Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wonderboy, make tracks!

Day 27. Worthington to Mankato Mi nnesota. What a great day of riding. If yesterday was our second slowest of the trip, today's was the fastest. We averaged close to 20MPH today over the 100+ mile route. Flat terrain plus a herd of tour-hardened geldings (plus 2, count 'em 2, hard charging fillys) and some help from the wind equals a record ride time. It reminded me of the scene from Gone With the Wind where Scarlett's former slave Big Sam rescues Scarlett from the robbers near the Shanty Town in the woods. He then jumps on the wagon and yells at the horses "Hosses, make tracks!" Well that's what I urged Wonderboy to do today:

Wonderboy, make tracks!

Today's ride was the first of back-to-back "centuries". Tomorrow we go from Mankato to Rochester. Hopefully the wind will be behind us. It sure makes riding more fun. We started out with cloudy skies and a chance of rain, but that never materialized and the sun was out with nice warm (but not hot) temperatures. The landscape was pure rural middle America. A veritable Field of Dreams. Minnesota has got to have the lushest farmland I've ever seen. Miles and miles of corn standing tall, soybeans (we think), wheat, and other crops. Apparently this part of the US has had a good year of rain, as we saw in South Dakota. The prairie was green and looked like nature's version of a down comforter. Here in Minnesota, the fields seem to be bursting. Everything looks so robust.

Here's video of us riding this morning:

That brings me to another point. Just in the past few days, everything has changed in terms of our surroundings. Gone are the mountains, the prairies, the endless expanses between towns. The Wild West is behind us with their slightly rougher areas and not so carefully tended homes, yards, and towns (with a couple of exceptions). There are way more trees. And they're the kind of trees we see back home. Yesterday and today felt like riding in Southern Ontario, but without the horrible drivers and traffic. There's more humidity in the air, the weather isn't quite so predictable (every day isn't clear and hot). We haven't crossed the Mississippi River yet that officially divides the Western part of the US from the Eastern part (I think we do that Thursday when we cross into Wisconsin), but this part of the country sure feels a lot more like home than anything we've been to so far.

The other thing that struck me is that not only is this ride like summer camp, but it's also like a cycling version of the TV show Survivor (without the nasty backstabbing and "voting people off the island"). What I mean by that is that this ride is gruelling. When I think back 4 weeks ago to everyone introducing themselves in the room in Astoria (which feels like 6 years ago!), I can think of lots who never planned on staying the whole time (Carl, Gayle, Bob, Kay, Jay, Bob, Howard), those who left due to injury (Phillip), and those who have had their rides cut short by injury. There are a lot of ways that a dream of riding coast to coast can get derailed. This is hard and it is risky. But it is challenging and it is very rewarding. The stuff we're seeing is incredible. And I don't just mean Mount Rusmore, or Teton National Park. Being on a bike, you can see and sense everything. Plus, the people I'm with are just great. Maybe we just are lucky and got a great group, but they are so nice, considerate, friendly, adventurous, and fun-loving. It's been a pleasure riding every inch so far. Just over 1,400 miles to go. I can't quite smell the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean, but I know it's out there somewhere.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard count is up one today; a Heath/Snickers combo that was a gift (the greatest gift of all) from Katie and Alex, the two fillys in the Geldings:

6 Snickers
13 Blizzards
5 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Delores from Toronto writes: "Saddles sores... I've been wondering how ye ole arse was holding up. I can't believe you've travelled all these miles and this is the first I'm hearing of it. Is your seat uber padded and EXTRA wide (tee hee)". Dear Ms. Wise-ass Madame Tung, my backside is holding up just fine, thank you very much. I know there isn't much natural padding there, but what is there is saddle sore free so far on this trip.

Here are my Garmin stats for the day:

This is Joe's blog:

1 comment:

  1. Mark - 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.