Superior, in every way

Busy since last writing, I’ve seen a lot.

I entered Wisconsin from the north, through Land O’Lakes (the town) and Eagle River to stay with some family friends for a night. The area boasts a chain of 28 lakes, all connected by surface water. In addition, the lakes in MI, WI, and MN all seem to be running with blood. They are a deep rust color, which to me looks the color of blood that has begun to oxidize and darken, as it scabs. I believe this is due to a high level of tannins in the plant matter, specifically oak and pine, that finds it’s way to the waters from the shoreline of the area’s lakes and rivers. As the matter decays, the result is a reddish-brown color and low level of acidity, caused by tannic acid.

Eagle River, WI claims to be the snowmobile capital of the world, with hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails maintained privately and publicly. Some trails allow ATVs, but others prohibit their use as ATVs disturb the solid base that snowmobile trails require, causing a sandy, gravelly mess. The area welcomes vacationers from lower WI, IL and MN and thus has developed some paved bike trails to connect local towns and state park and forest facilities. A welcomed surprise, as my expectations of the area mostly included gruff, bearded northerners on ATVs. Contrarily, sun-kissed city folk from as far away as the U.K. flock to this summertime lake-haven.

I flew through the rest of WI, Duluth and the North Shore of Superior in a day and a half to make it to Grand Marais for a day of rest. Many thanks to the makers of high-powered dynamo lighting, broad-shoulders, tailwinds and my determined little legs. About once a week I get an itch to ride a little bit too much. I scratched it on my way here.

About 1800 mi from Annapolis to Grand Marais. About 1500-1600mi to Banff or Jasper, Alberta from here; then about 2700 mi from Banff to Mexico on the Great Divide…and a lot of time on Google Maps this morning.

Here, I have a friend that works at the North House Folk School, where city folk can escape the bustle for a few days of basket-weaving, timber framing, boat-building, etc. Grand Marais rests in an idyllic “maritime meets mountains” setting. Encapsulated on all landed sided by Superior National Forest and on all watersides by the lake itself; there appears to be much to do here. As seemingly perfect as it may be, sometimes even a place like this can’t contain me. Key West was almost perfect; Urique (Copper Canyon) as well, yet the march continues.

Coming up: A day through Superior National Forest to Ely, MN, to pick up the Mesabi Trail with 115 of 132 miles completed to connect Ely to Grand Rapids, MN. A few nice days it would seem. I blew into town on a wind from the SW and leave with light winds from the east. Life is working out right now.

I did not visit Mackinac Island as the cost of the ferry, headwinds, and the smell of high-season tourism steered me clear. I see so much, I never regret skipping “attractions” along the way.

One more reason to read Chris’ blog as he rides west: he not only saw June Siple’s Hemistour bike at ACA headquarters in Missoula, but Ian Hibell’s Sahara crossing Argos as well. His impromptu tour guide, Greg Siple.

The legendary, Ian Hibell.

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4 thoughts on “Superior, in every way

  1. The other rider is my friend Lucy, from Tacoma and University of Puget Sound days. She is actually a MN native, but lives in Grand Marais and works at North House Folk School. We/I built that bike last summer, an 87 Schwinn High Sierra with lugged Unicrown fork, fillet brazed headtube joinery, metallic paint over stainless/chrome(?), and nice Suntour Roller-Cams. I was in the heat of my Charlie Cunningham/Jacquie Phelan phase, no doubt. Actually, the bike came up on CL locally and was in great shape for the right price. She rode from Tacoma to the southwest states through Nevada and Utah, then east to St. Augustine Florida.

  2. My next comment was going to be on the badass roller-cam brakes, something about how amazing it is that you bumped into someone as dorky as you, but….

    • A seriously awesome bike, and a great rider. Yup, that bike has my name all over it. Love the Roller-Cams for every reason except mounting fenders and racks through the centerhole of the fork or seatstay bridge. They are no harder to adjust than cantis, do not protrude far enough to contact panniers, and offer excellent braking. That said, I think my current vintage XT (BR-MC70) cantis offer the best braking I have experienced, modulation and power.

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