WWT II Daily Blog

DAY 1

The Team plans to cross the Hudson River and stay at Bear Mountain for the first night was nixed buy the 100+ degree heat wave consuming New England..  The day started at the Grand Street boat launch in Niantic just as the last cross country trip did.

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It was already getting warm as we rolled through Gilford around 11am.  By the time we cleared through New Haven it was smoking hot.  It seemed like every road we traveled was void of any shade offering trees.  We started sizzling like three sausages in a frying pan.  The heat radiating up from the blacktop into our face made it even worse.

The normal cooling downhill’s were replaced with 100 degree heat blasts.  It almost felt like you had a hair dryer blowing on you.

None of the riders were able to get any breakfast into their bellies prior to leaving.  The intimidation and excitement of the ride robbed them of hunger.  Ken said he could not even get half a bagel down and Tim said he had nothing. Joe managed to eat a little cereal.  In Branford they stopped at a farm stand and each grabbed a peach and a cucumber.  Not much fuel for a 125 mile ride with 70+ pound bicycles.

Ken’s bike is equipped with a thermometer that is mounted on his handlebars.  It is blocked from the direct sunlight by the rider.  By the time we reached Ansonia the air temperature had reached the 100 degree mark. We were drinking gallons of water but could not get in any food.  Our bellies were filled like water balloons and we were still thirsty. Drinking more water started to upset our stomachs.

At the top of a big climb the Ansonia Fire department had a pumper truck in the park spraying water in the air for the kids.  It was like finding an oasis in the desert for us. The bikes were dropped and a body core cooling stand under the spray was in order.  The fireWWT II Daily Blog department also offered us some Gatorade as they could see we were in a bad way.  The water mist and drink revived us temporally.

Drinking gallons of water to replace what you sweat out is critically important. And as any as any rider knows you need to also replace the salt you are losing.  If you do not replace the salt you lost cramping can start. For the first time this happened to Joe and then a short time later Ken.  The remote roads we picked for our route had no convenience stores to grab a bag of salty chips.

The heat was taking its toll and we needed a quick break in the shade.  We pulled up to a shady yard and took a break.  Ken noticed a hoes in the front yard and asked the homeowners if we could use it to cool off.  The friendly couple said of course and also brought us some cold bottles of spring water to drink and a couple frozen bottles to go.

The decision was made to cut the day short and stay in Danbury. Our sun baked bodies could take no more.


100.5 Very Hot Miles

6039 Feet f Climbing

Temperature 77-101






Day 2

The alarm seemed to come earlier than the 5:30 AM it was set for after getting to bed after midnight.  A late arrival at our motel and the need to change our route took gobs of time. 

We hit the road after a not so tasty motel continental breakfast and crossed into NY State.

First order of business after we hit the road was to find a pharmacy for Ken. He needed some diaper rash ointments badly.  Playing in the Fire Departments water spray then riding with wet shorts yesterday was a bad idea.  Lose you rumpus on a bike and you are finished.

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The approach to Bear Mountain bridge over the Hudson was loaded with summer traffic.   Crazy New York and Jersey drivers made for a little white knuckle riding.  Once over the bridge the traffic eased. 

We ran into a couple from the Netherlands on their bikes touring America.  This was their second trip to the US to tour by bicycle.  We offered them some routing information and then parted ways.

The next part of the days ride was on some beautiful roads that a fellow rider Art from New Your had plotted for us.  They were great roads with almost no traffic.

The temperature was already in the low 90’s by 11AM. A layer of clouds blocked the sun making the high temperature much more bearable thane yesterdays roasting.

We crossed into New Jersey just as the air started heating up a little more. Everyone took in plenty of salt today and the cramping from the day before was gone.  Our day ended at Mt Olive New Jersey,

100.2 Miles

6903 Feet of Climbing

Mix of Clouds and sun 95 degrees




Day 3

Mt. Olive, NJ to Hazelton, PA

Today was overcast but still hot with most of the day lingering around 90 degrees with oppressive humidity. Whenever we stopped our bikes it felt like our bodies were melting with sweat.  At least when we are moving you get some air conditioning. The air was so thick it almost would not fit in our nostrils.

We crossed the Delaware River into PA on a foot bridge and started riding what is known as the Bicycle Route V.  We were treated to some absolutely beautiful riding conditions. Scenic back country roads with almost no traffic. We will stay most of this route while in PA.

Joe managed to snag a piece of metal that was on the road and we experienced the first flat of the trip just as it started to sprinkle. For the next couple of hours we dodged the rain drops.  As we got deeper into Pennsylvania the hills started coming on.  PA is a hilly state and we are expecting more of the same tomorrow.  Our biggest climb of the day was up Jonas Mountain.  With the heavy bikes it took 40 minutes to make the 3 mile climb to the top.

Normally we have found day 4 is when you start finding body parts that are not as enthused with the bicycle as you are.  Tim is complaining of sore feet and a slight case of diaper rash.  Kens ripped up rump has improved greatly and that was replaced with sore blistered palms.  By day 7or 8 we should all feel fine as we get into the routine of riding.

103 Miles

7646’ of Climbing

Temperature 85-90 HUMID 

Day 4

Hazelton, PA to Lamar, PA

The weather for the fourth day in a row proved to be a problem for us.  For the first three days it was heat and humidity beating on us, today it was rain and plenty of it.  A string of large thunderstorms passed through Pennsylvania around the I-80 corridor which happens to be the area of our route.  The heavy downpours turned both sides of the road into raging rivers at times.  Just as it appeared that the sun was going to reappear another thunderstorm would roll through.

Our cycling shoes fill up with water giving each of us a pair of personal wading pools for our feet. Even though the rain was bad it was actually better than the torturous unrelenting heat and humidity we had earlier.

Our rolling route took us past perfectly manicured Amish farms with very little traffic.  The excellent cycling roads made he rain much easier to handle.

One of the riders says he thinks he saw Sasquatch running in a field and snapped a photo.  Could it have been the mysterious creature?

102 Moist Miles

5287 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-85 degrees




DAY 5

Day Missing








Day 6

Brookville, PA to Poland, OH


Today’s cycling weather was perfect.  Mid 80’s with no humidity and clear skies.  Our goal was to reach Ohio and leave hilly Pennsylvania behind.  A beautiful state but nothing but one hill after another. If you like hills you will love PA! With bikes running a 70+ pound load we lost our love of the hills on the third day.

We all woke with tender contact points.  The palms being the worst for Ken and Tim. Our experience has told us day 4 and 5 are the worst. You need to get your body in the rhythm of turning out 100 miles a day.  By day 10 normally you are in that rhythm.

Around 11AM while slowly climbing a hill Ken’s cycling shoe pushed his fender into the front wheel.  The fender folded nearly stopping the front wheel and caused him to crash.  It was a slow speed crash but any fall stinks. 

Tim and Joe came to his aid and quickly and assessed his bike was ok without any damage.  After they were both sure the bike was intact they asked Ken if he was all right.  He said he was OK. Does it seem a little odd they were more concerned with the bike then Ken. Well it is not odd. Any rider will tell you, “you can ride a bike with some road rash but not with a broken wheel”.  To ad insult to injury a little while later climbing another hill a bee stung Ken in the leg.

The crew was still feeling the disappointment of not having a good dinner the night before.  We do not mind giving up the energy to push those overstuffed bikes up and down the mountains but at least feed us when the day is over. That is our only reward and to get cheated of it hurt. That was made up for tonight though.  We had a delicious pasta dinner at a local restaurant followed by some homemade ice cream. Yummy.

The climbing should start to slow down as we work our way through Ohio on our way to Michigan.

There was another odd sighting by one of the riders.  It was not big foot this time.

104 Miles

7808 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-85 degrees







Day 7

Poland, OH to Seville, OH

We are a week into our tour and out of the major hills for a while. Our bodies have accepted the fact that they need to deliver us a full day of cycling without complaining. The tender hands feet and the all important rump pains are subsiding.

Our mileage is always determined by where we can find a place to sleep that night.  A cheerleading competition in Ohio this week has sucked up many of the hotel rooms along our route.  We had to schedule a couple of shorter mileage days followed by a 125 miler to make things work.  Nobody is complaining about the two short days.

Tim who was having some morning fueling problems at first has been able to eat more during the day.  You have to keep the engine fueled to get in the miles.  He is powering up to his normal strong pace. It will take us 10 days to get into the groove.

The morning forecast really looked terrible for us.  Radar showed bands of heavy rain moving west to east along our route.  We left the motel with all our rain gear in place.  The skies were dark and it was already sprinkling.  It really sucks to spend the day on a bike with rain falling on you. 

Just a few miles down the road the rain stopped. All morning the sky looked like it could open up at any moment but the roads stayed dry.  By midday the sun came out and the temperature peaked at 96 degrees. We were happy not to have rain in our face and our butts wet.

It was nice to have some relatively flat riding after the PA hills. Hopefully the west to east prevailing winds will stay under 20 mph as we enjoy the flat riding for a couple days. We have climbed almost 46,000 feet in the past 7 days!

A software crash has taken Ken’s GPS out for the last couple days.  A call to Garmin was made and the decision that a reload of the mapping software will be needed.   The large file took nearly two hours to download over the internet.  It appears that his GPS is back in business.

84 Miles

 4056 Feet of Climbing

Temperature  75-96 degrees

 



Day 8

Fremont, OH to Defiance, OH via Michigan

Today was “Mission Michigan”.  Get our wheels into that state and snap a photo of proof in front of the welcome sign.

The weatherman said it was going to be a beautiful day and he was right.  We were treated to plenty of bright sun and temperatures in the low 90’s.  Way better than yesterdays rain.

This part of Ohio is very flat sparsely populated farmland. We rode by thousands of acres of corn and soybeans for as far as the eye can see.  It is an amazing site for anyone who has not seen it before. The roads were pool table flat, straight as an arrow and traffic non-existent.

Around mid-day we ran into a couple of older cyclist on recumbent bicycles.  We stopped and talked for a while. The two were brothers 82 and 85 years old.  I hope I am riding at 85.

In Grand Rapids we spotted an ice cream parlor and pulled in for some cones. Ice cream is hard to resist when you are overheated and hungry on a bike.  We promised the young girl who waited on us we would make her famous on the internet. American Idol…  I know you are reading our blog…..  Hers she is the next Carrie Underwood.

131 Miles

2250 Feet of Climbing

85-95 Degrees

Average over the past 9 days 103 miles a day








Day 9

Defiance, OH to Wabash, IN

It was a real scorcher today with temperatures again reaching over 95 degrees.  The sun was bright and hot on our already burnt skin.  We all have developed the odd looking tan lines of a cyclist.  The four white paws from having gloves and socks, raccoon eyes from sunglasses and Y shaped lines on the side of our face from the helmet strap.

Even with sun block on you can feel your skin sizzling away.  We are almost completely exposed with very few trees for shade. You may ride 10 or 20 miles before you can get a little speck of shade from a small roadside tree.  All the trees have been cut down long ago for the planting of corn, soy and other crops.

Staying hydrated today was a serious problem.  The remoteness of our route has us nowhere near any stores or sources of water.  Between us we were carrying 13 water bottles and that was not enough.  We ran out around 4pm and knew we would not see a store for at least 30 miles. Already somewhat dehydrated 30 more miles in the heat without water would have been very uncomfortable.

Ken spotted some people outside a house and pulled in to ask for water. They were happy to let us fill our water bottles. It seemed great at first but as soon as you raised the bottle to drink you could smell it.  Sulfur.  Oh it was nasty.  I do not know how the people around here can drink the stuff.  It stunk so bad we were worried the smell would not wash out of our bottles.  But when you are as thirsty as we were you drink it.

Cold the water was tolerable but after the sun warmed it up it really became repulsive. Again if you are thirsty you will drink it, and we did.  It is obvious to us now we will need to get more water on board soon.  The “real” remote sections of this journey are coming up!  We may not have the house to ask for water in South Dakota or Wyoming. There is not convenience store on every corner.  In fact there are not even any CORNERS!  All we have is miles of straight roads and corn.  Water is heavy to carry at 8.33 pounds a gallon but without it you will get in trouble quick.

We crossed into Indiana around 1pm the 7th state of our tour.  A few miles into the state we came upon a crop duster working a cornfield.  We had to stop and watch the action as it dive bombed the fields then pulled up before hitting the power lines. These pilots are insane.

Even the late afternoon sun was still hot and bright.  We are so close to the change in time zone it does not get dark until well after 9PM even this time of year.

111 Miles

2204’ of Climbing

Temperature 85 – 95 degrees

 




Day 10

Day missing









Day 11

Wabash, IN to Remmington, IN

The heat continues and there is no relief in the short term forecast as far as we can see. Riding any bike in near 100 degree heat is a chore, toss on 75 pounds of gear and it becomes a full time job. The sun and radiating heat off the asphalt cooks us all day.

We have little shade and almost no services where we are riding.  Ther reason for this is our mapping plan was to fined remote roads with little traffic. Well we are batting 1000 because we have no cars, no people and no services. Nothing is to be found but corn and soybeans.  

With so few people living in the area stores are nonexistent.  Gas stations are 20 o 30 miles apart.  If you need gas for your car or  mower it is a 45 minute trip.  Not like Connecticut where there is a gas station on every corner.  Here you have absolutely nothing.

The people here are so nice you swear they are trying to scam you but they are not.  They are just good people. Good American people.  One question people ask us all the time is do we “pack any heat” on these tours.  In layman’s terms that means are we armed to protect ourselves.  Well actually we should be packin’.  Packing a box of “Thank You” cards that is.  That way we can had them out whenever someone does something for us.

Our legs are getting used to the 100 miles a day but other body parts have some lingering difficulties. Our calloused palms are still tender from the relentless pounding the road gives us. Every crack or bump in the road pounds our already softened palms even more.  Feet and of course the all important Rumpaurus take a beating all day. Remember we are on the bikes for 8 to 10 hours.

We spotted a crop duster working a field and had to stop and watch the duster in action.  Dive bombing the fields and pulling up just in time not the hit power lines or trees.  Theses pilots are wacky.

We logged another state into our quiver today Indiana.  

108 Miles

2471 feet of Climbing

Temperature 75 -98 degrees











Day 12

Remington, IN to Pontiac, IL

More heat was on the menu for us this morning.  It was already warm and muggy as we started out at 7:20 AM.  A SW breeze had already started forming.  This breeze would increases into 20-25 MPH head wind.  Now don’t think this wind blowing in your face helps cool you down, it does not.  It feels more like a blow torch shoved in your face.

We are still on the remotest of farm roads with huge multi-thousand acre farms lining the roads on both sides with corn and soybeans. You are more likely to see a piece of farm equipment go by than a car or pick-up truck.

We pulled off trhe side of the road to take a couple sips of water when a truck pulled up and asked us where we were going.  WE told him of our journey and he told us his 85 year old father ws the town Mayor.  He then told us our route wnt right by his house and to stop by for some cold water.  In near 100 degree heat we do not turn down and offer of cold liquids.

When we reached his house he was outside to greet us. Ken started asking him 1001 questions about the corn fields and the soybeans.  After a few minutes Ken asked him if the people around here eat corn after seeing so much of it.  “Of course we do, we have the best sweet corn you can find” he said.  With that said he offered to cook some up for us to prove his point.  Well we were not going to turn down an offer like that so inside is air conditioned house we went.  The corn was spectacular especially salted and drenched in butter.  More good people doing good things for others. Small town America at its best.

We entered the  Central Time Zone today and crossed the border into Illinois.

98 Very HOT Miles

2515 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 78 - 99  degrees







Day 13

Pontiac, IL to Kewanee, IL

Mother Nature must have felt a sorry for our little wagon train moving west and eased up a bit on the heat.  It was still in the mid 90’s but some passing clouds made our existence on the road little easier today.  The Crew loaded up the bikes with extra water and food knowing how remote the route has become. We learned our lesson on that issue few hundred miles back.  But even with the extra water on board we still got a little nervous during one long stretch between services. 

At any temperatures over 90 degrees we need at least one bottle of water an hour to be somewhat comfortable. Don’t get me wrong anyone of us would love twice that much but it becomes too much to carry. You have to resist the urge to guzzle he bottle and just settle for a sip every few minutes.

It still amazes us the amount of corn and soybeans we have passed. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of fields reaching back as far as you can see with row after row of corn. We asked a farmer how many corn stalks are planted on each acre.  He told us it was around 40,000!

He also told us the hybrid seeds they use cost about $250 for 80,000 seeds. It seemed a reasonable price until you do the math on planning one 1500 acre field. Just the seed would cost $187,500!  Toss in some fertilizer and a couple crop dustings and you wonder how they make money.  Don’t forget a combine to harvest the corn is another 300K!

We passed a John Deere dealer and he had a fleet of those $300,000 combines lined up like pickup trucks on a car lot. Amazing to see such an inventory but this is Americas Corn Belt.

Along our travels today we passed through Gotham City and spotted the Batmobile parked and ready to respond to any emergency.  Batman and Robin were nowhere to be found.

Another thing we noticed is that absolute lack of any litter. No beer cans or McDonalds bags blowing along the road. But then, corn does not drink beer or eat at Mickey D’s.  And since no cars travel on these roads there is no humans to litter. Besides you would have to travel 50 miles to even find a Mickey D’s. It sure is nice to see the clean roads though.

The terrain has started to make a change ear the end of our day.  The arrow straight flat roads are slowly turning into gently rolling hills and curves. There was less corn fields and a few more trees.  It would be nice to see something other than corn and beans for a while.

Hands and feet are improving but still a little tender.  You grab the handlebars in 1000 different ways during the day trying not the beat the same spot on your palm over and over again.  Ken moved the cleats on his cycling shoes so he would be pressing on a new part of his foot for a change. May as well make the whole foot tender instead of just one spot right?

 93 Miles

2811 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-95 Degrees







Day 14

Kewanee, IL to Muscatine, IA

Another day of cooler weather made for some very enjoyable riding.  The terrain continues to improve with some rolling hills instead of the flat roads we have been on for the past 500 miles. We are faster in the hills.  Imagine looking up at the road ahead then looking down for 20 minutes then look up and the view is the same.  That is what is what we see on those straight corn lined roads. Boring.

Traffic is non-existent on the roads we travel.  The only thing we may see is a weird looking farm vehicle.  When we do see a car they will go off into the grass when passing giving us the entire road.  Unlike in Connecticut where the cars take the entire road and shove you into the grass.

Around mid-day we came upon a five mile stretch of milled asphalt.  You know what I mean, that is when they grind grooves into the blacktop prior to paving. For us it was like riding on a rumble strip for 5 miles.  I thought my eye balls were going to rattle out of my head. That lumpy stuff beat the crap out of us.

We only rode 80 miles today so it was an easy day.  Remember our mileage is etermined on where we will sleep that night.  We shoot for 100 miles but it does not always happen.  We have another easy day on Saturday with only a 65 miler do to lodging.

We crossed the mighty Mississippi today.  On the other side of the river we entered a new state Iowa.

80 Easy Miles

2639 Feet of Climbing

Temperature  75– 85 Degrees



Day 15

Muscatine, IA to Dyersville IA

   

Today was another cool, slightly overcast day which is perfect for cycling.  We are still in the Corn Belt but vistas of the rolling hills and curving roads make it look different.  Some of the farms we passed today were immense the biggest we have seen yet.  Each with thousands of acres of corn covering the hills.

We came upon another crop dusting plane working the corn fields.  They seem so unique and unusual to us but must be just a normal site for the locals.  Two crop dusting helicopters landed in the grass strip right next to the motel after we arrived.  The chopper landed no more than 40 yards from our room’s window. They were spraying the corn fields all day and the pilots and crew will spend the night at the motel before returning to work in the morning.  Ken went over to one of the pilots and asked him some questions after they landed.  Each chopper can hold 80 gallons of chemical which will treat about 40 acres of field.  They then land and the pumper truck reloads their tank. They repeat the sequence for days until all the field is treated.

The roads were nearly traffic free again today. Early in the day a huge John Deere crop sprayer drove past us on the road.  So big it nearly took up both sides of the road as it passed.  The sprayer looked like some kind of Star Wars alien machine coming at us. It must have been 18’ tall and just as wide.  The high pressure hydraulics that make it run squeal like some monster yelling at you as it whizzed by.

Finding places to sleep along our route is getting more difficult.  Remember if you are in your car and you need to drive 30 miles to the next town for a motel it is no big deal.   On a bike it can be a big deal.  Especially if you already have 100 miles in the saddle already.  The distance between sleep spots determines our daily mileage.

Because of this tomorrow will be a “short” day of about 60 miles.  It was either 60 or 140 miles.  We took the 60.  A little break in mileage is good once and a while.

92 Miles

3649 Feet of Climbing

Temperature  75– 85 Degrees




Day 16

Dyersville, IA to Ion, IA

 Today we continue north in Iowa paralleling the Mississippi River on our way to Wisconsin.  Weather conditions were beautiful in the mid 80’s and although humid, very tolerable.

At the crest of a hill the crew stopped for some water when a lone cyclist was spotted moving strongly up the hill with saddle bags on. Once at the summit he rode over and introduced himself as Hugo from Austria.  He was on a long journey from Canada to Tampa Florida! This guy was amazing.  He was 64 years old and looked 50. He was traveling alone in a country he does not know winging it with a combination of Adventure Cycling maps and some paper maps from a gas station.  He was camping almost every night and said he eats bananas and sour cream most of the time!  Wow….. Now that dude is one tough character.  He is a retired school teacher and his wife is waiting for his return.

Later in the day a line of antique tractors came towards us. There must have been nearly 30 of them rolling down the road.  They must have been going to or from a tractor show somewhere.

We still see corn all day but the rolling hills make it more enjoyable. Most roads are still traffic free. And when you do encounter a car or truck they cut you a huge path in the road.  It is truly amazing the difference between the way drivers treat cyclist in Connecticut and here in the Midwest.

Toady our mileage was cut short by the lack of available places to sleep.  The crew only covered 73 miles on gently rolling hills. The next available sleep spot would have been 50 miles further.  We decided a light day was due to us at this near 1/3 point in our journey.  It actually worked out in our favor as we stayed in a real nice cabin at The Natural Gait in Ion Iowa. It is out in the middle of nowhere on an unpaved road bordering the Yellow River.  Tim and Joe cooked pasta, beans and corn that had been picked up in town 12 miles away.  Also on the menu, toss salad and a couple of tubs of macaroni salad and another of potato salad.  

Now remember we have to load these supplies on our bikes for the 12 mile trip to the cabin.  We also needed breakfast items and fluids to start the day. So lets add the rest of the new load to the bikes. A gallon and a half of water, oatmeal, powerbars and celebrate  the 1/3 point a bottle of wine and 3 beers to have with dinner.  Now you have some loaded down bikes to travel with. In the chow down photo inside the cabin take a look at Ken’s tan line…dude  think you need to work on that!

73 Miles

3161 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 80-85 degrees



Day 17

Ion, IA to Winona, MN

Moments after the alarm went off in our cabin at 5:30 AM we heard the rumble of thunder and saw the flashes of lighting. It was dark in the cabin and each lightning bolt lit the room for a moment like a flash bulb going off.  As the storm approached the wind picked up to the point where it was blowing and swirling like a hurricane. Next an incredible downpour of rain began. 

Instead of getting out of bed each rider just laid there listening to what could be the beginning of a real bad day.  Our cabin did not have a TV so we were unable to look at the weather forecast. In the back of everyone’s mind was “I am not going out in that stuff” it was raining that hard.

Hopping on a bike in a storm like that would not only be miserable beyond words but also unsafe.  The problem is we need to ride every day to stay on schedule and within our budget. Everyone knows Time=Money.

Just as quickly at the storm appeared it vanished.  The wind stopped and so did the rain. Looking out the window we could see the ponds of water the downpour had created in just a few minutes.

We saddled up the metal ponies and after saying good-by to our friendly hosts at the Natural Gait we hit the road. That would be all Mother Nature would throw at us today.

The rest of the day was mostly cloudy and the temperature very comfortable in the low 80’s.

Our route went North and followed the Mississippi River. A few hours after leaving the cabin we entered the 10th state of the tour Minnesota.

We are seeing less corn and more trees and hills.  Much better scenery for riding today’s 95 miles.

The once novel sighting of a crop dusting aircraft is now becoming the norm. Even we are getting use to seeing the dive bombing planes now.

95 Miles

4408 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-85 degrees






Day 18

Winona, MN to Hudson, WI

Again Mother Nature threatened to rain us but did not deliver the goods.  Instead we had cool weather with mostly cloudy skies to push our heavy bikes down the road. Just perfect.

Early in the day we crossed into our 11th state of the tour Wisconsin. This part of the state reminds me of Vermont with its small roads and dairy farms.  And just like Vermont Wisconsin is famous for cheese. 

All the towns we passed today were very small.  Most with populations under 500 people.  We did come across a town with a porta-potty that seemed to have it all including an ATM. How convenient.

104 Miles

4226 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 75-80 degrees





Day 19

Hudson, WI to Princeton, MN

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Most people think climbing the hills or mountains is the hardest part of riding a bicycle across the country. It is not.  The hardest part is overcoming the weather conditions Mother Nature tosses at you.  Today the wind was the big player for us.  A steady sustained 20+ mph wind blew in our faces most of the day.  It is like climbing a never ending hill that wants to howl in your ears all day.  At least when you are climbing a hill you see a reason for the effort you are giving up.  But when you are on flat ground and have to push to go nowhere it gets frustrating.  The panniers on our bikes act like parachutes slowing us down even more. 

Our route took us north along the banks of the St Croix river before turning west at the end of the day. We left Wisconsin and returned into Minnesota and are now heading west towards the border between North and South Dakota.

We have had tires and supplies shipped from Connecticut to Aberdeen, SD.  The plan is to restock our bikes and change tires for the next leg.  We have to stay on schedule to pick up out package.

91 Miles

3051 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 70-78 degrees







Day 20

Princeton, MN to Albany, MN

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Easy day of riding and an even easier day of blog reporting.

75 Miles

2311 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 60 - 75 degrees




Day 21

Albany, MN to Barrett, MN

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The night before each day of riding we go over our route looking at the elevation profile and decide how many miles we will travel. When we go to bed knowing all the work is done for the next day and all we have to do is ride.

After eating the free breakfast at the motel Ken was returning to the room when he ran into another two cyclist coming out of there room. The couple a retired school teacher and his wife were riding from North Dakota to Chicago.  They told Ken of a Rails to Trails route they were riding that may cross our route.  They handed Ken a map to keep and look over.

If you do not know what a Rails to Trails route is I will explain.  It is where an old unused railroad track has been removed and replaced with pavement for people to walk or ride bicycles on.  This peculiar trail is closed to all motorized vehicles….except snowmobiles in the winter.

This trail is called the Wobegon trail and is over 100 miles long.  About 45 miles of it somewhat paralleled our route so in a mad panic we changed all our lodging plans and route to utilize as much of this trail as we could. The only available lodging we could find was Pearls Place in Barrett, MN. We had no idea what it even looked like.  When we called a nice women answered the phone and was happy to answer any questions we had.  She said for $99 we could rent an entire 3 bedroom two bath house.  Ken asked her a few times “is it clean” because we have had some real dumps in the past.  She assured him it was nice and clean so we booked it.

The bicycle trail was fantastic.  No cars and well maintained the 12 foot wide asphalt roadway made for some great cycling.  You did not have to worry about traffic or any other road hazards. It was beautiful.  We even came across a bicycle shop on the trail.  Only the third we have seen and the only one that was open so we went in.

Tim bought tubes and some new bar tape. Ken bought a new water bottle and a few other items.  We borrowed their grease gun to lubricate our peals and we were off.

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and they are not kidding either.  There are lakes everywhere. Next to one of these lakes is Barrertt where we will be staying. We pulled into the tiny town and saw three young kids tossing apples into the road for the occasional car to run over. The apples looked good so Tim and Ken went over to grab a couple to eat. The young kids thought the “big kids” may yell at them for tossing apples into the road so they stopped. One boy offered to scale the tree and get Tim and Ken a nice red apple from up high. You could see they were a bit nervous about all the apples in the road and tried to act like they knew nothing of it.  Ken sensed their uneasiness and said hey if the apples are on the ground it is alright to toss them onto the roadway.  Immediately the apple tossing continued as Tim and Ken filed their pockets with the tasty apples.

Just a little further down the road we found “Pearls Place”.  It was a beautiful little house with flowers and a perfectly manicured lawn. Once inside we found a fully furnished home neat as a pin and spotlessly clean.  All this for $99!  The women on the phone was right.

Across the street was a little restaurant/bar/liquor store called the Barrett Inn.  At first we were a bit nervous of the combination. But once inside we could see this was going to be good home cooking and it was. It was an all you can eat fried chicken with all the fixings and a salad bar. Great food, good people and super service for $7.50 each how can you beat it.  We took 3 slices of the homemade pie back to our little pad for an after dinner snack 

Outside the restaurant we met the “coolest dude in town” Jared Lock,  A young boy on  BMX bike who lives next to our rented house.  We hope to hear from him on our blog….Jared?? 

We only covered 73 miles today because of availability of a place to sleep.  Remember our sleep spots determine our daily mileage.  On the east coast we have many motels and other places to choose from.  But out here in the boonies it is a bit different.  There is nearly nothing to choose from.  Tonight though we did good in that department with Pearls Place. 
With our bellies full we retried to our little house for a good nights sleep.

73 Miles

1675 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 60 - 75 degrees






Day 22

Friday August 12, 2011

Barrett, MN to Sisseton, SD

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It would have been easy to say another day at “Pearls Place” in Barrett but we have to move on. Today we will add two new states to our quiver. 

The weather radar showed two nasty storms systems moving east. One was just below our route the other a little above it.  Could we be so lucky that the 30 mile corridor we are riding will be rain free?? Well we were. No rain, no hail or wind just over cast sky’s and moderate temperatures.

Ten miles out of town an older well dressed women passed us in her car and stopped.  She wanted to know where we were going and where we came from.  She told us she used to have restaurant and would give free breakfasts to cross country cyclist.  Another good person doing good things for others, this country is full of them.

Sometimes when you enter a new state on a remote back road there is no sign or even a marker identifying the border crossing.  We try and get a photo next to each states “Welcome” sign whenever possible. When our GPS said we entered North Dakota there was no “welcome sign” to be found. We knew this would be the case from looking at that location with Google Earth. We knew the only available welcome sign is on the highway.  We rode our bikes past the Dakota Magic Casino on the border to the on ramp of the freeway up to the sign. >>>INSERT CASINO<<<<  For some reason that lane of the freeway was closed to traffic so it was done easily and safely.  >>> INSERT SIGN ON HIGHWAY<<< Some photos are just harder to get. >>>>insert ND Sign<<<<

As we crossed the Bois de Sioux River into South Dakota we could see some people fishing below the bridge. >>>Insert SD Sign>>>>The river was flowing swiftly over a spillway.  In the water were a few Pelicans working.<<<INSERT PELICAN>>>  It seemed a bit odd to see a bird like this in the Midwest last time I saw a Pelican I was in Florida!  The river was beautiful and full of fish.  We could see them jumping up out of the water and returning with a splash. Most fish looked to be about 16 to 18” long.  The Pelicans would try and gobble up any fish that jumped too close.

Not far from the river you could see a change in the landscape. It looked like we may see some more varied vegetation when we saw a field of beets growing and a curving road. <<<<insert movie>>>  But this soon gave way to straight flat riding.<<<insert Dakota Road>>> A  while later we crosses the north/south Continental Divide. <<<insert divide>>>

 We see less corn and more wheat and hay being harvested. But there is still plenty of corn to look at.  It is incredible the amount of corn we have seen so far beyond what anyone could imagine without seeing it.

We ended our day in Sisseton, SD a small town in the middle of a soybean field.  Tomorrow if all goes as planned we will rendezvous with the package that was shipped to us on Monday from Connecticut.  Inside the box we have new tires tubes and some other needed supplies.

89 Miles

1566 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 60 - 75 degrees



Day 23

Saturday August 13, 2011

Sisseton, SD to Aberdeen, SD

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It was a gloomy start with the wind blowing hard in our face and the skies heavily overcast. We are so sun baked the 59 degree air felt cold to us.

A few miles out of town we came upon a tall observation tower that claimed you could see three states from the top so we climbed it. <<<<INSERT Tower>>> The view was spectacular even with the overcast skies and fog hat blanked the area. >>>INSERT Tower View>>>

This may not be the “Land of 10,000 Lakes anymore but let me tell you there are plenty of lakes and ponds in South Dakota. Some of the ponds hae washed over the roads from heavy rains a couple weeks ago. <<< Insert Water over Road>>>

A while later we came across an impassable condition.  It looked like a large portion of the road had been under water but was now clear. <<< INSERT Movie No Go>>>> But a few hundred yards further we reached an impassable point. The bridge was under and who knew how deep the water was.  We turned around and re-routed. <<<< insert NO GO>>>>

The rolling hills were filled with frams of free range cattle.  The looked like happy cows with plenty of grasses to graze on and hundreds of acres to roam.  Many seemed to hang out near the roadway to look at who passed by.  A few time the herd would run along the fence line in pace with us.  It was like they were enjoying the activity.  <<<<INSERT Happy Cows>>> You have to understand VERY few cars pass them by.  These roads are almost completely void of traffic so we are something to break up there day I guess.

We stopped at a little store for some cold drinks.  We never pass a store because you may not se another for 50 miles.  <<<<insert Refuel>>>  When at the store a couple pulled in and asked where we were going.  After we explained our journey they told us they have en trying to circumnavigate the USA by bike.  They have been doing small sections at a time and almost have completed their task.  <<<INSERT CARL AND LYNN>>>> Well Carl and Lynn get your rumps on those bakes and Git er Done!

We had plenty to do after e arrived at our motel.  A package mailed by Debbie (Ken’s wife) was waiting for us.  Inside was new tires and tubes and other needed supplies.  Scott Kushman team rider and owner of the Village Bake House had added somecookies to the box.  Ken’s wife stuffed a few boxes of Lindt Chocolates in there too. Carol Garafano had dropped off a tub of endurance mix to add to our water and some energy chews too. Perfect.

We changed tires and then showered and filled our bellies with a great dinner. A good day.

103 Miles

2609 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 60 - 75 degrees







Day 24

Sunday August 14, 2011

Aberdeen, SD to Miller, SD

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When the wind turns on in the Midwest it stays on.  And today the win was on and on in a big way. A steady unrelenting 20-25 mile per hour blast in your face punished us all day long.  Of course we had a few higher gusts tossed in to liven things up a bit.  There were times on flat ground our top speed was less than 10mph pushing hard. Today riding was like a climbing a hill for 8-1/2 hours straight due to the wind. It was a beating. <<insert Wind>>>>

I guess we should not complain the wind is getting our legs ready for some of the big climbs we have coming in the Rockies.  Speaking of big climbs, Ken’s wife called and read an article to him about Mt. Rainier.  This winter Mt. Rainer had a record snowfall total of over 900 inches!  Normally in August the wild flowers are in full bloom and the mountain green with vegetation.  But as of last week more than 4 feet of snow is still remains on the ground!  Some of the roads are still closed to traffic.  We will have to monitor this situation and may have to alter our plans to make that climb.

The great traffic free roads we have been traveling on in this state are thanks to Fred Deutsch a fellow cyclist.  Fred took the time to help us plot the route we are using.  Another example of good people doing good things.  Thanks Fred we owe ya big time.

Instead of only seeing miles of corn and soy beans we were again treated to hundreds of acres of sunflowers to look at. <<<insert Sunflower1 & 2>>>

Our day ended late in a small farming town Miller South Dakota.  Sadly for us the only food available was the Dairy Queen for a “grill and chill” as it says on the sign. Gosh, was that a nasty greasy meal. This DQ was a dump inside with more flies than patrons.  Actually the flies were patrons they were whole families of them at every table. If you got up off the table to get a drink refill you had to cover your food with a paper napkin to keep them from carting it away. It was that bad.  You were even limited of what to choose from in ice cream. The hot fudge machine was broken and when Tim ordered a waffle bowl ice cream they told him they did not have what they needed to make it. Just not the way to end a hard day of riding.  We will give ya the miles and put out the effort.  Just feed us something decent when it is over. Dinner iw what we work for.  It is the highlight of our day.

It could have been worse so let’s not complain too much.  About a hour after we arrived the dark clouds rolled in and the sky opened up flooding the streets. We were inside nice and dry…..this time.

Tomorrow we will make Pierre, South Dakota and this helps stage us for a ride through the Badlands. We have a very limited  selection of places to sleep in this part of the state.

94Miles

2525 Feet of Climbing

Temperature 60 - 70 degrees