The weather gods smiled again today. For the second day in a row, it rained in the night and never again during the day. You will see from the pictures how cloudy it was at times and that the sun came out later. Overall, this was the easiest century ride I have ever done. The wind was a mild NNW and since I was primarily going SE, it was often at least partly at my back. That combined with a nearly flat ride that even dropped 100 feet, I made very good time even with stops to take pictures or just enjoy the surroundings.
On the other hand, Google maps played a couple of tricks on me that lengthened my ride a bit.
Shortly after leaving the motel, I was routed onto the Paul Bunyan trail. This shows the view at the start. The trail wound around to the left and then followed the shoreline of Lake Bemidji for miles. This was also the first trick played on me by Google maps. It showed an exit to the right that did not exist and I went an extra mile and a half East and then back again West to regain the MRT. It was probably destined to be because it caused me to cross over the Mississippi. All in all, I crossed the river five times today though one I didn't realize until I was over a mile down the road.
After leaving the trail, I rode six miles on County road 12. This would have been the most boring part of the ride. Instead it was the most annoying. I was riding through clouds of gnats for what seemed like an eternity. I was forced to breathe through my nose to keep from significantly increasing my protein intake for the day. I don't know why that road was so popular. The minute I left it I pretty much left the bugs behind.
For some time now I have been fascinated by two varieties of trees I see. I hope my conifer friends who are looking at this can tell me what they are. I know the first one is a pine on the and I'm pretty sure the conical tree in the center of the next picture is a spruce. I have no idea of the varieties. Farther north, many of the these pines were more sparse with nearly alternating branches as though the wind blew in only one direction that year. An interesting feature of the spruce is that there is sometimes a bare section near the top causing the crown to be even more noticeable. I have also seen the top of this tree bent and then straighten again as though the crown grew too fast for the trunk to support it.
After passing through Cass Lake, my next trail section was the Heartland trail. At times I could see lakes on both sides. The trail is nicely situated between the highway and the railroad tracks and is mostly forested. I took the next picture as much to show the weather as the lake view from the trail. Note the object on the left side of the screen. The next picture is a close up of what seems to be a bird house. There must have been fifty of these along the trail, usually in pairs. Maybe someone can tell me what birds they are meant to attract.
Not long after this was my next map misadventure. In this case, both my manual (the book I show in my first posting) and Google maps had issues. The trailhead described in the book no longer seems to exist and the forest road (described as hard packed dirt) had not been used in so long it was completely overgrown. Google also showed me a road that did not exist. I'm going to report that one to them. After trying in vain to find a connecting route to where I knew I wanted to be, I returned to the highway and found a sign for the MRT just another mile down the road. When I went by where the forest road mentioned above joined the route, I could see that this end was also barely passable on a road bike.
I had a few less than interesting stretches on US Hwy 2. At least in Bena, they give you this to make you smile.
The rest of the day had no unplanned adventures. Cathy met me with a sandwich by Little Ball Club Lake but we had to eat in the car. For the first time on the trip, the mosquitos were out in force.
I pretty much cruised the rest of the route. As you can see below, the sun came out to give me this picture of my fifth and last crossing of the Mississippi today.
Data follows. The mileage is off--I turned off my GPS when I stopped to get water in Deer River and forgot to turn it on for 3.5 miles. If you look closely, you can see a very straight diagonal line going SE from Deer River. I was actually on US 2 which is not that straight.