In 2004, I sold my possessions and hit the road on my bicycle for a 10 month, 7,000 mile solo bicycle trip, going south for the winter and returning north in the spring. Five years after I completed the trip, I wrote a series of ten essays, each on a subject where my perspective had changed due to the trip. I've revised the essays each five years after that, so they've now been revised twice and are in the form of a Google doc that can be downloaded or printed for easier reading.
In the summer of 2004, I sold or gave away most of my possessions from my apartment in Minneapolis and hit the road on my bicycle for a year, pulling a trailer full of gear behind me. The idea was to go south through the midwest, spend the winter along the gulf coast, go north along the east coast with the spring, and return to Minnesota via Canada in the summer. Because the movie Winged Migration was popular at the time, I called the Yahoo! Group that I used to communicate with my friends and family during the trip "Wheeled Migration." Below are the messages I sent to that group, in reverse chronological order, but you can find them in chronological order in the menu that will appear at left, or click a pin on the map above.
This morning I enjoyed the luxury of a hot breakfast followed by the luxury of staying indoors while a thunderstorm passed by.
I had planned to ride northwest and cross the St. Croix River into Minnesota at Stillwater, the same way I came in August, and ride into St. Paul on the Gateway State Trail. But I missed a turn and was in Hudson, Wisconsin before I knew it... and so it made more sense to just cross the river there.
[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on June 24, 2005]
I made it! I'm writing from St. Paul, the end of my wheeled migration. Here's what happened in the final week...
All night I listened to the howling of the Interstate, wondering how I lived with that banshee in my backyard for four years! It was much more noticeable after two quiet nights.
I hit the road very early, hoping to avoid the heat of the day, which was forecast to be in the mid-90s F. I followed Route 12 west from Menomonie -- a road I had avoided on the way out because it's a US highway, but now that I read the maps better I knew it was low-traffic, and it was quite a nice ride.
There was a lot of rustling in the leaves last night, most of it raccoons. I had brought my food into my tent because this didn't seem like a place where the raccoons would be tame, and they weren't, but then I heard the unmistakable roar of a bear not far away! It seemed to be angry at the raccoons, if I may make such a judgment from the swatting and chattering that followed.
The campground was eerily silent last night -- no crickets or frogs singing; not a single sound except for the occasional rustle of some animal going about its business.
Today was a much better traveling day, and I made great time into Gilman, where I stopped for lunch and a quick e-mail check. Then I rode west and reached Cornell around 3. Cornell was founded by the same man who founded Cornell University but had its boom as a transfer point for pulp wood. Now the railroad line has been turned into a bike trail, which I'll ride tomorrow. I camped at Brunet Island State Park.
Today was not nearly as much fun as recent days have been. It was hot and humid, and there was no shade to be had on the road I was riding. Before that started, though, I stopped for groceries in Tomahawk and met a man in a wheelchair who's done some touring both in a racing chair and a hand-cranked trike.
Forests gave way to tree farms as I rode into Woodruff this morning. Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has its own building -- which they paid off after 7 years and are planning to double in size -- and a congregation of about 60, but they only have services alternate weeks. This being an off week, we watched a video and discussed it.
I had a short day today, getting myself in position to go to church tomorrow morning. I rode into the town of Eagle River and had a leisurely breakfast and bought groceries, then continued down the road.
Father's Day weekend is a popular time to go camping, as I learned last night, but I was able to get a sweet beachside spot at a private campground on Big St. Germain Lake. I had my tent up by 2:00 and rented a transparent-bottomed kayak, which would have been a lot more interesting had there been more to see under the water, but I had fun anyway!