Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Days 54 and 55: Minnesota Again! (Who knew?)

OK, so we did enter Wisconsin on Tuesday, but yesterday and today we were right back in Minnesota. That's what happens, I guess, when you have two states sharing a river as a border (long time readers will remember this sort of thing from the beginning of our trip, when we kept crossing back and forth between Oregon and Washington over the Columbia River). Sorry if anyone was misled as to our progress! (note the passive voice, politician-like, apology).

Tuesday's ride was from Prescott, Wisconsin to Lake City, Minnesota, a total of just under 50 miles. The day started on the Great River Road on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi, with actual climbing again! The evening before, Bob had mentioned to two different people who bicycled the route we were taking. He got a wide grin from one, and a "you're in for a big day" from the other. Apparently, this route was well known for its hills. But, in truth, Bob and I didn't struggle much with them (two climbs of 400 feet each, with maximum gradients in the 7 to 8% range). After Dobson and Thompson passes leaving Idaho, and Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, pretty much everything else seems relatively tame (famous last words -- wait for Appalachia).

After the two climbs and about 10 miles, we crossed back to Minnesota. Where it began to rain on us. As consolation, the road (Route 5) was empty (and, yes, paved) and the scenery the best I've seen in a long time. Huge rolling fields of corn and wheat, dotted with farmhouses and silos. No power lines. Gorgeous biking. Except for the rain. Which, all in all, wasn't even that bad. Although it lasted for most of the balance of the ride, it never turned into a thunderstorm or got super heavy, our rain gear is pretty good (fenders on a touring bike are essential!), and we were both thinking it was kind of amazing that this was only our third day of riding in the rain on this entire trip (knock on wood). Probably the biggest effect, other than having to spend a little extra time drying everything afterwards, is I had to keep my camera tucked away most of the time, so the photos I did manage to take during dry spells are not, I think, fully representative of the ride's beauty.

Lake City itself is fairly simple, but has a nice promenade along Lake Pepin's edge (which, according to Wikipedia, is a naturally occurring lake and the largest natural occurring lake on the Mississippi River). We stayed at an AmericInn, which we liked so much (whirlpool, pool, hot breakfast that starts at 6, working wifi, guest computer that also works, clean room, comfortable beds, reasonable rates, no mice), that we booked another one for the next evening, in Winona, Minnesota.

So -- you may have guessed this already -- today's  ride was from Lake City to Winona, just under 60 miles, all on the Minnesota side of the Great River. And we had climbing again -- slightly harder this time -- two hills of about 500 feet each, compressed into about 1.25 miles each and spitting out a few 8 and 9% gradients (but still not too bad, he said modestly). And we thought we were going to have rain again. The forecast had a 90% probability at Noon. But we got lucky, and by the time we rolled into our latest AmericInn, under some dark, but not yet raining, clouds, we were both dry. Now, to be fully accurate here, Bob rolled in well ahead of me. In Lake City he visited the Mayo Clinic and got some medicine to treat his gout, and the overnight difference in how he felt was remarkable. Let's hear it for modern medicine!

Scenery-wise, although today started on the four-lane, well-trafficked, Route 61 for about 5 miles (with the consolation of an excellent, wide shoulder), once we turned off onto some side county roads (Route 4, in particular), the landscape and views were very similar to yesterday -- and definitely more enjoyable with just the threat of rain -- as opposed to the actual stuff.

Here are yesterday's route and metrics:

For clarity, and because of upload limitations, the photos with this post are all from Day 54 (yesterday). The next post will have today's route, metrics and pix.



  1. kat 1514:03 PM

    More beautiful scenery! After the dusty and hot streets of NY and NJ, am living vicariously thru you---without the hard work and discomfort!
    Did a tiny bike ride (5 miles?) with Roberto today to Orchard Beach and City Island, and was all tuckered out---shameful, eh? Anyway, looking forward to the next posting.
    love, Kat

    1. Roger4:03 PM

      Thanks, Kat. Glad you and Roberto are enjoying the posts. Keep up the biking -- nothing wrong with shorter distances -- it's about having fun and enjoying the journey.