Cycling from the New Mexico Bootheel to Canada, Days Fifty-Six and Fifty-Seven: Silver Bay, Minnesota to Grand Marais, Minnesota

July 26th and 27th, 2016: 59 miles. Total so far: 2,598 miles.

As we went to bed last night, my throat felt sore, and a few hours later I woke up coughing. For the first time on this, or any bike tour, I had a cold.

Joy had experienced a sore throat a few days ago, and it passed quickly, never turning into anything more serious, so I was hopeful that whatever I had wouldn’t last long either, but by the time we’d eaten breakfast and started riding, I felt terrible, and we made an immediate stop at the gas station in Silver Bay so that I could rest, and Joy could get a Diet Pepsi.

I didn’t feel like riding a bike, or doing anything, really, but we had to get to Grand Marais today, and I hated the idea of hitching a ride in a car for the first time on this tour, especially on the next-to-last day, so we got on Highway 61 and headed north.

Highway 61 is the only paved road along Lake Superior from Duluth all the way to the Canadian border, so it was super-busy, with lots of tourist traffic, tractor-trailers, and logging trucks. For a while after leaving Silver Bay the shoulder was wide, but it soon narrowed, and the heavy, fast traffic, combined with my bad cold made the ride nightmarish for me. It wasn’t very pleasant for Joy either, since she had to listen to my complaints, whining, coughing, and nose-blowing most of the day. Is there anything worse than Man Flu?

A highlight of the day, for me anyway, was our stop at a bakery in Schroeder, where the two young women working there were impressed with our ride, and had several questions. They also provided some helpful information about a bike path just ahead that, when combined with a dirt road, would allow us to get off the highway for several miles.

While we were in the bakery, an old man rode up on a bicycle and asked where we’d been and where we were going. There was a map of the USA on the wall, and Joy spent a minute tracing our route from the Mexican border. A surprising number of the small towns we’d traveled through the last few months were on the map. I wish I’d thought to make a cellphone video of this.

The old man wanted to talk politics, and tried engaging me in a discussion of the recent Democratic National Convention, which I hadn’t seen, and didn’t want to talk about anyway, even though it was clear that he and I had the same political leanings. I’ve tried to ignore news the last two months, although Joy has done a much better job at that than I have.

The bike path was restful, and then the dirt road (our last of the tour) was another welcome break from the highway, and after a few more hectic miles on MN-61, we had a nice, wide shoulder for the last several miles to Grand Marais, followed by a bike path through town. After a late lunch at a fish place, we checked into the Mangy Moose Motel, where we’d stayed previously, on “normal” vacations. All I wanted to do was rest, which I did.

I was mostly out of it for the rest of the day, and much of the next day, but my understanding is that Joy had a nice time in Grand Marais. We did have lunch together the next day at one of our favorite restaurants in town, the Crooked Spoon, but that was about all I did in Grand Marais, other than rest in bed.

The pride of Silver Bay, Minnesota.
On the last unpaved road of the tour. The five miles on this provided a welcome break from busy Highway 61.
The harbor in Grand Marais.