Itasca State Park

Wheel full 70px The source of the Mississippi River took a while for the early explorers of the North American continent to find, apparently. I can’t imagine being out in what must have seemed to them like a vast trackless wilderness trying, without aid of GPS or aerial photography, to figure which little brook flowing out of one of an innumerable number of similar-looking lakes was the start of a river the mouth of which was thousands of miles/kilometers away.

Wheel full 70px It’s a lot easier today. Those guys decided on Lake Itasca, and who is to second-guess? Then, I guess so we wouldn’t lose track of it, the State of Minnesota established in 1891 Itasca State Park. My guess is that the park was not very busy for its first half-century because driving out here seems like it’s still sort of a haul from anywhere with a McDonalds.

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Wheel full 70px But here we are, modern day adventurers following in the footsteps of a lot of intrepid folks who pretty much sorted all of this out for us in advance.  All we had to do was get here, set up our tents and then wait out the rain which at six in the morning on the first day of our ride, is streaming down pretty hard.

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Wheel full 70px But, just like those early explorers, we won’t melt.  In a couple of hours we’ll end our short stay at this place and be on our way.  Thanks for coming along with us in the ride.

David

And Wow!! again

Wheel full 70px My friend Jean Aime Bigirimanawho goes by JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link] is on the Dempster Highway north of the Arctic Circle bicycling across Canada to the Arctic Ocean. I first posted about him here [link].

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Wheel full 70px He has been on the road a little over a year and has ridden a single speed bicycle all the way from the Atlantic Coast in the Maritimes to the Pacific Coast in British Columbia then north up the Alaska Highway headed for Tuktoyaktuk, an Arctic Ocean coastal village in the Northwest Territories.  He has less than a week to go.  His facebook page is one of the most incredible accounts of a long-distance bicycle ride that I have ever seen.

Wow!!

Wheel full 70px Every so often something happens in the community of touring/endurance cyclists that just has one stopping to catch a breath.  I’m not talking about the incredibly sad events involving injury and sometimes death (the community suffered two tragic losses in the last 10 days when ultra-distance cyclist Mike Hall was killed in a competition being held in Australia [link] and then the legendary Steve Tilford died in an auto accident in Colorado [link])- those are terrible occurrences that just leave you shaking your head, and they seem to happen far too often.  Some things, though, just capture what inspires people to get on bicycles and ride, and ride, and ride.  The story of Montrealer Jean Aime Bigirimana, who goes by the name JaBig Chocophile on facebook [link], is one of those.

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Wheel full 70px This guy is in the last weeks of a 14 month, 17,500 kilometer/11,000 mile plus ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean in Canada.  He is currently cycling between Whitehorse and Dawson in the Yukon on the Klondike Highway and will then head north on the Dempster Highway and then ultimately an ice road to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories…

…wait for it…

…wait…

…wait…

…on a single speed bike!!

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Wheel full 70px For those of you who live in the balmy south- meaning anywhere south of Duluth, Minnesota- you have no idea what this guy is doing. Here’s the weather right now in Dawson.

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That’s a balmy day for this time of year up here. And it was still winter when JaBig rode up the Alaska Highway, something that can be a challenge in a car.

Wheel full 70px He’s riding Centuries (100 miles/160 kilometers in a day) on a regular basis.  And he’s had his bike stolen during the trip. And been charged by buffalo. He seems to be unstoppable. His facebook page is well worth an extended look – highly recommended.

Halfway down Florida

Wheel full 70px Yesterday along the coast north of the town of Stuart I passed the halfway point between the state’s northern border with Georgia and my destination: Key West.

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After tonight’s stay in the Palm Beach area, the remaining destinations are

Sunday, Nov 6 – Fort Lauderdale
Monday, Nov 7 – Cutler Bay
Tuesday, Nov 8 – Key Largo
Wednesday, Nov 9 – Marathon/Bahia Honda
Thursday, Nov 10 – Key West

Wheel full 70px The weather appears to be holding in my favor for the last 300 miles/500 kilometers of the ride.

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Wheel full 70px The rain predictions for today and tomorrow are for brief periods of drizzle- the same as have been in the forecast every couple of days for the past few weeks but have never materialized.  My weather app says it is supposed to be drizzling right now, but I guess it is hard to see in all that sunshine that’s currently outside my window.

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“Flamingo Sky”

 

Ten days, 500 miles to go

Wheel full 70px After cycling through St. Augustine yesterday,

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I’ll bike through Daytona Beach today.  I’m starting the day in St. Augustine Beach and should get to New Smyrna Beach tonight.

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Wheel full 70px Unfortunately yesterday was the first day I saw actual damage to structures (as opposed to just piles of debris and ruined appliances and furnishings) resulting from the hurricane.

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Wheel full 70px It is pretty sobering to ride past several miles of this kind of storm devastation.  I know that it’s sad for the folks who have experienced it, but living anywhere on the southeastern Atlantic Coast involves a trade-off.  It’s close to paradise, but this is the inevitable downside.

Wheel full 70px Even at the beach, not every day can be a day at the beach.

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This afternoon’s ride

Wheel full 70px I’ll be riding my last miles in North Carolina this afternoon.  I’m currently just west of Southport after taking the ferry across the mouth of the Cape Fear River and plan to spend the night in North Myrtle Beach.

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Wheel full 70px It’s a beautiful sunny day, much cooler than yesterday.  There’s a little headwind, but it’s about the only thing affecting an otherwise perfect day.

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