I awoke on the air mattress from nearly five hours of sleep. I took a shower and began loading everything onto my bike. Chris came downstairs and handed me a cup of coffee and we chatted while I ate half the cinnamon roll I’d left out from the night before.
With everything repacked on the bike, I departed around 9:30 to begin the adventure.
Heading into Minneapolis, I decided to take a familiar route down Central Avenue toward downtown.
Autumn was in full swing and I stopped to capture some photos of the golden hue of the fallen leaves against the vibrant, green grass.
Rolling down Central Avenue, I came to Ideal Diner, one of my favorite greasy spoons and so I thought I’d stop in for a proper breakfast.
An order of eggs, toast, and hash browns took 35 minutes to arrive, but they were still delicious.
It doesn’t seem to matter when you cross the St. Anthony Falls pedestrian bridge, there are always people on it.
… and then onto the Midtown Greenway “bicycle highway” that cuts East<->West across Minneapolis.
I took the Midtown trail past Hollywood Cycles and stopped in and said goodbye to the owner, Jay, who’d previously done some of the work on my bike this summer (bottom bracket, crank, the failed attempt finding an alternative handlebar setup.)
Continuing East, I passed one of the many pieces of public art along the trail.
…Past Minnehaha Falls…
They weren’t roaring or raging, so I didn’t bother to take a photo of the falls themselves.
At Fort Snelling, I came across a military veteran who was picking himself up off the ground and cursing sporadically in every direction. I stopped and said hello, he asked if I’d seen him break the fence moments earlier while attempting to take a photo. I said, “no,” he them proceeded to express onto me his opinions about the government and how he’d wasted his entire day going out of his way to drive to the Twin Cities to meet with Veteran’s Affairs and receive a government issued cell phone. He was unsuccessful in receiving the phone. I wished him a good day and he did to me the same.
Full of energy and enthusiasm, I began the long slow climb over the Mendota Heights Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River.
The trail runs along the Minnesota where it meets the Mississippi through Lilydale and past one of the many “yacht clubs.”
The St. Paul Skyline along the river.
I continued to push out the miles along the river past Newport and toward Cottage Grove.
Cottage Grove toward the Wisconsin border was hill after hill after hill. The weight of the worst-case-scenario packing I had done was really starting to weigh on my back and legs. The questions began to pour into my head:
Did I really need my camera gear? nah.
Did I really need a notebook? no.
Did I really need four pairs of socks? … hmm, maybe.
I pushed on and on and my host for the first night, Shawn, had foolishly offered me a ride if I needed one. So after climbing another hill and starting to see the sun set in the West, I sent Shawn a text saying I’d accept his offer.
We were, after all, in daylight savings time and this “Mississippi Regional Trail” (MRT) I’d heard so much about wasn’t so much a trail as I was finding out, but rather riding the shoulder (when there was a shoulder) of 65 mile per hour (mph) traffic at 5pm on a weekday. No bueno.
I pedaled into Prescott, Wisconsin, twenty miles from my goal for the day and I arranged for Shawn to meet me here in exchange, I’d buy him a drink.
Shawn picked me up, we had a few, including a conventional Wisconsin Bloody Mary (re: the Happy Meal) and then we headed back to Shawn’s place, unloaded the bike, and proceeded to Andy’s bar/restaurant for about another 10 rounds and some wings for dinner.
I met a British guy who was terribly offended when I thought his accent was similar to that of Ringo Starr’s. He blamed that on living in Minnesota for 11 years. I met the lovely bartender who was quick with the unnecessary bucket after pouring me an 8oz glass of whiskey at last call. Youch! And the pro-fisherman who chatted social media and marketing with me. I’d go into more detail if I could remember it or if it was important. It was a great time and a great send off. Wobbling back to Shawn’s at 2am, I proceeded to charge my phone and immediately pass out on his couch…