Jul 23

Crossing the Great Muddy

by in Week 6

  • 82.8 miles/ 2,551 total
  • Hot, humid, no wind
  • Rolling hills, long climbs
  • Lost, found, lost, found
  • New state

Today we had a weird day. Breakfast wasn’t to be served until we got to mile 16. We had our shake in our hotel room, then went out to put the gear on the truck at 6:15. The truck was delayed for some reason so we started riding about ten to 7.

Now here is the thing about riding in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is hot. It is humid. By the time we’ve ridden 5 miles, I am drenched. My clothes are soaked. My body is dripping. My glasses fog up instantly when I put them on. None of these things are comfortable and one of them caused us grief today.

We were one of the last ones on the road, but we were zipping along at 18-19 mph. At 8.2 miles I asked Sheila to consult the cue sheet about the next turn. We figured it was a mile away. But after we’d gone 2 miles there was still nothing, so we retraced our path. We found 280th street, knew we wanted 290, so we turned around again. The next street we saw, a mile later, was 270th. Ooops. We’d miscalculated badly. Another u-turn and a couple more miles got us back on the course. I had missed the yellow arrows because we’d been going too fast, the glasses were fogged, and the sun blocked my view of the signal. No matter, it’s just 7 extra miles. Then we got waylaid by another group’s yellow markers and took another 4 mile detour off route. By the time we got to our 16 mile breakfast stop, we’d done 27 miles.

We were well and truly the last ones on the route until picnic. But it was scenic. The roads were lined with trees when they weren’t surrounded by crops. There were hills of all sizes. The road turned and bent often. (Sherriff Wise, you were right. This is a beautiful section to ride in!) We loved it all. Especially since the climbs had shady spots right there on the road!

We picnicked alongside the Mississippi River in the town of Red Wing. It is home of Red Wing Shoes. We’d caught up with a bunch of slow eaters, so were feeling part of the gang again. We swapped stories with 2-G Gregg who had gotten 30 miles off route Saturday. Then we crossed the river into Wisconsin.

Our route took us south along the Mississippi for almost 30 miles. Great towering bluffs, wide open water, and trees, trees, trees. It was gorgeous. We stopped at Flat Pennies Ice Cream Shop to get water and cool off before we started our last 2.5 mile climb. Jim, the owner, makes all the ice cream they sell. He’s been in Bay City for 6 years and is a heck of a nice guy. Stop by and see him if you drive Wisconsin 35.

Refreshed, we charged up the big hill. It was 5% for the first mile, then dropped back to 3. There was lots of shade, so even though the temperatures were nearing 92, we did fine. Another screaming descent left us less than 15 miles from Pepin. We pedaled steadily.

Soon we’d arrived in Pepin. We tried to get some pie at the pie shoppe, but failed. They were just about to close and only had cream pies left. Too bad. We grabbed some treats at the local store, then got to the school for the night. Oooops. They’re working on their water main. There is no water for showers as I write. It should be done soon……….. It could be a long sweaty night.

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8 Responses to “Crossing the Great Muddy”

  1. From Russ:

    You’ll be happy to know that just about everywhere else in Minnesota looks adn feels exactly the same (rolling hills, lots of crops, hot and humid), so unless you want to see Bemidji and the headwaters of the Mississippi River, there’s no need to double back.

    Posted on Jul 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm #
  2. From Pat:

    Glad to hear you had a good day despite a couple of detours.

    Just so you know, there isn’t a week 6 link at the top of the page.

    Posted on Jul 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm #
    • From S2Cycle:

      Thanks Pat. I know. Our connection last night was dismal and after we posted I couldn’t get back on to add it. Doing it now.

      Posted on Jul 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm #
  3. From Sheila Bender:

    Spencer, your writing is lovely and I feel so privileged to share the journey with you through your accounts.

    Posted on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:01 am #
    • From S2Cycle:

      Sheila, I’m glad you like my writing and I take it as a great compliment given your biz. however, my Sheila must get much of the credit. I’m mostly a hack writer who spews out copy. Sheila is my editor and makes sure it 1) makes sense and 2) fits together well. Everyone should have such an editor.

      Posted on Jul 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm #
  4. From Charlotte Boynton:

    Seattle had quite a downpour a few days ago. On Facebook I posted a picture of a rain speckled tiger lily with a caption that I wish we could share the rain with the drought areas. Sounds like I got my wish but I sure didn’t intend for you to get the most of it.

    Glad you are doing well, enjoying your posts and pictures, thanks for keeping them up.

    Posted on Jul 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm #
  5. From Jim Ross:

    Thanks for stopping in and mentioning Flat Pennies Ice Cream. I truly enjoyed meeting you and wish you all the best! I am looknig forward to following your blog!!

    Posted on Jul 25, 2012 at 10:52 am #
  6. From Nancy K & David C:

    Hi Spencer and Shiela,
    Catching up on the blog about yours across the country trip and noticed your post about crossing the Mississippi. David and I are planning a trip down the Mississippi Trail and we’ll be visiting Redwing. We’ll look for the ice cream shop when we pass through. Sounds like you two are having the adventure of your lives and look forward to hearing more about it when you return. We love that you’re wearing your ETC jerseys!
    Nancy and David (ETC).

    Posted on Jul 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm #