The day we left was pretty hectic! As you all know, we don’t move too fast in the morning, and we had to be out of the campsite by 10am! I wanted to do laundry before we left, too. So, we woke up and passed on our coffee, and our food. I was getting laundry started, Ken was breaking down camp, and we were still struggling with what route to take for the day. The designated Tour Da Yoop route had 13 miles of mixed gravel roads with parts of it being soft gravel (sand). You know us and gravel roads!! We are to say “No” to gravel roads. Our friend Mike even offered to drive us over the gravel road to bypass it. I didn’t feel comfortable with that…it felt like cheating. Eugene weighed in on the situation and gave an emphatic, “Don’t do it!” He knows all the roads around here, and he was truly worried about us attempting to ride our bikes on this particular one. He pulled out his maps and laid it all out for us. He strongly encouraged us to take the longer paved route that would essentially double the distance.
We also met Brad and Betty that morning. They were another couple touring on a trike. They had this fantastic camper that they pulled and I wanted a glimpse of it. That was the start of a new friendship and a conversation that was hard to ride away from. But, they too, knew what the road was like and said to stay away from it!
We exchanged information with Brad and Betty, I said goodbye to my sweetheart Eugene, and we headed out of town. By this time, it was 1:30 in the afternoon!! We rode one last time through Grand Marais central, then turned down H-58, the dirt road. Look, we thought, if the tour could ride that route on their road bikes, we should be able to do it with our touring bikes. It was logical!
It wasn’t too bad, at first. There was hardpack, which is great to ride on. But, about a mile in, the washboarding began, then the hardpack gave way to gravel, then the gravel gave way to dirt, then the dirt turned to sand. We stopped and considered turning around, but we kept on going. We had another turn of fate, though. Coming toward us was a huge truck, with lights flashing, and blades grinding…a grader! A grader, on this day!! He drove past us, and left behind him a cleaned, graded road!! About 20 minutes later, he came back up the other side of the road! I don’t know how often the graders are out cleaning up old gravel roads, but our grader was out the day we needed him!! I blew that guy kisses from my sandy lips and he waved back to say, “No problem, happy to oblige!” We were able to navigate the road pretty well for about 8 miles, then we had a sharp left turn and were back in our nightmare world. To our joy though, we saw the most beautiful fox run across the road.
The fox long gone, we had to make our way up the road for 5 more miles. We lost count of the number of times we each fell to the dirt. We would attempt to ride, it would be okay for a few cycle turns of the gear, then fall down in the deep sand. Cars would drive by and not even slow down to give us some relief. Actually, we were quite dismayed at the behavior of the majority of the cars, trucks, and campers. A few slowed down, most just throttled on through. It amazes me that people don’t consider the fact that their car is throwing rock, and dust, and dirt everywhere, in particular, on two misguided bicyclists. We walked most of the 5 miles to the pavement, and then rode a mile to Muskallonge Lake and our campground for the night.
Thank goodness, the campground had showers!! We were a total mess. My blue shorts were white from dust, my skin chafed and bleeding again, poor Honey Badger was no longer green, but gray. Ken busted open his knuckle, and his drink bottles were unusable from the dirt and grime that covered them. But, it was all over. No one back in Woodland Park Campground knew which route we would end up taking, so I texted Brad and let him know we made it over the gravel road safely in 4 hours…and would he please let Eugene know, because I knew he would be worried about our fate.
My Sweetheart Eugene!!
Brad and Betty – B&B
Missed getting a picture of the fox. No other pics for this, thankfully, over day…