Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Day 28. Mankato to Rochester Minnesota. Today was the second of consecutive back-to-back centuries. That's 200 miles in the past 2 days. I would not be lying if I told you that I wouldn't mind if the mileage gets dialed down a bit, and fast. I have never ridden anywhere near this kind of mileage before, and I can tell you, I never will again. While it is great to see the countryside, this kind of riding is somewhat mind-numbing (it's also numbing in other areas, but let's not get into that right now). It can make something that is fun (riding a bike) more work than play. Not everyone on this ride feels that way, but I do. I know I'm in the minority, but that's the way I see it. Nevertheless, onward ho.

Our route took us through incredibly rich and fertile Minnesota farm land. Before I even got riding today though I had a flat tire, my 7th of the trip. They call this kind of flat a "motel flat" because despite checking my tires before I went to bed last night (which I do every night, if you can believe that) you somehow wake up and find a flat tire. Well, better that I should have a flat at the motel than on the road in my opinion. Today was so long, and was on the heels of a very long day yesterday, that each day feels like 3 or 4 separate days.

What I do remember about today is that the day started with a 10%+ climb right out of the hotel. The climb was short and brutal and knocked the wind out of more than 1 rider. Everybody just kind of split up today. I rode a good portion of the morning with Dave and then after the first SAG I rode alone for the next 25 miles or so. Then way up in the distance I saw Joe "soft-pedaling" (going slower than he naturally would). I caught up with him and he and I rode to the next SAG at the 69 mile mark. Joe and I rode the rest of the way together, finishing the 100 miles at a nice average speed of just under 16 MPH. We came into Rochester on their bike path system, which was quite pretty (see picture above of Joe by the river). I think it's weird that Rochester Minnesota and Rochester New York both have river bike path systems that look very similar. Very weird. Almost spooky. I rode the trail system in Rochester NY a few months ago and I had a complete deja-vu experience today when I hit Rochester Minnesota.

I forgot to mention that as Joe and I were riding past a corn field today we saw a huge deer bounding through the corn and then cut directly in front of us. I couldn't get my camera out in time though, so that memory will stick with me alone.

Needless to say, we're a bunch of tired puppies here. Tomorrow we have yet another 90+ mile day, putting this 3 day total at close to 300 miles. It's supposed to rain tomorrow, which will not add any fun to what promises to be a long day. Tomorrow marks 2 more milestones on this ride. We'll cross the Mississippi River and we'll enter Wisconsin at the end of the day. This will be our 6th state. Everything seems to be rolling along as we knock off states, chunks of mileage, time zones, and trip legs. It is happening so fast and so slow at the same time. I've never experienced anything like it. It's kind of like being in Hebrew School inside a Casino (for me). It's very weird.

Here's video of me riding through Minnesota farm land:

Rochester is (by my estimate) the largest city we've been to so far. It has 2 major employers – the Mayo Clinic (the world famous medical facility) and IBM. It has strip mall plazas, Best Buys, and Quiznos (first Quiznos of the trip, although I did not partake). We're definitely out of the West and into the East. Everything here feels so much more familiar than just a few days ago. It will be interesting to see how our interest level holds as we move across less "exotic" terrain. After tomorrow, the state of Wisconsin is supposed to be fantastic for cycling. We're going to take a cool trail. Let's just hope the weather (and winds) turn more favorable.

One of the things I have noticed as I ride through Minnesota is the incredible uniformity of the crops. You can't really see this in the pictures above, but it amazes me that every stalk of corn is almost exactly the same height. It is downright artistic.

One other thing to report. Wonderboy got a new saddle today. After 2,300 miles of thumping, his old saddle got a bit bent and could not be saved. Hopefully this new saddle will be more comfortable. That would be nice.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard and Snickers count are both up today:

7 Snickers
14 Blizzards
5 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Eric from Toronto writes: "I'm really enjoying reading your blog and following your adventure across the country. I have also been reading Helen's blog, which provides an interesting non-gelding/thoroughbred perspective. Keep pedalling and enjoying. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it when you're back." Thanks Eric. If Helen is writing a blog, then I am writing "blog-light". Her blog is like a work of art. My blog is a "work of hack". Helen and her daughter are really nice. I haven't ridden with Helen (although I saw her make a wrong turn today), but riding with her daughter Alex is lots of fun.

Here are my Garmin stats for the day:

This is Joe's blog:

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