Northern Tier 2010

August 6, 2010

Like a Drifter, I was Born to Walk Alone

Filed under: Minnesota, Section 05, Section 06 — Henry Scott @ 1:59 pm

People often ask what I think about while biking. Some of the time my thoughts are specific and task oriented, such as where I’m going to camp, how my legs and back feel, and what my next meal will be. But, a lot of the time I think about more long-term issues such as ideas for new experiments, how to incorporate what I’m learning on this trip into my courses, etc. That said, sometimes my mind just wanders, and fairly often I get a song stuck in my head, and I’ll keep hearing (and very occasionally singing) fragments of the lyrics.

As I mentioned yesterday, Seth and I parted ways in Grand Rapids today because he’s going to go north of the Great Lakes, whereas I’m staying further south. After a big lunch, and some time in the library, I got anxious to hit the road, so we said goodbye and rode off in different directions. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Seth the past two weeks, and logistically it has made day-to-day tasks, such as cooking, easier as well.

As I pedaled away I got the Whitesnake song referenced in the title stuck in my head. The absurdity of it had me literally laughing out loud, yet the song stayed with me for many miles. But that’s just how it goes when one gets a song stuck in his head… for some reason you don’t get to pick.

Otherwise, today was yet another perfect riding day. The sun was out, but there were enough clouds to make the sky interesting and, most importantly, I had a tailwind for much of the day. The route is staying close to the Mississippi so I continue to get excellent views of the growing river. Notably, there is almost no development along the river’s banks, so the views are quite pretty.

It has also been interesting to see the trail infrastructure for off-road vehicles in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter, much like in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I’m not sure if they’re operational, but I was amused by the collection of snowmobiles shown in the photo, at the ready for the first snowfall.

Finally, today was my 30th day into the trip, and I started Section 6 (I’m camped in Palisade, right on the Mississippi, for the night). I’ve covered 2,240 miles in 179 hours of riding. That comes out to just shy of 75 miles per day and an average speed of about 12.5. The favorable winds I’ve been getting recently have helped quite a bit to bring those numbers up. I don’t think I’m quite halfway distance-wise because I’ve added some side trips and a few miles each day riding around towns, but if I stay injury-free, I think I’m on track to finish in another month.

So here I go, again on my own….



  1. You may be biking alone right now, but you definitely are not alone.
    There are so many of us following your trip–I sometimes feel as if I am right there. Love all the descriptions and pictures.

    Jen just sent the article from the South Bend Tribune. Would think that any student from IUSB who reads it would want to sign up for that class.

    Comment by Sally — August 7, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  2. Your trip, the blog, photography, and all the geology are wonderful! Jim and I have enjoyed reading, and especially appreciate your attention to the wind conditions. We did some canoeing in Parc National Mont Tremblant, Quebec this past week and found out pretty quickly that wind can rule your life.
    Wishing you many winds at your back. Deb

    Comment by Deb — August 7, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

  3. Hey guy, I am really impressed with you progress. I was relating you caloric needs yesterday when I was out on a long run with some marathon trainers to lots of nodding heads. I am sorry I haven’t commented as much but I have been regularly reading.

    As you entered Minnesota I wonder if you experienced something I have had both while driving back from the West and weirdly also in marathons about 2/3 or 3/4 through: even though something very hard and exhausting has passed, I am almost a but sad that stage is over already? a sort of wistfulness takes over because so much prep, training and effort have been put int and a big part is done.

    Anyway, I sure you will miss Seth, but also once again will enjoy the loneliness of the long distance biker–or long haul trucker!

    Comment by stevie.g — August 8, 2010 @ 11:26 am

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