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Bike Touring: Food For the Soul (June Adventure, Part 3)

Greetings, and welcome to part 3 of this series on an epic bike tour, from Minneapolis to Thunder Bay. See part 1 by clicking HERE and click HERE to see part 2.

For most people on a bike tour, by the time you get to day 3, the stress of your normal grind is largely an afterthought. You awake in the morning mentally and physically rested. Ready to go, at least once your legs get warmed up.

Such was the case on day 3 of our tour! We awoke at our campsite in Two Harbors to a beautiful sunny morning, surprisingly warm. We immediately got some coffee going with our Italian stove top espresso maker, a must for any camping trip! A couple thousand calorie breakfast followed including a few other great camping foods including Malto-Meal hot cereal, peanut butter sandwiches, and some great dried fruits/nuts. A great start to the day. By this time, taking down and packing up camp could be done blind folded. We quickly got our "rigs" packed up and were on our way!

Today, day 3 was to be our "rest day" with an easy 80 miles or so from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Our ride started off with a continued tail wind (3rd day in a row) and beautiful sunshine to warm us up. The road going north out of Two Harbors is a cyclist's dream with a full lane shoulder on each side of the road! Additionally, there are fantastic sections of bike trail, particularly around Split Rock Lighthouse. We stopped off for lunch at the fantastic Coho Cafe in Tofte for a tasty Salmon Sandwich and a beer, which was sufficient to fuel us for the remainder of the ride to Grand Marais. We also stopped by Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte, where Jeff set us up with a few tubes, as replacements for the couple flats we had already had.

And then there was Lutsen... Let me tell you, the riding around Lutsen SUCKS! Warning: Rant about the awful roads around Lutsen coming: It appears that this is the one section of the entire road from Duluth to Canada that isn't adequately maintained. If you're literally not driving a SUV, you're not welcome in these parts! The car driving surface has been recently repaved, but the shoulder is very old. Our tires happened to find many cracks that were about an inch or so wide running parallel to the direction of travel - you guessed it, it sucks your tires right in. Despite using the best of our race seasoned Cat 2 bike handling skills, it was still impossible to avoid hitting these cracks, particularly with the army of huge cement trucks roaring by, inches from you at 60mph. I had 700x25 tires on my Surly Big Dummy and my rear wheel was sucked into one of these cracks. I felt it go in to the crack and immediately heard (and felt) my rim contact the pavement. A few seconds later, my rear tire blew. After a 5 minute flat fix and discovering my rim was actually bent and scraped up from the blow, we continued through the "Hell of Lutsen".

In the tens of thousands of miles of road riding I've done, I can easily say that Hwy 61 around Lutsen is seriously one of the worst stretches of road I've ever ridden on. I will go as far as to say that I will not ride the North Shore again, until I'm certain that section of road is repaired. If someone who happens to work for the highway department around Lutsen reads this: Please fix your crappy road!

Once we emerged through the "Hell of Lutsen" (glad to be alive), we thankfully were nearly to Grand Marais. We pulled into town relatively early, due to the short ride.

Once in Grand Marais, we set up camp at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground. This is primarily a RV park, but thankfully we hit if well before peak season. It is a beautiful location, with nice showers, and a short walk along the lake shore to the great downtown area. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner and drinks at one of my favorite all time restaurants, the Gunflint Tavern on the Lake. This place has a great rotating menu with a nice variety of high quality organic food, solid veggie options, a nice assortment of beer on tap (including Surly), and their beer cooler is inside of the old safe (as this building used to be a bank). Check it out next time you're in town!

From there, we walked back to the campsite, with a 6 pack of imported Canadian Molson in hand (funny, imported from 40 miles north). We then enjoyed a nice little campfire and a couple of Molson's each, before stumbling off to bed. Good times, very good times (aside from the road around Lutsen)!

Check back here at CyclovaXC.com for the fourth and final part of this bike touring story!

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