w 2009 MTR Post Tour w

MTR Post Tour

Our first impression of the post tour actually happened while enjoying the hot tub at MTR when a lady asked if anyone was doing the post tour. We of course said yes and then introductions were made and we got to meet and enjoy Louise and Jeff Davis from Seattle WA. They and their friends Erika and Don Stenton from Canada were also doing the post tour and they had been biking, self contained, on the bike trails of MN for the last week and so wanted to know if we would do them a favor. That favor was if we had room could we take their panniers to Lanesboro for the start of the post tour so that they could ride down on Monday unencumbered by their weight for one day.

We of course said yes and then made arrangements to meet them in the morning on Labor Day to store their bags before we ourselves took off with Bruce and Beth Bailey for the MTR breakfast ride. That turned out to be a good time and by check out time we were back, showered, packed and on our way to Lanesboro MN. We did not know the route that the two teams might had taken but as we headed south on MN Rte. #52, we thought that it was a pretty good route for biking, not a lot of traffic, and a wide paved shoulder. Sure enough just before a wayside along the Root River we passed them and so we pulled over into the wayside where they soon joined us. It turned out that they had picked up lunch at the subway in the last town but decided to ride a little further before eating because they had also stopped at the Dairy Queen FIRST and so weren’t real hungry when they found the Subway. MY kind of people!!!!

We sat with them while they ate, took some pictures, watched the river awhile and learned a little more about them during that time. Soon they were ready to leave so we resumed our trip on to Lanesboro. The scenery was beautiful as it seemed that we were mostly riding the ridges and could see for miles, and then it would drop down into a valley for a river or creek. Very pretty. Shortly afterwards we went through Fountain MN where we saw the trailhead for the western end of the Root River Trail and then finally down a hugh down hill into Lanesboro. What a shock!! We had been driving on almost empty roads, passing an occasional car but that was it. Now we crossed a bridge over the Root River and into the main intersection of Lanesboro and suddenly there were people everywhere!!!!

My first thought was “What a nightmare that trail is going to be”, but that was offset by watching the people coming off the trail right then, making U-turns right in the middle of the intersection, others walking across the street at an angle with inter tubes that they had rented for the purpose of tubing in the Root River, cars with trailers full of canoes going by and of course people just walking around. Traffic was heavy on the main street and parking was at a premium. We found the Brewster Red Hotel that the Davis and Stinsons were staying at, parked in the drive of the Canoe Rental place and I toted their panniers UP the stairs to the second level to leave them.

From there we headed back up the street to see if we could find our hotel, the Cottage Inn Suites. Again no parking was seen so we finally just pulled in where we saw their sign and some off street parking and walked around to the entrance. Everything went nicely, we were however parked in the wrong place and so would want to move the van and we checked out the room which also turned out to be very nice before doing so. It took up most of our stuff in one trip and decided that we would then go out to eat lunch. We walked up the street about a block where we found a deli like shop called Rhino’s, where we got a couple of tasty wraps and again took our time watching the people.

After eating we decided to tour the town before unpacking and again were amazed at the number of people, cars, trucks, and motorcycles, not to mention the bikers all over the place. It was an interesting little town, lots of B and B’s, lots of specialty shops, a number of places that were closed and didn’t look like they were going to reopen, a real live theater for live performances, and the afore mentioned canoe rentals. We found a dog specific shop with special items for the pampered pup but even funnier was that after closing their dogs had beds in the windows and they would lay in them and watch us.

There was a hugh bike rental place as well, renting just about every type of bike feasible, uprights, recumbents, trikes, single speeds, cruisers and some more interesting types as well. They had side by side recumbents tandems, linked together rather interestingly and they had “surreys” which were for four people to ride side by side and behind one another. These were very interesting but not much fun to meet on the path as they took up a big portion of it. There was one other interesting one that we found in the shop itself. Mostly we were drew to it by the lime green color that it was painted but upon closer inspection we saw that it was a two seat recumbent, side by side trike, and each riders pedals were attached to the wheel directly on their side of the bike. Each person thus powered the wheel next to them and had a brake for that wheel and I think they also had a derailer on that handle. Initially I couldn’t see how it steered but eventually found another lever in the middle of the trike, forward of the seating area and after a little trail and error discovered that if you moved the handle forward, the front wheel went left and if you pulled it back, the wheel went right and again there was a brake on that handle as well for the front wheel. I assumed it could be rented but didn’t ask. It appeared that if one person on one side put their brake on as hard as possible and the other pedaled as hard as they could that the bike would just sit and spin in a circle, really weird but fun to see. I just hoped that with the traffic I had seen on the trail, that nobody rented it while we were there.

We finally made it to back to the Cottage Inn, unpacked and made ready to go to supper and meet the rest of the group that would be on the tour. Supper on Monday and Wed. along with three breakfasts and three lunches were part of the rally cost and so were scheduled. On Monday night we ate at a German restaurant and everyone had a sampler plate, food mostly made on site and mostly German. We each had a small fat sausage, a similar sized frank, and of course sauerkraut, also home made. In fact they make the sauerkraut for most of the restaurants in town and supposedly make it by the ton???

We got our packets of info, listened to some directions for the next day, met a few of the other teams near us and agreed to do the post supper walk around town. That turned out to be a rather brisk walk down the main drag and then back into a park and out the other side to where the residents lived. So more gorgeous homes, some of which had become B and Bs and thought if we ever come back that we might want to stay in one of those. They were quite beautiful and serene looking. After the walk we leisurely took our time on the walk back up the main drag, doing more window shopping as we went, until we finally climbed the stairs to our room and soon to bed.

Tuesday morning breakfast was to be served between 7 am and 8 am at the most aptly named for our tour, the Pedal Pushers Restaurant. We got a shock as we walked to it form our Inn because the streets were empty of cars, there were no people out except us bikers on the post tour and in fact it gave the appearance of a ghost town. I had hopes that maybe the trail wouldn’t be as crowded as I had feared. We got to Pedal Pushers a shade before seven and walked into a nicely set up buffet for us to choose from. We did this each morning and on our last day they even did omelets to order plus the buffet. Since we were one of the first ones there we took the choice seats close to the buffet and it was pretty funny, most everybody sat in the same seats each morning after that.

By nine we were at the trail head getting last minute instruction before heading out. The routes for that day were 40 and 46 miles with us climbing out of the river valley on roads to start with, riding along the bluffs down to Harmony where we would eat lunch and then the bike trail back to Lanesboro. After coming in via car DOWN the hill into town we had some concern about the climb out but it turned out to be a long gradual slope with gentle curves and we didn’t even get down to granny, did most of it in 3rd gear with an occasional drop in 2nd.

Once at the top we rolled along with fantastic views out over the fields of grain. It almost seemed that the farmers had planted with the idea of providing long beautiful vistas. Every now and then we would dip down into a little valley, cross a creek, and climb back out, got to use granny on one of those. We watched a herd of horses and cows tear across a field like in a stampede and thought something was chasing them, but no, THEY had seen the farmer coming with the hay wagon and were racing for the chow line.

As we entered Hormony we saw a number of Amish buggies that were in town. We had seen a few of their farms on the way in. We ate lunch in a little park just off the main drag, getting to know more of the group and listening to bike talk just like at any rally. We relaxed for awhile and then packed up and headed for the bike trail. The warning on the map said that this end of the trail was hilly but as it turned out we were going in the right direction, mostly downhill and flat. It wasn’t a rails to trails path at this end but simply a bike trail cut through the fields, winding in and out of what appeared to be one farm after another and that also explained the hilly part. There was no grading down except for the path itself, so if there was a rise in the fields you rode over it. The path eventually started to go into and out of forested areas, more like you expect for a bike path.

When we reached Procter, we started to look for the rest rooms that were listed and thanks to other teams all ready using them it was pretty easy. There was also supposed to be an ice cream shop but it was closed. There was another shop in town they said as they pointed up a hill, which made the decision easy to decide we could wait till Laneboro. So shortly it was back on the trail for more woodsy riding, again mostly downhill as we were heading for the Root River, hit the junction of the trails and soon were back in Lanesboro. We headed for the Pedal Pushers again for ice cream, they had floats, sundays, ice cream sodas, etc and were soon joined by more teams. Pedal Pushers was empty when we entered but filled up with bikers soon, doing what bikers do best, eat ice cream.

We returned later that day for supper at Pedal Pushers where we joined by others of our group as the evening went on. After supper we strolled along the main street again for awhile and then down to the river and over a little bridge to another part of the town that we hadn’t seen as of yet. As dark settled in we headed back to our room, read for awhile and then got ready for the next day before sleep.

Wednesday morning after another fine breakfast meal we again met at the trailhead for last minute instructions. Today’s route was east on the trail to Rushford, about a 18 miles run, and the trail today was definitely an old rails to trails type. We crossed two trestles from the original train and continued to mostly follow the Root River, with the river on the right and a high bluff on our left, with a break every now and then for farms and barn.

At the 5 mile mark we stopped at Whalan to see a historic gas station complete with working pumps on the outside. While we were all wandering around and taking pictures, a truck pulled up and the driver stepped out and asked us if we wanted to see the inside. Turns out he was the owner and the group got a guided tour of the little station. He had a lot of other antique items from gas stations on the inside, including even earlier style pumps then the ones out front. He had old signs of many types, adding machines of an age when I was a kid, and other equipment of times long past. After that we toured the town a little because Whalans main claim to fame is its “Stand Still Parade”. The town has only about 80 residents and so there is no place to well “Parade” to or from, so the parade itself just stands in one spot and everybody walks around it. Novel idea!!!!!

From there is was on Peterson where we took a break at the RV park before heading on, saw a field with wild turkeys just standing and watching us and eventually reached Rushford and the old Train Station Museum. Sherry wandered into the museum for awhile, we admired the beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and next to the Train Depot two Amish boys were reconstructing the old jail which had been moved from downtown somewhere. We eventually moved on for lunch, which got us just a little lost as we couldn’t seem to find the park and even after we did, we couldn’t find the entrance.

Lunch again was a mixtures of cold cuts, salads, chips, etc. and I think everybody got their full. While we ate we discussed the return route, which left Rushford and reportedly climbed a stiff little hill, (about a mile long they said), then rolling terrain before it headed back to Lanesboro and came into town down a really BIG hill. Didn’t sound to bad until they said the road where the BIG downhill was had lots of bad sections, pot holes, etc. and they were warning everybody to NOT let the bike run free.

Believe it or not, we opted to take the bike trail back. The trail was so beautiful and so empty of other bikers that we could see no reason to take to the road and play with the cars. So we reversed to the Train Depot, took more time at the Museum there, actually talked to the Amish man and his sons who were doing the jail reconstruction before heading back along the trail. Sherry had noticed a couple of barns that were neat on the way out so we stopped on the way back to take pictures of them and then pictures of the trestles as we went past and finally reached Lanesboro again. We parked the bike on the sidewalk in front of the ice cream shop where we each got cones, walked across the street to eat them in the shade, and were told that we couldn’t sit on the steps in front of a B and B. (Guess if we go back to Lanesboro sometime we won’t be staying at THAT B and B.

Supper that night was at the Riverside at the Root Restaurant as part of our package. Since we had ample time before we decided to walk up to the Farmers Market which we had heard was supposed to be where the Amish came in to sell their wares. That turned out to be untrue, at least on that Wednesday, no wagons, no Amish, just two old trucks with one woman at each one. They did have some beautiful produce for sell but we decided it should have been called “The Farmer Market”.

While there we met our friends Louise and Jeff and Ericka and Don who had also believed the hype about the Farmers Market and so as a group we headed back to the Riverside for a drink. We were of course early but they let us in, seated us and went off to fetch our drinks. As we sat there, the rest of the crew straggled in and eventually we had a great dinner, sitting by the water and watching the bikers on the trail crossing the bridge into town. There was a little program, thanking us for coming and that the last ride was on Thursday morning and then we were away for bed.

I had apparently misread the tour information because I thought the ride on Thursday was to be just a short route after breakfast but instead it was a full day of riding including another lunch. We were lucky that the Cottage Inn could accommodate us for one more night, (we had to change rooms which turned out to be great, since as we sat and read that night, we could hear the people in our old room calling for help because the lock on their door had broken.)

Thursday again dawned as a beautiful day just like we had all week and today the route went west on the trail up to Fountain, (up being the right word as the last 4 miles of the trail were all up hill). At the trailhead in Fountain we rested for a bit, did the porta pottie thing and then proceeded on the route. It followed the roads along the bluffs before taking a huge downhill, followed by a big uphill and then down into Procter which was the lunch stop. Today’s lunch stop was again in a nice little park except the park was at the top of a VERY BIG short hill. As opposed to the other days, no one seemed to be in a hurry to get anywhere and so the talking went longer then other days. Finally we packed up, hit the loo before leaving and rode the bike path once again back to Lanesboro.

We still had some things in Lanesboro that we needed to see, one being a winery and so on the way through town we stopped to see and sip. Turned out that most of their wines were of the fruit variety, much sweeter then I prefer so we didn’t take any home as we usually do. Most of the group had vacated the area by now, so we had supper once again up at Pedal Pushers, followed by a nice evening of relaxing. The trip home was pleasant, especially after the wonderful time of riding in the Root River Valley.

For anyone interested, the area is wonderful for biking, the trail is well maintained, has basically 3 branches to ride and if you want a change of pace part of each days ride could be done on the local roads. Stay in Lanesboro, there are plenty of B and B as well as the Cottage Inn and it seems to be the most centrally located for riding the trails. One warning, don’t go on weekends and especially holiday weekends unless you enjoy riding with a few hundred other people on bike trails. It was a wonderful post tour and we would go back.

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