The original plan had been to have a nice leisurely ride through Winnipeg, then north of the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay, Ontario, then on around Lake Superior to Sault Sainte Marie, then down through Michigan in to Ohio, then West Virginia.
That was, of course, before the low pressure system from hell hit the northern US plains and southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Today, based on lots of weather research I decided to abandon the eastbound portion of the Canada trip and attempt to get south, out from under the big low and hopefully far enough south of the system that’s clobbering Thunder Bay as I write this.
Unfortunately, there are no good direct southerly routes from Brandon, MB that don’t include a ton of unpaved roads. With all the wet, the term “unpaved road” actually means “mud track.” As it was, I had to negotiate one section of “higway” under construction and all dirt from shoulder to shoulder for a little more than a kilometer, so that was quite enough for this very heavy and pavement loving machine. So, to get south without slogging through every mud road in southern Manitoba, I had to angle southeast and get to the US border south of Winnipeg where I-29 begins. That meant going back through the same system that slowly passed by last night.
So, this morning began as a reprise of yesterday’s ride. High winds, driving rain and very chilly. The lady at the US Border Crossing in Pembina, ND thought I was absolutely nuts for being out on a bike on a day like this – until she realized I’d come from Oregon, wondered why I was going to WV via Canada, then I’m sure confirmed for herself that I was completely certifiable when I said “for fun – it’s a vacation.”
It all got a little better – very little, but any improvement is an improvement – by Grand Forks. With the occasional sun break and the rain letting up and the gusty wind now largely at my back as I headed south, it wasn’t all that bad. South of Grand Forks it actually began to improve markedly. I pushed along to Fargo where, by the time I arrived, the rain was down to just a few occasional sprinkles. But by that time, the daily rain/wind/cold fight had sapped me pretty good and it was time to call it a day.
So Fargo is where I stay for this evening. And no, the irony of my stopping here after how I begin yesterday’s post is not lost on me.
Tomorrow will be a push day. Weather looks good all the way through Minnesota and Wisconsin in to Illinois, so the destination for tomorrow evening is Rockford, IL. It’s actually an easy distance for the day when you’re not fighting Mother Nature every minute.
Time for homework…
Track the Trip <– This link takes you to my Amateur Radio call sign on aprs.fi. I’m traveling with an APRS enabled handheld radio which periodically transmits my GPS location, speed and heading. Standard disclaimer – the system relies on a network of club and privately owned digital Amateur Radio stations. The overall success of the tracking is dependent on a whole list of factors, including the fact that these stations don’t exist everywhere I’ll be riding and it’s all done on VHF radio frequencies. When it works it works, when it doesn’t it doesn’t.