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Jul 22, 2012

South Dakota to Minnesota

Clicking the week’s summary chart will bring up a detailed route map for the week including elevation gains. After the summary and overview of the week and Sheila’s op-ed piece, you’ll see the posts in order starting with the first post of the week.You can view any week of posts by clicking on the week in the sidebar.

Click to see week-5 overview summaryThis week we crossed from South Dakota to Minnesota and we passed the halfway point of the trip in St. Lawrence, 2100 miles! We’ve had a total of 12 flat tires to date and we’ve done 10 rides that were close to a century (100 miles). We’ve gone from extremely hot temperatures to thunderstorms. As Spencer put it, we’re in our the third quarter of trip and it feels a little like the doldrums. Nothing a day off in Northfield, MN won’t cure.

This week’s op-ed from Sheila

Jim & Fran, Chicago

Smyth-Osbournes, UK

Kathy, PA

Denise & Allyn, CA

Johanne, Canada

Dennis & Holly, CA

Ted, Texas

Denny, WA

Ric, WA

I’ve been casting about for today’s topic. I was going to do a whole post on packing, gear and technology but decided for most readers it would be “TMI” (too much information). But for those who care I went ahead and made a separate page. It may be of interest if you’re planning a trip yourself at some point. And if you haven’t seen it yet there’s also an FAQ on tandeming and a post on Playing Well with Tandems.

I think instead I’ll just do a little stream of consciousness on seeing the country by bike vs car, being a woman on a tour of mostly men, and answer a few questions that have come up during the week. For the photos, I’ve just included shots of some of the riders.

There are just over 30 of us “going all the way”, ie: coast to coast, not counting the staff. I wonder if that phrase is still in use with today’s teens or if it’s no longer a relevant term?! We gain and lose different numbers each week. This past week there were about 8 non-coast-to-coasters. In the base group there are only 7 women, so about 25% and of those seven, four came without a male partner. The crew of 14 is nearly half women though.

The advantage of fewer women is no shortage of  hot water in the shower room and no wait for the toilets while in camp. Very nice. The down side is that there aren’t any portable toilets on the route. After all, the men simply turn around, take the stance and pee. No one sees a thing or thinks twice about it. Of course, in populated areas there are a few gas stations and cafes, etc. And our daily cue sheet does indicate any indoor plumbing opportunities. But some days we go with only one and sometimes even none available. If  you know me you know I’m not modest and I’m just fine squatting outdoors in what we fondly call “the green room”. But ever since I squatted on a ride in Clark County and had a trucker stop and yell angrily at me for baring my butt I’ve become a little more cautious. Not everyone shares my immodesty. And as we’ve been crossing through gun country I’ve felt like I need to find places to be more discreet. That isn’t always possible as you know if you’ve been reading along. We’ve had many days with no cover at all, therefore nothing to hide behind. And of course there’s the issue of the bugs. Bug bites are no fun, especially on the butt. And now we’re in deer tick country. So one must be careful. The other issue is that with the vast quantities of food we’re consuming, our food processor (bowels) needs to be evacuated more frequently. It’s one thing peeing in the grass and quite another doing number 2! OK, I’ve wandered back into TMI! Sorry.

There is an advantage of using the green room and of cycling vs driving across the country. We have a much closer relationship to our environment. For example if you were driving you’d probably not be down in the grass with thousands of little grass hoppers, or see a small garden snake slither near your feet. And you likely also wouldn’t have time to look up and notice the ribbon after ribbon of large birds in vee formations. Not sure what they were other than beautiful. One of the advantages of being the stoker (in the back) is that I can look around and take photos while Spencer’s eyes are mostly on the road. I see a lot of Mourning Doves, Goldfinch, Golden Eagles, Red Winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows. Last week on that day we rode 10 miles of gravel a lot of the fences had wooden bird houses on the posts. So we saw a lot of birds including one that I’m pretty sure was a Blue Grosbeak. We’re also seeing Milkweed and Sumac both of which I remember growing up and don’t see are Seattle.

We’re simply cruising more slowly so we’re able to notice more, to smell the smells and hear the sounds, all of which you may tend to miss when in a car. We are thoroughly enjoying our adventure. Thank you again for your continuing participation in our adventure. One dear friend mentioned the tour is a metaphor for life and another a metaphor for marriage. Both so true. Be well.

 

Jul 16, 2012

The early bike beats the heat

Before I talk about today, I need to acknowledge all our friends, vocal or not, who are following our adventures. I can’t express to you how much it means to us to know that you take the time to see what we are up to and then some of you even comment! It’s a great […]

Jul 17, 2012

Half way

Today is the middle day of our 9 weeks and it is the day we passed the midpoint, 2,100 miles. A time to contemplate what we are doing. It really is an epic journey. We’ve traveled more miles in the last four weeks than we have in many of our cycling seasons. And we are […]

Jul 18, 2012

The heat breaks

Today was essentially a rolling rest day. After days of riding in headwinds and heat, we rode in cool, cloudy weather, no wind to speak of, and only 59 miles. It was lovely. We even finished riding by noon. Wow-zah! It was like we had opened the doors and stepped into a new dimension. A […]

Jul 19, 2012

Minnesota

We have definitely changed some things and kept others the same. The wide open prairie land of Wyoming and middle South Dakota have given way to rolling farmland. The weather has changed from hot and dry to hot and wet. The skies have changed from all blue to often overcast. It feels like a new […]

Jul 20, 2012

There’s corn and there’s corn

Our second full day in Minnesota was flatter than the first. Yesterday we only gained 800 feet in elevation. Today we gained 600′. That pretty much means no uphills which pretty much guarantees no downhills either. It was a day to sit and pedal and look at crops. Lots and lots of crops. Last night […]

Jul 21, 2012

Like being home

It was hot in the gym last night. We both slept poorly. Sheila was up for about an hour around 2. Neither of us felt rested before we headed out on what was billed as the last century (100 mile) ride of the tour. Not surprisingly, we were near the end of the group getting […]