Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 53: Prescott, Wisconsin (Back on the Road Again)

Another day, another state. Today we rode from Minneapolis, MN, generally in a Southeast direction and along the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, to Prescott, Wisconsin, about 44 miles in all. It was a delightful day.

The "we" in the above paragraph is important, because after our weeklong separate forays into Minneapolis, Bob and I are back together on the road -- which is very nice for both of us. Of course, that also means that we are, once again, bereft of spouses -- each of whom departed Minneapolis on flights to their respective cities leaving around 10:00 a.m. But, before they left, I think it's fair to say that we all enjoyed a much needed reunion that, at least to this bicyclist, was incredibly rejuvenating and sustaining. It was great to see you Laura -- thanks for coming out.

Today's ride, accordingly, started later than usual, as Bob and I both obviously wanted to hang out until our wives left for the airport around 8:15. Next, we had to figure out where the heck we were riding. It turns out that Bob has imposed some time constraints on himself because he hopes to meet Rachael during the second week of September in Pittsburgh, where they will then both ride together to their home in DC (more on that later). So that predisposed him to the shorter route, down the Mississippi, across Wisconsin, and a ferry across Lake Michigan to Wolf Lake, MI, on the other side -- about 500 miles in all. By contrast, taking a route along Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then down to Wolf Lake would be about an 800 mile undertaking.

I was a little more torn, as the Upper Peninsula is supposed to be beautiful, but to take it would mean that Bob and I would go our separate ways again, which, all things being equal, I would prefer to avoid, or at least postpone for as long as possible. Also, the shorter mileage, I must admit, had some appeal to me after meandering about so much on the first half of this trip and extending our mileage. Finally, following the Mississippi, and a 4 hour ferry ride across Lake Michigan, each sounds pretty cool.

So I got on board with the plan. It also wouldn't preclude me from heading North, after getting to Wolf Lake, MI, to explore some of the Upper Peninsula (and, especially, the Keeweenaw Peninsula, which is supposed to be spectacular) on my own. I say on my own because Bob and I will, alas, go our separate ways after Wolf Lake. He will head South, under the Great Lakes, to aim towards Pittsburgh and a final ride into DC. I will head East, along the northern edge of Lake Erie, into Niagara (from the Canada side) and, from there, into New York State and home to NYC. It makes sense for both of us, but, unfortunately, it does mean that we will each do about a 1,000 solo miles at the end of this trip.

So, back to today's ride. First and maybe foremost for me, it was pain free (knock wood). I attribute that to two days' rest, an excellent massage on Sunday, ice treatment followed by hot baths, the relatively short mileage today, switching to Advil from Aleve (who knows?) and a little kiniseology tape for my Achilles provided by Bob's friend, Brian (thanks, Brian!). A few too many different factors to know which one or combination made the difference, but I'll take the results.

By contrast, poor Bob is suffering from a recent flare-up of gout in his toe -- which, if you don't know it or have never had it -- is extraordinarily painful. He's pushing through it stoically, but we'll probably do shorter distances, at slower pacing, until this passes -- which, actually, isn't a bad thing for my Achilles either.

The ride today was predominantly on bike routes and empty roads -- which, in and of itself, was very pleasant. As was the weather, which was warm, but not boiling (or overly humid) and the wind (which was at our backs for much of the day). The scenery was mixed. Some lovely views of the various rivers with the skyscrapers of Minneapolis in the background, as well as some tree-lined bike paths providing splendid isolation -- but also some suburban landscapes that weren't particularly inspiring.

Because we decided upon our route so late, we didn't have the usual time to map it out with precision, so the ride was also marked by a number of wrong turns, long pauses to consult our maps, and efforts to discern which of numerous connecting/interlocking bike paths went where (is it possible for a city to have too many bike paths?).

A highlight for me occurred as we neared Prescott and crossed the St. Croix river. I noticed a public beach off to the side of the road and decided I had to partake (a Peter Schwed moment in my family's parlance). So, while Bob continued on to the motel in search of ice for his aching toe, I had a delightful and refreshing swim in the river. Yes, it's true I wore a Speedo (having purchased it in Minneapolis after deciding that I was tired of swimming in my shorts), but I hope you won't hold that against me -- or, at least, not laugh too hard --either at the suit or my tan lines (in my defense, the Speedo is small, light and dries fast -- all requirements for bike touring clothes).

Our hotel in Prescott is no great shakes, especially after our fairly luxurious Minneapolis digs, but it's also no Winsted, either. And the local bar and grill, Philanders, where the bartender, Kate, and a local patron, Jay, provided great conversation and company, was a nice coda to a lovely day.

Here are today's route and metrics:

P.S. For any of you who have made it this far into this post, a note on my day naming conventions. I am including rest days in my "day count," so today was Day 53, and the last riding day, into Minneapolis, Day 50, with the two rest days being unreported-upon Days 51 and 52. Fascinating, no?



  1. On, Wisconsin! I'm delighted to hear you're refreshed and ready to go.

  2. mark becker3:55 PM

    continue to be amazed by the "epicness" of the journey. i'm heading down to north carolina in a week or 2. had been planning to drive now...ok, i'm sill going to drive. :) but i'll be thinking about the (theoretical) possibility of bicycling...
    continued good travels!