Day 31 Paynesville to Milaca MN
Another rainy day without photos!
Another short day - I rode from 10 AM till 5 PM and covered about 65 miles. I could get used to this schedule, but I don't have enough summer left to to be able to get home in time at 65 miles per day! Actually both riding conditions and my need for another 'rest' day contributed to my stopping in Milaca instead of going on 20 more miles to Mora. Mainly it was the fact that I had been riding in on and off light rain and with a light to moderate headwind (5 to 10 mph) since St Cloud.
This morning was rainy and very windy in Paynesville (actually over much of Minnesota). The same is true tonight, but the weather is forecast to be much better tomorrow. I slept in till 8 AM - I was more exhausted than I realized - and did not leave until 10 AM. Mostly I was being lazy, but I was also waiting for the wind to come down a bit. It was about 30 mph from the south when I got up (the flags were totally stiff) and had dropped to 20 mph or so, still from the south, when I left.
Riding was, as usual, pretty good on MN 23. The shoulder was good to excellent and traffic was moderate, getting heavier as I approached St Cloud. I stopped in Cold Springs for a donut and coffee. I wasn't too impressed with Cold Springs (too touristy), but the folks at the Cenex station/restaurant/store were very nice. I noticed that the same stuff that cost $1.00 at the Cenex in Cottonwood cost $1.28 at Cold Springs. There were very pleasant folks working at both places.
I got to St Cloud about 12:30. It was obvious that I was in a 'big city' for the first time since Fort Collins. It was a bicycle friendly city in that I rode through town on a main arterial route during lunch hour and felt safe. There was a shoulder most of the way, but even riding in the rain with no shoulder through downtown St Cloud wasn't bad. On my way into town I left 23 to go half a dozen blocks north to 3rd St N.
I was looking for Out-N-About, a 'sports shop' that has mainly bicycling stuff. I stopped because they carry Pearl iZumi shorts and I wanted to buy a pair. My Assos short are great, but their real leather pads haven't held up well while touring. I hope the PI short's pad will be almost as comfortable and hold up better in daily use. While I was there they pumped some new grease into my grease guard bottom bearings - no charge. It is a good store - a big place, but run by folk that obviously love the sports they sell stuff for. I had lots of questions about my tour from everybody I dealt with there. They weren't as touring oriented as the store in Pierre SD, but they were bicycle enthusiasts.
I asked the folks at Out-N-About where to go for lunch and they sent me to Taco Burrito in downtown St Cloud. This was only a block or so off route and the 'super burritto' was good eating and good bicycling fuel. It was raining lightly when I got there and continued to rain on and off for the rest of the afternoon. This was not all bad since if the sky had cleared as was forecast, there was a very good chance of severe thunderstorms forming this aftrenoon. I take intermittent light rain! There is a flash flood watch in effect for this area tonight, but tomorrow, as well as the next few days, looks pretty good.
I rode on from downtown, actually on the sidewalk since traffic was too heavy for me to easily get across the street to the east bound lane. I had a sad experience riding across the Mississippi River. I was still on the sidewalk and I saw a man walking the other (the right) way. We were both wearing rain gear; he had on a blue poncho and I had on my yellow bicycling cape. I expected to dismount and maneuver my bike around him when we came together since there wasn't enough room for us to pass side by side. Instead, as I approached he turned to the inside of the bridge and carefully stepped off the side walk into the edge of the traffic lane. He kept his face averted as I passed. From the condition of his clothing and his poncho, I think he was homeless. I thanked him as I passed, but he didn't respond.
I was able to get across to the east bound lane at the first street on the east side of the river. Then I got to ride in heavy traffic and light rain, sometimes without a shoulder, but usually with one, till I got out of town. It wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds.
Once out of town MN 23 was a divided four lane with a great shoulder. A few miles out of town it becomes a two lane but the great shoulder continues. I stopped just before this point to take off my rain cape (I needed to put it back on a few miles later) and to visit with a couple on Harleys. They were from Colorado and taking a break before heading back west. I stopped in Foley for a snack and then rode on on light rain to Milaca. I rode all the way through Milaca without seeing any motels. Oh dear, I really didn't want to ride on to Mora. I stopped at a fast food place for supper and to ask about motels. It turned out that there was a 'Milaca Junction', on the other side of US 169. This is about a block from the restaurant, but was not visible till I crossed under the highway. Everything you want - Dairy Queen, Subway, restaurant, groceries, motel, gas, and liquor store - in one isolated block. I was delighted to see it.
Tomorrow I heading for Spooner Wisconsin. In a few more days I'll be in Michigan's UP.