Bicycling 4,174 Miles Across the United States

Archive for July, 2012

July 29th and 30th: Monticello to Wabash, IN and Rest Day in Wabash

Prichard Family Get-Together in Wabash:  Left to right – Steve; Brother Tom and wife Judy; Jonny (in front), son of Wendy; Brother Paul; Brian (in back) friend of Wendy; Keith, son of Paul; and Wendy, daughter of Paul.

July 28th Statistics – Monticello to Wabash, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 62.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.0 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,068 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 37
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,858.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 79,152 feet

Today’s ride had its challenges and rewards for me.  About mile 35, I missed a turn and didn’t realize it.  After some miles, the road I was on suddenly turned into a very rough gravel road.  As Nancy knows, I always resist going backwards, so I continued on the gravel road thinking it was the right road and that I had just encountered a short gravel area – wrong.  After three miles of very difficult riding I intersected a paved road and turned in the direction of the planned route.  Somehow, I again missed the intersection with the planned route  (so much for being bright and having a GPS).  I continued south until I intersected Route 16 which I knew would take me back to the planned route.  However, Route 16 had a barrier saying “Closed”.  Now the reward – I ignored the sign and began riding on Route 16.  It turned out that Route 16 had just been repaved and the only remaining task was to paint the lines.  I had 13 miles of Route 16 to myself and made great time on a perfect road surface.  When I eventually arrived in Wabash, I found that my route for the day was 5 miles shorter than the route taken by everybody else (dumb luck).  Along the way today I biked through Sitka, Denver, Chili, Metea, and Twelve Mile, Indiana, cities I don’t remember from my Indiana growing up days.

Upon arriving in Wabash, the Charley Creek Inn (see photos) was everything Dale and Diane had described – clearly the best lodging of the entire tour so far, maybe the entire trip.  I have not been in Wabash for probably 50 years, so I didn’t remember or recognize it.  The town is trying to remake itself as are so many similar small midwestern towns (like Anderson) which have lost their way over the years.  While I was very impressed with the effort in Wabash (the Honeywell Center, Charley Creek Inn, Wabash River Walking Path, cleanliness, and museums (closed both days I was there), it was still hard to ignore the fact that few people were around.

However, the highlight of Wabash was a visit from family.  My brother Tom and his wife Judy drove several hours from Nashville, Indiana to visit.  My brother Paul flew up from Saint Petersburg, Florida and combined a visit with his children who live in central Indiana with a family reunion in Wabash.  Joining Paul in Wabash was his son Keith (who is a junior at Ball State University studying social work), his daughter Wendy (who graduated from Ball State in medical technology several years ago, has been extremely successful in her career, and and is starting her MBA at Ball State this fall), Wendy’s son Jonny and Wendy’s friend Brian.  We ended the day with an outstanding dinner at the Charley Creek Inn restaurant, Twenty, and desert at their ice cream/candy parlor.  It was great to see everyone and start the planning for a complete Prichard family reunion next year, all brothers and spouses, children and spouses, and grandchildren.  It just occurred to me that I need to preference the term spouses with the word current.

Tom and Judy brought a special item – boxes of family photos, photo albums, movies, and negatives they found at our father’s home when they were cleaning it out after he died.  The boxes included special items from our grandparent’s photo studio, i.e. antique glass and regular negatives (from the late 1800’s) and numerous photos of our ancestors (many not identified yet) and Anderson, Indiana from the late 1800s to the 1980s.  We decided to split the items up and assign each brother a task of converting different items to an electronic version that can be shared by all.   I look forward to seeing them all again soon when I return to Anderson for my 45th high school reunion at the end of September.

Mile 0:  Best Western Plus, lodging in Monticello, IN – Great facilities.

Mile 12:  Unexpected hill encountered outside Buffalo, IN.  Turns out it is a landfill with several new hills being built.  Very clean, well planted, and no smell.

Mile 20:  Two fellow cross-country travelers (east to west tour) we met on a quiet country road in Indiana.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the piece of paper I had with their names, but I can tell you that he is from Germany on a vacation biking across the United States.  She is from Boston and is relocating to Seattle to start graduate school.  They did not know each other until they met on the road.  Yesterday, we met another traveler riding, Dick, who appeared to be similar in age to our group.  Dick was riding from Bar Harbor, ME to his home in Des Moines, IA.  Last year he road from Seattle to his home, so this summer he was completing the other half of the tour.  Several years ago he completed a different transamerica ride from the southeast US to the northeast US.  I estimate that we have met several dozen bikers riding cross country since we began out tour.

Mile 24: At the intersection of County Road 900N (our route) and Indiana State Road 35, we unexpectedly crossed the “Panhandle Pathway”, a 21mile hiking/biking trail in central/north Indiana.

Mile 50: Interesting descriptive street sign in Chili, IN.

Charley Creek Inn: The Charley Creek Inn is without a doubt the best lodging of the entire trip so far. It is a completely restored hotel with an art galley, fine wine store, ice cream and candy parlor, and gourmet restaurant off the lobby.

Charley Creek Inn: Bathroom of my room – beautiful and high quality.

Wabash, Indiana – Mural

Wabash, Indiana – Paradise Spring Historical Park, Officer Cabin from the 1820s.

Brother Tom and spouse, Judy on the Wabash River Walking Path

Wabash, Indiana: Historical Marker – Modoc the Elephant.

Wabash, Indiana:  Historical Marker – First Electrically Lighted City in the World, 1880.

July 28th: Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN


Mile 25: First view of Indiana – glorious day.

July 28th Statistics – Watseka, IL to Monticello, IN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 76.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 576 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 36
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,796.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 78,084 feet

Rather than retracing our ride back to the main route (our hotel in Watseka was 6 miles off route), we individually choose country roads for the first 15 miles to Iroquois, IL to rejoin the main route.  It was a beautiful day for riding.  On the route I picked, I happened upon a ranch of Clydesdale horses.  Unfortunately, the lack of sunlight and distance of the dozen or so Clydesdales did not allow of a photo.

Leaving Illinois was a sorrow.   Our biking in Illinois was clearly the most in any state on rural and little traveled roads which provided a unique private experience.  Additionally, the roads overall were the best for biking of any state on our tour.  The miles and miles and miles of farms and ranches were particularly beautiful when the sun came out.

It was with nostalgia that I biked into Indiana, my home state for the first 23 years of my life.  Mile after mile of biking the country roads brought back memories of rural Madison County.  The small towns I passed through reminded me of places like Lapel, Elwood, and Middletown near my home in Anderson.  Biking through Buffalo, IN was surprising as I didn’t remember that Indiana had a city named Buffalo.  At the end of the day (with an 11 mile off route bike ride due to the lack of lodging on the main route) we reached the Best Western in Monticello (one of the nicest hotels on our tour so far).  I remember visiting Monticello as a child on vacations and to visit relatives (which relatives I don’t remember).  We passed many vacations homes on lakes and rivers in the area in Lake Freeman and the Tippecanoe River where my family used to vacation.

Mile 1: Last view of Illinois at the Morris Cemetery on the Indiana border. Only our map indicated that this was the state line between Illinois and Indiana (no welcoming or departing signs).

Mile 29: Our first SAG rest stop was at a community park in Brook, IN. I don’t think I have ever seen a water fountain inside the mouth of a lion.

Mile 39: Crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: Robert crossing Interstate 65 near Rensselaer, IN.

Mile 39: View of Indiana farmlands from Interstate 65 overpass.


July 27th: Streator to Watseka, IL

Mile 16: Early morning scene biking on County Road 900E near Cornell, IL. The clouds this morning were striking.

July 27th Statistics – Streator to Watseka, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 85.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.8 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 634 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 35
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,719.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 77,508 feet

A relatively long ride today (85 miles) so we started out about 7:30 am.  The riding, similar to yesterday, was primarily on very rural county roads lined by corn and soybean fields (many showing severe signs of drought).  While the sun was in and out of the clouds during the day, the temperatures remained comfortable for most of the day.  We benefited from a great tailwind that enable fast riding so we all arrived in Watseka about 1:30 pm (even after stopping for lunch at the Subway in Ashkum, IL).  A highlight for me was riding alone miles and miles at 22-24 mph along a remote county road without traffic and surrounded by fields of green crops and blue and white wildflowers (see photo below for an example) on the roadside.

Mile 35: I was surprised to bike through a third large area (dozens of square miles) of windmills (to many to count) in Illinois just outside Odell.

Mile 37: Another view of windmills outside Odell, IL.


Mile 50: A mural outside a bar and grill in Kempton, IL.

Mile 65: This may have been the most beautiful road (County Road 2700N near Ashkum, IL) on today’s ride – a single lane smooth paved road bordered closely on both sides by corn and soybean fields. I didn’t see an auto while biking on it.

Mile 75: A view of the Iroquois River on County Road 2400N showing vacation docks and boats.

July 26th: Kewanee to Streator, IL

Mile 15: View of typical farm house outside Kewanee, IL showing storms clouds in the distance (fortunately, which stay away from our route most of today).

July 26th Statistics – Kewanee to Streator, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 17.8 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.5 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,280 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 34
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,634.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.5 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 76,874 feet

Dinner the prior evening at Cerno’s Bar & Grill in Kewanee was a celebration.  After being seated at Cerno’s, a woman I didn’t know walked in and sat at our table – Doug immediately went into shock with a big smile on his face.  It was Doug’s wife, Lisa, who flew from Maryland to Peoria and then drove to Kewanee just for the evening to celebrate Doug’s and Lisa’s 25th wedding anniversary that day.  She left the next morning to return to Maryland, but will be rejoining us for sightseeing the last week of the tour.

Cerno’s decor was unique and beautiful. The bar was imported from Belgium for Pabst Blue Ribbon in 1898 and displayed at a World’s Fair.  The Mahogany mirrored bar spans fifty feet, with hand carved figurines at each end.  Cerno’s also had detailed carved lion heads throughout the building, wall buzzers topped with tiny eagles that were used to summon a waiter to the customers, an embossed tin ceiling, stained-glass and leaded windows, brass footed pedestal tables and a teller cage where men would cash their paychecks and then come in for a drink.   I particularly enjoyed the fried dill pickles.

Roads on today’s ride from beginning to end were the best of the trip so far.  They were smooth and almost completely rural with little or no traffic.  While the scenery was not the most diverse we have seen, nevertheless, it was beautiful and pristine.  While we had some light sprinkles and showers, they were welcomed due to the heat.

For the last 20 miles, Doug, Robert, Jim and I rode together at a good clip (18-22 mph) thanks to a tailwind and smooth roads.  When we reached Streator, IL (by going 5.5 miles off route to get to our lodging), our first stop was the Dairy Queen located five blocks passed our hotel.  Doug graciously treated all of us to ice cream.

Mile 25: First of two photos of a windmill area near Bradford, IL.  Like the one yesterday, this windmill area covered many square miles.

Mile 26: Another view of the Bradford area windmills.

Mile 37: View of bucolic cemetery surrounded by acres of corn and soybeans near Henry, IL.

Mile 42: This was the view in every direction at one rural intersection approaching Henry, IL.

Mile 48: This was a military monument in center city park in Henry, IL honoring submariners, in general, and a particular submarine captain born in Henry who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (see next photo).

Mile 48: Memorial to Captain John Philip Cromwell from Henry, IL who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Mile 65: View on very rural Country Road 800N that we biked for 20+ miles – almost no traffic.

July 25th: Muscatine, IA to Kewanee, IL

Mile 2: Crossing the Mississippi River for the last time at Muscatine, IA. As you can see from my tan lines I am also wearing for the first time my sleeveless bike jersey for the 100 degree temperatures today.

July 25th Statistics – Muscatine, IA to Kewanee, IL:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 77.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.1 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,111feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 33
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,554.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 75,594 feet

Today was forecasted as the hottest day of our entire tour – high of 105 degrees in Kewanee, Ill.  The entire group started biking at 7 am to try to get to Kewanee as soon as possible.

While the roads in Illinois were very smooth for the first 10 miles, they deteriorated.  At one point we had to bike on what I would describe as 3 miles of rumble strips – I could barely focus due to the constant jarring and vibration.  And then we had the bad luck to face just before Reynolds, IL a 6 mile stretch on which our side of the road had been stripped of pavement yesterday and was being prepared for repaving.  While not legal or necessarily the safest action to take, I (and others in the group I was told) biked in the on-coming lane which had just been paved several days ago and was as smooth as can be.  Fortunately, traffic was very light and when I saw traffic ahead I darted back to the bad side of road or pulled over to the shoulder until the traffic passed.

A great experience for the day was my continued ability to maintain a higher biking speed (even in the high temperatures) – I kept up with Robert and Doug for much of the day.  By the end of the day, my eyes were burning from the sweat I could no longer keep out of my eyes.  When I arrived in Kewanee at 1 pm, I treated myself with a pint of peppermint stick ice cream for lunch and a two hour nap.

MIle 3: Entering Illinois (don’t know why the photo came out the way it did).

Mile 8: One of my first views of Illinois as I bike 322nd Street in Rock Island County, IL.

Mile 34: A striking mural on the Sherrard, Illinois Library.

Mile 36: A typical road border we biked today in Illinois.

Mile 67: While we passed two windmill farms in Montana and North Dakota, this one near Cambridge, IL was huge in comparison to the other two. It appeared to have hundreds of windmills spread over dozens of square miles. While at first we were surprised how many windmills were not working, it became clear as we biked it was because they were being constructed. As we continued east on Route 570N we began to see the the original windmills in operation.

July 24th: Dyersville to Muscatine, IA

Mile 25: One of the most beautiful views along Route 136 today.

July 24th Statistics – Dyersville to Muscatine, IA:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 88.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,818 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 32
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,476.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 73,483 feet

Started biking at 6:30 am to avoid the high temperatures forecasted for the late afternoon in Iowa. It was a long ride (89 miles) even though we cut out 9 miles from the normal route by taking an alternative route.   Even though it was hot and long, today I felt particularly energetic (and for the first time started regularly using my cleats to pull up on the pedals which gave me a real boost) and after keeping up with a couple of the other riders, I actually passed them at one point and stayed ahead for many miles.

An interesting note – It has been clear for many days that Iowa is a battleground state for the presidential election.  The number of political TV ads (most of which are negative) has been overwhelming as we reached the broadcast area for Iowa (including TV stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois that border Iowa).

Mile 2: Driveway decoration at a farm just outside Dyersville.

Mile 15: Cascade, IA (population 1,598) – Home of Red Faber (for those who follow baseball). I stopped at a convenience store and began a conversation with the friendly shop owner. As I was leaving, she came out and gave me a home grown tomato. The group shared it later in the day – it was delicious.

Mile 18: One of the many dirt roads on Route 136 in Iowa that lead off to farms.


Mile 20: View along Route 136 today with Doug in the distance.

Mile 27: View on Route 136 with Doug just after our SAG rest stop.


Mile 30: Entering Wyoming (IA), “The Christmas City” (population 626).  Interesting that the town found it necessary to post that “CEMENT TRUCKS ARE PROHIBITED FROM ENTERING CEMETERY”. I wonder why? The other interesting (but sad) feature of Wyoming was the golf course. It was the most colorful golf course I have seen – The greens were brilliant green and all the fairways were covered in dead brown/yellow grass and lined with dead bushes.

Mile 31: Robert (in very colorful attire) passing through Wyoming, IA.


July 22nd: McGregor to Dyersville, IA

Group Photo at our first SAG rest stop in Guttenberg, IA.  Left to right – Jim, Steve, Robert, Dale, Doug, Diane.

July 22nd Statistics – McGregor to Dyersville, IA:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 52.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 11.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.6 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2.474 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 31
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,387.8 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 70,665 feet

Due to bad weather (it was raining when we started biking) and bad roads, we designed our own route today with the advice of Jim, who knows the area well (he lives about 50 miles from Dyersville).  While shorter than the original route, our alternate route required three steep climbs (7% to 11% grades and 2,500 feet total elevation gain) up and down the Mississippi River bluffs in Iowa.  I started biking in my rain attire, but soon decided that the rain was a benefit when climbing in the heat, so I removed it.

When I arrived in Dyersville, it was laundry time followed by complete cleaning and maintenance of my bike.  After visiting the “Field of Dreams” filming location (see photos) and the National Farm Toy Museum (see photos) spent the afternoon of the rest day in Dyersville catching up on two days of blogs.

Mile 23:  View of the Mississippi while descending the bluff above Guttenberg, IA.

Mile 28:  Mississippi waterfront park in Guttenberg, IA (note brown ground cover everywhere).

Mile 38: Typical view traveling along a Mississippi River bluff.

Mile 39:  I thought this was interesting as it was the only group of brown colored cows I have seen on the tour.

Mile 41:  Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, shown here, was the first consecrated Catholic church in Iowa.  I could see it from miles away as it dominated a hilltop in the small town of Petersburg, IA (population 5,403)

“Field of Dreams” – This farm 4 miles outside Dyersville, Iowa, was the filming location for “Field of Dreams”.  While the original owners still live at and farm it, the site is also a free tourist attraction funded by the sale of souvenirs at a small gift shop (red building near parking lot).

“Field of Dreams” – Information posting at farm used to film “Field of Dreams”

“Field of Dreams” – Aerial photo of farm used to film “Field of Dreams”

“Field of Dreams” – Close up photo of the home pictured in the film “Field of Dreams”.  The original owners still live here.

“Field of Dreams” – I thought that it was touching to see several parents who brought their children to the “Field of Dreams” to throw/hit a baseball.  The site was perfectly maintained.

The National Farm Toy Museum – In addition to the “Field of Dreams” film location, the National Farm Toy Museum was a Dyersville, IA attraction.  This museum was one of the most attractive and informational specialized museum I have ever visited.  It was spotless, all exhibits well documented and explained, educational, and easy to navigate.

The National Farm Toy Museum – Another view inside the museum.  Dyersville, IA is also the home to 5 farm toy stores, 3 farm toy companies, and 2 national farm toy shows.

June 21st: LaCrosse, WI to McGregor, IA

The four cross country bikers: Doug Wolff, New Windsor, MD; Robert Moskowitz, Carmel, CA; Steve Prichard, Malvern, PA; Jim Schnitzmeyer, Albany, IL.

July 21st Statistics – La Crosse, WI to McGregor, IA:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 67.3miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.7 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2.007 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 30
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,334.9 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.8 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 68,191 feet

Today was a unique day in that we biked in three states – started in Wisconsin, crossed the Mississippi River into Minnesota, and biked south into Iowa leaving Wisconsin and Minnesota for the rest of the tour.

We had rain, clouds, and sun today which required changing weather attire.  No much difference in terrain – the bucolic bluffs in Iowa looked much liked the bucolic bluffs in Minnesota, farms, green, and rolling hills.  One interesting moment was when I got a called from Nancy and stopped biking to answer it.  Bugs started swarming around me so much, that I promised to call Nancy later and started biking again.  I clearly note the greater number of bugs in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin than I have seen earlier in the tour.

Besides entering Iowa, other interesting moments today illustrated in the photos which follow include: Passing through the birthplace of “Granny Basketball” and the Apple Capital of Minnesota, being attacked by 15+ dogs, visiting the Effigy Mound National Monument, touring McGregor, IA, and seeing a tugboat pushing 8 barges down the Mississippi River.

Mile 3: La Crescent, MN, the “Apple Capital of Minnesota”, is across the river from La Crosse, WI.

Mile 8: A typical view today as we rode along Route 26 paralleling the Mississippi showing the bluffs.

MIle 27: Educational Marker – Islands in the Mississippi (of which there are many).

Mile 27: View of Mississippi Islands.

Mile 27: Robert riding into the Educational Marker site about the islands of the Mississippi River.

Mile 27: Doug riding into the Educational Marker site about the islands of the Mississippi River.

Mile 30: Entering Iowa – The third state for today’s ride. We started in Wisconsin, crossed the Mississippi into Minnesota, and finished the ride in Iowa.

Mile 39: Lansing, IA – “Birthplace of Granny Basketball”, which is “A gentle game for women of a certain age” according to Their website offers rules, how to set up a team and videos of games should you be interested!

Mile 46: Don’t let the cuteness of these dogs fool you. This was my third encounter with a group of dogs that came after me from all sides. This group of more than 15 dogs was clearly the largest. I had to stop biking, put the bike between me and most of the dogs, and hold my ground until I was able to slowly get passed them. Surprisingly, they were afraid whenever an car passed, so I took advantage of that fact to move along.

Mile 60: Effigy Mounds National Monument.


Mile 60: Effigy Mounds National Monument – Mound Shapes and Locations in Park.

Downtown McGregor, IA.  It reminded me very much of Jim Thorpe, PA (except McGregor is on the water – Mississippi River).


McGregor, IA had an auto rally and competition on the day we arrived.  Here are several autos parked on the town square.

Historical Marker – History of McGregor, IA.

McGregor, IA: This room which is built into the mountain was a jail and then a tinker/tailor shop. It is now available for an overnight stay.


Holiday Shores Motel in McGregor, IA – Lodging for our stay.

Holiday Shores Motel – View from my room as a Mississippi barge passed.

June 20th: Winona, MN to La Crosse, WI

After arriving early in La Crosse, WI, Doug, Jim and I decided to bike 5 miles up to Grandad Bluff overlooking La Crosse and the Mississippi.  This is a west view from Grandad Bluff.

July 20th Statistics – Winona, MN to La Crosse, WI:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 43.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 12.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 3.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,900 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 29
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,267.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 78.2 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 66,114 feet

Today’s ride may be the shortest of the tour.  However, Dale and Diane wanted to be sure that we had time to sightsee La Crosse, WI which was a great idea.  There are been certain towns on our tour that have been engaging and make me want to come back, i.e. Sand Point, ID, Whitefish, MT, Fargo, ND, Stillwater, MN, Prescott, WI, and Red Wing, MN, and La Crosse, WI certainly makes that list.

We had to find a detour about 20 miles into the ride today due to a road closure on Route 7 near Pickwick, MN.  The detour we selected made the ride shorter than planned (40 miles), but was more challenging – we had a long 10%-11% grade climb to get to the top of the bluff.  Fortunately, the weather was overcast which kept it from getting extremely hot. While I started the climb with my riding companions and easily made it up the top of the bluff (as judged by my heart rate), they were out of sight quickly – I estimate that they can ride about 3-4 mph faster than I on the flats and half that on the tough climbs.

However, several times on the tour I have had the opportunity to join them and make a foursome on the flats/short rolling hills by drafting.  It was a great thrill and highlight to be cruising along at 20+ mph in a tight group of riders (on one occasion for 12 miles).  I wish I had a picture of the four of us riding together.

Mile 20:  Historical Market – Mississippi Blufflands

Mile 20:  Historical Marker – Great River Bluffs

Mile 20:  Doug learning about the Blufflands.

Mile 21:  View half way up 11% climb on Route 3 (near Great River Bluffs State Park) to a bluff above the Mississippi.

Mile 23:  Dale smiling after having finished the 11% climb on Route 3.

Mile 23:  Doug smiling as he takes off for the remaining ride to La Crosse after a SAG wagon break.

Mile 26: View overlooking the Mississippi from the bluff on Route 12 near Nodine, MN.

Mile 28:  Another view overlooking the Mississippi from the bluff on Route 12 near Nodine, MN.

Mile 31:  View from Route 1 in Minnesota of Interstate 90 crossing over the MIssissippi near North La Crosse, WI.

Mile 34:  Entering Wisconsin and La Crosse after having crossing the Mississippi.  Unfortunately, no one was around to get me in the picture.

View looking north from Grandad Bluff above La Crosse, WI.

Jim, Doug and I after a five mile ride and climb to Grandad Bluff above La Crosse, WI.

Sculpture of Hiawatha in the Mississippi waterfront park in La Crosse, WI.

Garden at the Mississippi waterfront park in La Crosse, WI.

Pearl’s Ice Cream Parlor – The #1/60 restaurant in La Crosse.  I savored the taste of Pomegranate and black licorice ice creams

The fact that Buzzard Billy’s was across the street from Pearl’s Ice Cream Parlor had no bearing on our choice.

After dinner I went for a walk along in the Mississippi waterfront park.  This is a monument in the park.

The riverfront walking path in La Crosse, WI.

View from my room at the Radisson in La Crosse, WI. In the distance you can see the cliffs which are below Grandad Bluff.

July 19th: Red Wing to Winona, MN

Mile 16: A typical valley scene in Minnesota today (that is our SAG wagon that just passed me).

July 19th Statistics – Red Wing to Winona, MN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 83.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,391 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 28
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2,224 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 64,214 feet

Long ride ride today and surprising amount of climbing in the hilly Minnesota countryside, but the weather was very accommodating (cloud cover, moderate temperatures and humidity, and no rain or threat of rain.  Paralleled the Mississippi most of the day, but alternated between riding along the river and on the nearby bluffs through the farms.  Had a tough 2 mile climb out of Lake City at a 10%-11% grade to get to the top of one of the bluffs.  However, the rode was smooth and when we arrived at the top of the bluff it was beautiful rolling farm country.  Overall a beautiful day to ride and great roads – thank you Minnesota.

Everyone else in the group missed one of the turns after Frontenac, MN and I ended up as the only person to ride the entire route today.  Lake City was an interesting river resort town I would liked to spent more time exploring.

Over lunch in Kellogg (another great hamburger) Diane shared that she lowered the mileage per day for the tour this year based upon feedback from last year’s group only to find that our group is the strongest group of riders they have had and we could have actually done more.  It works out fine in that I have more time for taking pictures, posting the blog and sightseeing.  They other riders seem to feel the same.

Saw my first fields of corn damaged by drought – very sad.

The hotel in Winona (which was not an impressive city based upon my ride through it), Plaza Hotel and Suites, was the best lodging of the trip so far – I even had a flat screen TV in the bathroom.  The restaurant attached to the Plaza Hotel was also outstanding.

Mile 28: Historical marker in Frontenac, MN on the Mississippi.

Mile 33: View (with cloud overcast) of the Mississippi between Frontenac and Lake City, MN.

Mile 39: View of Lake City, MN harbor. While I only passed through Lake City on the route today, it seemed like a very upscale river resort town.

Mile 41: View on Route 61 after leaving Lake City showing the bluffs along the Mississippi. Several times today we biked up to the bluffs (400-700 foot climb) and then back down to the Mississippi River bank level.

Mile 44: Half way up a 3 mile climb (4%-8% grade) with Lake City and the Mississippi River in the distance.

Mile 49: Scene of the rural roads and farms on the bluffs above the Mississippi. This section of the ride today was fantastic, great roads and views.

Mile 55: Another scene of the farms on the bluffs above the Mississippi River.

Mile 59: Scene near Wabasha, MN as I am descending from the bluffs above the Mississippi.

Mile 69: View along Highway 61 as I travel along the Mississippi River.

Mile 70: Another view of the Mississippi River and bluffs from Highway 61 near Minneiska, MN.

July 18th: Osceola, WI to Red Wing, MN

Mile 21: Bison along the route today. Due to rain this is my only picture today.

July 18th Statistics – Osceola, WI to Red Wing, MN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.5 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 12.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 6.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,722 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 27
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2.140.1 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 61,823 feet

Today’s ride offered every challenge.  First, it was forecasted for a 60% chance thunderstorms all day (and looked like it was going to rain any moment at 7 am).  I skipped breakfast (again) and left before everyone else.  After riding 6 miles, I found that our route no longer had pavement.  Fortunately, the road had hard packed gravel, the construction only lasted 3 miles, and the rain held off.  I kept ahead of the rain for about 20 miles when the rest of the group (who had some sprinkles as they left Osceola) caught up and passed me.

A downpour started just as we approached Stillwater, MN.  While the other riders took shelter in the van or someplace else, I put my camera and wallet in a baggie, unpacked and put on my Gore rain gear (jacket and helmet cover – I was already wearing my yellow Gore rain booties), continued biking and passed them.  The rain stopped after 15 minutes and the other riders caught up and passed me at about mile 35.  Near Afton, MN, the sky opened up and an even more intense downpour began for the next hour.  Being the Marine (or driven person) I am, I pushed right on through and passed the rest of he group (and never saw them until dinner) who sought shelter (and lunch) in Afton.  The rain was welcomed in one respect – it kept me cooler as I had miles of unexpected tough climbing (7%-10% grade) after Afton.

When the rain stopped I thought the day’s challenges were over, I was wrong.  The sun came out and the temperature rose,   15-20 mph headwinds began, and the climbing became even more challenging (almost 4,000 feet for the day).  On several long hills I was struggling to go 4 mph.  I finally arrived at our hotel in Red Wing at 2:30 pm (30-90 minutes before other riders).

A disappointment today was not being able to spend time in several quaint and interesting towns we passed, i.e. Stillwater, MN, Afton, MN, Prescott, WI, and Red Wing, MN (home of the world’s largest boot pictured below – size 678.5, which I saw through the window of their museum this morning at 7 am).


We had a great dinner in Red Wing at The Brickhouse (which was important as I realized at dinner that I had not had solid food all day except a banana and several cookies at the SAG wagon about 10 am).  My “Inferno Burger” stuffed with pepper jack cheese, onions and jalepenos topped with more pepper jack cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, and grilled jalapeños and served in a cheddar jalapeño bun was outstanding.  It brought to my attention that I am having a hamburger for either lunch or dinner every other day because that is what is available.  The good news is that the hamburgers have been exceptionally tasty and I have no guilt considering my daily exercise and genetically driven low cholesterol level.  The large caramel ice cream sunday was the perfect finish for an exceptional day of biking (or that was how I rationalized it).

July 17th: Milaca, MN to Osceola, WI

Today’s special breakfast at Embers in Milaca, MN – Captain Crunch French Bread – Outstanding!

July 17th Statistics – Milaca, MN to Osceola, WI:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 79.2 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,063 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 26
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 2.060.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 58,101 feet

I decided to join the group for breakfast this morning because I : 1) got a lot of grief from family and friends from my last several posts for skipping breakfast, 2) didn’t want to be isolated from the group today because of the high threat of thunderstorms (it looked like rain at 7 am), and 3) was hungry – glad I did (see photo above).  The thick cloud cover kept the temperature and humidity down. Fortunately, I only had a couple of short and light showers today.  Forecast for tomorrow (another 80 mile ride) is same as today, but slightly cooler.

It appears we may have reached the 50% mark for total trip mileage today or will tomorrow.  I also rode into my 6th state today (Wisconsin).  We are going to be weaving between Minnesota and Wisconsin for several days until reach reach Iowa.  As I biked today, I started to see pine forest today and increasingly smell the aromas of country living (let your imagination run with that).

Great hotel (River Valley Inn & Suites) and dinner (shrimp and crab over pasta in garlic/oil sauce) next door at Tippy’s Canoe.

Mile 25: Dale and Doug at 1st SAG wagon stop today.

Mile 30: Post Office in Gandy, MN (population 100) targeted for closing.

Mile 42: Doug biking (and passing me) on a typical road today with Robert and Jim in the distance.

Mile 42: Nancy asked for a updated photo of me so here I am at a rest stop in Stark, MN wearing my yellow rain booties.

Mile 49: A historical marker in Sunrise, MN (population 88) for those of us 1) in the baby-boomer and our parent generations and 2) with Illinois experience.

Mile 58: Not a sign for “Center City Philadelphia” but for “Center CIty, MN”, population 628.

Mile 63: A scene from our ride today as we approach Wisconsin.

Mile 75: Crossing the St. Croix River into Osceola, WI.

Mile 75: Wisconsin – The 6th state I have visited on tour so far.

Historical Marker – Cascade Falls in Osceola, WI (see next photo).

Cascade Falls in Osceola, WI.

Interesting Site – Intelligent Nutrients Learning Retreat across from our hotel in Osceola, WI.

River Valley Inn & Suites – Lodging in Osceola, WI.

River Valley Inn and Suites interior.

July 16th: Long Prairie to Milaca, MN

Mile 32: The major change in scenery was larger farms, poultry farms (chicken and turkey), and more trees along the road.

July 16th Statistics – Long Prairie to Milaca, MN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 78.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.2 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,201 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 25
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,981.4 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 57,038 feet

Almost a repeat of yesterday – I began biking about 6:30 am (while everyone else went to breakfast) as the forecast was for high(er) temperatures and humidity and we had a long ride (almost 80 miles).  It was again a wonderful time to be on the road.  The roads in general were very smooth – beautiful, if repetitive, scenery, and a gentle breeze.  I had a few moments of shade while biking today which is a first since Western Montana and the Rocky Mountains.

I was sweating buckets starting almost immediately in the morning.  For reference, I drank more than 150 oz of fluids on the ride today. I was so far ahead of the group today that I never saw the SAG wagon and arrived at the hotel in Milaca at 1:30 pm (before everyone else including the SAG wagon).  I only took two short breaks at convenience stores to fill up on fluids and an energy bar.  Doug was the second to arrive in Milaca about 15 minutes after I did.  By late this afternoon it was 94 degrees according to the local bank sign.

Sound familiar (see yesterday’s post, including photos)?

I have come to the conclusion that the most important factor that impacts the enjoyment of each day’s ride is the road surface condition, not the distance, scenery, wind, temperature, humidity, traffic, weather, nor climb.  While Minnesota clearly has the best roads so far, I still regularly bike roads for many miles with cracks every 5 to 20 feet (creating a very jarring thump/thump that gets very tiresome and increasingly hurts over time), loose gravel and debris I must concentrate on avoiding, rough surfaces that slow me down and vibrate the bike, and pot holes.  I hope it gets better as I go east.

July 15th: Battle Lake to Long Prairie, MN

Mile 25: Notable trip milestone.

July 15th Statistics – Battle Lake to Long Prairie, MN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 66.4 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,037 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 24
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,903.0 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 55,837 feet

This morning I left at 6:45 am (an hour earlier than everyone else by skipping breakfast) as the forecast was for high temperatures and humidity even if a relatively short ride (65 miles).  It was again a wonderful time to be on the road.  The roads in general were very smooth – beautiful, if repetitive, scenery, and a gentle breeze.  The sun was hidden behind clouds most of the day which kept the temperatures down to the mid 80s, but I was still sweating buckets starting almost immediately in the morning.  For reference, I drank more than 120 oz of fluids on the ride today. I was so far ahead of the group today (never saw the SAG wagon until it passed me 7 miles from the motel in Long Prairie) and only took one break (at a convenience store to fill up on fluids) that I arrived at 11:30 am at the motel (66 miles) – before everyone else (this was a first). I should say before Doug as he is always the first to arrive (he arrived 10 minutes after I did).  The clouds dissipate after I arrived and it became very uncomfortably hot by mid afternoon.

Mile 16: Typical view for today in Minnesota – overcast (thankfully).

Mile 53: I don’t take very many pictures now due to the repetitive scenery – here is an example from mile 53 today.

Mile 57: Many individuals have multiple professions and businesses to sustain themselves in the states I have visited. Here is one of the more interesting and diverse examples I noted miles from any other business.

Long Prairie War Memorial to WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars. Throughout the city there were signs celebrating and thanking the military – relatively more than I have seen in any city.

July 14th: Fargo, ND to Battle Creek, MN

Mile 72: If only this was the State of Maine and not the City of Maine, MN.

July 14th Statistics – Fargo, ND to Battle Lake, MN:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 100.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.6 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 6.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,006 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 23
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,836.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 79.9 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 54,800 feet
Fargo was a great respite, but on to Minnesota.  I skipped breakfast and left at 6:30 am (about an hour before the rest of the group) since we had a 90+ mile ride, high temperatures and humidity.  I had forgotten what a peaceful and beautiful experience it is to be on the rode early in the morning (although historically my experience has been in a car) – I had the road to myself, a gentle breeze, and a comfortable temperature.
I crossed the Red River and entered Minnesota after 7 miles this morning.  Immediately, the road surfaces became very smooth.  In general, Minnesota clearly has the best roads for biking of any state so far – a real pleasure that can add 4 mph to my speed.  The scenery changed almost as quickly with an increase in gentle rolling hills, more color in the crops, and many lakes (however, much of the scenery was the same as the last three days of riding).  Often I could have been in Chester County near where I live.
By 8 am I was feeling the humidity.  The group caught up to me by 10 am when we reach the town of Cormorant, a lake resort on Pelican Lake.  Unfortunately, our route on Highway 9 was under construction and after a 1/2 mile of riding in soft sand (one of our riders fell), we gave up and walked the bikes back to a detour route we mapped (and added 5 miles).  Then in Pelican Rapids our route was again detoured (including a gravel road) due to a city parade.
For the most part the very rural country roads were lightly traveled until we got to lakeside towns like Amor on Otter Tail Lake, where a college guy wasn’t looking at the road he was crossing but at a bikini clad female and walked into my path (I swerved and missed him).  When I arrived in lakeside town of Battle Lake I immediately found the local ice cream pallor and had a scoops of licorice and Superman ice creams (well earned after 100 miles).  Unfortunately, on the final mile to the hotel, a elderly gentleman in his 1960s pickup truck pulled out in front of me at an intersection, which having been re-energized by the ice cream I easily avoided.  Our motel is across the street from West Battle Lake (very large).  Dinner will be at the nearby grill/bowling alley.

Fargo, ND – City of Parks.

Fargo Bicycle Shop which includes an expresso bar and ice-cream counter, and offers live entertainment at night outside. They completely serviced my bike and it rode even better than when I arrived.

Fargo Wall Mural.

Mile 15: New scenery – Minnesota.

Mile 16: Historical Marker – Churches & Cemeteries.

Mile 75: The “Test Section” has not aged well – lots of cracks and gaps. But at least no flat tires.

Mile 93: Beach front on Otter Tail Lake near Amor, MN.

Battle Lake Motel – Tonight’s lodging.

Waterfront Park – Battle Lake, MN.

July 12th: Cooperstown to Fargo, ND

Mile 16: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Silo Launch Facility – Missile Replica On Top Of Actual Silo.

July 12th Statistics – Cooperstown to Fargo, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 93.1 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.7 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 6.8 hours
  • Today Ascent – 496 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 22
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,736.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 78.9 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 52,794 feet
Today we faced most of the same issues as yesterday, long (actually longer) ride, high temperatures and humidity, and 60% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. I decided to skip breakfast and leave at 6:30 am while the others had breakfast at the motel (my companions did not get going on bikes until after 7:30 am).  For me it was a wonderful time to ride – sun low on the horizon, very comfortable temperature and humidity, almost no traffic – the road to myself, soft wind blowing from the side so I could ride relatively fast (15-18 mph), and a calming scene of muted green and yellow crops – mile after mile.  Of course as the day went on it became hot and humid and the headwind increased to 15-25 mph after 11 am.
I was shocked shortly outside Cooperstown to see a sign pointing out a missile silo (see Mile 7 photo below and photo above) – I would have thought missile silos would be hidden.  It turned out to be a historical site.   The rest of the day was uneventful although for a short stretch of the ride (10 miles), the road had cracks across the entire road so that every 5 to 25 feet I felt a hard thump – thump (each one felt more jarring than the last).
I arrived in Fargo at 3pm to find a very clean and interesting city.  On the way to the hotel I stopped by the local bike store to drop off my bike for servicing.  It was one of the most unique bike store I have seen.  An expresso and gelato bar was incorporated into the store which was located in an old train depot (later in the evening I saw live entertainment outside the store).  It was spotless and busy as can be.  They were extremely friendly and very willing to change their schedule so that I could have my bike completely cleaned/serviced and available the next day.  When I picked it up, it felt even better than it was when I arrived in Seattle.
The Radisson Hotel where we are staying is clearly the finest hotel of the trip so far.  It is the second tallest building in North Dakota, my room has a “Sleep Number Bed” (I am a 60), and the views from my 10th floor room are very enjoyable as I look over the Red River to Minnesota.  For my “Dinner On Your Own” evening, I went to TripAdvisor and found the 2nd highest rated restaurant (out of 97) was a block from the Radisson and perfect for me – JL Beers, which specialized in gourmet hamburgers and beers.  It was exceptional.  After dinner I started walking downtown to find that all the art galleries were open until late evening for a 3 times/year “Corks & Canvas” event.  Every gallery was serving wine and appetizers while artist were showing off their art.  I am impressive with the limited part of Fargo I toured.
On the rest day in Fargo I first had to do laundry, then mail two boxes (20 lbs) of unneeded winter biking gear back home, get my watch band fixed (it broke in Seattle), exchange $15 of change for bills (to further lighten my load), and pick up my bike.  It was hot, but the humidity today wasn’t too bad.
Tomorrow is another 90+ mile day with forecast of hot and humid conditions and thunderstorms.  We are leaving at 6:30 am and will grab a quick breakfast at McDonalds rather than waiting for a sit-down.  Fortunately, no headwinds are predicted.  Till tomorrow.

Mile 4: Early morning view on Route 200 outside Cooperstown, ND.

Mile 7: This got my attention (actual silo in background)!

Mile 7: Fortunately, tt turns out that “November-33 Missile Silo” is now a unmanned historical site named after Ronald Reagan. I had it all to myself.

Mile 7: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Silo Launch Facility Historical Marker – November-33: “Ace In The Hole”

Mile 7: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Silo Launch Facility Historical Marker – November-33: “Ace In The Hole” (Part 2)

Mile 7: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Silo Launch Facility Historical Marker – Launch Facility Security.

Mile 7: Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Silo Launch Facility Historical Marker – Launcher Closure Doors.

Mile 10: Another view on Route 200 after leaving Cooperstown, ND.

Mile 11: View behind me looking west on Route 200 in North Dakota (you can still see the rain from the night before).

Mile 22: View on Route 38 near Colgate, ND – Typical view for today’s ride.

Mile 30: View on Route 26 near Hope, ND – mile after mile of straight road and telephone poles.

Mile 72: This view on Route 4 near Argusville, ND reminded me of a scene (although this is summer and the scene was winter) from the movie “Fargo”. If you have seen the movie you will remember the scene.

Mile 78: Another view along Route 4 in North Dakota – acre after acre of colorful crop fields.

Fargo Radisson Hotel Room Interior – Best hotel of the trip so far. I even have a king “Sleep Number Bed” – I am a #60. This Radisson also has a claim as the second tallest building in North Dakota.

View from my window on the 10th floor of the Radisson Hotel in Fargo. The building with red trim is the Fargo Theater and the white tent in the distance houses a full-size replica viking ship at the Hjemkomst Center across the river in Moorhead, MN.

July 11th: Devils Lake to Cooperstown, ND

Mile 25: Collection of one room school houses relocated to remote site along Route 1 in North Dakota.

July 11th Statistics – Devils Lake to Cooperstown, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 80.6 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 10.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 7.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1.017 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 21
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,643.2 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 78.2 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 52,298 feet
Today’s ride started at 7 am due to need to take alternate route (regular route had many miles of gravel due to construction), length (80+ miles), heat (high 80s), headwinds (10-20 mph) and threats of afternoon thunderstorms (60%).  Everything was as expected except thunderstorms which did not develop.  The roads were good and lightly traveled – beautiful, if repetitive, scenery.  Very slow ride and long day in the saddle.  Excitement of the day was that I almost biked into the middle of a family of raccoons (mom and 3 cubs) sitting in the middle of the road.  I yelled and mom ran off, but the cubs hissed at me as I swerved into the on-coming lane (no traffic for last 30 minutes) around them.  Very tired and glad today’s ride is over.  Red bull at end of the ride helped too.

Mile 5: Early morning on Route 2 in North Dakota.

Mile 22: Typical scenery today along Route 1 in North Dakota.

Mile 33: The Stump Lake Village Historic Museum I missed.

Mile 35: Beautiful sky and field scene along Route 1 in North Dakota.

Mile 45: Another scene along Route 1 in North Dakota.

Mile 50: They only forgot to mention the 20 mph headwinds.

Mile 62: Route 1 near Sibley Lake, ND.

Mile 66: Field scene on Route 1, North Dakota.

Mile 72 – Representation of headwinds in marsh along side of Route 1.

July 10th: Rugby to Devils Lake, ND

Scene along Route 3.

July 10th Statistics – Rugby to Devils Lake, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 84.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 12.8 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 6.6 hours
  • Today Ascent – 1,247 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 20
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,562.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 78.1 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 51,281 feet
A long and hot ride with headwinds.  Beautiful scenery with good road surfaces.  A highlight of the day was dinner – The Ranch – outstanding.  I had filet mignon Sinatra style (port wine reduction and blue cheese crushed).  Robert ordered a baked potato and was delivered a 9 inch, 1.5 pound record breaker – none of us have ever seen a larger one.  You could have ordered a bottle of Opus One if so inclined.

Mile 15: Robert biking on Route 3 in the early morning.

Mile 23: View along Route 3 of ranch with Girard Lake in background.

Mile 25: Heartland Bison Ranch on Lake Girard – bison herd in background.

Mile 27: Typical view of central North Dakota.

Mile 33: Cattle cooling off in the muck.

Mile 49: View west along Route 19 in North Dakota.

Mile 49: View east on Route 19 in North Dakota.

Mile 64: Minnewaukan, ND which is on the shores of Devils Lake and where my friend Ellen’s father was born.

Mile 65: Our lunch stop in Minnewaukan. At the same counter I could order a hamburger cooked in a toaster oven or buy 1 pound of leeches.

Mile 73: Scene on Devils Lake which has doubled in size since 1993 and flooded roads and homes.

Mile 78: View of typical marsh bordering Devils Lake.

Fireside Inn and Suites Interior – Lodging in Devils Lake, ND.

July 9th: Minot to Rugby, ND – Post and Photos

Rugby, ND – Geographical Center of North America.

July 9th Statistics – Minot to Rugby, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 72.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.9 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 635 feet
  • Today Descent – 834 feet
  • Today’s Ending Elevation – 1,214 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 19
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,478.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 77.8 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 50,034 feet

Interesting day of sightseeing – visited 3 notable sites:  1) Rugby, ND – The Geographical Center of North America (see photo above), 2) Towner, ND – The Cattle Capital of North Dakota (see photo below), 3) The World’s Largest Metal Belt Buckle at the Prairie Village Museum in Rugby, ND (see photo below).  Nothing new in terms of terrain or scenery.  However, I did see my first crop duster in a field I passed (fortunately, I was upwind).

We had to delay our departure due to rain.  Our 20% chance of showers delivered before 9 am.  The rest of the day delivered increasing sunshine and temperatures.  Headwinds in the morning (5-10%) slowed us down, but switched to tailwinds in the afternoon so overall I averaged almost 15 mph for the day.

I won’t be able to add more tonight (7/10) or enter today’s post and pictures – I am exhausted.  While the mileage today was only 84 miles, we had a headwind all day (5-10 mph) and heat.  Additionally, tomorrow is an 80+ miles day, we are facing 15-25 mph headwinds, and there is a 60% chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  We are leaving at 6:30 am.  Hope to catch up by the time we reach Fargo on Thursday.

Enjoy the photos and be sure to read the captions.

P.S.  I added a new statistic – Daily Hours In The Saddle.  When I started the tour, I thought that mileage was the governing factor for how long it would take to ride each day – wrong.  Road conditions and winds are just as important to how long I ride.  Examples:  My longest day in the saddle was 8.1 hours to ride 103.3 miles while it only took be 8.0 hours to ride 122.9 miles on another day.  On the most windy day it took 5.8 hours to ride 53.5 miles while it only took 24 minutes longer to ride 105.5 miles on another day.

Mile 3: Scandinavian Heritage Center – Top sightseeing destination in Minot.

Mile 47: Towner, ND, The Cattle Capital of North Dakota. I noted that the gasoline station/convenience store/restaurant (where I had lunch) also served as a local cattle supply store – the bovine vaccine and other refrigerated veterinarian supplies were in a Coca Cola machine next to the ice cream freezer.

Mile 60: A typical view today biking Route 2 (4 lane divided highway) – nothing new in scenery for the day.

Rugby, ND: The Geographical Center of North America.

Prairie Village Museum – Bird Collection.

Prairie Village Museum – Antique Stove Collection (A personal favorite).

Prairie Village Museum – Antique Washing Machine Collection (Another personal favorite).

Prairie Village Museum – Antique Permanent Hair Curling Machine.

Prairie Village Museum – Workers Cooking and Dinner Railway Car Interior.

Prairie Village Museum – Antique Sausage Mixer Collection.

Prairie Village Museum – Relocated Antique Buildings and Railcar.

Prairie Village Museum – Another View of Antique Buildings Relocated to Museum.

Prairie Village Museum – Norwegian Ten Commandments Located In 1900 Church.

Prairie Village Museum – World’s Largest Metal Belt Buckle.

Prairie Village Museum – 50 State Pillars.

Northern Lights Inn – Rugby Lodging.

July 7th – Williston to Minot, ND Post and Pictures

Bike Challenge – Riding the Shoulder. This is an example of a road shoulder I must navigate. In this photograph I must keep within a 6 inch strip of smooth payment with rumple strips cut into the pavement on one side and a fall off of the road into the dirt on the other. Sometimes the navigable section narrows to 4 inches – sometimes widens to 18 inches. This can be very difficult to maneuver since you must also avoid broken glass, stones, holes, roadkill, and other debris in this narrow section – my neck aches from the stress. However, in some sections the shoulder biking path expands to 6 feet which is wonderful and allows me to look up and take in the sights. At least in North Dakota the pavement is smooth – In Montana it was often cracked, broken, uneven, and/or non-existent.

July 7th Statistics –Williston to Minot, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 122.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.4 mph
  • Today Ascent – 2,827 feet
  • Today Descent – 3,010 feet
  • Today’s Ending Elevation – 1,418 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 16
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,405.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 78.1 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 49,399 feet

The longest ride of my cross-country tour (and life) has been conquered – 123 miles!  Time on the bike saddle today (7.9 hours) was actually a little less than yesterday because of riding faster – I arrived in Minot a little after 5 pm.  I think I had enough energy and sunlight left (but maybe not enough tolerance for my neck pain) to ride another 50 miles – a great feeling.  Jim, Doug and I, again, were the only bikers to ride the entire day’s distance – Diane and Dale never thought any of us would actually ride the entire 123 miles in one day.  The sky, humidity, and temperature were perfect.  While I had a headwind in the morning (4-10 mph), I had a tailwind by the afternoon (4-10 mph).  Additionally, while not perfect, North Dakota roads were much more biker friendly that Montana’s roads from yesterday. Unfortunately, haze diminished the longer views for the first time on the trip.

Dinner at Applebee’s in Minot was great (it was the 4th highest rated restaurant in Minot according to Trip Advisor) – but I suspect that after 123 miles any food would have tasted great, particularly with the Samuel Adams Summer Ale I ordered.  Unfortunately, I am not going to see much of Minot (downtown is about 3 miles away from our Comfort Inn) on Sunday as I must do laundry, put new tires and tubes on my bike, replace a pedal, clean and oil my gears and chain, clean my bike, and purchase some supplies.

Mile 26 – Route 2 on way to Minot, ND. For the first time on the trip haze is appearing in the sky muting the colors of the scenery.

Mile 26: View looking back to Williston, ND from same point as last photograph.

Mile 29: Temporary housing available for workers in Williston 30 miles away. These types of bunkers appeared along side of the Route 2 for 80 miles.

Mile 29: The other side of the road from the last photo showing temporary housing for Williston workers. At breakfast in Williston the waitress told us she was moving away from Williston that evening because she cannot find affordable housing for her and her children after a month’s search.

Mile 34: Oil rig along side of Route 2 between Williston and Ray, ND. You could smell the oil in the air as you passed by numerous oil rigs.

Mile 52: View east on Route 2 approaching Ross, ND. Note: Wide shoulder for biking, but numerous stones and debris which must be avoided.

Mile 62: Another example of an oil platform on the side of Route 2 between Williston and Minot, ND. Note: Another oil platform in the distance.

Mile 71: View looking West on Route 2 near Stanley, ND. Note: Truck is typical of the hundreds that pass every day near Williston, ND.

Mile 86: Scenery changed as I approached Minot with more and more field of green and yellow green (rapeseed/canola).

July 6: Wolf Point to Williston, ND – Post (continued) and Photos

Mile 22: Poplar, MT – First SAG stop of the day. Doug, Dale, Steve, Diane.

Today was the second century ride (103+ miles) for the trip.  Fortunately, compared to yesterday, the headwinds were manageable (4-10 mph) and I was able to bike 12.8 mph.  As I mentioned in my prior blog – this was a long day  in the saddle – but the temperature great for biking and the wind kept me cool.

There was a lot of apprehension about the ride today due to the numerous warnings about traffic volume (due to the Williston oil boom), trucks, narrow shoulders, and road conditions/construction.  The published bike route across the norther tier was rerouted this year to avoid going to Williston due to the concerns (but it added 150 mile and required 50 miles riding on an interstate highway).

I am very glad to say that reality did not match up with the warnings.  We did not see any significant traffic until the last 25 miles (especially the last 10 miles outside Williston) when we entered North Dakota.  Fortunately, the road conditions in North Dakota were much better the Montana – wider and smoother paved shoulders.  Surprisingly, most truckers were far more considerate that we expected and moved to the left when they passed us to minimize wind on us.  Additionally, the road changed to four lane divided before reading Williston.

Williston was exactly as described – a boom town with more traffic than I see in Philadelphia.  Every other vehicle is a commercial truck.  Construction of hotels, temporary housing, commercial establishments everywhere.  I went to a convenience store to get a Red Bull, but gave up due to the 15 people in each of two lines waiting to check out.  The first restaurant we went to for dinner had a long wait (first time this has happened for the trip) so we went back to our hotel for a mediocre dinner – we didn’t want to wait since we had a 120+ mile ride the next morning.

Mile 27: View on B1A in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. It was empty of traffic, great views, but had cracks every 5 to 20 feet, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump.

Mile 30: Another view on Route B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation looking west behind me.

Mile 33: Vista a I biked on Route B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Mile 43: A beautiful view behind me in B1A in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation – B1A provided stunning scenery.

Mile 48: The land conditions changed as we traveled further along B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Mile 51: A change for me – being ahead of Jim as he climbs a hill on B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Mile 51: A real shocker – being ahead of Doug (probably because he had a flat tire – I can think of no other reason I ever got ahead of him) and getting his photo climbing a hill on B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Mile 51: View south from same point where photos of Jim and Doug was taken on B1A on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

MIle 55: View South on B1A, Missouri River in the distance.

Mile 65: Historical Marker – An Imposing and Elaborate Establishment.

Mile 77: Last photo taken in Montana of Jim biking ahead of me.

Mile 91: First oil well seen in North Dakota – about 10 miles before Williston.

July 6th – Wolf Point, MT to Williston, ND

Mile 81: Welcome to North Dakota – The first time I have ever been to North Dakota, which is the only state on my tour that can make the claim.

July 6th Statistics – Wolf Point, MT to Williston, ND:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 103.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 12.8 mph
  • Today Ascent – 2,006 feet
  • Today Descent – 2,128 feet
  • Today’s Ending Elevation – 1,910 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 15
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,282.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 75.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 46,572 feet

This post will be short.  Besides being the second longest ride of the tour so far, 103.3 miles (my 2nd tour century), it takes the record (at least until tomorrow) as the  longest time on the bike saddle in one day (over 8 hours).  Again, I was one of only three bikers out of eight that rode the entire distance for the day.  I left before 7 am (Mountain Time) and arrived in Williston (the US city with the lowest unemployment rate – <1% due to oil development) at 5 pm (Central Time).  While my speed was relatively slow, 12.8 mph, the 5-10 mph headwinds combined with over 2,000 feet of climbing and bad Montana road conditions are to blame .  Regardless, it was a fun day to ride with a few expections I’ll describe tomorrow.

Guest Susan and John left us tonight in Williston and caught an Amtrak train back to Chicago which leaves the 4 cross country riders (Robert, Doug, Jim and me).  Tomorrow is the longest ride of the entire tour – over 120 miles from Williston to Minot, ND, where I will have a day of rest and catch up with my post and photos (and laundry/bike cleaning/sleep/muscle pain/etc.).  I plan on leaving tomorrow morning before 7 am.  Good night.


July 5th – Glasgow to Wolf Point, MT

July 5th Statistics – Glasgow to Wolf Point, MT:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 53.5 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 9.2 mph
  • Today Ascent – 703 feet
  • Today Descent – 846 feet
  • Today’s Ending Elevation – 2,034 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 16
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,179.2 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 73.7 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 44,566 feet

Every day presents a new experience.  Even though today’s distance (53.5 miles) was flat and the second shortest of the trip so far, in everyone’s opinion, it was the most difficult day of riding we have experienced.  The 15-20 mph headwinds started the moment we got on the bikes this morning and never relented. In fact, it increased by the end of the day.

My speed for today was a snail’s pace of 9.2 mph.  One rider calculated  that based upon his speed today, the ride was equivalent to a 10,000 feet climb.  One of our better riders stated he has never ridden so slow in his entire history.  The fortunate thing is that it was a relative short day – tomorrow’s ride is over 100 miles.

The forecast tomorrow is for headwinds, but much lower – 5 to 10 mph.  I am going to start my ride by 7 am to maximize my chance of riding the entire distance.  The ride from Wolf Point to Williston is also the beginning of traffic and truck proliferation due to the oil boom in Williston.  We are all going to be flexible regarding the ride tomorrow based upon winds, road conditions/shoulders (lost of construction we have been told), traffic, truck behavior, weather, etc..  We have identified four different points for pick up by the van should it become unsafe or impossible to reach our hotel in Williston by 6 pm (we also lose an hour tomorrow as we enter Central Time in North Dakota).

A note about scenery today – there were two major changes from the past week – 1) The parallel railroad tracks moved from the left side of the road to the right side of the road and 2) I can’t think of #2.

Mile 31: Looking behind me on Route 1 on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Route 1 was straight for 20 miles with only one intersection.

Mile 31: Looking ahead on Route 1 on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Mile 51: Roadside Memorial example – One of the saddest parts of transversing Montana was the proliferation of crosses to grieve the individuals who died in auto accidents at a location. I saw 3, 4, and 5 crosses together and at one site, 9 crosses.

Mile 53: Historical Marker – Wolf Point.

July 4th – Malta to Glasgow, MT

July 4th Statistics – Malta to Glasgow, MT:

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 70.0 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 18.5 mph
  • Today Ascent – 1,137 feet
  • Today Descent – 1,279 feet
  • Today’s Ending Elevation – 2,162 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 15
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 1,125.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 75.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 43,863 feet

Today I broke another personal record – 70 miles at a blistering speed (at least for me) of 18.5 mph.  Thank you Maria (see yesterday’s post).  The weather conditions were perfect – sunny, temperature in the mid 70s, strong breeze keeping me cool.  Even the road conditions (average) did not slow me down.  Hard to imagine, but it seemed like a 1/2 day ride even though it was 70 miles.

Many of the photos from the last two days represent what I saw today as well.  However, at one hilltop I had an unobstructed view to the horizon in every direction – not a single man-made structure (excluding the road) in sight.  The notable item besides the beauty was a train in the far distance traveling east.

Lots of flat tires today (4) – 14 for the group since we began.  Robert and Jim have had 4 flat tires each.  As of today, I am the sole rider who has not had a flat tire – I hope I did not jinx myself by the acknowledgement.

Ted and Kristin – Today I stopped by Hinsdale (population 446) Montana (not Illinois) to watch the local 4th of July festival and parade (the city’s biggest event of the year).  It drew people from the entire county and brought back memories of small town life.

An interesting point about traveling on Route 2 over the last three days – I have been to numerous Montana cities named after famous cities/sites:  Kremlin, Malta, Harlem, Zurich, Dunkirk, Devon, Chester, Joplin, Inverness, Glasgow, Oswego.

Mile 5: Historical Marker – Cattle Brands

Mile 8 – Looking East (note road shoulder and rumble strips – a frustration when the rest of the road shoulder is in bad condition due to debris, cracks, or narrowness).

Mile 8 – Looking west behind me.

Mile 10: Historical Market – Sleeping Buffalo Rock. This photo is not out of focus, it was swinging widely in the wind. No matter how hard I tried I could not photograph the rock from a perspective that showed a sleeping buffalo.

Mile 10: Historical Marker – Cree Crossing swinging in the wind.

Mile 52 – Road ahead (with Jim in the distance).

Mile 65: Historical Marker – Buffalo Country.

Mile 71: End of a long and fast ride.