Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MRT - Jack's write-up

Below is my pastor Jack's summary of the MRT tour. I've removed last names for privacy.

Late Sunday evening around 10:30 PM the crew of bicycle riders and support persons arrived back in Bloomington. We came back from our 400+ mile journey down a section of the northern Mississippi River with some very intense sun tan lines in the strangest of formations and with very strong thigh muscles. We had some bumps and bruises but all returned safely and feeling very accomplished.

Our trip began on June 21st near a dam in a northern suburb of Minneapolis called Coon Rapids. We saw a lot of rapids, locks and dams and very high water. Our first day of 63 miles took us through downtown Minneapolis on a series of very well planned and maintained bicycle paths. This year we were guided not only by the superb advance planning of John but also with the aid of two GPS devices on our bicycles in the front and back of our group. I had been in Minneapolis many times but never near the river front and was wonderfully surprised with how well developed and accessible this historic place on the Mississippi is to everyone. It is a must see the next time you're in the area. Day One ended in Hastings.

Day two was a long day of eighty miles that brought us down to Fountain City, Wisconsin. We all bicycle for a variety of reasons. I ride for the absolute joy of feeling the wind on my face and knowing that my body is making it all happen along with a serene sense of spiritual peace that comes with long hours of hard work and beautiful scenery and good companionship. Incidentally, finding serenity during cold and rain is quite a task. It was unusually cool on this trip. We awoke on this day to 45 degrees and cold blowing wind. We remembered how warm it had been in Bloomington and pondered aloud about how hard it is to pack clothes for cold when leaving from a place that is so warm.

While one can bicycle without sag support, we do not. We had this year three support drivers that were simply marvelous at resourcing and good care. We were supported this year by Cindy, Amy and Susan who drove ahead, behind and beside us in the two vehicles we had. We can pack away in these vans our extra clothes, food and drinks. Our extra equipment is always within a few minutes of us if needs arise. WE ONLY HAD ONE FLAT TIRE and no equipment breakdowns. We kept one van close to us each day for on the road emergencies. The other van has the day off and these folks will often do sightseeing, sleep in late or go shopping. Our daily close by support vehicle finds a good lunch spot for us and helps us arrange to find a motel by days end. We will often not stop riding until around 7 or so in the evening and we appreciate the advance work done by our support folks.

Fountain City to La Crosse was quite a day including the infamous Alligator Slide. There is a road that follows the Mississippi River. It is flat to rolling with a fairly decent shoulder in most places. A major commercial interest along the river is sand and gravel. These huge trucks carrying these rocks give quite a blow of air as they pass by at some 60 miles per hour. Thus what happens in the creation of these bicycle rides is the planning of side trips into interesting areas. John had discovered a two mile downhill called the Alligator Slide. We had all previewed the downhill slide on youtube in a video from a helmet cam of a bicycle rider.

In the video the sun was shining, the air was warm, the cows were chewing their cuds and it was a riding utopian dream come true. On our day it was cold and rainy and windy and even the cows had enough sense to seek shelter. In addition they were doing road work at the bottom and as I came around one very sharp turn at a good speed there was one of the three huge dump trucks I was to meet in my bucolic ride. Interestingly enough in the video they don't show the 500 foot climb over the Mississippi River bluff to get to the top of that downhill slide. It was one steep ride out of Fountain City. And, of course, when you drop down two miles you just know another hill is ahead. Bicycling teaches one that the earth always insists on balance. The earth can be flat, but not for long and if you go down which one always does, you have to come back up eventually and repeatedly.

One of the things about Wisconsin is rather than put a gasoline station on every corner they put a bar with early opening hours. Lunch after the Alligator Slide was at the Detox Bar and was one of three bars in that small Wisconsin community. I would compare many Wisconsin Bars and their food to the pub food in England. Most of the time we would get shuffled to the back of the bars as we were amongst the smelliest patrons.

The Detox had a very good prime rib sandwich. That night in La Crosse we had dinner at Piggy's with a great pasta/salad/soup bar.

La Crosse to Prairie Du Chien was about a 79 mile day mainly along the river front on Highway 35. It was supposed to be sunny but the day turned out to be mainly overcast. We did not see the sun much on this trip. This day moved very fast. We had times when we were running as fast as 20-25 miles an hour in a line. Our average speed on this day was around 15 mph. The day was not intended to be long but the next day into Galena was to be and in addition hilly. So we got to our motel and took a half hour rest and then remounted and did a very hilly late afternoon ride to Bagley, WI to tick off some miles from the next day. Our support vans picked us up and took us back to the motel and repositioned us at our new beginning spot the next morning. There was a cop at the bottom of this day's last downhill and I was happily exceeding the speed limit as I came by. I would have considered it an honor to be given a speeding ticket in that particular location.

The next day from Bagley to Galena we knew in advance was going to be a tough day because of the hills, the ups and downs. We had eight major climbs this day and that was after eliminating one climb the day before. There were a few other climbs that day that added to it being one serious day of bicycling. However, in the midst of bicycling up hills and atop ridges there are simply marvelous scenes of the Wisconsin farmland and the mighty river in the middle of our country. Did I mention farm smells and skunks? Bicycling can be smelly. Rachel had a skunk encounter and the occasion dead anything along the road is always a bouquet of smells. Our ride ended in the really delightful river town of Galena, Illinois. It was Saturday night and the middle of their wine festival weekend. The town was busy and no motel rooms were available for less than $170 per room.

So we did what is available to be done as the result of having van support. Our drivers found us rooms in Clinton, Iowa for $39.00 apiece. We had a most delightful meal in an Italian restaurant in Savanna, IL as we drove toward the bridge over to Clinton. It was probably our latest night with us not arriving at our motel until near 10 PM.

We drove back to Savanna for our Sunday morning start on the bicycle trail south. This day was our last one. It was a day primarily spent on a trail as opposed to a road shoulder. We went by ancient Native American mounds from two thousand years before the current era. The trail went through many prairie locations and the flowers were brilliant. I have not mentioned previously, but the bugs were horrible, even on this last day. In many places along the river we would have to lower our heads and you could hear the bugs by the dozens bouncing off our helmets. We became adept at keeping our mouths closed. However, ears and noses were not off limits to these black gnats that swarmed in herds like buffalo on the prairie. The bugs were part of the price of admission to this ride and I came to think of them as one of the free snacks that nature provides.

Our bicycle riders were Barb, Jillann, John, Rachel, Bev and yours truly. Many of our pictures are already up on our Facebook pages and the stories are as numerous as can possibly be imagined. It was a great ride and my thanks to all who helped facilitate to make this ride a success including many of our families who pull extra duties in our absence.

I have one favorite image from the trip. In one river town there were the customary hanging pots of flowers decorating the streets. As I started to mount my bike I put my foot down and there growing out of the small crack in between the curb and the sidewalk was a purple petunia. It was not beautifully formed; in fact, it was stunted from growing through the crack. But, I so admired how it was doing its best to thrive and produce beauty from where it was planted in a most inhospitable environment. It is an image of hope that will sustain me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

MRT - Summary

Coon Rapids, Minnesota to Galena, Illinois and Savanna, Illinois to Cordova, Illinois

Official Mileage: 402 miles

Map Mileage: 393.9 miles

Recorded Mileage: 393.6 miles

Overall Average Speed: 12.4 mph

Sunday, June 26, 2011

MRT - Biking Day 6

Savanna, Illinois to Cordova, Illinois

Time: 3:17:26

Distance: 37.145 (+2) miles

Average Speed: 11.2 mph

Max Speed: 22.8 mph

Calories Burned: 1108.8

Fat Burned: 116.8 g

Since we had to stay so far away last night and most of us were ready to get back home to our families, we decided to start our day in Savanna, Illinois instead of going all the way back to Galena. Then we could drive home this afternoon. So we planned a short day of about 40 miles, mostly on a bike path.

Jack racing some trains from our starting point in Savanna

The bike path was really nice and this part of Illinois is really flat.

However, it was pretty warm today and the headwind was absolutely brutal. The first portion of the bike path went through Thomson prairie, which was really nice with big fields. However, it also went through areas called sloughs, which is really just a fancy word for swamp. This area was pretty muggy and, more importantly, BUGGY! I didn’t dare breathe through my mouth and mostly tried to ride with my head down so that the bugs would bounce off my helmet instead of my face. When we finally made it out of the slough, I had at least eight bugs down my jersey. Gross.

Views of the prairie

The headwind was so bad that this thing sprayed me on the road! Although, for the first time on this trip, I was warm enough to not mind being wet.

I really liked the pattern on the bike path. This was mostly my view as I didn’t want to eat too many bugs. Don’t make fun of my speed! The wind was terrible!

We stopped to have breakfast at a pizza place. It was delicious. After breakfast, my mood improved tremendously, even though the wind was still awful. I hate riding in wind, but my attitude directly corresponds to how hungry I am. So if you ever ride with me and I start getting testy, you should offer me your extra Clif bar or something. :)

We continued on the bike path until we reached Fulton, where there is an awesome Dutch windmill.

Red winged blackbird at the windmill. I did love all the birds on this trip.

We continued on and rode through a park where there are Indian mounds. Unfortunately, you had to hike to actually see the mounds and we were trying to get home. The rest of the day we just pedaled on along the bike path until we reached Cordova. The bike path really was lovely and most of it was lined with flowers.

I was tired and my shoulders and knees really hurt and the wind had me down. I just kept Barb in my sights (In fact, I’m pretty sure she was holding back a little so I wouldn’t get left behind. I’m very grateful that she essentially pulled me all day.) At some point I got tired of my shoulders hurting and remembered reading some time last week that if you have a helmet with a visor, try removing the visor to alleviate shoulder pain. So, I did. And it helped! So if you're experiencing shoulder pain and have a visor on your helmet, try removing it before changing your bike fit.

And then, before too long, we made it! John announced the official mileage as 402 miles in six days. We celebrated with various beverages at our SAG wagon. I had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. A very well-deserved one. Then we loaded up and headed for home.

MRT - Biking Day 5

Bagley, Wisconsin to Galena, Illinois

Time: 6:24:17

Distance: 72.484 miles

Average Speed: 11.3 mph

Max Speed: 31.8 mph

Calories Burned: 2376.0

Fat Burned: 226.7 g

I woke up this morning and all the early risers had already eaten breakfast at Hardee’s! I had apparently missed the breakfast plan discussion last night in my post-strawberry margarita stupor, so I had some gas station fare for breakfast. That was apparently the better choice anyway as the Hardee’s goers were jealous of my yogurt and banana.

Today’s riding was actually fairly uneventful overall. It was a pleasant day to ride, warm and overcast. My knees still hurt, so I didn’t race to keep up with John and just kept it steady with Jack, Bev, and Barb. We rode through a lot of farmland again and stopped for brunch in Cassville, Wisconsin. I had the best sandwich ever there. Steak, egg, and cheese. It was heavenly. Like, I might move to Wisconsin for this thing.

Lone tree in the middle of a field

After lunch, we continued on. Today’s ride was the hilliest by far. I just kept it slow and steady and tried not to put too much stress on my knees. As I mentioned above, we rode through a lot of farmland, both agriculture (corn) and livestock (cows, sheep, horses). I talked to all the cows we saw. California claims to have the happy cows, but the Wisconsin cows seemed pretty happy to me. I even passed one field where when I started talking to the cows, they all started frolicking as a herd and running alongside me. That was pretty awesome. The other interesting thing I saw today was cemeteries. In rural Wisconsin, they have random cemeteries in the middle of their fields. Most of them were pretty small, maybe just family plots, but it seemed strange to have a cemetery in your corn field. Although, out here, it’s apparently commonplace.

Places to eat out here were pretty sparse, so we ended up eating lunch at a gas station too. We did some more climbing, some of which was a little steeper than the last few days. The downhills were pretty steep today too. Some of them were pretty scary. Steep and in some places on poor roads and I rode my brakes a lot. In fact, I’m going to need new rear brake pads when we get back. We also rode on some ridge top rollers, where the road stretched out like a ribbon in front of you. I liked being able to see the path all laid out in front of me like that. I saw a lot of signs for “supper clubs,” but every time I saw one, at first I thought it said “stripper club.” It took a couple of these signs before I realized they were advertising food and not naked ladies!

We paused briefly to regroup at St. Claras, which we are guessing was a convent at some point (possibly still is). Shortly after that, we crossed into Illinois. We had a little light sprinkling of rain as we made our way to Galena. We also learned that Wisconsin drivers are just super nice, as the difference almost immediately after crossing the state line was amazing. Wisconsin drivers gave us so much room, while the Illinois drivers zoomed right past as if you weren’t even there. A couple of them scared me and really made me appreciate the consideration of the people in Wisconsin.

We made it to Galena tired and hungry. The town was bustling as their annual wine festival was going on. We also saw a wedding party taking pictures on one of the trolley cars. I hope that couple has a long and happy life together; they really made me smile after a long day. Galena is a lovely little town and it would have been nice to visit more, but being tired and hungry and gross after a day of climbing, we didn’t explore too much. I did snap just a few pictures though.

Since the wine festival was going on, there was nowhere to stay around Galena. We ended up driving quite a ways away, to Clinton, Iowa for the night, making it a pretty late night for us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

MRT - Biking Day 4

La Crosse, Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to Bagley, Wisconsin

Time: 4:40:57

Distance: 67.460 (+10) miles

Average Speed: 14.4 mph

Max Speed: 41.9 mph

Calories Burned: 2626.6

Fat Burned: 312.7 g

We woke up today with promises of sunshine! The sun never really came out, but at least it didn't rain! It was still on the chilly side, so after a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I put on my arm and leg warmers and we hit the road. My bike shoes were still wet, but since it wasn’t raining, I figured they’d dry out down the road.

We started out cruising through La Crosse, which is a college town. We rode through lots of fancy neighborhoods with beautiful houses. We connected to Highway 35 and were on our way to our destination for the day, Prairie du Chien. We rode about 10 miles and the sun came out and it warmed up. We pulled off to shed some layers. I may have accidentally flashed Jack. My shoes dried out. It was promising to be a great day!

We rode through lots of little towns and made great time. Notably, I saw a Smokey the Bear sign in Stoddard (Fire Danger Low!), but didn’t stop to take a picture with it, even though I really wanted to since I was wearing my Smokey the Bear jersey. My knees started to hurt a bit. Not sure if it was from riding in the cold yesterday or if the miles were just catching up with me or if I pounded too hard in the morning. I was averaging 16.0 mph at lunch.

We ate lunch at a biker bar called the Wooden Nickel in Ferryville, Wisconsin. It was such a lovely day, we ate outside on the deck with a view of Iowa across the river.

Great riding on Highway 35 with the best weather we’ve had so far

Wooden Nickel in Ferryville, WI

Group shot in Ferryville, WI

After lunch, we continued on. It was relatively flat, some rollers, with a tailwind. Overcast, but warm. We made it to Prairie du Chien before we knew it. Today reminded me why I love to ride my bike. :)

We got to Prairie du Chien and checked into our motel. My knees were hurting pretty badly at this point, but since we had gotten there so early and tomorrow is supposed to be long and hilly, we decided to take a 30 minute break and then ride on to Bagley to make tomorrow just a little easier. So I walked over to the gas station next to the motel and got some ice for my knees and an ice cream cone. We rested up and headed out for another 16 miles. We had one smallish climb and one huge climb, followed by the BEST. DOWNHILL. EVER! This descent blew Alligator Slide away. Perfectly smooth pavement. Curvy, but not too curvy. And not so steep to be scary. It was awesome. Also, I was quite amused by a cop sitting at the bottom, who could have pulled me over for speeding if he wanted to. I’m not sure I would even complain about a speeding ticket on my bicycle. :)

Today was a great day to ride a bike.

MRT - Biking Day 3

Fountain City, Wisconsin to La Crosse, Wisconsin

Time: 5:56:24

Distance: 65.395 miles

Average Speed: 10.9 mph

Max Speed: 32.3 mph

Calories Burned: 2028.1

Fat Burned: 173.8 g

Today was a pretty terrible day for me. Definitely not the glamorous side of bicycle touring. Which is really a shame because on a normal day, this probably would have been the most gorgeous ride ever.

I woke up still feeling a little drunk from the Celtic Dream I had yesterday (don’t judge me for being an uber lightweight!) and my diaper rash was feeling better, but hadn’t cleared up and (sorry gentlemen, TMI approaching) I started my period overnight. So before my feet hit the floor, the odds were already stacked against me. And then they just kept right on stacking. It was cold. I mean really, really cold. And windy. And raining. I had only brought shorts because I really wasn’t expecting 45*F weather in June. And my cycling shoes were still soaking wet from yesterday. I put socks on, but soon they were soaking wet too. So I was pretty miserable and slow going and was the last person ready to go. Lucky for me, I’m traveling with some of the nicest people ever and John and Rachel waited for me to get a move on. So when I finally wheeled my bike out the door of my room, I discovered I had a flat tire. Turns out that the foomph, foomph, foomph noise from yesterday was a tiny piece of plastic I picked up in my front tire. Awesome.

So we got my tube changed and were finally on our way.

Now today’s “planned” route was only 37 miles long, so really the plan was to take a side trip. Trempealeau county has been featured in several cycling articles and boasts some of the best, practically unknown cycling in the country on amazingly smooth roads (true) with very little traffic (also true). Also, John had discovered this youtube video of a road called Alligator Slide, which we all just had to do. So we replanned a route of about 60 miles for the day.

Of course the side trip route meant that the first thing we did this morning was a monster climb. This is the only hill on the entire trip that I stopped on for something other than shedding a layer. I stopped three times going up this hill. Although one of them was to talk to Cindy and Amy about getting some leg warmers. No matter that I was already stopped when they found me... :) Amazingly (the one thing in my favor today!) there was a bike shop across the street from our motel. We had stopped by on our way out, but they didn’t open for another hour. This is one of the many advantages of SAG drivers. We put Cindy and Amy on bike shop duty. They stayed in Fountain City until the shop opened (which they ended up doing early, God bless them) and bought me a tube of butt butter and leg warmers.

I did manage to pedal up the entire hill and then immediately proceeded to freeze on the other side. When Cindy and Amy delivered the leg warmers to me, it was great timing as I could no longer really feel my legs at all. I have to say that they were really the most awesome SAG drivers ever today. They plopped me in their van and toweled off my legs to warm me up and helped me wrangle on the leg warmers, which were instantly a million times better for my frozen legs.

We continued on through some rollers and up onto a ridge top where the wind was just awful. At one point I asked John if he was having fun and his answer was, “This is about the shittiest weather we could have.” If I were solo touring, I definitely would have made today a rest day, but we pressed on in the cold, cold wind and rain. I was feeling sort of emotional (by emotional, I mean depressed and loserish and slightly insane, because no sane person would do this for fun), but kept seeing random goldfinches which made me so happy. They’re such cheery little birds. Then, almost to Alligator Slide Road, I rode through a cloud of goldfinches. There were at least twenty of them and they took off from both sides of the road where they had been hiding in some tall grass right as I approached them. It was so amazing, I almost cried from happiness. Birds were really the highlight of my day today.

We turned onto Alligator Slide Road for this infamous descent. Again, I think this would have been quite lovely in better weather. It's a nice, twisty descent that featured a couple of amazing views. I almost wished I was going up the hill so I could stop and take a picture. Almost. However, it turns out that they were doing some road work on the road that connects to Alligator Slide at the bottom (I think that part of it had washed away or something) and we encountered several dump trucks on our way down which made it slightly less awesome. However, those views were amazing, even without the sun shining and I’m glad I did it.

Here we are at the bottom of the hill

At the bottom of Alligator Slide, I sat in the SAG van while we waited to regroup so I could warm up a little more. I also had a second breakfast of leftover bagels and Cindy was nice enough to give me her last Pay Day candy bar. I’m telling you, they’re awesome SAG drivers. One good thing about bicycle touring is that you can pretty much eat whatever you want. Although I think I’ve learned that I shouldn’t ride a bicycle without first consuming an appropriate amount of coffee.

Once we regrouped, we decided to change the route just a little bit so that we could eat sooner. We headed into the nearest town, Arcadia, where we had lunch at the Detox Bar and Grill. I ordered chicken poppers and macaroni and cheese. I wasn’t super impressed with this place. I only ate about half of my food (I was feeling a little nauseous, not uncommon for me in my condition), which I think was a bad decision. It's really important to eat well when you're putting in these kinds of miles. I'm just not sure I could have even forced food in though. I did decide to change out of my wet socks and bike shoes and just wear tennis shoes for the rest of the day since it seemed the rain had passed. I think that was a good decision. My feet were much happier for the rest of the day.

We rode out of Arcadia and stopped to take pictures at Memorial Park. We continued on our way where we rode on relatively flat roads through a wildlife preserve. We saw lots of birds through here. We went up our second 500 foot climb of the day and made our way to a bike trail. This middle part of the day, between Alligator Slide and the bike trail wasn’t so bad for me. I would have ended the day happy, despite my rough start, if we hadn’t ridden on the bike trail.

Memorial Park

Nice riding through here

Sandhill cranes in the nature preserve area

Last rest stop before hitting the awful trail

We eventually turned onto the bike path, which was about twenty miles of gravel. It was flat, but very slow going. I don’t mind gravel roads in short quantity; twenty miles was way too long for me. The gravel was loose in places and had patches of mud that made me fishtail. There were also long bridges that were very bumpy. Maybe I should have put my cross tires on or something, but with my bike set up as a road bike, this path was not very enjoyable. It was also longer than I expected. John kept telling me “Five more miles.” At one point we stopped in a parking lot to check our bearings because we thought we were supposed to be off the path already. I just laid down flat in the parking lot. My entire body hurt from riding on this path. My hands hurt; my neck and shoulders were killing me; my butt hurt; everything hurt. “Five more miles.” Ugh.

The sign makes it look so friendly!

The beginning of the trail, before it got too bad.

Long, bumpy bridges

Parts of it were pretty through here riding over the water. But most of it looked the same for twenty miles.

We eventually made it to La Crosse where we proceeded to get lost. This was the lowest point for me. I was starving and in pain and was just ready to get off my bike. We kept making wrong turns and had to navigate some tricky roads and patience was running low for many of us. I even considered just waiting on the SAG drivers to come pick me up, but I was told (for at least the fourth time) “Five more miles.” I was ready to kill the next person who told me that. But Rachel’s iphone GPS sorted us out and we eventually made it to our motel for the night. We pulled into the parking lot and I was so happy to not be riding my bike anymore and felt so guilty for feeling so happy about that and just hurt so bad, that I just started sobbing. Right in the parking lot. In front of everybody.

Today was a seriously challenging, both mentally and physically, day for me.

Not where we stayed. I just liked the old bike.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MRT - Biking Day 2

Hastings, Minnesota to Fountain City, Wisconsin

Time: 4:40:19

Distance: 69.407 (+10.5) miles

Average Speed: 14.8 mph

Max Speed: 35.2 mph

Calories Burned: 2373.0

Fat Burned: 284.0 g

We woke up this morning to rain. Being the resolute bicycle tourists we are, we headed out in our rain gear. Our morning had a couple of good climbs, followed by descents which I learned are pretty awful in wet weather. Giant rooster tails of water shoot off your back tires five feet in the air and your front tire splashes you in the face with road gunked water. This made it pretty difficult to see, so going downhill was a little scary. Definitely a strong argument for fenders.

We rode just over ten miles and stopped at the most wonderful roadside oasis, Nesbitt’s Nursery. This place is perfectly positioned at the peak of a hill, so people riding the MRT from either direction will be happy to find this place on their route and take a break. The food here was fantastic (I had a breakfast quiche and lemon pie) and the people were super friendly. I highly recommend stopping here. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture, even though I meant to, due to rain.

I don’t have cycle computer data up to this point because I managed to put my front wheel on backwards this morning. Luckily, I figured out my mistake and turned it around here.

We continued along the Great River Road (Highway 35). We had a couple more significant climbs, one of which featured an elk farm where we saw a small family of elk doing elk things. I also saw some llamas. We rode along Lake Pepin, a naturally formed lake on the Mississippi with beautiful bluffs on the other side. I really enjoyed this section of the ride. We stopped at Gelly’s Pub and Eatery in Stockholm, WI for lunch where I had grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. Delicious. The men’s room is apparently a sight to see as well. Something about a velvet lady with a parasol. :)

Antique store at the base of the big hill

Scenic overlook at Lake Pepin

My favorite section of road

Rental bikes outside Gelly’s in Stockholm, WI. Population 97.

Stockholm Pie Company. I thought about going there for lunch to keep with the pie trend, but unfortunately, they were closed.

After lunch, the ride was flat and fast. John and I broke off into a little paceline and we were hammering along at 22-24 mph on some stretches and made excellent time. The last ten miles or so though, I kept hearing a weird foomph, foomph, foomph noise that I could never quite figure out what it was. Also, my derriere was really starting to be uncomfortable.

Bluffs and fog, possibly in Nelson, WI

Other sites along the way

Locks and Dam

We rode straight to our motel in Fountain City, which was a pretty cool little place. My room had a hunting theme, complete with little stuffed ducks on the bed. The owners were really awesome and let us dry our wet stuff in their dryer. Awesome, awesome place. Unfortunately, while I was taking a shower, I discovered that the uncomfortable feeling in my bike shorts was essentially diaper rash. I do not recommend wearing wet bike shorts for many, many hours. Fortunately Jack had some ointment to help with such ailments and I have a newfound understanding and empathy for babies suffering from this affliction.

My room

We had dinner at The Monarch Public House, which is a traditional Irish pub sort of establishment. I had a cup of Irish stew, which wasn’t as hearty as I expected. So I also got the fish and chips, which was wonderful. I also had this amazing concoction called the Celtic Dream, because after riding 80 wet miles and developing diaper rash, one can really use some ice cream and an alcoholic beverage. This had both. And, in fact, it was so good, I’d order it again even without some lame I-just-rode-80-miles-and-my-butt-hurts excuse. :)

Overall, despite the weather, I really enjoyed today’s ride.