants or helmet cover or other accessories. I had the pants and other stuff, but brought a raincoat that would have been OK if the weather was 10 or so degrees warmer.
It was in the 40s or low 50s with a cold, wet wind as we rode those back roads for about 20 miles without seeing a town. My arms were getting numb and tingly and I was getting worried. Bob told me later that he was getting the shakes.
After about three hours, we arrived in Brouwerville and found the town’s laundromat. We threw as much of our wet clothes that we dared take off into a drier.
A couple hours later our clothes were dry, but it was still raining lightly.
We took off and we were wet again in a matter of 20 minutes or so. But we had both put on additional layers of clothing and had heavier gloves on. I wish I had brought my heavier raincoat, but the weather had warmed a bit and the rain diminished to something between a mist and a drizzle so what I was wearing by then was good enough.
It took about an hour and a half to reach Bertha, the town on the northern edge of the road work on U.S. 71. My bike’s computer indicated a total mileage of 46.67 miles — just shy of twice the distance it would have taken us to reach that point if we had been able to use 71. “We got to know Todd County roads way better than we wanted,” Bob said of the experience.
From there we went to Wadena where we stopped at a pizza place for a late lunch. As we rode out of town, we passed a sign stating it was 34 miles to Park Rapids.
Pavement on the highway was dry and there was just a hint of mist in the air as we pedaled what would have been the second half of our route to Park Rapids. The mist became heavier as we rode and, as we closed on seven miles to our destination, we were in rain again. As if Mother Nature wanted to make our day complete, it thundered a couple times too.
When we got to our hotel, Bob talked the woman at the desk into giving us a room on the first floor, not the second, which what she told us when we arrived.
We deposited our bikes in our room and wiped them off. Then we headed for the hotel’s hot tub.
We’ll be staying in Park Rapids tomorrow and had hoped to bike to Walker on the Heartland Trail. But there’s 60 percent of rain tomorrow and, right now, neither of us care if we get to Walker or not.