Author Archives: coolplanetmn

Day 6 – a shorter ride

Knowing we had a shorter distance to ride, we spent more time relaxing and catching up on blog stories, etc in the morning in Brainerd.

We finally got rolling after a brief stop at the Fire Department to pay our bill for the community room and the Post Office to mail a letter then on to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) – nice to be next to rather than on the busy roadways.

The treat of the day was riding through Crow Wing State Park on the Paul Bunyan Trail – mostly down hill on the winding path through the North woods. Interesting to see how different the woods looks here versus the vegetation along our route from St. Joseph to Fergus Falls.  We paused in the park for a snack to enjoy the beauty as long as possible.

The next stretch of the MRT put us along the busy highway 371 – a nice shoulder with a rumble strip between traffic and us, but still loud and fast traffic.  We pulled onto the frontage road whenever it was available – amazing how much difference a hundred feet makes even in the sound of traffic.

We were welcomed into the Leisenheimer home in the countryside outside Little Falls with time to shower before our community conversation ay Zoomski’s Coffee Shop.  Another small but mighty crowd had a great conversation about opportunities to get involved and what they savor about Little Falls.

Rainy Day to Bertha and Traffic to Brainerd

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

On the Central Lakes Trail plus a Flat Adventure

Presentation at the Public Library in Alexandria with 11 people most already engaged with CCbut some newer people had some good ideas on other groups to reach out to in the community. They were particularly interested in Mindy’s cross country tour last year. Wishing Alex growth and lots of continued success and great thanks to Jeanne Johnson and Judy Rose and their 8 years on committed action.

Before the Climate Conversation Ken and Jeane Howell hosted a wonderful potluck to welcome the weary riders with showers, good food and cold beverages, much appreciated.

Monday and a different kind of work week begins. Another gorgeous day on the Central Lakes Trail about 50 miles after a sweet good bye with Ken and Jeane at their lake home outside of “Alex” Jeane rode with us for 10 miles to Garfield MN and headed home. The trail followed I-94 off and on then would dive into the beautiful green of sumacs and forest another this rail to trail pathway.

During one of our breaks Paul’s rear tire decided it had had enough and popped…many hands went to work….long story short….changed flat, rode to Ashby met Cynthia, Michael’s wife and they took Paul’s bike to Fergus for brand new tires (they were needed) while Paul and Mindy continued, Paul, on Michael’s bike….thanks partner.

We arrived at Delagoon Park at 4:15 and met Samantha and Nick natives of Fergus Falls for a rousing Frisbee game, tour of the town including the World’s largest Otter the symbol of Fergus Falls, see photo.

Off to meet a welcoming team at Union Pizza and brewery before our presentation at the local YMCA which was the best yet with the addition of Michael and Cynthia playing guitar and singing their favorite songs, photos.

Again the Climate Conversation brought together a number of different folks from the community including employees of Ottertail Power the local utility, a young woman who wants to convert her family farm (6 generations) to more sustainable techniques, and a lot of members of local groups working to make Fergus Falls a more likable, friendly and sustainable place to live.

The highlife of the evening was 8 year old Gus’ letter to member of Congress Colin Peterson paraphrased here: Please work to protect our climate and make more bike lanes.


Thanks Gus, we are all in this together and young people like you help to inspire us to be the best citizens we can be.

A lovely day for a bike ride

IMG_0013Today we set off on the Lake Wobegon Trail from St. Joseph.  What a wonderful change from riding on the roads and highways.  All day we cycled without cars passing by (although many times we were within ear and eye shot of Interstate 94).

About half hour into our ride we were met by Pia and Rosemary who had started in Avon and biked out to meet us and ride along for awhile.  Soon Mary joined us also having started from Avon.IMG_8689  Now we were six with many more opportunities for conversation since the trail allowed us to comfortably ride side by side.  The miles seemed to fly by.  Paul from Austin, TX caught up to us on the trail and we joined in conversation for awhile as well.  On we went through Avon and Albany – where our new friends turned back for the day (after sharing a bite at the local bakery).  We continued through Freeport, Melrose and on to IMG_8695Sauk Centre where we met our friend Craig Neal who was visiting the area and came to visit while we ate our lunch at the beautiful band shell next to Sauk Lake. (Thanks to Bob for helping us find the trailhead where Craig was waiting for us!)

The weather continued to hold at a pleasant temperature with mostly cloudy skies that kept us not too hot and not too cold, but just right.  Yes, a beautiful day for a bike ride.

On we rode through West Union then stopped to stretch for Osakis as we were now over IMG_8701the 52 mile mark for the day.  There we met Ricky and had another enjoyable conversation – bikes, climate change, hope, living simply, health.  Off again through Nelson then turned off the trail for the last few miles to the home of our hosts Ken & Jean near Alexandria.

Now at our hosts we enjoyed refreshing warm showers and a pot luck dinner with friends old and IMG_8704new.  Then we were off to the library (a short car ride this time) for our evening conversation.  The group of about a dozen gathered in the library community room and shared successes, challenges and new ideas to talking with others about climate solutions.  A big theme of the conversation was helping people see the impacts of climate change all around them as many do not think they are impacted currently – we are working on our local climate stories.

Then back to our hosts for ice cream, cake and more conversation before we head off to bed to enjoy some more good sleep.

  • Mindy Ahler

See a bonus video on our Facebook page