My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 32 -- July 22nd -- Rochester, MN to La Crosse, WI

Miles Ridden: 89.1
Avg Speed: 14.0 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 116 bpm
Climbing: 3,025 ft
Calories Burned: 2,335 (need to recalibrate)

Rain ... wind ... hills ... scenery change ... bike path ... tough climb ... Mississippi River ... 6th state - Wisconsin

Today' route and map --

A soggy 6 AM alarm brought another typical hotel breakfast.  The watermelon was a big hit with me.  After a 7 AM load, we got the green light to head out into the deluge.  The forecast did not call for any improvement for a while, so we slowly set out to fight mother nature.  Did I mention it was raining rather hard.  OK, it was pouring.  Add to that a stiff 20 mph head wind.  The first two and half hours past more Minnesota farms and up/down those rolling hills was a tough push.  I had myself and bike outfitted for rain (booties, rain coat, shower cap and fender, plastic covers on bike bag and computer), but as usual still got wet, OK soaked.  My glasses blocked the rain, but were constantly fogged up and covered with water.  That made visibility a challenge.  So the theme of the first 34 miles and 2.5 hours was challenge.  Dave and I stayed together and managed to make reasonable time and have some fun too.  The first SAG was a welcome sight at the bottom a hill.

Dave and I Loading (That's Me With the Turquoise LL Bean Bag)
The rain broke while we were at the SAG and we stowed our rain jackets. More rollers and still more farms filled the next 16 miles into Rushford.  A nice 500 foot decent just before town was sweet too.  The skies were pretty grey, but the rain was holding off.  Our speed got a little better and the roads were mostly dry.  A funny thing happened on the way to Rushford ... the scenery dramatically changed.  Gone were the farms and corn.  We now had lush greenery and trees and hills.  A quick stop for a chocolate milk and donut had me back on the road while Dave opted for a sandwich at Subway. 

Grey Skies and More Farms

Elk ... Part of A Reserve I Think
The next 12 miles were a wonderful change of pace.  We followed the Root River State Trail, along, you guessed it the Root River.  It was a classic rail-trail.  Mostly level and nestled nicely into the surrounding landscape.  There was some debris from the rain and a few low lying branches ... Mike and Matt ducked just before a branch would have taken Matt's head off!  It was funny to watch, but a tad scary.  The path did  climb a little toward the end and had a few great bridges and overlooks.

Dramatic Scenery Change

View From One of the Path Overlooks

Trail Toward the End ... More Corn
The rain started up again just as I exited the path and hit the 2nd SAG.  I quickly took a seat at the Little Looney Coffee Shop in Houston Minnesota.  Jeff (ABB) had told us it was his favorite spot.  I grabbed a smoothie, but most folks opted for hot chocolate and an assortment of sweets from the bakery.  The rain let up and Dave and I headed out for the final run into La Crosse.  We had a few showers and rolling hills as we awaited the arrival of the day's biggest climb.  A left of route 25 revealed the mile long 10% climb.  The sun came out in force while we were on the hill and it seemed like it was 100 degrees.  Sweat was just pouring off me as I made the ascent. A few standing sections powered me up and over ... an awesome and rewarding effort.

Looney Coffee Shop Stop (I am in the Back Sipping my Smoothie)

The Start of the Climb (It Went Straight Up From There)

From there, I kept waiting for the descent to come.  It took a while, as the route stayed on a neat ridge among the hills.  At long last, the descent came and as usual, I flew down at speeds approaching 45 mph.  It was nice and dry and free of cars.  I caught Dave at the bottom and we arrived at the Wisconsin state line together.  It was just a few miles to the the Mississippi River and into La Crosse.  The river was not quite as wide as I expected.  It marks our arrival in the East!

Rolling View From The Ridge

State Number 6 ... Wisconsin

The Mighty Mississippi ... Gateway to the East

Bridge Over The River Into La Crosse (Dave is the Green Spec at the End of the Bridge)
We meandered through La Crosse and hit the Best Western on the banks of the river.  At route wrap we learned that tomorrow's ride is 90+ miles (again) and not the 75 we expected.  Oh well ... a big portion of our day in on the Elroy Sparta trail (includes three tunnels).  We arrive in the tourist mecca of Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner was at buffet and I spent the evening doing laundry, cleaning my bike, and reorganizing my stuff.  Saturday and Sunday I get to see my friends Dawn and Kari ... it will be nice to see a few familiar faces!  Can't wait.

World's Largest Six Pack (Almost 700,000 Gallons of Beer)
Good night moon ... good night Wisconsin ... good night rail trails (see you in the tunnels tomorrow) ... good night clean bike (expect to get dirty all over again tomorrow ... 40% chance of rain) ... good night Dawn (see you Saturday) ... good night Kari (see you Sunday)