Saturday, 29 August 2015

We Cheated!

Location: Garfield, MN 56332, USA
From Fargo to Shakopee is about 250 miles and we'd planned to do this in four days originally, but with our impromptu day off in Fargo we wanted to try to do it in three so as to still arrive at Tory's on the Thursday as planned. It was cool and overcast as we left the city and the wind was mostly behind us. By lunch we were in Fergus Falls, the start of the Central Lakes Bike Trail which joins up with the Lake Wobegon Trail and goes for over 100 miles to just before St Cloud. We met an Australian lady who took our photo as she was the support vehicle for her son, Max, who was cycling across America in 5 weeks!

I'd woken that morning with a sore, scratchy throat so when it started to drizzle at lunchtime we looked for Warm Showers hosts as the prospect of rainy camping wasn't too appealing, plus the campgrounds were very expensive. There was a family with a place on Lake Ida, north of Garfield which was still another 40 miles away, but having done over 55 by lunch we were confident we could push on. We messaged them and hoped we'd find more wifi or a pay phone along the way. It was great to get on the trail, no traffic, no navigating, just paved railway grade perfection through the trees. Before long Max caught us up and the three of us rode together. Check his blog out here, its funny and well written and we get a mention!

He is travelling very differently to us. He's on a carbon road bike, with 2 water bottles and an under-seat tyre patching kit, a spare folding tyre and that's it. So he's moving fast and doing long days, which he has to if he's going to make it to the Atlantic by 3rd September. Needless to say that while riding with us slowed him down somewhat, it increased our pace by quite a bit. It was raining in earnest now and we raced along chatting about jobs and cycling and healthcare systems (Max is a doctor back in Australia). After a fruitless excursion for wifi or a phone into the town of Brandon Max let us use his phone for a wifi hotspot and there was the email we wanted to see - a very welcoming reply saying yes we could stay with the family. We were soon in Garfield and Max kindly let us use his phone again to ring our hosts who came to pick us up as the road to their house was very muddy. It had been great riding with Max, a change of conversation always makes the time go faster and in the dreary conditions that was a huge blessing.

While we waited for our lift we said goodbye to Max and he rode off to meet his Mum in Alexandria. We were soaked and cold (Max must have been freezing) and I was dreaming about getting thawed out in a lovely hot shower. It wasn't long before my dream came true and then we were sat with the family eating delicious homemade pizzas. By this point my immune system had been over-run with cold virus and Bonnie and Jeff kindly offered for us to stay a second night if we wanted as the weather was meant to be bad the next day too. Despite a good nights sleep in a wonderful bed I woke up feeling pretty dreadful and the weather looked deeply unappealing for riding so we decided to rest up. Bonnie made us an amazing pancake breakfast, then a wonderful soup for lunch and we lazed around on their sofas watching films and snoozing. I was feeling much better by the evening and after another excellent dinner we sat down to play a game of Settlers of Catan with Bonnie, Jeff and their two sons, Jefferson and Spencer.

The 95 mile day from Fargo had put us ahead of schedule, but the rest day had put us way back and we weren't going to be able to get to Tory's on Thursday since we'd have to ride 154 miles in one day, though the weird bit of me that constantly wants to push further was tempted, in all honesty it was highly unlikely especially as I was still a bit sick. But it seemed like a frustratingly short distance to have to do over 2 days, so we cheated. Bonnie offered to drive us a little further since she had to give us a lift down the muddy road anyway, so we got dropped off in Osakis and arranged with Tory for her to pick us up in Hanover, knocking our day's ride down to a manageable 98 miles.

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