This past Sunday, I finally had the time to go for a longer ride. It was good to get out and get some of the long distance dust knocked off. My body isn’t quite used to sitting on a bike all day yet.
I started off by riding up I-35 North towards Duluth. It being a Sunday morning, traffic was almost non existent which was nice as it gave me a chance to relax slightly and enjoy the scenery. The sky was clear and blue with the temps in the high 40Fs.
At the first gas stop near Askov, I managed to lose my keys! I finished putting gas in the bike, locked the gas cap, and replaced my tank bag. After securing it, I noticed my keys were missing. I spent the next five minutes searching all over the bike and my gear to find them resting comfortably in the left hand guard. They must have slipped out of my hand while I was putting the tank bag back on. Way too much excitement for a gas stop!
Just before I arrived in Duluth, I stopped at the scenic rest stop on the bluff just south overlooking the city and the lake. If you travel to Duluth, this rest stop is a must stop. During the summer it can get quite packed, but I was lucky with only a few people visiting. The views of the harbor and Lake Superior are fantastic. If you get lucky, you might even see some eagles flying by.
Yes, that is snow on that hill:
From the rest stop, I continued on Skyline Drive. It is a nice scenic road that winds its way along the bluffs above Duluth. The road was in terrible shape! It is the worst paved road I have been on in a long time. Frost heaves, pot holes, and even a stretch that was wash-boarded. It gave me and my suspension a work out. When I stopped for photos, I was surprised to see the border patrol rolling past. I guess we need to watch out for those sneaky Canadians! :) (especially those with pink crocs!)
I stopped for a quick brunch at the Whole Foods Co-Op in Duluth. I like to eat light while I’m riding. I don’t like the sleepy feeling after eating a bunch of heavy food while on the bike. I had a veggie humus wrap and some black tea. I saved the cookie for Jay Cooke.
I rode around Duluth for a bit and stopped at the lake shore. Parking is horrible. They only have meters and they are not motorcycle friendly, so I didn’t stay long. There was a lot of other people out enjoying the beautiful weather.
I left Duluth on US-2 and headed into Wisconsin. From US-2 I followed the shore via Belknap Street through a residential area which lead me to my destination road of Billings Drive. You can see the snow from above across the St. Louis River.
Billings Drive was a great road following the shore, weaving up and down in and out. I pulled over many times for photos.
It’s a very beautiful road, and I can imagine it completely packed during the summer months. There are a lot of bike paths and hiking trails leading away from it.
Of course no journey would be complete without a “road closed” sign!
I back tracked quite a ways and eventually found a way around. My google maps printout had just enough detail for me to find an alternate route to WI-105 which I took back into Minnesota on MN-23. A quick stop for gas in New Duluth and I headed down MN-210 into Jay Cooke State Park.
MN-210 through Jay Cooke is a very twisty road, and it was a thrill to ride. I had meant to visit Jay Cooke State Park in 2009, but ran out of time.
The park straddles the St. Louis River which enters Lake Superior through the Duluth Harbor. The park covers 8,818 acres and has some great camping and hiking available. The river turns to rapids and there are numerous waterfalls to view. There are supposedly some great wild flowers to see in the spring, but none were close to blooming while I was there.
I made the delightful return ride back down MN-210. I stopped many times for photos and just to gawk. I ended up taking off my gerbing and my liners as the temperature had soared up to 66F. I was cooking!
I eventually met up with MN-23 again and took that south to I-35. For over 60 miles on MN-23, I saw less than ten other vehicles, half of them were motorcycles. It was a nice empty road to enjoy.
I eventually ended up back on I-35 and took it south back to the Twin Cities. I ended the day with almost 350 miles and about nine hours of riding. I will have to do parts of this ride again. I would like to spend more time in Jay Cooke too, as I was only able to see a small fraction of the park. Hiking in full moto gear is not fun!
Here is a google map which includes part of the ride:
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