Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brunch in Duluth with Jay Cooke

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!

lost keys

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.

duluth, mnIMG_0551

Yes, that is snow on that hill:

snow on the hills near duluth

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!)

Skyline Drive

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.

whole foods co-op, duluth, mn brunch

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.

Duluth Lake Shore Duluth Lake Shore

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.

beautiful road

Of course no journey would be complete without a “road closed” sign!

road closed!

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.

Jay Cooke State Park Jay Cooke State Park

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.

Jay Cooke State Park Jay Cooke State Park  Jay Cooke State Park

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!

Jay Cooke State Park

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!

Jay Cooke State Park

Here is a google map which includes part of the ride:
View Larger Map

Video on Vimeo:

Video on Youtube:


  1. Chris:

    Reminds me of my SV650 but I had a windscreen. It was a nice touch to have your tank bag cover the speedo.

    You must have been going very slow as that other bike passed you like you were parked.

    I still get a lot of rattling from my mount, I have to dig that orange thingy out and see where to put it.

    Having your DIY chest mount is nearly like riding myself

    Wet Coast Scootin

  2. Bob: Which windscreen did you have? I have two, but the noise they make in my helmet has them sitting on the shelf.

    The speed limit was 40mph and I was doing just that. I was too busy enjoying the scenery to be fast. He passed me like I was parked!

    I've actually been using the official GoPro chest mount. The DIY was too difficult to get on and off with full moto gear.

  3. Chris:

    I am not sure which screen I had on the SV but I think it was the National universal. I didn't notice unusual buffeting, I prefer to be shielded from the rocks, pebbles and debris. Also in the rain it keeps you less wet.

    Today I installed my Madstat windshield bracket onto my Wee so now instead of a fixed windscreen, I can change the angle and raise and lower it a few inches by just loosening a couple of knobs. I have it racked back a few degrees and raised a couple of inches. I think I get a lot less turbulence now. Only problem it now interferes with the GoProHD view of the road. I have to figure out a new mounting position

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  4. I know the SV loved that twisty road! I remember my trip around Lake Superior on the ST--that was so much fun. I'm going to put this ride on my list of "must-visits." Excellent ride report! Thanks.

  5. BTW, I so loved the ride. I leaned with you a few times--couldn't help it!

  6. Bob: I have a touring F-15, I think I may cut it down a bit to see if that help. I took the windscreen and leg fairings off the Ural today. Much nicer.

    Sojourner: Yes, the SV had fun on the return trip. The first trip through I was too busy gawking. It was a good road. I'm snickering imaging you leaning with the video. I've caught my wife doing that too :)

  7. Don't you hate that sinking feeling when the keys are nowhere to be seen?

    For what it's worth, I'm a light eater, too. I pretty much start eating as soon as it gets light.

    Really enjoyed the photos!

  8. Dan: yes, it was quite frustrating. I'd glad you liked the photos. Any tips to improve them?