Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 48: Willmar, Minnesota

Today's ride was relatively short by recent standards -- and I kept it that way! I left Montevideo, MN, at the luxurious hour of 9:15 and arrived in Willmar, MN, 43 miles later, at about 1:30. I fought Northeast headwinds the whole way, but they were relatively mild, in the 5 mph category.

There's not much to say about the ride -- it wasn't particularly scenic or, except in parts, untrafficked. In truth, I'm having some difficulty adjusting to the post-Glacier, post-Black Hills/Badlands portions of this trip. Acres and acres of farmland just aren't the same in my scenery book (no offense meant to farmers). I'm hoping when I get more into lake country, the vistas will pick up. At the moment, at least on the routes I've been riding, it's been jarring how many power lines, telephone lines, cell phone towers, etc. mar the landscape in whichever direction you look. And, although a corn field, in and of itself, is pretty gorgeous, corn field after corn field after corn field (OK, maybe interspersed with a wheat field) gets a bit monotonous. I never thought I'd say this -- I miss the ranches with their cattle, horses and sheep. The cattle and horses would always stare as I rode past (the horses, in my humble opinion, stared more intelligently than the cattle). This portion of MN really doesn't boast of any significant livestock (I asked locals on this latter point, just to confirm my observations).

In terms of roads, today started off on a fairly deserted county road, which was pretty lovely. But, after about 10 miles going East, guess what? Yes, it turned to gravel. Fortunately, it did so at an intersection where I could head North on a paved county road to another Eastbound paved county road. Unfortunately, the new one, as well as my last 20 miles into Willmar on Route 23, all had pretty heavy traffic, which was jarring in its own right. It's actually kind of amazing that I've been  able mostly to avoid meaningful traffic this entire trip until now. Fortunately, all the shoulders were wide and in decent shape, which, I guess, is a consolation (and beats the alternative).

Tomorrow is a longish ride -- 66 miles to Winsted, MN -- against forecast headwinds of 10 to 15 mph -- so I'll aim for an early start (assuming the Olympics don't keep me up too late). One nice feature, however, is that the last 35 miles of the ride is entirely on the Luce Line Bike Trail. So no traffic there (I certainly hope). This same bike trail continues into Minneapolis, so, assuming it's a pleasant trail, I plan on staying on it for the duration of what will be about a 45 mile ride on Saturday (thunderstorms forecast, however).

Looking forward to seeing you in Minneapolis, Laura! That thought has certainly helped to keep me pedaling these past few days....

Here are today's route and metrics:


1 comment:

  1. swnevets2:17 PM

    OMG Roger!
    I've just tuned in to the big schlep — I last visited when you were in glorious western Montana. You have just stayed in the town of my birth: Montevideo (the only hospital around); passed through the town where my father grew up: Clara City (I lived there too until I was three); and then stayed in the town where my aunt Charlotte and cousins lived: Willmar. If you happened to pass through Sacred Heart, you would have covered the whole shebang. My mother grew up there and her father was the local dentist. He worked in a storefront window using afternoon light and a pedal powered drill—no electricity then.
    I know this doesn't qualify as significant livestock, but my cousin Mary was raising emu in Willmar for a time. ( I know that sounds like a joke, but it isn't).
    Happy trails and fine weather!