We wanted to see rural MN and the 2 days of riding from Fergus Falls to Bertha MN and halfway to Brainerd gave us a great taste of the quiet life in west central MN.
It was also the first test of my new Bontrager Kevlar wrapped tires and they seem just fine for the rough and smooth roads we’ve been encountering.
Wednesday morning Michael and Cynthia delivered coffee and yogurt to our campsite at DeLagoon and we set off for a long and wet day destined for Bertha, MN a little town of 400 halfway to Brainerd. Amy Beckman (a Gustavus grad) joined us along the way. Amy had come to the presentation at the YMCA the night before and showed us her farm house where 6
generations of Beckman’s have farmed over 400 acres. Amy now wants to transition the farm to more sustainable techniques, just what the Climate Doctors order. Good luck Amy and thanks for riding with us with your awesome bike.
The rain started about noon and continued for the next 7 hours. We dried off a little at the Lake Ave Cafe in Battle Lake with a hearty lunch to say goodbye to Micheal who was headed off with Cynthia to a family gathering. Thanks to the Lake Ave Cafe for staying open late to feed us!
We stopped in Vining MN, see the sculpture garden by Ken Nyberg the father of Karen Nyberg local girl and USA astronaut. Not what we expected in a tiny place in central MN. Stopped for a sweet phone call with Paul Doffing one of the original LowCarbon Crossings riders from 20, now heading for a teaching career in Slovakia with his new girlfriend….Good Luck Paul!!!
After 59.9 miles we pulled into Bertha dripping wet and with approaching darkness and still raining. Ready to set up our tent in the Bertha City Park, we met Ted at the gas/ convenience store and he said “we have a bed in our basement and if you can tolerate a 3 and 5 year olds, you’re welcome to stay” Music to our wet ears and everything else.
Photo of Ted and Amanda and the boys
Thursday the rain held off although biking to Brainerd we saw the impact of the 2.2 inches of rain with standing water everywhere. It seems to be the main story we hear from the locals on how their climate has changed, along with the disappearance of the winters they remembered from the past.
The interesting thing about Ted and Amanda living in a small town in rural MN they hunt, fish, garden and preserve almost everything they are eating. Homemade jerky, pickles, jam and a barter network with their Amish neighbors who repay debts with chickens, eggs and neighborly kindness.
The ride to Brainerd was yin and yang….first 25 miles through quiet roads, small towns, Philbrook, to motley where we had soup and potato salad and back to the traffic on Hwy 210…..such joy….20 miles passed by a few thousand 70 mph vehicles and we were constantly thanking Paul Doffing and Mindy for the great job of routing us through quiet roads when possible. We were fortunate to have a nice wide shoulder for this stretch, to give us some buffer from the traffic.
Thanks for Maya Hermerding and her large family for hosting and organizing our presentation at the Brainerd Fire Station, only 4 attended but the eldest was 20 and young Lucy, 8 went to the same elementary school as her US Congressperson Rick Nolan, the only Minnesotan on the Climate Solutions Caucus. She wrote a great letter to member Nolan.
Onward to Little Falls, a mere 35 miles, our shortest day. Along the MRT, Mississippi River Trail. See you there!
- Paul Thompson