The next leg of our journey once again took us more northward than westward, from Mankato to Alexandria, Minnesota, two cities I'd never even heard of before this trip. But both had rail-trails, and that's what lured us -- and the fact that they aren't tourist destinations so hotel reservations were easy to come by even in the busy summer travel season.
The afternoon we checked into our hotel, Barry went out on a short reconnaissance ride to determine how we'd begin our ride and access the trail we planned to ride the next morning. I just had to share the photos he took of a two gaggles of geese along one of the many lakes in the area crossing the road in front of him. So cute!
The trail also hooks up with the Lake Wobegon trail in Osakis. We knew we wouldn't be able to ride the whole trail, but we figured we'd see how far we could get. You can see all the lakes along the trail on this PDF trail map.
The next morning looked like a good one for a long ride on this near-flat trail, and any thunderstorms were supposed to hold off until late afternoon, knock wood. So, we headed out, first taking in a few sights in Alexandria on our way to the trail. We had a nice five-mile ride over to the trailhead.
At last we arrived at the trailhead and headed east towards Osakis, as we wanted to ride on a bit of the Lake Wobegon trail as well.
They don't call this the Central Lakes trail for nothin'!
As we kept riding, the clouds started building up. Hmmmmm....
There had been big storms a couple of days before, on our second full day in Mankato. Guess this tree came down then.
In Osakis, we continued on the Lake Wobegon trail, which didn't seem very different than the Central Lakes trail, just a little bit narrower. These trails were both in very good condition, especially compared to some portions of the Sakatah Singing Hills trail that we'd ridden down in Mankato. Here I am pointing out the sign for Barry to take a photo of.
We liked these cute metal animals outside a feed store in West Union, one of the small towns along the trail.
When we stopped for a quick break in West Union, we decided to turn back. The sky was getting darker to the west, and we still had a long way back. If it wasn't raining by the time we made it back to Alexandria, we hoped to continue farther west to see how far we could get.
When we got back to Alexandria, the skies looked very threatening. However, it hadn't started raining yet, and we both wanted to get a few more miles in, so we risked riding another couple of miles west. There was still more lakes to see, like this reflective beauty.
After we'd gotten about two miles northwest of Alexandria, we started seeing some lightning in the distance, so we decided we'd better turn around and high-tail it back to the hotel. Barry is just a blur he's riding so fast!
There were a few small climbs in the five road miles back to the hotel, so it seemed to take forever to get there, but we made it just as the raindrops started flying -- hours earlier than Weather Underground had indicated. My odometer read 51 miles, and I was actually disappointed as I'd hoped for a metric century (62.5 miles) -- crazy, huh?! At that point, I was just glad to beat the rain.
We hope to get back to finish riding this trail one day -- it was well-maintained and scenic with all the lakes. It seems that we left Minnesota in the nick of time, though; the state has been besieged with unusual amounts of rainfall and resulting flooding. We had plenty of rain while we were there, but still got in some good bike rides.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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