Started out earlier than everyone else this morning. Detroit Lakes was a ghost town. Winds out of the Northwest pushed me along nicely most of the day. Headed east on Minnesota Highway 34 to Park Rapids. Traffic was minimal. Passed a riding club of some sort. Spooked one of the horses. The horse took a couple steps off the road without the rider's permission. Trees and lakes everywhere. It's soothing to see trees again.
Switched to the Heartland State Trail at Park Rapids. The trail head is behind a Pizza Hut. A truly excellent ride: railroad grade for nearly 20 miles, paved silky smooth, no potholes, no broken bottles, no road kill, no shredded tires, and (best of all) no cars. I don't have to concentrate on staying within the narrow confines of a garbage strewn shoulder and worry that I might piss off some lazy idiot who doesn't want to yield an inch of road. Lot's of families enjoying the space. This trail has been around for twenty years and was only recently paved.
The trail ended at Walker, which is a tourist town. South on Minnesota Highway 371 for several miles to Hackensack where I pick up the Paul Bunyan State Trail. Lakes and trees and no cars for 50 miles. Another silky smooth converted railroad right of way. An exceptionally easy ride. There were certain stretches where the flies were after me, but they didn't seem to be biting. Maybe they were just after me for the salt. Plenty of small towns along the way. No need to carry a gallon of water anymore. The bike feels a bit lighter for it. This trail is only two years old and there are plans to extend it north to Bemidji and then to International Falls. What a fantastic route. A word to those riding on the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier. Throw out your maps. These two trails are better than any route they may recommend. I can live without seeing the source of the Mississippi River.
Saw another recumbent rider on the Paul Bunyan. Some retired guy on a Linear. A very simple frame. One long aluminum box beam with brackets on the front and rear for the wheels. Similar seat to the Ryan, but the steering is independent of the seat so it's easier to adjust. Tells me they're made in Guttenberg Iowa. Home of the aquarium that closes in winter so they can return the fish to the Mississippi.