Leaving Elsie’s we headed back towards downtown on the Cedar creek trail which took us right by target field again and across the river to the north. Today would be off the grid again as we came off the northern tier to get here so it was a case of ride 65 miles due North on secondary roads to reach the town of Dalbo and rejoin the trail.
The Garmin juice was low so I resolved to checking maps at each gas station we stopped to verify progress and road numbers to Dalbo. The last 10 miles brought rain showers so we turned up at the legendary Adventure Bicyclists Bunkhouse dripping wet at the porch of Donn Olsen’s. He has converted an old barn on his farm to house cyclists passing by his home on the northern tier route. He is one of the other few trail angels to be given the June Curry award by the ACA for his generosity, kindness and dedication to bicycle tourists.
The bunkhouse was awesome and we even had company for the night with David and Pata, an older couple also heading west. It was funny because I had said to Eal on the way in I was expecting other bikers tonight, but had guessed Flavia from the previous week. Just an hour later Flavia did turn up!
We sat around in the bunkhouse sharing stories, Donn had some great tales from previous years, his laugh was infectious, such a great guy. He also gave us maps and information on a 100+ mile bike trail that we can take straight to Fergus Falls, I’m not sure why the northern tier doesn’t follow this but we will.
To join the long bike trail Donn had told us about we first had to get to the town of Bowlus where it picks up. The riding was glorious, flat, sunny, tailwind. Me and Eal had left the bunkhouse last that morning but arrived in Bowlus to find David, Pata and Flavia all setting up at the city park. The cafe across the street provided the ice cream and we got to spend another evening in great company including Bill an Eastbounder who could provide further advise on the road ahead, always useful. David and Pata are doing shorter mileage but me, Eal and Flavia agreed to get a super early start and shoot for Fergus Falls tomorrow which would be around 105 miles.
It was an earlier start than me and Eal had been used too, not since the Spanish wild camps had we seen the day at this hour, we broke camp with Flavia then went to the cafe for breakfast and hit the trail around 7:30. I had a good sense of progress getting the miles racked up before midday, important on a century ride. The trail was completely flat, paved with a steady flow of towns and services. It should have lent itself to fast riding but I enjoyed spending the time riding casually chatting with our new buddy. Flavia was so much fun to ride with, she spent most of the day talking in a British accent pronouncing local terms we had been teaching her.
After racking up the century the skies turned black and so did our plans for Fergus Falls. Camping options weren’t obvious, Flavia’s iPad helped us find a spot on the edge of town but it meant some backtracking and a gravel road, spirits remained intact and we pitched beside a lake at the recreation area where I finally accepted Flavia’s offer of a green pepper to go with my dinner which she insisted on giving to me the previous night. The three of us hit our tents suitably exhausted after what turned out to be a 112 mile ride, asleep before I hit the pillow.
We had camped a few miles outside Fergus Falls the previous night so made our way in town this morning where Flavia had gotten recommendations for breakfast at the Viking Cafe, great joint. We were heading for Fargo, home to one of my all time favourite movies, Fargo! Being a Sunday the roads stayed nice and quiet except for the 10am rush to church. Midway through we stopped in the small town of Brownsville, our second in Minnesota, this one was famous for Potato Days which unfortunately wasn’t for another week or two. At the small town cafe we stopped for pie and coffee when an elder guy called Arlan squared up with the waitresses to have our bill put on his tab! Hero.
We finished the ride contemplating what the bright lights of Fargo and a motel stop would have in store for us. The Howard Johnson provided accommodation, not a bad deal now the room is split 3 ways. We cleaned up and hit a local bar for food and beers. Flavia is vegetarian, on asking if they did veggie burgers the guy responded, ‘No, but our burgers are so good vegetarians would eat them’. She still got fries and salad. Me and Eal ordered a paddle of sampler beer and raised a toast to end the night with Flavski to her poppa Mickey C as it was his birthday.