Day 38 Warroad Minnesota to Fort Frances Ontario
At the border, the agent comes out to tell me to come on in
It was another one of those 8 hour 100 mile days riding into the wind. Well, not quite, but close at 7:45 and 95 miles. And then there was ten miles or so of rain, some of it heavy, as a thunderstorm passed over, and another 30 miles of riding in light rain and/or on wet roads. Despite all of the above, it was pretty good day of riding.
Heading out from Warroad on MN 11
When I first got up this morning, at 7:30, it was raining. I went back to bed and, when I got up again at 8:30, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. With my late start and the need to re-pack more stuff than usual because of my rest and maintenance day, I didn't get off till about 10 AM. As I rode out of Warroad, the wind was at 10 mph or so, right in my face.
Marvin Windows, Warroad's big employer, and flag at 10 AM
The wind was out of the south-east and and shifted around to the south for most of the day. It shifted back to the east late in the day. The wind speed varied during the day, but was always from the south -southeast - east, except during the thunderstorm. It finally weakened after 6 PM. This was a good day for having several evenly spaced gears usable in the 11 to 15 mph range since, as the wind changed (sometimes) or was blocked by trees (more often), my speed varied from 11 mph to 15 mph. I averaged 12.5 mph for the day, and I think at least .5 mph of that is due to having meshed the gearing (big ring gears fall the in between the middle ring gears) so that I could maximize my speed as wind conditions varied. I've made a lot of use of my 'step and a half' gearing since I left the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
I checked on available services before I left the motel and was told there weren't many after Baudette. Before Baudette, at 36 miles, there were little towns at about ten mile intervals, most having a store and a café. I stopped at the first one with services, Roosevelt, for a second breakfast, but had to settle for a first lunch since they stopped serving breakfast at 11 AM. I'd averaged just over 11 mph for that first hour into the wind and reached Roosevelt just after 11.
The café is in the building behind the sign
When I left Roosevelt, the wind seemed to have died down a bit. Some of that may have been due to the trees on the south side of the road, or maybe the two cups of coffee. Anyway, getting on down the road was easier after that stop. The road had a rideable shoulder all day, and was smooth most of the day.
MN 11 and Canadian National train
Most of today's route was along railroad tracks used by Canadian National railroad. I saw at least half a dozen trains today, all CN and all quite long. Riding on roads that parallel train tracks is flat riding. There was little climbing till after Emo ONT which is only 20 miles from Fort Frances. The wind made up for the lack of hills. The flies were not bad, although I did get bitten once. Pretty much all of this ride was through farming country, not through the woods where the flies are.
I stopped once 'in the bushes' after Roosevelt and before Baudette. Actually it was hard to find a good pace to stop because all of the land was farmed. In Baudette, I stopped for my second lunch before crossing the border. It was an OK lunch, but I really should have waited to Rainy River, on the other side of the border and saved a few dollars.
The bridge at the border - I rode the wood walkway
When I got to the border, the bridge over Rainy River had that, horrible to ride on, open iron grating, but there was a wood floored pedestrian path. At the other end, I got off the path and made my way back to the end of the line of vehicles. The agent came out and told me to 'come on in.' So rode past half a dozen vehicle, most with recreational equipment in tow, and was quickly cleared to enter Canada. Then I rode to the Ontario Tourist Info place to get a free map and to ask about services. It turned out that there were several towns with services between Rainy River and Fort Frances, one of which, Emo, was as big as Warroads or Baudette and had all services. She also told me "it gets a lot hillier after Fort Frances."
In Rainy River, on TC-11, with a train
After I left Rainy River, I watched storms building up behind me. I pushed on a little harder hoping to outrun them, but it started sprinkling around 3:20 PM,so I stopped to put my camera into my waterproof pannier.
It was starting to sprinkle when I took this last photo of TC-11
It sprinkled on me for quite a while and a thunder storm developed and moved north of me as I rode. I stopped, in the light rain, at Stratton for a couple of butter tarts and coffee. Then, as I rode on, the rain cleared up and I thought I would stay dry. I stopped again at Barwick to have a Pepsi Twist and eat from my supplies. I spoke with a guy driving east in apickup truck and, momentarily, considered asking him for a ride. He left, I rode on and the rain hit me within a quarter mile. That thunderstorm had spread south when I wasn't looking!
I stopped to put on my rain cape, and then rode in moderate to heavy rain for the next ten miles. The rain ended, or rather moved on east ahead of me, about the time I got to Emo. From Emo to Fort Francis, I rode on wet roads. Riding in the rain and riding on the wet roads wasn't bad since I have good fenders. There was increasing traffic after Emo, so spray from passing vehicles, lots of which had trailers, was a problem. There were very few large trucks on the road and almost all of the drivers were polite. Almost all. It was decidedly hillier after Emo.
When I got to Fort Frances, I decided to stay in Canada tonight rather than crossing the bridge to International Falls. I stopped at a Super 8, since that was a bargain in Warroad, but it wasn't a bargain here. I rode back to the small local motel I had passed half a mile earlier, stopping to eat on the way, and checked in for $30 CND less than at Super 8. It isn't as facy as Super 8 and the bed isn't as big, but it is a lot quieter.
Tomorrow I'm heading south towards Duluth instead of east towards Thunder Bay. It was a hard decision and I debated it with myself for most of today. It came down to not wanting to go over the top of Superior enough to be willing to ride it in what is likely to be a stormy period, and to wanting to visit with Dick Boyd, who lives in UP Michigan. I first visited Dick two years ago when I rode in from the southwest, heading for Canada. Now I'll be coming in from the northwest and heading over Lake Michigan on US 2. Then of course, there is the wind forecast which is for winds from the northeast shifting to the north. Those forecasts haven't been very accurate, but, if it does come true, I'll have tailwinds for the first time since I left MB 5.