Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 31 - Mankato to Rochester, MN

Today: 100 miles, 2951 feet of climb
Cumulative: 2311 miles, 82381 feet of climb

More corn fields in the early morning as we head out of Mankato

After a second consecutive century day, our cumulative mileage is over 2300 with less than 1400 remaining. The time is going fast. When starting Day 1 from Astoria, I remember turning my head to the left and looking at the Holiday Inn Express with the bridge in the background. Memories like that seem like ages ago. But riding all the miles on my bike seems to have gone quickly.

Jeff and Dave ride together as we start the morning

Today we were on country roads headed due east virtually the entire day. Again we saw corn and soybeans as far as we could see. The remarkable thing about the corn is that each stalk is the same height, so that when you look over the top of the fields you see a reddish color from the top of what I guess are all the tassels.

We passed many farms like this one today

After riding hard yesterday, I was a bit fatigued this morning. I started with Dave, Jeff, and Mark W. but soon we were riding slightly apart from each other. Jeff had a problem with the bearings in his bottom bracket and stopped to have that looked at. I rode by myself for most of the morning until Mark caught me from behind. Then, the two of us rode together to the finish. Although we took our time, we were still at the front end of the field when reaching the hotel. So I guess others were also conserving energy today between yesterday’s century ride and tomorrow’s 91 miles. That will make it over 290 miles in three days, a good distance in anyone’s log book.

More farms and silos. This was around mile 35.

When riding BRAG we generally have SAG stops every 10 to 15 miles and I remember grumbling once when we had an 18 mile gap between stops. How times have changed. Today we had two SAG stops. The first was at mile 32. The second was 37 miles later. And then it was another 31 miles to the finish. No big deal for us though. I guess we have gotten stronger and gained endurance over the last month.

Our second SAG stop today

When reaching the outskirts of Rochester we took a nice bike path around to the other side of town, avoiding the in-town traffic. Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic and with a population over 100,000 is Minnesota’s largest city excluding the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area. The Mayo Clinic forms the core of Rochester’s economy, employing over 28,000 people. We talked to some local residents at a Dairy Queen and they told us there are many cultural things to do here, all attributed to the Mayo Clinic’s influence. I wish I had more time to explore the town, but we have to leave in the morning.

Scenery from early afternoon. That is Rick and Mark in front of me.

I’d like to thank those of you who sent me mail over the last 30 days. Thanks to my cousin John and Karen who sent me mail today.

Rochester's bike path

Tomorrow is another long day at 90.8 miles and there is a 60% chance of rain. So we may start at the scheduled time of 7:00AM or we might be delayed if there is thunder and lightning near us. We don’t ride if there is lightning in the area, but we do have to get to La Crosse by end of day regardless. We’ll be in a new state tomorrow and will also cross the Mississippi River. I’m looking forward to another great day, rain or shine.

Today’s route (my Garmin turned itself off twice so the mileage is short):

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