I joined a group of 20 women to bicycle around Lake Superior. Our tour, arranged by the company WomanTours, which began and ended in Duluth, Minnesota, was scheduled for July 8 to August 2, 2013. Our first actual day of bicycling was July 9th and our last day of riding was August 1st.
We began by traveling east with our first stop being Bayfield, Wisconsin. After that we spent 11 days cycling in Michigan, crossed into Canada at Sault Ste. Marie and then rode west on Highway 17 to Thunder Bay. After Thunder Bay we crossed back into the United States at the Grand Portage Port of Entry (in the rain) and then traveled south down Highway 61 back to Duluth.
We encountered cold weather and rain in much of Canada which led a number of us to give up on bicycles and ride either a few days or parts of some days in the van that accompanied us. I found that Highway 17, the Trans-Canada Highway, often was not very bicycle friendly. There is a lot of truck traffic on it and not always good shoulders for bicycles.
There were many beautiful and interesting sights along the way and traveling by bicycle was a great way to experience them. I have many favorite and memorable spots including the tour of the Quincy Mine Historic Site and Underground Tour in Houghton Michigan, the boat tour from Munising, Michigan, of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, Michigan, the Locks at Sault Ste. Marie (where we had a day off from cycling and could spend time on a boat tour and watch ships go through the locks), and Nipigon, Ontario, where I found out about the great children’s book “Paddle-to-the-Sea.” There were waterfalls, beautiful lakes and just incredible scenery in the Provincial Parks in Canada. There is often something to see in every town, no matter the size of it.
Almost all of the other bicyclists that we encountered began by traveling up the North Shore in Minnesota and then east through Canada while we traveled west through Canada. I think they might have known something that our tour group didn’t. So I don’t know which would be the best direction for bicycle riders to travel. Of our tour’s total of 1,330 miles, I was on my bicycle for 715 miles and in the van for 615 miles. Between bike and van I made it around Lake Superior! The trip was challenging (especially for older women like me), but also often incredibly beautiful and I’m glad to have done it. There are many places I’d like to visit again when I have more time to stop.
Ina Haugen, Claremont, California