DAY 4:

Today started with an empty fuel container and an emergency tampon fashioned from MN Department of Natural Resources toilet paper. Ain’t nowhere to go but up. My period started which is disappointing because I figured that if I punished my body physically to a certain point, it would decide that I am unfit to gestate life. WRONG. The uterus is like obnoxious hotel housekeeping, ignoring the Do Not Disturb sign and stripping the sheets and fluffing up pillows for potential guests automatically. Thanks! Saddle sores have become very tender and due to sexy seasonal allergies my nostrils are equally rough and red. I’m ready for a day in the big city! Look out, menfolk! I have CHAFING.

The ride in to Duluth would have been more pleasant if I wasn’t 15 hours empty stomach and caffeine free. But the sights!

A beautiful vista but my mind fantasized of greasy wrapper sausage biscuit and a hot in hand creamy sweet coffee. Ohhhh what a delight that would be. I took the rest of the Willard Munger into town, crossing my fingers for a golden arches somewhere along the route. NOTHING. Regardless of this fast food access failure, I was looking forward to a visit to Duluth. I cruised wobbling from hunger into the quaint canal area. I looked around at the shops that sell liiiike artesinal fudge and loon postcards and printed hooded sweatshirts and think how this all used to be brothels and taverns. Imagine the scene only 100 years ago. Thick with vice and depravity! *sigh* I roll into Northbound Smokehaus and order a sandwich, buffalo meat stick (devoured instantly) and fat hunk of cured pepperoni for my panniers. The sandwich had too many green olives and pickled peppers. Now that I am perpetually calorie deprived, I have a toddler palate. I want it bland, I want it fatty and preferably something I stuff in using one hand. Nuances of spice and culinary techniques is an aristocratic sport. My body needs FUEL.

After polishing off the sandwich I stumbled a few paces into a seat at Amazing Grace cafe and the man who led me to my seat immediately asked where I had biked from. It was then that I finally realized the purpose of those silly short brim’d bike cap. You can wander into an establishment with a sun weathered face and sweat dripping clothes and short gloves and the cap is a neon sign that blink bright and says BIKE DORK NOT HOBO. The staff was patient as I stank and piled all my electronic devices onto the table and chugged cup after cup of coffee that was half cream and two packets of sugar and ate fancy pie with my elbows on the table and sipped a beer once the caffeine highs needed to be mellowed out. I sat for hours and listened as countless old women ordered soup.They ALL ordered soup. At one point the host glided over to the table to let me know there was a gentleman eying my bicycle “he doesn’t look like a thief but you might want to go strike up a conversation…”  He was standing about four feet from my bike peering around and I strike up a conversation and he tells me that he’d bike parts of the lake in Ontario. “May I touch your bike?” he asks in an almost reverential whisper. FINALLY, yes yes you may sir, thank you for respecting my companion. This would be a common reaction through my time in Duluth, with men asking about my bike with enthusiasm and total respect. From the valets at the fancy restaurant that kept an eye on my bike while I went to get stove fuel or the young dude who swooned at the bike rack at Walgreen’s while I was on a gummi bear and tampon run, by the end of the dat I felt like a pirate, sauntering around in a dirty dress and dumb hat. At a sport outfitters I started chatting with a clerk named Bilagio, a transplant from Wisconsin but even sans nametag you could tell he was from an Italian family because in a sea of rumpled brewery t-shirts and prickly beards, he was dressed in a crisp button up shirt, rolled to the elbow and had fresh polish on his shoes. Bless. He told me that his friend had recently RAN around the lake with two friends and he expressed polite concern about biking the Ontario stretch alone as they don’t see a lot of people up there…he provided me with some contacts before I left. Total gem.

After criss crossing downtown to complete errands, I ended up at a local distillery to meet upwith Allyson and Sarah, my hosts for the night. I rolled my bike into the bar so I could keep an eye (helicopter parent) and ordered an old fashioned and sat down on a worn leather sofa the size of 2 city benches, eating handfuls of gummi bears and watching the afternoon light filter through the windows. Oh, it’s the pirate life for me, yeeesssiree.

I met up with my hosts and slow climbed my bike up a sizeable hill (what is a rest day?) before arriving at their home. I was greeted by two fluffy huskies and a 15 year old white cat named Romeo who had Bowie eyes and a constant purr. I had a warm shower, inspected my various rashes and blisters in the mirror and snugged into a massive fluffy bed and dreamed of home.

MILES RIDDEN: 20 (excluding in town errands n such)
SONG OF THE DAY: “Bombay” by Guincho