September 23, 2012
The overnight rain in Ironwood looked as if it was just wrapping up as I climbed onto the Cannondale CAAD 10. It was 7 am, and time for me to take care of this final piece of business, the 114-mile ride to Canal Park in Duluth. Indeed, I hadn’t gone five miles before the pavement was dry, and the sky was clearing to blue just ahead. The predicted 10-15 mph headwind was starting to pick up, but was more a northerly crosswind, and not a problem.
The first 38 miles to Ashland were largely downhill, and I was cooking, running on the excitement of finishing this ride around the Big Lake. I was trying to be quick, but efficient, knowing that this would be a long day, and the stretch of road from Ashland to Maple would present a challenging extended uphill stretch.
Diane met me for lunch in Iron River, waiting in the parking lot of the White Winter Winery. She had found the business open, and had gone in to buy some mead. John, the owner, was in and he and Diane began discussing my Velo the Lake 2012 – Ride Against Hunger. John liked the idea and gave us a nice donation to give to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. When I arrived, he warmed me up with some hot cocoa, we talked a bit, and he took some photos of me in front of his business. John is a fine and generous man, and Diane and I have always enjoyed the unique products that his White Winter Winery offers.
Cresting the hill in Maple at 80 miles I caught my first glimpse of home, and the finish of my 1050-mile odyssey. I turned right onto County F heading for HWY 13, and suddenly felt once again like a local Twin Ports rider just out for a long ride in the country. The simple farmhouses and beautiful old barns of County Road F were so different from the spectacular wilderness of northern Ontario, but their image is equally well etched in my brain. I was riding fast now, trying to keep my 4 pm scheduled arrival in Canal Park.
As I rode across the Bong Bridge at 110 miles into the ride, I was ecstatic. It had seemed so odd, almost surreal, to be making my way through the streets of Superior, as if I was just on a local in-town ride. The traffic coming into Superior had been loud and close, and the streets rough and broken up. Now here I was, whooping at the clear blue sky, just four miles from my goal.
An easy ride along Michigan Street with the wind finally at my back, turning right at the DECC and down onto Railroad Street, I was overjoyed. Under the Lake Avenue overpass, and there she was, faithful Diane, waiting as always with a huge welcome home smile on her face, and open arms. Our two good friends Randy and Joanne were there with her, and there were hugs all around. Joanne had prepared a great meal for us at her house, and there was celebratory champagne.
The Ride was complete! 1,059 miles by my bicycle odometers, riding 10 ½ days on the roads around the biggest lake in the world. I will add more details and photos of the Ride over the next few days, so stay tuned, if you like. I will also let you know how the fund-raising effort for Second Harvest is going. Even though Velo the Lake 2012 is complete, it will take a few days to sort it all out. This much I know, that the encouraging words from many of you, my friends, have made a huge difference in my experience of this very difficult ride. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I know I have left many details out about the bicycles, diet, scenery, people, and logistics, etc., so please feel free to direct your questions my way, and I will do my best to answer. Thank you again, my friends.