Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mt. Pleasant, MI to Birch Run, MI 74 Miles

"Ain't it good to know you've got a friend?"---Carole King

At this point in the ride, most of us have settled into small groups of riding buddies. We don't ride with the same people every day, but definite friendships have formed. Here are some of our pals:

Mike, John (he just joined the tour), Dave, and Doug

Our first SAG was at the Reeves' Farm. About 12 years ago one of the ABB leaders stopped by the farm to photograph a tractor in the front yard. A friendship developed with the owners and we now have an actual home as a SAG stop. Mrs. Reeves even opened up her place so we could use her bathrooms. It's hard to explain, but it is so much nicer than the usual convenience store or park. Maybe it's like having a SAG at your mom's house. Yeah. I think that's it.

Me, Mrs. Reeves, Arohanui, and Patty (more pals)

On Mrs. Reeves' porch.

 Just pulling in to Birch Run, Michigan

This heart was waiting for us at the bike washing station.

Wall decor at dinner.
Do you know what Mr. Buffalo said when his
kid went away to college?
Bye, son.
Get it? Bi-son. Bison.
Yeah, when they told us at rap we groaned, too.

The warthog liked the joke.

So I try to be adventurous and try local cuisine when we travel. I'm usually good for trying anything once. Tonight I tried the Blueberry Walleye. It really was this color. Maybe a little bluer. Put me down for "once" on that one.

I'm a few days behind on these posts. The next will be 90 miles to Port Huron, Michigan.

Monday, July 21, 2014

LaCrosse, WI to The Dells, WI 88 miles

"I hear the train a-comin'; it's rollin' 'round the bend."---Johnny Cash

Fun start to the day. Jersey Day. Which means we all wear the America By Bicycle jerseys. Most days we're just a collage of colorful cycling tops. Not today. Today we look like a racing team unified in red, white, and blue. I think the purpose of Jersey Day is to make it easier for the ABB staff to spot us on the road, but also it's great advertising for the company. Regardless of the reason, it was fun to ride out of town as a team. I haven't really thought about how wearing the same thing unifies people. Maybe that's why it's called a "uni"-form. About 30 of us rode together. It made the time go quickly and before I knew it, we were at the first SAG.

All pro looking.

First SAG.
Bicycling Capital of America

We had to purchase yellow Wisconsin State Trail Passes with the valid date written in broad-tipped Sharpie. I love going anywhere that you have to have a special permit. This allowed us use of the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail. The exciting feature was three former train tunnels! The tracks are gone, replaced by a muddy, slippery path requiring each of us to walk our bikes. Also, we had to bring flashlights to help us find our way. We could see the light at the other end of the tunnel, so it wasn't too scary. Also, there was a sign at one entrance requesting that we not bother the bats.

It was a blast! Even with bats. 

One for the new blog.

This one looked like it could be a jig-saw puzzle
with the Holstein cows and curvy road.

Ronnie and Doug actually wore fake cheese for 
almost 40 miles.

One morning in our motel elevator several days ago, on another Jersey Day, I had a gentleman tell me to be safe on the roads. Then, seeing all our matching cycling tops, he added, "I assume you're professionals?"..... Uh...with the majority of us hovering around 60?..... Why yes.... We ARE professionals. We have physicians, attorneys, businessmen, a veterinarian...Yeah. We're professionals. But, I don't think that's what he meant.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rochester, MN to LaCrosse, WI 88 miles

"Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo.."---The Twilight Zone

We've entered some sort of weird dimension in time and space. We just get on our bikes in the morning, each day the same as the last, and ride and ride and ride until we get to our next motel. Most likely, a Best Western. All the while, racking up miles like a frequent flier. This week:  Monday-71, Tuesday-112, Wednesday-104, Thursday-88. It's kind of crazy. In what world is this normal?

Dave Goltermann rode with us today. He's as big a goofball as we are. The miles went by quickly as we laughed and made up silly scenarios of what was happening on this wacky tour. Our first SAG was at a lovely waterfall setting called Trout Run Creek.

This struck us as extremely funny.
After hundreds of miles of painful, bumpy roads--
a warning sign?

In case we still weren't sure.

A friendly Lutheran steeple.

I should start a new blog:

This cemetery only allowed flowers in raised planters.
Very pretty, peaceful, and tidy.
I bet it makes mowing a breeze.

Another blog in the making?

Good advice.

Always happy for a bike path.

Gettin' crafty with bike parts.

We stopped at a visitor center at the end of the
bike path and just before the 2nd SAG.
There we met Alice, the great-horned owl.
She had fallen from her nest 17 years ago as a baby.

Outside our lunch-stop-bistro in the little
town of Houston. Pronounced Hyoo-ston, or 
Who-ston. Never How-ston I was instructed.
One of my favorite parts of the day is
stopping for a leisurely lunch chat.

I'm getting a pretty good collection of these.

As a little kid, I looked forward to state border signs.
Today was no different.

Couldn't help thinking of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Behind the Best Western River Front.

We stopped on the tall blue bridge spanning the Mississippi River to watch a barge the size of a football field pass under us. The river was high from all the recent flooding, I'm told, so the captain was quite close to us. We signaled for him to honk. I jumped it blared so loudly. I'm thinking my hair blew backwards, too. Yikes. Next, came a small boat you might pull a water skier behind. Dave woo-woo'ed signally him to honk, too. In comparison, it was wimpy and weak. Dave gave him the thumbs down. In defiance, the skipper raised his shirt and showed us his fat, pasty white belly. Ah, life on the Mississippi.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mankato, MN to Rochester, MN 104 miles

"Impossible things are happening every day".---Fairy Godmother to Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein Version)

I really had no idea how I was going to make it through today. 104 miles on the back of 112 miles. Yesterday was exhausting and I didn't sleep well last night. It seemed impossible.

I guess I just put my head down and went. I was wasted at the second SAG at 66 miles, but again just got on my bike and started pedaling. Both Mike and I are sore in multiple places.... Let's just leave it at that.

Today's pics:

First SAG at Clear Lake

Second SAG 

Me contemplating how I was going to 
get another 35 miles out of my body.
Yeah, the fun-o-meter was pretty low.

Distracting myself with clouds.

I got choked up when we rode past the 
Mayo Clinic. I thought of all the people
that are able to get help there.

The last several miles were on a bike path.
They're always a welcome break from
dealing with traffic.

An amazing thing had happened. With about 20 miles to go, we caught up to Doug. He was ill yesterday and rode in the van. He told me he was feeling about 50% today. We slowed down to ride in with him so he didn't have to ride in alone. In trying to help him, I in turn was helped. I got my second wind and made it to the motel feeling actually quite good.

Worthington, MN to Mankato, MN 112 miles

"We are all enlisted til the conflict is o'er".---LDS Hymn #250

112 miles. Good grief. We went into survival tactics. Mike organized a small group of us (Dan, Jay, Drew, Mike and me) into a paceline. At first we took 3-minute pulls, but during the worst headwind parts we took 1-minute pulls. It worked really well to get us through the day---physically, but also mentally, too. It was a good diversion and made the time go by more quickly. Even so, it was exhausting.

This may have been the hardest day yet. Maybe not. Comparing the days, the 120-miler was not only grueling, but boiling. At least today was not boiling, but I feel wind blown/wind burnt, and my lips feel fried.

The day ended on the beautiful and shady Red Jacket Trail in the town of Mankato---a great addition to this town.

Today's pics:

We were curious if we are losing weight.
So we chipped in to buy a scale.
Here, Gary checks his weight.
I'm not gettin' on that thing.

Clouds and silos.

A SAG asphalt picnic.

Along the Red Jacket Trail.

More Red Jacket Trail.

I love riding my bike through tunnels.
More Red Jacket Trail.
This is the famous Cecil again.

I didn't take very many pics today. Just tried to get through it. Next up: 104 miles to Rochester---back to back centuries. Yikes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sioux Falls, SD to Worthington, MN 71 miles

"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye, and it looks like it's climbin' clear up to the sky".----that happy guy in the musical Oklahoma!

Lots more corn and soybean fields today. Like miles and miles. We crossed into Minnesota early this morning. I was expecting 10,000 lakes and pine trees like on their license plates, but it seems the southern part of Minnesota looks a lot like the southern part of South Dakota. I think I'm gonna have to pedal north to see all those lakes.

Something weird has happened. 70 is the new 40, as in miles: a good ride but not that big of a deal. Having said that---it only applies if the weather is good. And if you don't have seven screaming parts on your body. And if your bike is working good. And if you have someone to talk to. And if no dogs chase you and bite you in the calf. And if the pavement is smooth. And...

Anyway, here's today's pics:
Sioux Falls

A bunch of us in front of Sioux Falls.

A new state!

Minnesota has awesome clouds!

This smoke stack reminded me of every
choo-choo train I drew as a kid.

Luverne, Minnesota
Gotta love a town that likes postcards.

Our SAG was in a park that was under
six feet of floodwater a few weeks ago.

I love this picture.

This is Sym.
He has hitchhiked all over the world.
Here he is demonstrating perfect form.

A familiar sight at the end of the day.

Tomorrow we ride 110 miles. Even if we have perfect conditions, it's probably gonna be a big deal.