Jul 20

There’s corn and there’s corn

by in Week 5

  • Montevideo to Hutchinson, MN
  • 84.7 miles/2,367.1 total
  • NO FLATS!
  • NONE!
  • Overcast, no sunscreen at all today

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 was so hot we ended up leaving the gym at 8:30, pitching our tent, and sleeping outside. It was a good 15 degrees cooler outside. We slept well and woke ready for the day. Our start was made even better by the Congregational Church group providing our food last night and this morning. One of the members was a vegan so she made a vegan lasagne last night plus vegan dessert. Today she made us vegan french toast. It was a feast. Her name was Vicky and we shared all kinds of info about how to eat more healthfully. Her husband’s diabetes required they change their diet and she’s gone all the way.

Somehow we were in the very last group to get out on the course even though it was 7:10. We played leap frog with a couple groups of similarly paced riders all morning. Almost the entire 45 mile trip to picnic was spent riding through gigantic fields of corn, soy, beets, and beans. We were awash in it. Every now and then we’d see a farmhouse, but it would be a brief encounter before returning to the crop show.

Our picnic was in the town of Olivia, the Corn Capitol. I’m not sure who bestowed the title, but they did have a magnificent ear of corn on top of their city park. Corn salad, corn chips, and corn on the cob highlighted picnic. The humidity and my back problem were both sapping my energy, so we got back on the bike as soon as we could. It’s the weird thing about my back, it feels better riding than anywhere else.

On the second half of the trip we spent a good bit of time on lonely county roads. These roads are great, except for the drainage cracks every 15 feet or so. It was a constant thump, thump which was jarring for me and bone-crunching for Sheila since she sits right over the back tire. It was our practice not to complain about them, but still there’d be some which were particularly wide which then elicited startled moans. It was a tough 30 miles.

Along the way we saw these strange devices parked in a huge field. They have places to attach large pipes at the bottoms. One rider suggested they were part of a robot invasion force. We’ll take suggestions today and clear the mystery of them tomorrow.

Near the town hall of Osceola we ramped up our learning about food production thanks to Marty and Beth, riders who live in Minnesota. We learned to distinguish field corn aka “cow corn” (that which is used for feed) from sweet corn. The field corn is taller with straighter, redder tassels. Sweet corn are much shorter and the tassels are more yellow/white. We learned about the difference between silos and graineries and how grain is dried to get the best possible price. Shortly thereafter, they turned on the jets and left us behind. Barn fever had them.

We struggled with headwinds much of the last 10 miles, but the temperatures were in the low 80s so it was all bearable. We finally had some stretches of beautifully surfaced roads. It’s amazing how much difference that makes in how we feel. Now we are patiently awaiting the answer to the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?”

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3 Responses to “There’s corn and there’s corn”

  1. From Charlotte Boynton:

    Looks to me like the strange objects are an irrigation or sprinkler system. Course they could be the first front in the “invasion of the body snatchers”. Watch out in your tent at night, and check yourselves over carefully when you start your day! Hopefully your medical team has experience with this extraterrestrial emergency…

    Posted on Jul 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #
  2. From linda derbyshire:

    hi ask someone local what the mystry objects in the field are. according to the usda the drought is causing major damage to the corn and soybean crops through out the midwest. later in the year the price is going to go very high for these products. do you interact with the locals much? peace and joy linda

    Posted on Jul 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm #
  3. From Emily:

    I can still feel the pain of the bumps every 15 feet!

    Posted on Jul 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm #