Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 70: Oh, Lance!

Woke up to the NY Times news alert that Lance Armstrong was no longer going to fight charges against him of doping. Maybe that's why I felt sluggish riding from the get-go today. Or maybe it was adjusting to being solo, without Bob. Or maybe it was the constant headwind I fought through most of today's 54 miles (foolishly, I thought getting through Montana and South Dakota was going to end that issue).

In any event, I still very much enjoyed the first 25 miles or so, up to the town of Dutton/Dunwich (why it has two names is something that unfortunately escaped my inquiry). I stuck with the "take the back roads, even if they're unpaved" approach to routing, and was amply rewarded. Indeed, I found that some of the paved roads, because of frost cracks across them every 10 feet or so that jar you each time with a thump, were less desirable than the unpaved roads that, through car travel or otherwise, had all their gravel off to the side and produced quite smooth riding. In that first 25 miles, I deliberately chose/accepted 4 mile and 7 mile stretches of unpaved roads. Who could have guessed? And I'll probably behave similarly tomorrow.

The roads were generally all isolated, leading through massive open fields of corn and other crops (sugar beets, alfalfa, tobacco, tomatoes and, no doubt, others that this city boy is unable to recognize), and pretty much devoid of traffic. So very nice riding in all (except for that headwind).

But I reached my limit in Dutton/Dunwhich, where I was expecting to pick up a Google Maps indicated bike trail literally all the remaining way to tonight's destination -- the city of St. Thomas (population of 36,000 -- definitely not to be confused with the Virgin Islands). Alas - yes, we've seen this story before - it was a snowmobile trail -- and maybe a trail for the most ambitious of motocross riders -- completely "au naturel" with grass. Not even car ruts to give a smidgeon of hope about traversing it. Fuhgeddaboutit!

My spirits were revived, however, by running into Michael Brady and Bob Purcell (pictured in the purple shirts), who were manning a grill with hot dogs outside the local credit union, for customer appreciation day, and to raise money for the local hospital. We chatted about what each of us was doing, and had a grand time (Bob also happens to be the deputy mayor of the Dutton/Dunwich municipality). Two free hot dogs later (well, not exactly free, I did donate!), I was feeling stronger and left to follow Bob's biking tip of taking the Fingal Line all the way into St. Thomas, even though it would add a few miles (a lot of the roads here are called "lines" -- even though others are still called "roads" -- I still haven't figured out why; it's probably the same guy who does the naming in Wisconsin).

As promised, the road was pretty untrafficked, although not quite as isolated as the ones I took in the morning, and did the trick of getting me to the outskirts of St. Thomas, which....when it isn't busy being a strip mall, is a depressed and rundown downtown - at least from what I saw. But, on the plus side, it had a lot of young people in evidence, mostly tattooed, injecting a certain energy. If I hadn't been so beat, it would have been interesting to explore the town some more (Bob, where are you when I need you?).

Here are today's route and metrics:


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I was kind of bummed about Armstrong too. Sure, he cheated, but his beating-cancer thing was pretty darn inspirational. And my guess is that everyone else in the Tour de France was doing the same thing. Are they going to give the titles retroactively to the second -place guys -- without the same kind of searching examination they made of Armstrong?
    Sometimes you just sort of want them to leave it alone. I hated to see Marion Jones go to jail, for God's sake.
    Did FloJo juice? Maybe. But I guess it's unseemly to do a historical indictment after someone dies tragically young. Her 100 and 200 meter sprint records still stand, nearly a quarter century later. I prefer to think of her untouched by breath of scandal, flying down the track in full makeup, two-inch painted nails, hair streaming back in the wind, running an incredible pace that would have handily won the men's event in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.