Ride Lake Superior: Day 1- MSP to Thunder Bay


Last summer, these empty nesters decided to test run long haul riding, by living life on the HOG for a week riding around Lake Superior. While not our first overnight trip (we rode out to HD anniversary event in Milwaukee the previous august), it was our maiden voyage for an extended ride, this one eight days.

Harley Davidson’s motto, (or one of them) is ‘Live Free, Ride Hard’. Well, I kinda/sorta didn’t dream this was the ‘ride hard’ part!:


As you can see in photo #1, when we left the Twin Cities the temps were running in the high 80’s. The ride up to Duluth was wonderful and being in the open air, I could smell the wildflowers in bloom. Oh…it would have been so wonderful (and let’s face it – boring) if that was what we encountered the whole trip around Lake Superior! Instead, as we hit Grand Marais the deluge arrived as the heavens opened up the floodgates. As you can see in photo #2, there was rain, but what you cannot see is the lightening. Lots of it. And then the temperature dropped. Thank flippin goodness we have good rain gear! (And may I highly recommend you invest in good rain gear? We ended up using it…a lot!) The rain started just before Grand Marais, and we were able to stop at the gas station in town (along with other riders who had the same idea) and really gear up.

Tip #1: Keep your rain gear easily accessible. And keep an extra sweatshirt right on the top of your bags. That way, when inclement weather rears its nasty head, you can easily get to it. And you will want to get to it quickly!

Tip #2: Take your chaps if you have the room. It was warm when we left, the bike was FULL, and I foolishly didn’t think I’d need them with the rain gear pants. While rain gear keeps the wind off, its not particularly insulating against the cold.

We hit the Canadian border late afternoon/early evening. In the rain. Thankfully the border guard was nice and hurried us through. Our destination for the first leg was Thunder Bay. It was a tough haul, but we made it. There really aren’t any pictures for this leg, because of the rain. The torrential, hovering above 35, rain. I pretty much hunkered down behind my hubby, and felt bad as he battled reduced visibility and the freezing rain.

Tip #3: Make sure your gloves are waterproof, or have a pair handy! Wet black leather gloves result in dye-black fingers. Which is rather hard to get off, and results in odd looks from your waitress.

To plan our ride, I used the website ‘RideLakeSuperior.com‘. It was extremely helpful and easy to use. It helped plan out the stages of our ride, suggested biker friendly accommodations and places to eat, along with points of interest to stop at along the way.

So back to our first stop, Thunder Bay, where we arrived dripping, cold, and quite ready to be done for the day. The Days Inn I selected was a 2 thumbs up. It was right off of Hwy 61, so easy to find as dusk neared. Not only were the rooms clean, quiet and easy to get to (hauling our bags off the bike), but right next door was a fantastic restaurant called 5 Forks. After being on the bike for hours, it was nice to clean up, warm up and stretch our legs by walking next door to grab a cocktail and some really good grub. No food photos, sorry! We were just glad to be at our destination, having ridden through rough weather. It was definitely baptism by fire, (or rain) but from here on out, we knew we could manage just about anything!

That wraps up Day 1.

Next: Day 2.

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