Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 41 London, Ont to Brantford, Ont. 68 miles with 1385' of climbing.

Today with only 68 miles we ate breakfast at 0630 when the motel breakfast area opened and then we did not load luggage until 0830.  Once again with the shorter mileage the rooms at the other end will not be ready if we get in too soon.  I left right after luggage load and it was cool this morning in the upper 50's.  The wind was out of the ENE today at about 10-12MPH.  This meant that we had a slight head wind as we were going mainly east with some north and some south on the back roads we were on today.

I started out with the group but then I ended up by my self for the 1st 6 miles and then Ann rode up and we talked for about 8-10 miles before she was warmed up and took off.  I then continued by myself until about mile 25 and I could see he Swiss boys catching up to me and when they arrived I joined them and we rode the last 8 miles together into the 1st and only rest stop for the day. The mileage was listed at 66 but we had a detour due to a bridge being out and this added about 2 more miles to the route than we had on our cue sheets. We pulled into the rest stop and Toronto Mark's wife had baked cookies and they were waiting there at the sag for us.  Also there were left over Pecan Pies from yesterday and they were cut in half and we ate some of each.  There was also a cheese place the Toronto Mark's Uncle and Aunt had brought and it was also enjoyed by all.  I filled the water bottles up and took off by myself once again as the Swiss boys were still at the sag stop.  I rode by myself from mile 36 to around mile 62 and once again the Swiss train was catching me as I was watching them in my mirror and I saw them turn left into a store so I did a U turn in the middle of the road and joined them and we took some photos and then went in and got some lunch to snack on.  We purchased our food and went outside and they had picnic tables on the grass and we ate there.  It was starting to cloud up and the forecast called for showers in the afternoon.  It was not around lunch time and we took off to beat the rain.  We got into town and found the motel and did not get wet.  After arriving into the Motel the local media, (newspaper) was there and they spoke with Daniel and asked if they could interview them and he looked my way and said talk to him, meaning me.  I spoke with the lady from the local paper and answered her questions and then they took pictures.   They also spoke with 2 other riders, so not sure who or what will be in the paper or online.  The web site is  If anyone wants to look tomorrow and see which pictures or article they will use, I will look also just for curiosity.

After we unloaded the luggage it started to rain and some of the riders today got wet.  We were fortunate to beat the rain today and tomorrow it is back in the US.  We go to Niagara Falls and then have a rest day. This will give everyone including myself to see and do the tourist things there.  I have never been there so it will be another new place and another new state tomorrow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 40 Port Huron, Mi. to London, ONT. Canada 89 miles with 1829' of climbing

Today we ate at 0600 and loaded luggage at 0645, we then took pictures of all of us in our ABB jerseys before all riding to the bridge for the trek into Canada.  Mike the ride leader had to coordinate our arrival with the bridge people as they only shut this bridge down once every 5 years and when America By Bike does the ride into Canada.  It is really a special event to be able to ride across the 6128' bridge without any cars and getting a personal escort to the customs area on the Canada side.  We left the motel at 0720 after our photo and all the riders and the 3 support vehicles going across together, it was quite a site.  They did not want any of us taking pictures on the bride as our main goal was to get across as quickly as possible because on an average day 14-16,000 cars cross this bridge daily.

After arriving into Canada we cleared customs and then we got a guided tour of the Canadian side from Jeff who is originally from Canada and we meet his Mom who was waiting just before we went into the park which is under the bridge on the Canadian side.  It was really nice to have a tour and his mom brought snacks for us that were put in the support van for us to have at the only rest stop today at mile 44.  We had an extra 8 miles that were not on the Que sheet due to our tour of the sites after crossing the bridge, but all agreed it was well worth the extra miles.

After we got back on route we rode on rural country roads once again with low traffic and smooth roads. The countryside looked somewhat the same as Michigan, with corn and soybean fields and dairy farms.  We road to the town of Delaware, Ont. which had a Deli- Grocery Store and we had ice cream and homemade sandwiches.  It was really a great lunch. 

We then set off for London and once again we were on the back roads.  We had a cross wind some of the time and a tail wind the rest and the miles went by quickly even though we got a late start leaving Sarnia, Ont. after our site seeing adventure. 

The riders that I was with decided we would stop at the bike shop when we got into town as we heard it was a good one and many of us bought  Canadian Jerseys there. They had bottled water for us and everything in the store was 20% off just for us.  They really treated us good and got lots of business from our group.  After leaving we checked into the motel and cleaned up after unloading luggage. 

Tomorrow is another short day only 66 miles and we will be wearing our new jerseys.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 39 Birch Run, Mi. to Port Huron, Michigan 88 miles with 680' of climbing

Today we woke up and it was in the Fifty's for a temperature, quite a change from yesterday's start in the 80's.  We ate breakfast as 0600 and luggage load was at 0700 and we were on the road At 0710.  We had a slight NNW wind which was helping when we went south and crosswind as we were going east.  The roads were once again rural with many small farms, with corn and soybean fields with an occasional dairy farm.  The terrain has looked the same for the last 2 days and I have not taken many pictures along the route today.  I did take some at the water today, but the Internet connection was taking too long to load the images so I gave up on posting pictures today.

The 1st rest spot of today was at mile 26 and it was located at an artesian well next to the road.  The water there was really cold and tasted like well water.  I filled my bottles up with the water there and got a snack and then on the road once again..  I had trouble with my gamin not turning on today, so I did no have my heart rate monitor working and everything else I normally watch, grade of the hill, direction and many other things.  I asked another rider if he ever had trouble with his and he said yes and gave me a suggestion to try.  I did this and bingo it came on and started to work.  I was glad to get it back as I ride by what my heart rate is reading, if it gets too high then I back off, so was glad to have this in operation once again.

The second stop was in the town of Yale in the city park and it was really cool with a nice breeze and a great place to take a break from the bike.  The town of Yale claims to be the bologna capital of the USA and they have a museum here, but I did not go and see it.  I don't eat bologna, so the history did not interest me. 

After leaving the second rest stop at mile 62 we had 26 miles to go and the wind by this time had switched around and was a slight headwind from the northeast.  We had to ride into it until we turned to the south at mile 78.  It was then nice to have the breeze at your back and the speed went up over 20MPH and the miles started to fly by.  We then came to another left turn and we went to the water and stopped and looked at the other side of the water and they have an American flag and Canadian flag at both shores of the water.  We also saw the long bridge we will be going over tomorrow, which is 6128' long and most days 14,000 cars pass over it.  They are going to shut down the bridge for us tomorrow and we get to ride over without any motor traffic on it.  This should be really neat, can't wait for this part of the ride tomorrow morning.  We have to get our passports ready for the arrival into Canada tomorrow.

I will try and upload pictures later today or it may be tomorrow before I can load them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 38 Mt Pleasant to Birch Run, Mi. 77 miles with 785' of climbing

Today we ate at 0630 at the motel and we had rap and loaded luggage at 0730.  The temperature did not cool off and it was 82 when we got our route sheet for the day.  The wind was blowing from the west at 15-20 MPH which was good as we were going south and east today.  We headed east for the 1st 2 miles and then we turned right and rode with a cross wind for 18 miles.  It wasn't too bad with the cross wind and the miles went by fairly fast.  We then turned left and had the wind at our back for 6 miles and it was really nice and the miles went by quicker.  We then had to detour by the road they had us rout3ed on due to a bridge being replaced.  We were routed on a dirt road and it added 2 miles to our cue sheet for the day.  We only had one rest stop today and it was at mile 41.2 after the detour. It was very humid and I drank both bottles by the stop and I filled both of them up and ate some snacks and off we went again for the last 30 some miles with the wind helping most of the way into town.  We did get some lite rain drops on a couple of occasions and that was all it amounted to although the forecast was for a 60% chance of rain in the afternoon.

We arrived into town and got something to eat and by the time we got to the motel and checked in the luggage was unloaded and off we went to the shower.

Tomorrow we are scheduled 87 miles and the last day in Michigan before crossing into Canada.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 37 Ludington to Mt. Pleasant, MI. 114 miles with 3088' of climbing

Yesterday on day 35 we were on our own for breakfast and we did not load luggage until 0900.  We had until noon to see the sites of town and we had to be at the ferry landing at noon for a 2PM load.  After we loaded luggage some of us went into town and we toured the Maritime museum and toured a submarine that was built in Manitowoc during WWII.  It was neat to see, but I would not want to be on a submarine with all the close quarters.  We then went to the ferry landing and signed in as they would not load any bicycles until we were all there.  The ferry came in from the Michigan side at 12:55 pm and it took them about 45 minutes to unload all the cars, motor homes and semi's that were on there.  When the last car was unloaded they had us take out bikes in and they were all stacked on the port side of the ship on the 1st level.  We then went upstairs and they had a movie theatre,, video game lounge, souvenir shop, a bar, cafeteria and lounge chairs on the fantail and at the bow.  You could sit where every you wanted to.  I sat on the deck forward for a while after getting underway but the breeze got cool and I moved to the fantail where Mike the ride leader was showing photos he had taken with his camera of all of us so we watched that for a while.  The also played bingo in the are where you could get something to eat.  We just lounged around and took it easy for the 4 hour ride across the lake.  After arriving on the Michigan side we unloaded the bikes and as soon as we left the dock area we came to the Welcome to Michigan sign and it was time for a picture. We then stopped and got something to eat and when we got to the motel with the time change it was 8PM.  I took a shower and went to bed.

Day 37

We ate breakfast this morning at 0600 and we loaded luggage at 0630.  We normally load at 0600 when we have a 100+ mile day, but in the new time zone it is not light before 0630.  It was a cool 58 degrees when we left this morning and I was wishing I had my arm warmers on.  But it did not take long before I was warm and not cold anymore.  Today my legs were really heavy and I just did not feel all that good.  I had come down with a slight cold 2 days ago and between that and the sitting on the boat yesterday the legs just did not want to cycle today.  I could not keep up with the many riders that I had been riding with,  so I rode by myself until the 1st rest stop at mile 28.9.  I got off my bike and filled the water bottles and ate some snacks and I got back on the bike again and started to feel a little better.  After another 5-10 miles I was feeling allot better and my speed increased and all was good once again.  I rode with Kim for awhile after he caught up with me and he said that he was taking it easy today also and we talked until we spotted Tom and Rod along the side of the road and he stopped to talk to them and I continued on. All 3 of them passed me after about 3 miles and I rode on to the second rest stop at mile 64 by myself.  After getting something to snack on and filling the bottles up, Beth was getting ready to leave and we went to Subway and got a 6" sub to eat and then hit the road.  The miles were going by pretty good even though we had a slight headwind most of the day. The last rest stop of the day was at at Senior Citizens Center at mile 82 and once again we filled the bottles and snacked and took off for home and the last 30 some odd miles to the motel.  We had a crosswind and tail wind most of the way back in and the miles went by quickly. 

We arrived at the Motel and the luggage was unloaded, we checked in and cleaned up and once again made it to the end of the day.

Today is the last century of our trip.  All the days are now 92 miles or less unless I take a wrong turn and make it another 100 mile day, lets hope not.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 35 Fond Du Lac to Manitowoc, Wisconsin 58 miles with 1599' of climbing

Today we had a fairly short day and breakfast was at 0730 and we didn't load until 0830.  The main reason we don't get an early start is the motels on the other end do not have the rooms cleaned so they keep us on the starting end for a little longer on the shorter days. 

Today started out at 62 degrees with a slight east to south east wind.  This gave us a head wind most of the day but it was not too bad with the amount of climbing we had. The roads were once again  very rural with little traffic and small rolling hills.  Once again there were fields of Corn, Soybeans and we saw wheat again, something we had not seen since South Dakota.  There were numerous wind turbines on the ridge tops, which tells you that the wind blows here most of the time.  We had only one rest stop today at mile 30 which was in a parking lot next to a McDonald's.  With the cool breeze and mild temperatures I wasn't needing to drink as much, but as always I topped the bottles off and had a lite snack and we were on the road once again.  We continued to head East North East and as we got closer to Lake Michigan you could feel the air getting cooler.  When we made the turn at mile 47.2 we were able to see the lake for the 1st time and the blue water was beautiful.  We only got to see it for a short time as we turned left and there were fields and trees blocking the view of the lake the rest of the way into Manitowoc.  When we got into town we went to the Holiday Inn where we were staying for the night and got our room keys.  They told me my room would not be ready for another hour, so we got on our bikes and went to eat lunch. 

After getting  back to lunch we checked with the front desk and the rooms were ready and they had a sign in sheet for shuttle service to the laundromat.  I got cleaned up and took my dirty cloths and 6 of us went and did team building at the Laundromat.  It was great talking about today and the ride in general and Sandy had her laptop with her and we were looking at pictures of the 34 days prior to today and the time went by quickly.  We got the shuttle van back and at 4:45PM he had rap and went to eat Dinner.  After dinner some of walked to Wall Mart and got a few items we needed and came back and I am now updating my blog.

Tomorrow we do not load luggage until 0830 and then we ride 3.5 miles to the lake and we are boarding a ferry for the 4 hour ride across Lake Michigan.  We are moving to eastern time zone and arriving in a new state tomorrow.

We are all looking forward to the cruise on the lake and just relaxing on the ride across.  When we get to the other side we will take pictures of the Welcome to Michigan sign and then ride 3.8 miles to the nights motel.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 34 Wisconsin Dells to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin 85 miles 2253' of climbing

Today we woke up to another morning of rain.  We went to Denny's next door to the motel at 0600 and by the time we got done eating and luggage load was at 0700, the rain had stopped.  We had partly cloudy Sky's all day and it was once again very humid. 

We started out and today we were on some of the prettiest and rural roads we had seen yet.  The countryside in Wisconsin is really pretty.  We had a tail wind today and the temperature got up to 78 degrees.  We had 2 rest stops today and the 1st was at a Kwick Way gas station with a pond and swans swimming in the pond.  It was really pretty.  After snacking and filling the water bottles we took off and everyone was talking about the brats that they were cooking in Princeton.  We rode the 11 miles and ate brats and they were really good, even at 10AM.

After leaving Princeton where we had the brats it was scenic roads and we saw may sand hill cranes in the fields and they were making crane sounds.  They were really pretty in the green soybean fields.

The second sag stop was at mile 60 and we stopped and filled the bottles and snacked and took off for home with a nice tail wind.  We were riding at 23MPH all the way into town and we stopped and got lunch before checking into the Hotel.  It was a pleasure to ride today after the long miles and humidity that took it's toll on my body.  Tomorrow we only have 57 miles and the next day only 7 miles to Lake Michigan and the Ferry ride across the lake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 33 La Crosse to Wisconsin Dells, Wi. 91 miles with 2712' of climbing

The day stated out foggy with a slight chance of rain in the afternoon.  The big storms were south of us.  We

We ate breakfast at 0630 and loaded luggage at 0700.  I was on the road by 0710 and rode with Rick leaving town.  We passed many nice homes along the hillside and a nice golf course that really looked in great shape.  The miles passed by and it was still overcast and 72 degrees.  At about 8 miles out of town we felt a few rain drops but they didn't bother us as the humidity was so high, our jerseys were damp from our sweat.  We stopped and took pictures of pretty flowers along the road that had a truck garden behind it.  We then came to the 1st rest spot of the day at mile 27 which was in the town of Sparta, Wisconsin.  They had signs everywhere saying they are the bike capital of the USA.  We were going to get on the Elroy Sparta Trail that went for 34 miles with 3 tunnels along this route.  It is an old railroad road bed that had been turned in to a hike and bike trail.  We were told last night that the 3 tunnels that we had to go through were completely dark and we would need a flashlight.  We also had to walk our bikes in the tunnels as the surface is uneven and wet.  It is amazing how dark these tunnels are without any artificial light.  Just before arriving at tunnel #1 we could feel the temperature drop 20 degrees and the water was flowing on both sides of the trail we were on.  When we got to the tunnel Steve took some pictures and then we turned out lights on and started the walk of 3810' through one.  After what seemed like a long time we could see the lite at the end of the tunnel and we were done with #1.

We then continued on the trail and came to tunnel #2 and the same drill.  Get off turn on the light and walk Then on the trail again to #3 and the same thing over again.  I did not mention it but the trail was a hard packed dirt and cinder in spots.  It wasn't too bad riding our road bikes on this path but they really got dirty for all the dirt, mud and water dripping in every tunnel. 

We then came to the end of the trail and we had our second rest stop of the day at mile 61.  I filled my bottles up and ate some cookies and other snacks and I took off by myself.  Margo who I have been riding with on a number of days had sagged to the 2nd rest stop as she doesn't go through tunnels.  She took off and said that she would ride slow and I would catch her down the road as she needed to warm up before getting into a rhythm I could see her in the distance and then there was a big hill that kicked up to 11% for 1/2 mile.  She out climbs me and I never saw her again until the motel.  After topping the hill I came to a T in the road and took a left instead of a right which the cue sheet said.  The only problem was I did not realize that I took the wrong turn for 5 miles.  By this time I came to a town that was not on our cue sheet.  I then looked at the sheet and realized where I had taken the wrong turn.  I had to go back 5 miles with a headwind the whole way and finally got back on the correct route. It was warm by this time and the humidity was very high.  I was drinking my bottles down by this time and when I saw Jim in the support van at a cemetery I filled my bottles up once again and off I went for home with 11 miles to go.  I rode the rest of the way and got off route again coming in to Wisconsin Dells.  I got to the bottom of the hill and saw a tourist information sign on the right in a gas station.  I got a chocolate milk and asked the lady behind the info desk which way to the Best Western.  She said next light down on the left side of the road.  I was never so glad to see the end of today as my legs by this time were getting really tired.  By the time I got to the motel my odometer said 101.4  I had ridden another century today.  I got my room key and it was just in time to help with the luggage unload.

They gave us rags and told us where the hose was so we could clean our bikes up.  I did this and then showered did some laundry and then we had rap for tomorrows route and went to dinner

It had been a long day, but the miles are always good to increase the Bike Journal miles, (this is where I log my miles for the year and it all adds up toward my goal of 10,000 miles for this year on my bike.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 32 Rochester to La Crosse, Wisconsin 89 miles with 3340' of climbing

Today  we woke up to a downpour.  They had been forecasting 80% of rain this morning and it happened.  We ate breakfast at 0630 and they announced that we would load at 0700, that it was raining and there wasn't any severe weather warnings up so we loaded put on our rain coats, shower caps and departed in the downpour.  The wind was in our face at 20MPH for the 1st 22 miles.  We had to keep pedaling and with my glasses, I could not see much of the time and I had to keep wiping off my lenses with my finger so I could see.  The wind was really a challenge and it took 2 hours and 50 minutes to get to the 1st sag stop which was at mile 34.  By the time we got into the sag it had stopped raining and everyone was taking off their rain gear.  I put my rain coat in my camel back in case it was needed again.  After we filled up the bottles and ate some snacks we were on the road again.  We had come down a big hill to get to the sag stop and had to go up a big one on the other side after we left the stop.  I was riding by myself after the sag and then after 4 or 5 miles Michael and Matt on the tandem caught me and I rode with them until Michael spotted a steep downhill sign up ahead and I did not see them again until the 2nd sag.  I continued to ride by myself and then stopped to take a few pictures and Teresa and John caught me and we rode together to the town of Houston, MN.  Here we were going to get on a bike path for 10 miles.  We stopped at a grocery store and got another snack and then we hit the bike path.  This was really the high spot of the day, the path followed the river and was very smooth and tree lined the whole way.  It was nice to get off the roads as they have been very rough with many pot holes.  About 4 miles to the 2nd stop of the day it began to rain again, but it was warm and I did not put my rain coat back on.  We got to the second rest stop and Karen signed us all in as it was still raining and there was a coffee shop right by the stop.  Most of us went and got a cup of Coffee or Hot Chocolate and a snack and then the rain stopped once again.  We decided to go while the weather was OK and about 1/2 mile out of town it started to rain once again.  We had 22 miles left to ride and I was warm so the rain coat stayed in my pack once again, also I knew that there was a good climb out of the river  bottom and did not want to put the coat on.  At mile 72.5 we turned left and hit the climb of the day.  The hill was 1 mile long at 9%.  This was a tough place in the day for this climb,  but we just have to deal with it.  It wasn't too bad and once we hit the top the wind was behind us and it really felt good.  The temperature was about 78 degrees with the cool breeze, but the humidity was high.  The last miles went by fairly quickly and before we knew it we were dropping down into the valley and we crossed the Mississippi river and the Welcome to Wisconsin sign meet us.  We stopped and took pictures and had 4.5 miles more to go until we got to the Motel.  The motel was a welcome site and the rooms are really nice.  One of the riders that rode with us 3 days had cookies, cheese tray and hot chocolate waiting in the lobby for us.  This was really a big hit and we waited until the luggage truck was ready and did the daily routine.  Unload, shower, clean the bike and eat supper and get the cue sheet for tomorrows ride.

Tomorrow we are in for another 90 mile day and are going to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 31 Mankato to Rochester, MN. 102 miles with 2921' of climbing,

Today it was cool at the start 62 degrees and it felt really good.  We ate breakfast at 0600 and loaded the luggage at 0630.  After loading luggage we had 3 blocks to go before the wall out of town.  The hill that we had to climb went for 3 blocks and it kicked up from 9 to 13% and for one brief moment it went to 14%.  It is hard to do a climb like this when your legs aren't warmed up yet., but we all made it and moved on down the road.

Once again after leaving Mankato we were routed on rural farm roads and the scenery is really pretty.  The corn and soybean fields are everywhere as far as you can see.  Everything is really green, they must have had a wet spring.  We only had 2 rest stops today one at 36 miles and the other at 69 miles.  The spacing of these was about right as it did not get real hot and we had a cool breeze from the SSE at 5-8 MPH.  The miles went a little slower today due to more climbing and somewhat tired legs from the great ride yesterday.  This is the 1st time that I have done back to back century rides.  I could feel the heavy legs early in the day so I took it easy today and enjoyed the scenery and fresh air.  The 1st rest stop was at a city park in the town of Waseca and there was a nice lake across the road. We had picnic tables to sit down and shade trees.  It was really nice.  I usually don't spend too much time at the rest stations as the legs get stiff and don't want to cooperate when you get back on your bike.  Off  we went again and we had some rolling hills and the miles clicked off as I watched a crop duster spray the Soybean fields.  There was a road construction crew doing some patch work on the road and they had a stop sign up, but I got waved on by as they knew were were turning right after we passed it.  There were 8 riders or so ahead of me and I was on a stretch of road and could not see another biker ahead or  behind me.  At time it gets where you second guess yourself and wonder if you are on the right road when you do not see other bikers.  I just double check the cue sheet and proceed on.  I met up with the others at the 2nd rest stop which was set up in a park next to a gas station and once again we had shade.  I ate my other peanut butter and honey sandwich and got some chocolate mile from the store to go along with it and filled my bottles up and departed on the home stretch for the last leg of 32 miles.  It was getting a little warmer, low 80's but when you were moving on the bike it felt really cool.  The last stretch had a few long hills in it and when we topped the last on you could see Rochester in the valley below.  We had a few stop lights to deal with and then they routed us to the bike path along the river and it was fantastic.  There were Canada Geese and with the river along side it made the last part really nice.  We arrived at the motel and they had cold bottled water and towells for us.  I checked in took my bike to the room and then we unloaded luggage, showered and I did my laundry. 

Tomorrow is only another 70 some odd mile day and the forecast is for 50-60% chance of rain.  Not a good forecast, but we will have to deal with the rain if it shows up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 30 Worthington t Mankato, MN. 103 miles with 1312' of climbing.

Todayy we loaded luggage at 0545 and went to Perkins Restaurant for breakfast at 0600.  We got done eating at 0620 and were on the road.  The temperature was about 68 degrees and the wind was out of the west south west at about 8MPH.  The sky's were overcast and the clouds looked like we could get rain once again today.  The forecast was 30% chance of morning showers in Worthington and 30% chance of showers in the afternoon in Mankato.  Everyone packed their raincoats again today in case we did get some rain.  It was one of the best days I have every had for riding 100+ miles.  Good roads, lite tail wind and little traffic.  We rode and the miles really went by in a hurry.  We had 3 rest stops today at 30, 67, and 90.  We really did not need the one at 90 because of the cloud cover and the sun only peeked out occasionally.  I put my sunglasses on and off many times throughout the day.  I rode by myself for the 1st 15 miles and many riders passed me and said good morning on your left as they went by.  I was saving some energy for later on as 100 miles can be long if you start too quickly and burn yourself out.  At the 1st stop I snacked and filled the bottles up but I was carrying 2 peanut butter and honey sandwiches, cliff bars and hammer gel so I did not need to get much at the rest stops.  We were riding in small groups and John, Margo and Myself rode along with Helen joining us a couple of times during the ride. After the second stop I filled the bottles ate one of my sandwiches, went into the gas station and bought a V8 and drank that.  Margo and I left and after about 1.5 miles out of town John joined back up with us.  Then Michael and Matt on the tandem came by and Beth was riding behind them and motioned for me to join them.  I got on their wheel and the next 22 miles flew by as we were going a steady 23 MPH.  After the 3rd stop we again filled the bottles and Michael, Matt and Beth went to Dairy Queen and got something to eat.  I hooked up with John and Margo again and rode the last 10 miles into Mankato with them,

We got to the hotel, got our rooms, unloaded luggage, and John and I went and got something to eat.  It was then time to take a shower and now while doing this blog I am watching the recap of the Tour De France.

Tomorrow we have another 100+ mile day and we go to Rodchester, MN.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 29 Sioux Falls to Worthington, MN ---72 miles with 1692' of climbing

Yesterday everyone had a great rest day in Sioux Falls.  When we arrived it was really hot and yesterday it cooled off and was a great day.  I cleaned up my bike did some laundry, shopped some and took a nap.  Also got to watch my 1st stage of the tour DE France live.  It was a day that everyone needed.

Today the forecast was for a 60 % chance of rain and East south east winds 10-15MPH.  We ate breakfast at 0600 and luggage load was at 0700.  As we were waiting to load the clouds kept getting darker and there was some thunder in the distance.  When we took off we were routed to a bike path that follows the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls.  There was some construction going on, so we had to detour on some of the city streets with the work traffic going on a the same time.  After riding for 5-7 miles it began to rain..  We stopped along the trail and put on our rain coats and shower caps from the motels over our helmets.  The shower cap makes a nice hat over your helmet so you stay dry.  One of the girls said that from behind they really look stupid, but they keep you dry, so I really don't care.  The trail took us by the falls and we stopped to take a picture and mine did not turn out, not sure if I got in a hurry or because of the rain. 

After going on the bike path at 9.6 miles we left the patch and were on rt 140 east and this is the road we would be on all day to our final destination for today.  After crossing 3 or 4 railroad tracks that were slick and at a very bad angle for a bicycle, 2 people went down at one of the crossings.  Both got up and finished the ride.  A log of scraps and bruises that will probably be sore for a few days, but nothing serious.

We then came into the town of  Brandon and the luggage truck was parked and they asked if anyone needed anything out of the truck as far as rain gear.  I had what I needed and used the bathroom at the gas station where we were stopped;.  After coming back out a police car pulled up and rolled his window down and asked, can't you find any better weather to ride in?  I said that we have to ride no matter what the weather is and then told him what we were doing going from coast to coast.  He said that he thought we were a group from  Sioux Falls and had heard of groups going across.  He said that we must be enjoying ourselves as we had big smiles on our faces.  I told him yes that riding my bike is my job now that I am retired and it is great to be outside enjoying everything mother nature can dish out to us.  He smiled and asked where we were going today and the route we were taking.  We told him and he wished us good luck and off he went to his job. He was really a pleasure to talk to and made the day more enjoyable and we forgot about the rain for a brief moment.

We it was on the road again and after mile 25 we reached the Minnesota state line.  Right after we crossed the border the rain quit and I was able to get my only picture of the day.  Another state down and to the east we continue to go.  We are in Minnesota for only 3 nights and then into Wisconsin.  We have back to back 100+ mile days on Tue and Wed so we were glad today was only 70 something.  The wind was constant today from the the Southeast and it made some of the stretches hard to ride as there was not any relief from the constant blowing. 

We went through the Town of Manley which had a population sign saying "16" and then on to Beaver Creek and then to Luverne.  The only rest stop for today was in Luverne at the city park at the other end of town.  After filling up the bottles and eating we were off once again for the last 30 miles. The next town that we went to was Magnolia and then on to Adrian, which we stopped and used the bathroom at a gas station and I got a snickers bar and off we went again.  I was feeling good and took off, passing a few riders that had gone by us while we were at the gas station. The wind was steady but the road was smooth and it had finally dried out.  We then came into the town or Worthington which is our home for tonight. We were within 1/2 mile of the motel and we stopped at a Dairy Queen and ate lunch before checking in.  After lunch I got my room key, took my luggage to the room, then washed my bike off and then took a shower and am now relaxing in my room. 

Tomorrow is another 100+ mile day and it all depends on which way the wind is blowing as to weather it will be easy or hard.  We just have to deal with the elements day to day. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 27 Mitchell to Sioux Falls, SD 73 miles with 1400' of climbing

Last night about 20 of us went to the Corn Palace Rodeo and had a great time.  Many of the folks saw their 1st Rodeo.  A good time was had by all.

Today we ate breakfast in the motel at 0600 and loaded the luggage at 0630.  It was 72 degrees when we loaded and the forecast was highs in the mid ninety's.  After starting out I found that my legs were really tired from the fast riding yesterday.  They felt really heavy and I rode by myself for about 25 miles after trying to stay with 2 or 3 different groups.  We had only 1 rest stop scheduled for today and it was at mile 41,  There were many other stores along the way and when we came to one at 24 a bunch of riders were there and I went in and got a chocolate milk and a peanut butter snack.  I felt better after eating something but the legs were still heavy and the humidity was very high and we were having to face a 20 MPH wind from the south and we were heading east with 2 short stretches directly into the south,.  the 1st one was for 3 miles and the other one was for 3.5 miles.  This made it hard to keep going when the legs do not want to cooperate.  It was getting hotter and I was drinking my 2- 24oz. water bottles every 20 miles.  When we pulled into the rest stop I ate some food and filled the bottles up once again.  After leaving this stop I was feeling a little better and just kept pedaling.  The next store was at mile 61 and it was a welcome site and both my bottles were again empty.  I got a Gatorade for one of the bottles and filled the other with water and then it was off once again.

By this time I was finally feeling a little better and kept a steady 20MPH while still fighting the side wind.  There was a log of debris in the shoulder that we were riding.  With about 6 miles to go, Jim one of the staff members that was riding had caught me and I had my 2nd flat tire of the trip.  Jim pulled over and I took my rear wheel off and he took it and pulled the wire out of the tire and I gave him a tube and he changed my tire for me.  Just at the right time Karen came by in one of the support vans and got out the tire pump and aired my tire up for me.  What service, it was like a pit stop in the nascar racing.  I only had to take my wheel off and put it back on then was once again back on the road in a short time.

I rode the rest of the way into town and at one of the intersections Karen was there to warn of a slick corner and to be careful.  I found out after getting to the Motel one of the riders had gone done at this corner by hitting a slick spot of oil or grease.  2 other riders had miss hap's and went down today but nothing serious and all should be OK to ride on Monday after our 3rd rest day tomorrow.

When we resume on Monday we will be leaving South Dakota and arriving into Minnesota.

That is all for now and I did not take any pictures today as all we saw were corn fields and soybeans,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 26 Chamberlain to Mitchell, SD---- 72 Miles 1013 ' of climbing

Today we loaded luggage at 0600 and then went to breakfast.  They had a buffet of Scrambled Eggs, Oatmeal, Pancakes, Sausage, Bacon, fruit and dry cereal.  After getting a plateful we ate and were on the road by 0630.  We once again had to do a climb to get out of town.  It wasn't really too bad 4% for 3/4 of a mile.  When we got to the top of the hill we had to turn left and head directly east.  There was a lite west wind which made the riding very nice.  The temperature was 71 when we started, so it is getting warmer everyday.  Many complained of the heat, but it felt good to me.  We only had one rest stop today and it was halfway at mile 35.4.  There were towns all along the route today and each one is 11 miles apart.  This is due to the old steam engines that needed to take on water every 11 miles.  It was really neat.  The road was once again rough with the expansion cracks and the holes that had been patched with big hunks of asphalt and there was a  big bump every 3 or 4 cracks.  The miles went by really fast and on the left side of the road we saw a small group of Buffalo in a pasture with cattle.  There was a big bull, 4 cows and 3 calves.  They were running in the pasture and had their tails curled up behind them as they ran.  It was quite a site to see them getting their exercise this morning next to us.  There was also a red tailed hawk on the fence post in the Buffalo field and as we rode by he took off and soared in the wind next to us.  We are so fortunate to see wildlife and be able to enjoy the scenery and fresh air along with them. 

We came to the 1st sag stop in a little over 2 hours and it was time to snack and fill up the bottles and off again.  We did not stay very long and we were off again.  We were riding down the road between 20-24 MPH without much effort and then Jeff one of the staff members who was riding today caught up with us and also Matt and Michael on their tandem.  We were taking turns and then Jeff went to the front and kicked it up to 27-28 MPH and we dropped the tandem.  After riding for about 3 miles at this pace Jeff took off as any time he can see another rider ahead he has to go and catch up with them.  We then rode with the Tandem for awhile and then decided to drop off and take a picture of us in the Corn Field.  It was then time to cruise on into Mitchell and find the Corn Palace.  I had not heard of this until yesterday and most everyone said it is a must see as they change the theme every year.  After going inside and looking at the picture's and everything else it was time to get a bite to eat.  We ate and then went by the bike shop and then on to the motel for check in and luggage unload.  It was another great day and we all say that we only have 70 some odd miles to ride today and tomorrow and we consider this a short day.  When you ride day after day and become adjusted to this routine then 70 miles is like a rest day.  We hit town at 11AM and tomorrow we have about the same mileage into Sioux Falls and then we have our 3rd rest day of this trip.

Day 26 Chamberlain to Mitchell, SD---- 72 Miles 1013 ' of climbing

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 25 Pierre to Chamberlain, SD 84.8 Miles with 2637' of climb.

Today marks the 1/2 way point on our ride with this being day 25 out of 50, and the half way mileage was at the 1st sag at mile 25.3. 

The day started out at 58 which was real nice.  We loaded the luggage at 0630 after breakfast at 0600.  There was a slight west wind starting out and the 1st 25.3 miles were due east so we had it at our backs.  The ride out of town followed the Missouri River and it was very wide the whole way that we followed it and the road was smooth with a good shoulder.  The air was fresh and another great day to be outside and riding a bicycle.  Everyone was talking today about the half way point.  We can't believe that we have been on the road for 25 days and have passed mile 1825 of the 3650 total for our journey.  ABB had the pavement painted with this mark at the 1st sag and we all stopped and took pictures to capture the half way event.  While at the sag stop we were at a farmers hay field and he was out hauling hay and his dog was at out stop and wanted to play fetch with a flattened beer can he had.  He was a 3 legged Australian Sheppard and he could really run on 3 legs.  The farmer stopped and said that he would do this all day as long as some one would keep throwing it for him.  I think almost everyone petted him and some threw his an for him..

After filling the bottles and snacking we were once again off.  The route had lots of rolling hills today and the wind blowing the grass along the side of the road made it really peaceful and relaxing.  After 48 miles we turned to the south and once again had a cross wind.  Compared to the head wind of yesterday the crosswind was a breeze.  The road was really rough as the expansion cracks in the pavement were deep and it really kept you on your toes and shook you bike as you went down the road.   We passed a farm that had the American flag flying on one of the fence posts and I thought it was appropriate to take a picture of old glory waving in the breeze.  The next rest stop was at mile 61 which was in the lot of a grocery store on an Indian reservation.  There was a casino across the street with a few cars at it when we got there.  When we left this stop after a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the road had pot holes in it everywhere. You had to really pay attention to make sure you did not hit one as you would have an unscheduled dismount if you hit one.  After about 7 miles after leaving the rest stop we began the 1st of 2 climbs out of the river bottom to the area above on the bluffs.  We climbed or about 2 miles on the 1st on and the view of the river bottom and the valley below was breath taking.  I stopped and took several pictures looking back down the valley and at the rolling hills on the climb up.  About 1/2 mile from the top the box truck ( this is the term for the luggage truck) was there to fill the water bottles once again, as it was starting to get warm and we had another climb after the top of this one.  I had my bottles filled again and got to the top and fought the cross winds and then went along the top for a few miles and began the decent back down to the bottom where there was now a lake.  The road was still rough on the downhill and the cracks really were rough going downhill at 25MPH.  After getting to the bottom we rode along for a short time and then started the 1 mile climb out of the bottom once again to the top of the bluff.  After this climb it leveled out and we went for a short time and then began the decent once again into the town of Chamberlain, SD.  I got there at 1pm got my room key and we all went for a bite of lunch as the luggage truck was not in town yet. 

After lunch we were back at the hotel and 10 minutes later the truck arrived and the luggage was unloaded and then everyone headed to their rooms with luggage to get cleaned up.

I think tomorrow we have about a 75 mile day and then another 70 something and then another rest day in Sioux Falls.  I said it before but I can't believe how fast this journey is going.