Jay and I have been on the road 4 days now since we met up in Minneapolis, and this was day 9 for me after leaving Houghton on May 7. I've biked over 750 miles so far. Tonight Jay and I are staying at the University of Minnesota Moorhead campus in their dorms, so I'm able to give an update on the ride so far. It's pretty late, so I'm not able to go into much detail about each day, but at any rate you'll be able to tell where we are and where we've been.
Jay and I are both feeling really good so far. We haven't had any real technical problems yet (I had one flat tire), we're eating healthy (and LOTS), and we've been getting lots of good sleep at motels or campgrounds. We have yet to see any other bicycle tourists, but everyone tells us people usually ride this route from west to east because it's easier! We just reply that we like a challenge, so we're riding it backwards. We're on the cusp of North Dakota, and we hope to make it to Minot, ND in 4 days, where hopefully we'll be able to update again.
Tuesday, May 15: Battle Lake, MN to Moorhead, MN (97.5 miles)
Almost 11 hours on the road today (including breaks), with over 8 hours of actual ride time. Pretty strong, mostly NNW winds gave us a little trouble and kept us slow today. Jay's summed up the day during the ride: "I bought these extra gears for mountains, not wind!". Really pretty, rolling farmland up until about mile 40, then it started to flatten out until a generally flat Fargo/Moorhead area. Tonight we're at the University of Minnesota Moorhead campus dorms.
Monday, May 14: Long Prairie, MN to Battle Lake, MN (65 miles)
Whew, today was a toughie. We left Long Prairie and about 7 miles into the ride my front tire went flat. Luckily it was a hole in the tube and an easy fix, but the winds today weren't so nice. Really strong, 25 mph NW winds beat us up today. We cashed in early after 65 miles, after figuring we'd pedaled more than we would on a 100 mile day.
Sunday, May 13: Springvale, MN to Long Prairie, MN (107 miles)
We learned the joy of a strong tail wind today. From about mile 40 to mile 70 we had 15-25 mph winds from the east pushing us along. We were able to sustain speeds of around 25 mph (we think 15-16 mph is a good average on a loaded bike!) without much effort at all. A crazy, really nice lady today flagged us down in front of her house and gave us coffee, water, cookies, and cupcakes, and said she always likes to take care of the bikers she sees ride by.
Saturday, May 12: Minneapolis to Springvale, MN (107 miles)
Jay and I said our goodbyes to Katie, Joe, and Joe's family today as we pedaled away from Minneapolis. A local MS benefit ride found lots of bikers on the trail from St. Paul to Stillwater, so it was cool to see so many people out riding. We were also able to sample the free snacks and gatorade at one of their rest stops...not a bad deal at all. We had a gorgeous day and made a great find at a campground: $2.50/person to camp! We slept well tonight after some good miles, an entire pizza, and some hot showers.
Friday, May 11: Rest day
Today I was able to rest and change the pedals on my bike after the old ones fell apart. Katie and I drove into Minneapolis to meet up with Jay and Joe, eat some pasta, and get prepped for the ride tomorrow.
Thurdsay, May 10: Luck, WI to Prescott, WI (88 miles)
I started wondering today when the sunshine will end. Is it normally like this in the midwest? The hills grew in stature yet again today, with some resembling small mountains just southeast of the Twin Cities. My left pedal practically fell apart (for reasons unknown) around mile 60, but I was able to keep it together until the ride was over. I made it to Katie's aunt and uncle's home today and just about collapsed after all those hill in the St. Croix river valley.
Wednesday, May 9: Lac Coute Oreilles, WI to Luck, WI (95 miles)
Another fantastic day for riding...today I'm wondering why I didn't even think of bringing sunscreen. More beautiful Wisconsin countryside today, this time getting a bit bigger in the hill department. I met up with Chase, a friend from school, at his parents' cottage north of St. Croix Falls, where he treated me to Alaskan wild salmon and grilled vegetables, and a cheese/salmon omelet for breakfast. A couple of perfect meals to fuel my legs and some great fellowship.
Tuesday, May 8: Wakefield, MI to Lac Coute Oreilles, WI (97 miles)
I woke up to beautiful sunshine today, and the riding conditions were perfect. I traveled through the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin, but didn't have any luck seeing the elusive elk that habituate the area. I arrived at my campsite on a small finger of Lac Coute Oreilles lake to discover that I had dropped a sandal somewhere! I checked out the side of the road for a few miles back, just to the grocery store, but had no luck. After getting back to my campsite after buying groceries, I discovered that there were loons on this part of the lake, so falling asleep listening to them made losing a sandal seem not too bad.
Monday, May 7: Houghton, MI to Wakefield, MI (108 miles)
Today I locked my door as on a normal day, except this time my bike was loaded to take me to Seattle. I met up with Jay and Dave Watkins, who escorted my out of town. After they headed back to town, I had a nice long day to realize how great it's going to be to be on the bike for the next month with no other priorities. Reality set in at mile 40, when it started to rain and the wind picked up. I faced rain and wind for the next 65 miles (thank goodness for fenders!), but finally made it to Wakefield, where I was able to find a nice cheap hotel to dry off, take a bath, and clean my bike up.