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The Boundary Waters tour

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The Boundary Waters tour

Old 04-30-13, 08:42 PM
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The Boundary Waters tour

I'm in the planning stages of my next tour. I work too hectic a schedule to get much time off so I get to plan one week long tour each year. Last year I took it easy and took a scenic route from Saint Paul, MN up to Duluth. I visited a new State Park campground each night and loved every stop.Except when I stayed in Jay Cooke on June 20th.*

This year I was thinking I'd head up to the Boundary waters. I wanted to make the trip into Superior National Forest in just two days; I'm not sure this is reasonable. I'd need to make an average of 120 miles a day over that two day period. Once I was in the forest I could ease up for a few days before making the same brutal return trip. I made about 110 to Banning State park on the first day last year and I was barely able to make 70 the next day. I suppose I could break the trip up into a three day ride, but that would only give me one day of biking through the wilderness. My current plan would give me three days of 40-50 miles of noodling around in the boundary waters. I've even thought about parking my bark somewhere and renting a canoe for one of those days; that way I could get my arms sore too!

My gear is pretty simple. Last year I rode with a Trek SU100 named Koschei. He is the most reliable bike in the world although his saddle needs to be replaced badly. I have a tendency of buying cheap used seats that are fine for rides of thirty miles and under, but tortuous during 100 mile days. This year I have a new beauty that I'm contemplating taking for a ride. She's a 1980s era Schwinn WorldSport. She was advertised as a tourer back in the day, a little heavy for modern tastes perhaps but a solid bike. I've never taken her over 60 miles in a single ride so I really don't know how she'd react to the long days I'm planning. She'd also need a new saddle.

I carry my cargo in a two wheel trailer. I appreciate panniers, but I don't trust the extra weight on my bikes. I'm willing to sacrifice a little speed and maneuverability for the added stability of minimal extra weight on my bike. I carry full survival supplies minus cooking instruments; my maximum tour duration is nine days and I can live without hot food for that duration.

I've always done my tours solo and will probably be continuing that trend. This ride will be my longest time alone away from civilized camping sites so any advice that anyone has would be appreciated.

*Actually I loved that stop. I got a spot in one of the hiking sites and got a beautiful view of the river over a high bluff. It was just getting stranded when the bridge washed away and needing to hike twelve miles across the border into Wisconsin to hitchhike back to my bike that was less pleasant.
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Old 05-01-13, 10:08 PM
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Well I love the Boundary Waters region. I have canoed it in the past. Good fortune on your trip. Although I think I would rather canoe 120 miles than ride.
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Old 05-02-13, 12:13 PM
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I assume you are talking about riding in the Superior National Forest that surrounds the Boundary Waters Canoe area Wilderness, and not in the BWCAW (which doesn't allow bicycles). Many roads through the National Forest are unpaved, although (depending on weather) some unpaved roads get packed down nicely and are fine for a road bike.

Given your limited time, rather than doing a grueling couple of days each way to get to the Finland/Isabella/Ely area, why not drive up to the edge of where you want to go? Or, if that's not an option, ride the Skyline Shuttle to Duluth (which is a frequent shuttle service that goes from the Twin Cities airport and other locations in the metro area to Duluth). I spoke with them the other day and they confirmed they will take bikes (might need to remove 1 or 2 wheels). There are then a number of routes you could take on generally quiet (and sometimes remote) roads north from the Duluth area to the Superior National Forest.
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