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Published: August 26th 2013
Bemidji PBT bridge (several million $)
Crosses a 4 lane street on outskirts of Bemidji
Our list of things for this summer included doing a bicycle trip in Minnesota so after exhaustive research(about an hour) we settled on the Paul Bunyan Trail. It runs from Bemidji to Brainerd and is a converted Burlington Northern lumber railroad track.
We wanted to do a complete run without any backtracking so we hired a shuttle so we could leave our car at the southern trailhead (Brainerd) and then ride there from Bemidji. The Embracing Pines Bed and Breakfast north of Walker also does the shuttle so we booked there for the first night on the trail.
We left West Hawk Lake early Monday morning and drove down to the South Junction border crossing via the Moose Lake road. It is about 400 Km and we arrived at the Super 8 in Bemidji about noon. Jan decided to go with shopping on the next phase so I drove to Baxter(Brainerd) on my own to meet the shuttle. (my work is never done)
I did a few exploratory shopping stops on the way (Reeds Outdoor Sports in Walker etc) and arrived at Baxter at exactly 3.00 PM as per the schedule. Dennis the shuttle guy was there to
meet me and we headed back to Bemidji, arriving at 5.00. On the way Dennis provided a lot of interesting background on the trail (but no free wine as per Gary of Oregon shuttle fame)
Apparently a great deal of credit for the PBT goes to a US congressman from Minnesota who sprayed porkbarrel money at it because he loved to ride.This is a good approach to trail building which needs to be copied throughout the world.
There are several high end bridges on this trail each of which likely cost as much as the entire South Whiteshell section of the Trans Canada Trail.Whatever works...
We walked to dinner at a restaurant (Pepper something) near the Super 8 and it is apparent that the deep fryer industry(DF) is doing well in the USA-more on this later
Day one of the biking portion of the trip commenced early and after a high carb breakfast it was out of the hotel parking lot at 7.00 with our bikes and gear(sans bike pump) to try and find the trail. We rode about 2 kms on the street, through the grounds of Bemidji State College and then on to a
nice clear set of instructions
good path which eventually lead us to the PBT.We actually started about 10 km from the beginning of the trail right near the spectacular Bemidji Paul Bunyan Trail Bridge (the first of many) (I am guessing several million dollars per bridge)
The trail is fairly flat and we made good progress - no wind but the temperature did rise quickly- We rode about 20 miles (32 Kms) before stopping at the Laporte Store for refreshments. This place apparently has really good hamburgers but 10.30 was a bit early for dinner.
Our next stop was north of Walker at the Embracing Pines B and B( about 48 Kms from the start) We were way too early to check in so we stowed our gear and carried on into the town of Walker for lunch and shopping. One of the main features of Walker is Reeds Sporting Goods which is a one store version of Cabellas. Lots of people shopping for handguns and automatic weapons with laser sights....
After a beer and an excellent DF walleye sampler we rode back to the B and B-in total a 70 km day.
Embracing Pines is a typical Minnesota lake country
Taking a break
Rest stop in Backus
house-lots of log work, pine siding and situated on a river. The owners love birds and have a huge resident population of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds plus the usual north woods collection of jays, juncos, chickadees etc at their feeders. According to Dennis they also have racoons...We had some craft beer then a shower before heading off via shuttle to a nearby restaurant (Ranch House Supper Club) The special appeared to be roast chicken so we decided on that- when it arrived it was DF-arghh..
The next morning we had breakfast with the birds on the deck-ham and pancakes-excellent.
Dennis called ahead to a bike repair guy in Walker so we could buy a pump and off we went at 8.30 for yet another trip down the trail to Walker.We got the pump assuring that we would never have occasion to use one.... Then it was off through town via the new short cut (Shin-Go-Bee cutoff) which apparently keeps one off the extreme hills on the Harte Section.
We stopped in Hackensack for lunch and a brief stroll then continued on to Pine River where we visited the excellent tourist centre, taking direction to the local Paul Bunyan
View from My handlebars
t-shirt emporium and Elmos Tavern.After a PBT shirt plus some MGDs accompanied by peanuts we cycled on to the Rodeway Inn.
This was the opening day of the Pine River Bluegrass Festival so after a shower, we biked back into town and went to the fairgrounds for what was supposed to be a free Bluegrass sampler concert. We had BBQ pork then settled in for the concert. THe opening act was a reincarnation of the Beeches Orchestra from early days in Glenboro. After an excruciating 60 minutes we learned that the Bluegrass concert was off-back to the room. (Another 70 Km day)
After the best sleep of the trip we were up at 6.30 for a hotel breakfast and then off down the trail for the last 50 Km stretch into Baxter/Brainerd. A nice cool morning and a great ride.We arrived at the car at 11.00 and shopped our way home to Canada (in at 10.30)
The Paul Bunyan Trail is a fairly easy trail as it has virtually no hills and great pavement all the way. The towns are interesting and we enjoyed the trip. However it is not a big physical challenge relative to the
Last section on day three
Coeur d"Alene trail, Oregon highway 101 and our Salt Spring roads. It would be quite possible to do it in 2 days.
Tot: 2.347s; Tpl: 0.069s; cc: 12; qc: 35; dbt: 0.0593s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb