Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 32 - Rochester, MN to La Crosse, WI

Today: 89 miles, 3106 feet of climb
Cumulative: 2400 miles, 85487 feet of climb

Luggage load this morning

Hello from Wisconsin. After three nights in Minnesota, our fifth state is behind us and we’ll be spending four nights in this state before taking the ferry across Lake Michigan to the State of Michigan.

Ready to ride in the morning rain. Though I would rather have climbed in the truck with the luggage.

The 60% chance of rain that was forecast for today turned out to be a 100% chance when I looked out the window early this morning. It was absolutely teeming. Normally on a day like this, I would not ride. Or if I was registered for a local ride, I’d probably pick the shortest option. But today there was no choice. We had to get to our hotel rooms in La Crosse.

Nice views of the countryside after the rain subsided

Everyone had all their rain gear on as we started out in the still pouring rain. We also had a big headwind slowing us down and driving the rain into our faces. Visibility was poor. It was not pleasant and for the first time in 33 days I really did not want to ride.

Riding in the valley along the Root River

But things got better after 20 miles. The rain slowed down and then stopped. The sun even came out briefly. The skies threatened all day, and I did my best to get as many miles behind me before it rained again. At mile 70 we had a one mile climb at 10% grade, and halfway up the climb it started raining again. The rain continued until I got to La Crescent at mile 81. By the time I got to the Wisconsin state line, the sun was breaking out again. As it turned out, it was a fairly decent day and enjoyable ride, except for the first 20 miles. In the end, I was glad I rode today.

This was one of the potholes on Houston County Route 16

The scenery was again corn, soybeans, farmhouses, and silos. Very pretty fertile countryside with rolling hills. At one point we had an option to ride on a bike path but because I was early, I did not see the course markings for the path. Instead I took a road along the Root River. It was very scenic, although the road had some of the largest potholes I’ve ever seen. Some of them were large enough that they probably contained enough water to fill a child’s swimming pool.

Entering our sixth state

Finally, we entered into Wisconsin and crossed the Mississippi River. Our hotel is right on the river with an outdoor patio and bar near the river, and a marina. One would think we are on a lake rather than a river.

The Mississippi River from the US14 bridge

We’re now about two thirds of our way to the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone realizes we can make it now, but we have to be careful not to let our guard down. There have been some falls in recent days and it is time to redouble our efforts to ride safe. That was on my mind today in the bad weather. Rain brings an increase in our chance of falls, punctures, and other accidents. Visibility is lower and our brakes lose their effectiveness from the water. The good news is that everyone made it safely to the hotel today.

If you could ask for just a couple of days with guaranteed good weather, tomorrow would be one of them. We are scheduled to ride the Elroy Sparta trail, 34 miles from the towns of Sparta to Elroy. It is a rails to trails dirt path with three train tunnels, one of them three quarters of a mile long. With a 30% chance of rain tomorrow, I hope the odds are with us.

Today’s route:

1 comment:

  1. HI Joe, Thanks for giving us your location. It helps me find and use Google Earth as you travel across America. Love Dad