Monday, June 23, 2008

Tour de Superior: Day 10 Silver Bay, MN to Ashland, WI (RUSA 434)

I’m full. We knew the ride was over when Jerry couldn’t eat any more.

Today’s ride was the longest of the ten days … 168 miles. Not a lot of climbing … it was supposed to be a bit more than yesterday, which ended up at 3,200 feet. Given the length, we wanted to get an early start … on the road by 6:00 AM. Breakfast didn’t start until 6:00, but Jerry asked if they could start it at 5:30 and it happened! So we got a nice start after a decent breakfast.

It was sunny, blue skies, and only a 20 % chance of showers. And warm. Jerry started with no arm/leg warmers or jacket. The wimp that I am I had all of those, but at least without the jacket sleeves. The ride into Duluth was very nice, especially from Two Harbors into town. We rode on old 61, which had very little traffic. Also, no need for guardrail stops … there had been a marathon over the weekend and there were lots of porta-potties along the route. Very convenient.

After our first control in Duluth, we headed over to Superior over US-2. Just as we were about to get on the onramp to the bridge, I saw a sign to the bike/pedestrian route. I yelled to Dave, but he was already on his way. We waited to see if he was going to come back, but when he went on, we decided to follow him to avoid possibly getting separated. We had to wait for the light, so by the time we got going he was out of sight … it is a big bridge, maybe a mile or so from end to end and goes way up. As we rode up the west side, crossing the several merging onramps, a state patrolman saw us & began to slow down. We got the hint and lifted our bikes over the railing onto the bike path that had now joined the bridge, crawled over and rode the rest of the way on that … which was not only safer, but free of broken glass and other debris which was very prominent on the regular lanes. When we got to the other side, the bike path separated from the road, going down below to regular surface streets. Where was Dave? He wasn’t there. Looking around, we saw him up above, still on US-2. There was no way either of us could get up or down at this point, so we figured out a place down the road where US-2 and the side roads intersections joined, and met there.

Shortly after leaving Superior we were going to be on back roads with no restaurants and few if any convenience stores for over 50 miles, so we stopped at a Subway for lunch, even though it was a bit early. Since we had snacked in Duluth at the control there, as well as a stop before Duluth, we weren’t especially hungry … so only 6” subs instead of the usual foot longs. Then it was time for the back roads of upper Wisconsin. We made pretty good time … with little traffic and good roads, it was pleasant riding. About 12 miles before Cornucopia, our other mid-ride control, we stopped for a cool drink and some ice cream … it was warm riding in the sun for a change. We then stopped at the general store in Cornucopia, across the street from the northernmost post office in Wisconsin. No cold Gatorade, so I had a cold orange Mountain Dew.

There were a few tall hills in this stretch, reaching up to a 1,000 feet … Lake level is around 600 feet. While a 400 foot climb isn’t all that high, after 1,200 miles of riding the legs were a bit tired and my climbing was a bit slow. The downhills were nice though. We pulled in to Bayfield, a nice touristy town about 20 miles from the end and decided it was time for some real ice cream this time (we had had ice cream sandwiches earlier). The little ice cream store was a bit busy, so it took a while … but that was fine by me…gave my legs a chance to recover a bit. We left Bayfield renewed and refreshed and made good time to the motel in Ashland. We finished at 6:00 PM, after twelve hours of riding – 165 miles and 3,700 feet of climbing.

We had done it! 1,277 miles in ten days around Lake Superior. After dinner, we called Ken to share the news … the internet connection at the hotel was down, so updating the blogs would be delayed.

Now to disassemble the bike and get it packed for the trip back home ... and then on to the cascade 1200 on saturday!

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