Prescott to Minneapolis 60 miles

6/28/19

We stopped for breakfast at the same place we had had dinner last night.  We were fortunate because they opened up 6:00 a.m. We wanted to get to Minneapolis as early as we could so we could go the bike shop before our 5:00 p.m. clean the trailer deadline.  More on this later.

Today’s ride was a combination of road and bike path and city street riding.

The first 23 miles were on the roads on our way to Stillwater.  Here we had the most climbing for the day.  The traffic was light and the roads were good.

Then we hit the bike path which were also good.  The biggest problem here was figuring out how to get on the bike path.  When we got to Stillwater we had our first rest stop.  The last road going down, and I mean down, to the rest stop was probably only a quarter of a mile but the street was the steepest grade we had ever experienced.  We had to ride the breaks hard all the way down and just before the bottom is where our rest stop van waited.  I was really glad I have hydraulic breaks on my new bike.

Then began the search for the path trail.  We thought based on our GPS that we should cross a bridge, but the road was under construction and no traffic was allowed, even bikes.  Then after a long phone call we were told not to cross the bridge and take  a city street that paralleled the bike path.  While on the street we could see the path but couldn’t see an access road down to it.  After some research and some back tracking we finally got on the path.

The path was great and very scenic, it was a joy to ride.

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The path continued on for 18 miles with very little on grade road crossings.  At the end of the trail we came to our last rest stop of the day.

Now the city streets.  This was not straight forward because at the end we went off trail to go to the bike shop. Little did we know there were two bike shops with the same name “Freewheel Bike” and of course we went to the wrong one. But it turned out well because there was a factory representative from Salsa there and he lead us to the other store.  He asked me a lot of question about my bike and wanted to know what I thought of the bike so he got something by leading us to the other shop.

The main reason I wanted to get to the bike shop was to get the mounting bracket for my Garmin fixed.  I talked to a couple of people but the only thing they could do was locate the parts I had preordered.  They finally took me to see Veronica, the bike mechanic.  She is the ones that helped me with the preorder.  She looked at what broke and said she could use the original bracket and would only need to switch out some parts.  In 10 minutes she had it fixed.  Veronica was definitely the brains of the shop.  I also told her about so shifting problems I was having and in another 10 minutes she had the adjustments made.

We then had a 3 minute bike ride to Middlebrook Hall, our home for 3 nights.

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We had to remove all our gear from the trailer so it could be cleaned and make room for 5 new riders.  That was not a problem for me because everything I have can fit in one big duffle bag.  Some people had a many as 5 little bags and took numerous trips to the dorm.

The dorm rooms had 2 beds so Ed and I shared a room.  Our restrooms/showers were right across the hall and were very nice.

After resting a little, we went out to find a place for dinner.  There is not a large selection of restaurants and no grocery stores in the area, which surprised us.

Wabasha To Prescott Wisconsin 69 Miles

6/27/19

We started out looking for the route and stumbled into a café for breakfast.  It was a family owned café with a lot of locals dining there.

While waiting for our food we questioned the owner about the highway construction in the area.  The road we were going to take was highway 60.  He assured us that we could bike this highway.

After we finished our meal we began to find our way to highway 60.  Upon reaching it we began to climb the road which was grooved and rough.  After climbing a little over a mile we stopped and Ed sent out a message questioning the decision to take this road.  He got a response that told us to continue on. After about an another mile Ed received a message to abandoned this road. It was much more difficult than first though. So back down the grooved and rough road, hanging on for dear life and riding the breaks.

At the bottom we were directed to take highway 61.  It was much better than highway 60 but there were areas that were under construction.  Because of the reroute all the rest areas were moved.  The route went from 54 miles to 69 miles.

After rest stop 1 we started to climb, and the clouds darkened about 5 miles outside of Red Wing Minnesota. Yes the one and only place where they manufacture Red Wing shoes and boots.  We were headed to the bridge which would take us to Wisconsin.

To prove the point that we were getting wet we took pictures of the Welcome to Wisconsin Sign.

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At this point Ed and I went different routes.  Ed was scheduled to meet some of the people at the Purina Plant in Hager City Wisconsin.  I went on with some of our team members.

I was able to get in early so I took a shower, rinsed some of the rain soaked clothes and put them out to dry.  We actually saw the sun a bit later in the afternoon.

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Brownsville to Wabasha 72 Miles

6/26/19

Breakfast today was at the local service station.  We had breakfast sandwiches, sweet rolls and bananas.  The cashier is a bike riders also but not a mega mile rider.  She we understanding of our need for food.  One interesting thing at the store, which made it clear we were in a small to town, was the sign that said “We Accept Local Checks Only”

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We road adjacent to the Mississippi river which gave us another great photo opt.

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When we took off Ed really took off.  We got ahead of the first rest stop van so we helped set up the station and then left.  We were joined by Melissa just before the first rest stop also.

This was the only rest stop van we saw for the day.  We stayed ahead of all the vans.  We made two short stops, one at Walgreens for sunblock and a restroom break and another stop and at a convenience store to get quick refreshments.  One rider beat us to Wabasha because he took off over and hour before we did.

Once arriving at church in Wabasha we took showers at the local swimming pool which was really close to the church.  This was a great shower unlike the 2 previous swimming pool showers.  This one had hot water and great shower heads.

Then we went downtown to do our laundry.  I went to the local optometrist to get my glasses straightened.  I had bent them over 2 weeks ago but this was my first opportunity to get them fixed.  All the work was done for free.

Now the best of all, I have the opportunity to catch up on my blog.  I appreciate your patience and understanding these last 4 days.  The rides were long and tiring, but the biggest frustration was the lack of internet and phone service.

Elkader to Brownsville MN. 85 miles

6/25/19  

We stopped for breakfast at Johnson’s Café but we had one small problem.  It didn’t open until 7:00 a.m. but we arrived at 6:30 a.m.  We had some miss communication.

When they did open the regulars ordered as they came in and us strangers had to wait until the server came to our table.  Smart business.

The  plates were large and filling.  Then it was on the road and it started out with the first of 3 major climbs and a many other smaller but challenging climbs.  Of course with climbs come some fun descents.  One of these allow me to achieve a max speed of 43 MPH.  My new bike is more stable on the descents than my old bike.   This was fun.

We had a rest stop in New Albin Iowa.  We went into a small café for a mid afternoon meal.  There were locals mainly talking.  One lady asked where Ed and I were from.  One chimed in that her granddaughter had just moved to Texas when I mentioned I was from Houston.

Her granddaughter was just hired on as a ranch hand in south Texas.  I asked her if the ranch might be the King Ranch.  I told her a little about the King Ranch which made her excited to ask her granddaughter.

Shortly after leaving New Albin we crossed into Minnesota.  Since we weren’t on a major highway they didn’t have a real large state sign but it was better than Illinois.

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About 2 miles outside of Brownsville we made two stops.  One was an overlook of the Mississippi River.  On the far side of the river is Wisconsin.

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And the other one was to take pictures of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

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We camped tonight at the local baseball park.  We took our garden hose shower with the propane heater.  Then went to  the local pizza joint.

We had no internet and limited cell phone service.  This can make it kind of depressing.

Oxford Junction IA. To Elkader 93 miles

6/24/19  Another long day 93 Miles plus.

It started out with a breakfast sandwich in the local convenience store.  The owner fixed the breakfast  sandwiches which were good but not all that filling so I had a honey bun also.

We started out the day somewhere at the lead of the pack.  The roads had some minor climbs but the men in the convenience store warned us about some climbs starting about Cascade.  They were right but the climbs were not in the top 10 of the most difficult I have ridden.  They did make the ride more interesting.

One area that I had always wanted to see was the “Field Of Dreams”.  This has always been in my top ten movies about baseball.  We stopped at the field and explored.  There were a fair number of other tourist there also.  Here are some of the picture I took.

We were the last one at rest stop #2 in Dyersville since we spent a lot of time at the field.

By the time we reached rest stop #3 everyone had already left this stop so we just kept on riding.  The weather looked like it could rain at any time and the wind seemed to be in our faces most of the rest of the day.

We made it into Elkader without getting wet but we found out a lot of our team wasn’t so lucky.  One of the most annoying part of the day was the little black gnats.  If the wind went down they would attack us and even get into our mouths so in some ways we wanted the wind.

When we arrived at the church we found food had already arrived so we helped ourselves to a great meal to refresh ourselves.  I am going to make this an early night since 2 – 90 plus mile days are taking their toll.

Orion to Oxford Junction IA 94 mile

6/23/29

Today, being Sunday morning, our breakfast selections were few and far between so we went to Casey’s Convenient store.  I picked up two breakfast sandwiches.  Nothing to write home about.  What a way to start 94 mile ride.

At the start of the day the weather was perfect.  Cool, no rain and a tail wind.  Shame it didn’t last.  Most of the day we had a fairly hard side wind.  When you know you have a long ride wind plays hard on your mind.  Maybe it was just in our mind.  When I looked at the print out of our ride I was surprised how little we rode west, most of the day was riding north.

Today was another milestone day.  We crossed into Iowa.

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The route today was interesting.  Close to the end of the day we came to a corner and we were forced to turn right.  My mind told me we should turn left and when I got the print out  my mind was actually correct.  For a direct route we should have turn left but due to the way the round was designed we had to turn right.

On the route we had to go down a long slope.  During this down hill my chain came off,  I tried everything to get it back on without stopping.  The place I had to stop was at a farm house that had two barking dogs.  They made a lot of noise and the farmer came out of his barn and said they wouldn’t hurt me, they just like to make noise, so I put my chain on and continued down the hill into Lowden.

Once we made it to Oxford Junction we put our bike in the Senior Center.  Then we ate dinner that was supplied by an alumni from another ride.  He went out of his way to serve us.

We also took showers in the volunteer fire station.  They made a make shift area for the shower which worked well. It was warm and clean.

The operator of the Senior Center gave us a history lesson of the town, the area, and the senior center.

None of us had phone service and the only way we could communicate was sit outside the library and connect to their internet.  The connection was not very good and the bugs drove you back inside the Senior Center.

They did have a nice little tourist area called the City Hall.

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Henry to Orion 75 miles

6/22/19  

When we woke up, in the city park of Henry, we were surprised at how DRY our tents were.  They have never been this dry on this ride before.  There would not be any need to setup our tents tonight to dry.

We started the day in the same café that we ended yesterday.  Rio Vista Grill.  I had a Denver Omelet because I was thinking of Kye and omelets she makes for me when I am home.  The café normally does not open until 8:00 a.m. but they made a special exception for us and opened at 7:00 a.m.  Amy the server had the coffee ready and made everyone feel special.

There was another customer by the name of Dave.  He made all of our days and picked up all our charges.  He just wanted to show he supported what we were doing.  He made us all feel humbled by his gesture. There are so many gracious people in this world.

We had three rest stops and two were just on the side of the road because there wasn’t  any towns located in places were we needed rest stops.

The ride was scheduled for 69 miles but we put in 75 because we missed a couple of corners.  Since we had GPS we found our errors fairly quick.

The day was fairly easy because of  a strong tail wind.  We could really feel it when our route changed to the north or south directions.

Tonight we are staying at the Orion United Methodist Church.  They have a very nice facility and they   provided us a great and very filling dinner.  We will clear the church before services start tomorrow.

We are now faced with 5 rides that run between 71 to 92 miles.  We will need all our energy for this pull.

Odell to Henry 55 miles

6/21/19

The café Odell opened at 6:00 a.m. so we got there around 6:15 a.m. We have a short day for a change and we wanted to get to Henry by noon.    We need the afternoon to catch up on a few things like laundry.   I don’t have any riding clothes clean and very little camp clothes left.  It reminds me of the old Johnnie Cash song that says looked for my cleanest dirty shirt.

While leaving town I shot this view of 3 of our riders.

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Not only was it a short day but we had a nice tail wind. On some sections we averaged almost 17 mph. for a 5 mile section. We didn’t spend much time at rest stops except in Wenona where the mayor and his wife wanted some pictures with us.  They were trying to encourage riders to stop and take advantage of their facilities.  It sounds like they have a lot to offer.  There are a lot of tour riders separate and apart from the BiketheUSforMS and the small towns are competing for our visits.

When we got to camp we hurried to get our tents setup because the locals had told us  a storm would be here within an hour.

With tents setup our whole team went to the one and only Laundry in town.  They had a lot of machines so it worked out well for everyone.  The only bad thing is the change machine would not give change for a dollar.  You had to use a $5 or $10 to get change.  By working together everyone was able to come up with the correct number of quarters.

After laundry was finished a strong rain and wind storm blew in so while walking back to camp we stopped at the Dairy Queen for lunch/dinner.

Later we went out for our second dinner at the Rio Vista Grill and after they have closed they let us sit on their patio and use their internet.  Great and friendly people.  This café is right after you cross the Illinois River bridge.

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Iroquois to Odell 62 Miles

6/20/19

Today most of us went across the street for breakfast.  It was your normal small town restaurant/bar with great food.  Ed and I were one of the last to leave and one of the local gentlemen came out as we were about to begin.  He told us not to go the way our maps showed because of some construction on part of the section.  He showed us another route that didn’t reduce our mileage but it did avoid the gravel construction area.  We thanked him and took off.

The day was wet with a strong head and side wind most of the day.  Kye  even commented on how slow were going since she can track me on “Find Friends”

When we got to our last rest stop in Kempton, Ed saw a café across the street for our rest stop.  We told our support people to go on since we and one other rider were the last of the group.  We had a great lunch.  I got one of my favorite soups (chicken noodle) as part of the meal.  The total meal can be seen on the attached pictures.

I had been looking of Natural Gas Pipeline Markers ever since we got into Illinois and shortly before Odell I found some.

Now it is up to Henry Schiro to get some ROW work done.  On one side of the road the markers are clearly seen, but on the other the weeds seem to hide them.  It up to you Henry.