Ride to see the high water on the St. Louis River.

This 1 mile stretch of the Munger Trail is getting new surface.

After several weeks of kitchen renovation work, I finally got out for a ride. I’m still working on painting cabinet doors. I managed to get out between coats of paint. I chose to do an out and back on the local rail trail. As you can see above it is tree lined. With sustained winds above 20 mph and gusts well over 30 mph, the tree lined route makes for a nice wind buffer. My other destination was to check out the high water on the St. Louis River. The trail intersects it 16 miles from my house in Thomson, Minnesota. We had a large rain event on Monday. Many local communities are dealing with flooding and washed out roadways.

Large volumes of water coming over the Thomson Dam spillways.

It’s not the highest I’ve ever seen the water. That was during Spring melt. But it was flowing high for this time of the year.

All that water made a lot of noise.

It was great to be out on the bike. I didn’t even mind the wind. Anytime I can ride in wind like this and not be experiencing a windchill, I’m happy. In fact the wind helped me forget about the warmth and humidity.


Old train trestle over the river gorge.
Snack break at Hemlock Ravine.

According to a sign near this bench, this ravine contains Eastern Hemlocks. This spot is known as the furthest west in the United States that you can find Eastern Hemlocks. Other than this ravine they aren’t common in these parts.

I have a hard time resisting taking photos of the dramatic cuts through the rock on this trail. Specially when the sun is shining on both walls. That only happens for a short time each day.

Cruising into the summer season.

Lush and green on the Alex Laveau Trail.

This blog is about riding in ALL four seasons. It may be no surprise to many of you winter ranks really high for me. But, fantastic rides can happen in any season. Mid-June can be a really good time as well. I most likely love winter so much because my body is more suited to winter climates. I don’t do well in hot, humid weather. One reason we live in Northeastern Minnesota near Lake Superior is because the summers are very mild. We don’t get the high humidity and high heat index numbers for more than a dozen days each summer. Some years we get none at all.

Right now we’re approaching summer. We’ve had lots of rain. The leaves have been fully out only for about three weeks. And everything is green, green, green, and growing like mad.

Green along the Alex Laveau Trail.
First cutting of the season along the Alex Laveau Trail.

It was a wonderful weekend day to get on a longish ride in the country. I did a mix of low traffic roads with wide shoulders and rail trails.

Hwy 23 in Carlton County.

I took my Ellis Cycle. It was designed for light touring and long rides in the country. Really. That’s exactly what I asked Dave Wages to create for me when building this bike. Since there is always a chance of having to take a stretch of gravel to get from A to B in these parts I also requested clearance for 32mm tires with fenders. This was back in 2008 when running a road bike with a tire wider than 28mm wasn’t a thing yet. Or I should say it was just starting to come back. Regardless, it’s a great bike for this type of riding.



I always take a break on this old railroad trestle over a dramatic gorge on the St Louis River. I watched some young people testing their level of invincibility by doing some cliff jumping.

C’mon dude, you can do it!
No points for style, but there he goes! No peer pressure there. ?

It was a long relaxing ride with one big climb at mile 15. Here’s the route with elevation profile://ridewithgps.com/trips/9416576/embed


Finding the positives.


Yeah, it still looks like winter. Our snow did melt early last week. A winter storm on Wednesday dropped  as much as a foot of snow in some places and replaced quite a bit of the melted snow. At my house, which is closer to Lake Superior than in the above picture, we only received about an inch of snow.  With today’s sunshine it was all melted by early afternoon today at my house. I took a ride up over the hill away from Lake Superior and it looked like winter never left. My route: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8205692/embed

So I’m still a bit bummed I haven’t figured out a way to to lock up my bike at my new workplace. There isn’t much I miss about my previous job, except for some of the people. But I do miss my daily bicycle commute. The only solution I’m coming up with is to go back to using a beater bike I wouldn’t worry about if it did get stolen. Up until now I’ve been using mass transit or getting a ride from my wife when our schedules match. I also love walking. I’ve walked the three miles home several times. As the weather has warmed and the sidewalks are no longer icy that option has opened up.  A three mile walk on a warm Spring day is as relaxing as a bike ride home.

So here’s the positive part. Without my daily commute I find I have loads of energy to expend on a leisurely weekend ride. Heading out on a windy 37degreeF day on a hilly route and never getting tired is fantastic. In the past, a 40 hour work week and 10 commutes would make a cold, windy, and hilly weekend ride feel like a slog. It wasn’t today. It was very enjoyable.

City living, with access to the country.

I like where we live. I grew up in the big metro areas of Pittsburgh and Chicago. I spent most of my adult life in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St Paul until we moved to Duluth, Minnesota 14 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong I love big cities and I love Pittsburgh, Chicago and the Twin Cities. I just didn’t want to live my day to day life in all that congestion anymore. I don’t see myself as a country person either. Duluth seems to have the right mix for me. I can live in a metro area with a population of about 100,000 (when combined with Superior, Wisconsin) with all a city that size has to offer. And I can easily access the country. I can leave my house in the city and within 3 or 4 miles be out in the country. Country being defined as dispersed housing, no small lots or developments. I can even find more remote areas by traveling as little as 10 or 12 miles. Remote being defined as 20 or more miles between services like convenience stores.


Today I went up over the hill and fairly quickly was out in the country. It’s amazing how easy it is to find low traffic roads this close to a city. Living in Chicago this would not be possible. You may have to load up a bike on a car and drive for 2 hours to come even close to this. I really need this kind of access to quiet areas closer to nature for my own happiness. Duluth offers that for me.


This person had every maple tree on their property tapped for syrup. It’s at least a month early this year. IMG_3197.JPG

Today my city commuter bike doubled as a country bike.

Happy riding.