When it's 50 degrees (10C) and sunny on November 2nd you take the afternoon off and go for a motorcycle ride. This is just what is done when you ride north. It's the equivalent of heading to the local ski hill for a powder day. Make hay while the sun shines as they say.
I took the first road out of town, cruising down to Hastings Minnesota, a not so sleepy river town on the Mississippi. The Vermillion River cuts through town before heading south, parallel to the Old Miss. It's river valley is the northern most remnant of the Driftless Area's limestone and spring water bounty.
Much of the river from Farmington to Highway 52 is a cold water trout stream, shifting in and out of cold and cool water status whenever a new groundwater spring wells up into the river. (Cold water streams are the home of trout, pike and smallmouth bass love the cool water, catfish are found in warm water. Warm water streams have big swings in temperature from summer to winter while groundwater keeps a cool water a consistent temperature all year long, they don't freeze up. )
Ecology lesson aside, The Vermillion also topples over the limestone bluffs of the Mississippi River at the Old Mill Park in Hastings. Next time I stop, I'll have to look into the history of the building that sits over the falls. It houses a hydro electric plant and I'm curious if it's still operating.
Vermillion Falls/ Old Mill Park in Hastings, MN
I took Ravenna Trail south out of Hastings and turned left into the Prairie Island Indian Community, home of a casino, several communities, farming, mining and a nuclear power plant. The Island is a section of high ground between the Vermilion's back waters and the Mississippi with a complex history (see the people's encyclopedia).
Just north of Red Wing I turned inland again, taking the back roads into Welch. The winding roads in and around Welch are Minnesota's northern most sections of bluff country. I often skip them on my way to Wisconsin, so the ride was more like discovering new roads than retracing my steps, a welcome addition.
Dutch Belted: Few hoof and joint problems, they produce milk that is easy to digest and take well to rotational grazing. Known for their longevity and hipster farmer cred.
And some Scotties, which are cool too.
Cannon River tubing epicenter in Welch, MN, not much activity on November 2nd.
From Welch, I took the dirt toads west towards Cannon Falls. Most of these roads are polished smooth by the back and forth trips of old school buses dropping off tubers and their coolers up river. It's a beautiful section of Minnesota road, when nobody is there. Tubing the Cannon id fun but get on the river before noon to avoid most of the drinking and shenanigans. Of course, all that is long gone by November.
the Cannon River
Miesville Ravine Park is the home to Trout Brook, a native brook trout stream.
note to self: go fishing. Take picture of a brook trout. Reread "Brook Trout: a Natural History" as punishment for your crimes.
The City of Miesville is home to the Miesville Mudhens, a AAAAaaaaaa league baseball team and the 2016 state champs! www.miesvillemudhens.com/
West of Miesville, new marble sized gravel has been spread across the road, making the conditions closer to riding on ice than sand. I may have broke 20 mph but not for long. My touring tires squirmed under the bike with every change in direction. "Go slow young man" was my mantra.
(Maps by Google, recorded via https://rever.co/)
I also took this opportunity to test drive a new smart phone app, Rever. The base maps were well labeled and it is really easy to start and manage new rides. I'll have to test is out on an all day ride to see how much battery it munches. Overall though, it was not bad.
Nov 1st | 2:40 | 120 miles
- Ride North