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Ride To Fergus Falls - 3 Rail Trails and More

The heading for each day shows the day and date, accomplishment, miles ridden, and lodging cost.

Friday, August 3     Willmar to Albany     54mi     FREE

It was 7:30am. I was packed and ready at my daughter's home. There was no large body of water in which to dunk my rear wheel, so this picture would have to do.

In just 2 miles I was at the edge of town and the start of the 25-mile, 9'wide Glacial Lakes Trail between Willmar and Paynesville.

Spicer wins my prize for the filthiest half mile of over 750 miles I rode in Minnesota. The dog poo on the paved bike trail presented quite the obstacle course.

As I was leaving the A&W in Paynesville, I noticed about 25 motorcyclists. They are on their way to the rally in Sturgis, SD, where that small town would be visited by a half million motorcyclists during a week. Later on, I would meet and chat with two other much smaller groups of motorcyclists that had the same destination.

I left Paynesville on MN-23. The road was divided, and had a 9' shoulder. This traffic was typical for most state highways.

I approached Roscoe on County 10. It was a bad downhill into town. The hill was steep, but the bad part was that little red STOP sign at the bottom. Also, notice off in the distance where the road splits the trees.

Here I am at the tree split, looking back on Roscoe and the big hill, with the STOP sign looking very insignificant.

Just up the road, I could see another hilltop 3 miles away.

When I got to the base, the hill was only a 3/4 mile climb, and not so intimidating.

As you start to climb a hill, if it looks intimidating, don't stare at it. Just look far enough ahead to see debris and other hazards, and shift down a gear just before you FEEL strained. Every once in a while, look up to verify the status of any oncoming traffic. When the pedaling gets easier, you will know you are near the top.

The afternoon temperatures reached into the 90s and shade was hard to find. A few miles south of Albany, I found this driveway.

To camp for free at North Park in Albany, I needed to notify the local police. I made the call, but needed to wait for a return call from the officer in charge. My cell phone was down to 20%, so I left it in the park bathroom to charge, and missed his call. Later, he met me at the park and pointed out my camping options.

I had dinner at Subway, then visited a nearby car show. I was in my tent about an hour before a big storm. As I laid there, the wind banged the tent into my head several times. It was a good test of my new tent - a replacement for one I bought over 10 years ago and had cost me twice as much.

Saturday, August 4     to trailside camp west of Alexandria     50mi     FREE

Both the tent and I survived the night. The overnight storm continued into the morning. It was 10am by the time it was over, I got my cell phone charged, and wet tent packed. To maintain my planned average, I only had to ride 10 miles today. Headed west, it would be easy riding on the 10' wide Lake Wobegon Trail.

The first camping opportunity was 13 miles away at Melrose for just $5. Sauk Center, at mile 21, was the next for $10. I felt good and kept pedaling along.

The storm proved to be the worst they had experienced in many years. This tree across the trail was the first evidence of that.

It was dead, and fairly easily moved.

Freeport, 7 miles down the trail, was introduced by this old tandem.

In Freeport, Cafe' Charlies was famous for having been visited by both Garrison Keeler of the Minnesota-based Prairie Home Companion radio show, and by Lady Gaga from just about everywhere else. I found their French Toast just average.

At Osakis, the Lake Wobegon Trail ended and the Central Lakes Trail began. It is 11' wide.

This one was neither dead nor moveable, but there was just enough edge on the right to get around it.

I met the young cyclist coming my way with a machette that had taken care of this one.
He was a cross country cyclist with the trail of a grasshopper. He had started in Seatle and ridden to Texas looking for work in the oil fields. Finding no work there, he rode to Alaska, also without any luck. He had already traveled over 8000 miles. He said he still had another 6 months he could travel. What a way to see the USA.

The bars in Nelson were packed this Saturday morning. Since I was riding a rail trail, I wasn't concerned about an encounter later - whether they were drunk, or just full.

It was turning out to be a nice day on the trail, with busy MN-27 to the right.

A good time to check my speed.
The lower sign wasn't very clear. I did the math. If I were going 12mph, I could only comply by turning around and riding back the way I came - at 18mph?

In Alexandria, the trail became 13' wide. I met some kids with bikes, skates, and skateboards at an underpass and spend time talking about using a bike for traveling. They were very receptive.

The sun was going down, so I decided to continue up the trail to find a place to camp. I found a "rest area" - a wide spot in the Central Lakes Trail with a bench and trash can.
Although probably not approved for camping, I got no flack and a bit of encouragement, both as I was setting up my tent, and the next morning as I broke camp.

Sunday, August 5     to Fergus Falls     56mi     $10

I got little sleep. The temperature dove to 42 degrees last night. That was significantly lower than "the high fifties" average. Wearing sweats and wool socks, and being covered with a light blanket was not enough. I was determined to look in Fergus Falls for a suitable sleeping bag.

Garfield (the village) was just a short way up the trail and its cafe proved to be a good place for breakfast.

In Dalton, I was "fortunate" enough to find a SPUR gas station and "convenience" store that would sell me 2 cups of ice for only 50 cents - each.

Approaching Fergus Falls, unaware of the turn off the trail to the campground at Delagoon Park, the nice folks I was riding with interrupted me so I wouldn't miss it.

Scenic Delagoon Park is in the southeast part of Fergus Falls on Pebble Lake. It has ball fields, picnic areas, and camping. Registration is unhuman - it uses the drop box method.

I quickly got my tent set up and headed for the WalMart to find a sleeping bag. As I rode along and asked anyone for directions, it was always only 3 miles away. It must be on wheels, too. I'd had a long day. I was tired. The road wasn't flat.

It was actually five and a half miles, but I never saw it. At 4 miles, I saw a KMart and decided it would do. They had several bags, good down to 45 degrees, for about $20. Then I saw the liner for $9.71, good down to 40 degrees. It was light and compact. What a no-brainer.

On the way back, I stopped at a Burger King to eat, and asked about a place I could charge my phone. They plugged it into an outlet in the cooking area next to a refrigerator. I finished my meal and went to get my phone. Between the cleats on my Shimano bike sandals and the grease on the floor, I was lucky to remain upright.

Monday, August 6     In Fergus Falls     6mi     $10

I wanted to get my phone fully charged. As there was no electricity at my campsite, I thought I might find some at a picnic shelter.

It was no surprise that Pebble Lake didn't have a sandy beach, so when I went wading to cool off at the boat launch, I wore my Shimano sandals for protection.

Later in the day, these four motorcyclists took a site near mine. They included a father and son, and two friends of the father. They were on their way to the rally at Sturgis.

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