Friday, July 20, 2018

Day 33 - La Crosse to Mauston

We did 75 miles with 2,260 feet of climbing, did I mention, it was a wet one today.

Some pics:

When in Rome:

When we go by a SAG truck and all is good, we are supposed to put our arm out.

We saw some cows up close today:

We took a trial to the tunnels discussed below:

We went through two tunnels today.  One of them was a mile and a half long.  We were required to walk through the tunnels.  It was dark, and it was dripping like rain.  We turned all our lights off and it was very eerie, complete darkness, you could not see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I lost my balance a bit.  If you watch Stranger Things, you will know when I say I felt like I was in the "up side down."

After the last SAG stop, it really got wet out there; this was the worst rain we experienced since the trip started.  We have been pretty lucky.  I probably would have quit with seven miles left to go, it was just not fun.  But Satish really wanted to finish.  A couple of clips in the rain.

Day 32 - Rochester, MN to La Crosse, WI

New state today, Wisconsin, we were in Minnesota just a few days.

Today's ride was 87 miles, 2,700 feet of elevation gain.  I thought MN is supposed to be flat, SURPRISE.  Rain was threatening all day.  I started to sprinkle from time-to-time.  At the first SAG today, I decided to put on my rain suit.  However, as the day went on, I slowly shed it.  It only seemed to start raining in the evening, after we were back to the hotel from dinner.

A downhill, but not from the killer climb I discuss below:

We were on a bike path for over 10 miles.  It was really pretty nice.  After the path, we had lunch at Baristas Coffee House.  Then we had about an 8 mile ride to the big climb for the day.  It was only a mile, but the grade is what killed me.  The steepest grade was almost 13%.

Welcome to Wisconsin:

The Mississippi River:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Day 31 - Mankato to Rochester

100 miles, 1,800 feet of climbing.  Back-to-back centuries, never did this before.

Lot's of corn and soy.  Only video from today. 

One of the other riders got upset at me today, he became a little unhinged, ugh.  That's life.

We were pretty steady today, John started with us, but he dropped off after the first SAG.  Pretty much, Satish, Jeff and I made the whole ride.

Couple of pics from yesterday:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day 30 - Worthington to Mankato

112 miles and about 1,250 feet of climbing.

Overall, although it was one of the longer rides, I would say it went pretty well.  Did not see too much.  Here is a wind turbine; there are many of these all along the route.

Just a couple of clips:

In this clip, you can see a bit of the MN. chip seal (new).  Much easier to ride over this compared to new Oregon chip seal.

This is the Red Jacket Trail (a rails to trails project).  This is a video of the down hill.  Then we took a killer trail up hill.  Then they had one more killer uphill, so we pulled out our phone to bypass the killer up hill and we were successful.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Day 29 - Sioux Falls, SD to Worthington, MN

Completed 73 miles with about 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  Great ride today, light winds and nice lunch at a local Chinese restaurant at the end of the ride.

We stopped at a Cenex Station/Convenience Store and we were eating ice pops in the store about 15 miles outside of the town we were staying in.  We started talking to the girl behind the counter (Danielle) and she the Chinese Restaurant is pretty good.  So that is where we went and indeed iyt was very good. 

We had a nice ride along the Big Sioux River heading over to Sioux Falls; here are a couple of clips

The Big Sioux south of Sioux Falls is much more polluted with E. coli, fecal coliform, and suspended solids.  It seemed like as we were riding along the river, it kind of smelled like crap.

NEW STATE TODAY, hello Minnesota!

Interesting how the scenery seemed to dramatically change almost as soon as we crossed the state line.  Just seemed like the greens were darker and the vegetation more lush.  Still lots of corn and soy growing on both sides of the road today.  Also, the condition of the roads seemed to be much better in MN vs. SD.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Day 28 - Sioux Falls

Rest day.  We hit the half way point in South Dakota somewhere.  And we moved into a new time zone in this segment, the central time zone.

This is where I am by the numbers:

Total trip miles:  3,690
Days of trip: 50
Miles completed so far:  1,904 (I have lost about 30 miles from the total trip; due to weather and a                                              mechanical problem with the bike)
Percent miles completed:  52%
Percent days gone:  55%
Total climbing so far:  72,395'

Day 27 - Mitchell to Sioux Falls

About 74 miles and 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  Fun ride today!

We had very little wind and a pretty level ride today; a lot like riding at home.  Jeff started riding with us at about 16 miles in.  We were doing half mile pulls then rotating to the rear.  The first SAG stop was at 32 miles.  Then we started riding again and stopped at a Sinclar station/convience store at about 50 miles.  The next SAG was at about 56 miles.  

Herman and Ada, who are from the Netherlands, pulled into the SAG right behind us.  Herman and Ada ride a bit faster than us.  However, Satish asked if we could ride in with them.  Ada took the front and Herman took the rear.  The final 15 miles were almost a blur, just a lot of fun.  On a couple of hills, Herman actually pushed Jeff up the hill.  

Herman, Satish, Hugh and Ada

Then we stopped at the Thirsty Duck for lunch and those who wanted some had beers.  After lunch, we rode the final couple of miles to the hotel, only to have to wait an hour and a half for our room.  Long story there, but mostly can be summed up with two words, poor service  at the Sioux Falls ClubHouse Hotel and Suites.  Here is my Yelp review:

Day 26 - Chamberlain to Mitchell

About 74 miles and less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

Nice, relaxing day today.  And, oh, the sites we saw today.

Well, the day started out with a forecast of rain all day.  When we left, it was pretty overcast; I brought my full rain regalia (rain coat, rain pants and cinches to tie the pants legs to my legs and rain booties).  Thank goodness I did not need them today.  As the day went on, it got really nice, no rain at all; we were all very lucky.

I just thought that this was a really cool farm house I saw on the way.

South Dakota has a crazy bad fly problem, we see tons of house and horse flies.  Worse than that, been seeing a lot of mosquitoes also.  Then, when we got back to the hotel today, and put on the TV, there was a commercial about mosquitoes.  South Dakota has has the largest number of West Nile Virus cases in the United States, so be careful.  One more thought on insects, every now and then you see stacks of bee hives by the side of the road, and as you ride by them, the bees seem to be swarming all around the hives and the roads.  A little scary.

Well, around mile 10 of the ride today, we were supposed to ride itno Pukwana.  And in Pukwana, we were supposed to find the the Nascar Lawnmower race course and the Puk You Bar.  Well, we never say the signs and when we got back to the hotel, we were told, the mosquitoes down there were just horrible.  Guess it is a good thing we missed this one, or two.

Around mile 20, we found the South Dakota Tracker Museum.

KER-PLUNK is how the leaders described the road last night at the Route Rap.  The road was more like a side walk, large cement squares/slabs.  Each slab has a gap in between.  Some of the gaps are larger than others, and a lot of the slabs are uneven.  So every time you go over one of the gaps, it feels like a bump and it actually feels like ker-plunk.  Here is a short clip of the road.

As we came into the town of Mitchell, I went by a John Deere Tractor dealer, here is a short clip:

Then at the end of the ride, we went to the only Corn Palace in the world, in Mitchell, SD.  It was pretty cool.  All of this art is composed of ears of corn fastened to the wall to make the murals inside and outside of the Palace.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Day 25 - Kadoka to Chamberlain

TOUGH DAY!  About 116 miles with about 2,800 feet of climbing.  We pretty much had a head wind from the moment we left breakfast to the time we got to the hotel.

The day started with breakfast at Steakhouse 27 in Kadoka.  I thought it was pretty cool seeing all the bikes lined up in front of the restaurant.

As soon as we left breakfast, at about 6 AM, we felt the headwind; ugh, the day did not start out fun and it was a trudge, all the way through.  It was a pretty strong head wind.

About 20 miles into the ride, we hit the tour's official half way point.  Pretty much the hi lite of the day.

Then, sometime around mile 40, we went into the Central Time Zone.  So now after battling the wind for 40 miles (about 75 miles left to go), it just got an hour later to finish up today.  In a nut shell, we got to the hotel about 7 PM.

We were told that dinner was from 5-7 PM, but they set it up for Staish, Bob and I to go to dinner at about 8:30, after rap.  Bob, another rider on the tour, also got back about 7 PM too.

The only thing we saw of interest in my opinion, was a caravan of tractors.

The day ended with nine miles on I-90 and then about five more miles on a service road and then a cool bridge over the Missouri River and then a left into the hotel.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Day 24 - Wall to Kadoka

Pics from the day we entered South Dakota:

Today's ride:

57 miles with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain.  The ride was kind of tough in the beginning, we had a really strong head wind for the first 9 miles or so.  Once we got into Badlands National Park, the scenery was pretty amazing.  I have several clips of riding in the park and what I have seen:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Day 23 - Rapid City to Wall

Was supposed to be 58 miles with 1,600 feet of climbing; however, due to road construction, we did about 51 miles with 1,677 feet of elevation gain. 

The first 24 miles were pretty swift, not much wind, pretty level.  We stopped at the rest stop/SAG stop and the leaders put us in a holding pattern. 

Dave is a strong rider who has helped me out in the wind on days when it was really needed.

We were in a holding pattern because our route was under construction as was the Interstate.  So they transported us by van for about five miles.  Here is a clip of taking bikes off the van:

Regarding Wall Drugs:  Mr. Wall bought the drug store back in 1931 and there was not much going on in the town at that time.  The summers were very hot and the winters were very, very cold.  Mr. Wall's wife came up with the idea to give out free ice water in the summer time to travelers.  They put up bill boards to let the travelers know about the free ice water.  The travelers started stopping by in droves and the rest is history.  Wall Drug is now a store that is about as big as a city block.  The walls between the individual buildings were opened.  Pretty big place with a lot going on in the middle of no where.  If you would like more info, check out this link:

Going down the highway, it is much like South of The Boarder in South Carolina on I-95.  Anyone who has traveled up and down I-95 corridor knows what I mean; a bill board advertising South of the Boarder, or in the case of Wall Drugs, every mile or so, advertising Wall Drugs starting about 30 or more miles out.  And they still give out free ice water.

It was very hard to get these bill boards with the GoPro, but I tried:

They give free coffee and doughnuts to both honeymooners and US Veterans.

Stopped on the highway for a break:

Pop 818:


Monday, July 9, 2018

Day 22 - Hot Springs to Rapid City

The ride was supposed to be 73 miles with 6,400 feet of elevation gain.  However, I had a problem with my bike.  As a result, I ended up with about 32 miles and 2,900 feet of elevation gain. 

Just a few miles into the ride, we saw the prairie dogs.  If you look closely, you can see them.  But you can definitely see the burrows.  In the second video, you can hear them; and you can see them if you look for them.  They are brown.  They happen to look like big rats to me.

During the ride, we came across the biggest bike sculpture in the Midwest.

While the entire ride was up hill to this point, there was a major climb that started at about mile 27 or so.  As I got to the top, my bike was making a new noise; kind of like a tinkling in the drive train.  I got off the bike and could not really figure it out, rotating the pedals counter-clockwise.  I just could not see anything.  I did not see the chain rubbing the derailleur at all, although that is what it sounded like, the chain was rubbing something.  I could not find anything.

So I got on the bike, and headed down the big hill to the rest area/SAG.  Got down there and started to look at the drive train again.  Still could not find anything.

We went around the corner to a convenience store and stopped.  I got off the bike again and turned it over and and I immediately saw that part of the gear cable guide was missing.

The cable was actually rubbing the small chain wheel, the teeth.  That is what made the tinkling sound.  The ride leader spoke to the mechanic who stated he did not have such a part.  She then got on the phone and found a bike shop in Rapid City who had the part and said he could fix it.  As a result, my ride was finished for the day.  So I missed a lot of beautiful riding, and missed Mt. Rushmore.  But I was able to get the following when the van stopped to assist some of the other riders.

The leaders trucked me over to the bike shop and I am happy to report that the bike is fixed and ready to go for tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Day 21 - Lusk, WY to Hot Springs, SD

About 94 miles with 2,900 feet of climbing

Today was a pretty good ride.  We either had a tail wind or no wind, but definitely no head wind.  And a lot of the ride was down hill.  We had 2,900 feet of elevation gain, but about 4,500 feet of elevation loss, a lot more down hill versus uphill/climbing.  We had a total elapsed time of eight and a half hours.

Just a few miles north of Lusk, the vegetation has significantly changed:

Stage coach stop.  This guy Michael was telling us all about it, then I got out the camera, see what happened:

South Dakota (SD) state line:

We had a grueling four mile climb.  The grade was between four to six percent.  It seemed really, really hot; by the time I got to the top, I was saturated in sweat.  I had to stop two or three times just to get my breath.  At the top, one of the SAG vehicles was at the top of the climb.  They gave me some ice for my bandana to put around my neck.  It was instant relief.  

The Black Hills of SD:

Here is a link for a longer video of a good part of the down hill into Hot Springs.  This was immediately following another 1 mile climb.  But because the climb was only one mile, it did not have the same debilitating effect on me as the four mile climb.  

I was asked to get some longer videos out there, so let's try this:  Hdere is a video of the aforementioned decent, I called this video, day 21 need for speed.

Finally, welcome to Hot Springs:

Day 20 - Capser to Lusk

This ride was supposed to be 107 and 3,200 feet of climbing.  However, major construction on the Interstate caused the leaders to transfer us part of the ride and we lost 14 miles, so I had 93 miles and 2,600 feet of climbing. 

When we were in the van, one of the leaders, Karen, who is pretty funny, was commenting on the Interstate.  So Wyoming DOT was fixing one side of the Interstate, as a result, two way traffic was on the other side of the Interstate.  There was no room for cyclists. 

On the side they were fixing, first it looked like brand new paving, and Karen was wondering why, out loud, we were not allowed to ride on the new paving; new paving for a cyclist is like a dream come true.  As we were traveling, the new paving turned to hard packed dirt.  Karen said we still could have rode on that.  Well the hard packed dirt lasted for a few miles, and as it went on, Karen commented that it might not be a good idea to ride on the hard packed dirt for so long.  Then Karen, goes, oh no, this might be a problem, you would need a good head of steam and a decent ramp to make it over the bridge that was completely ripped out.  Big hole, there was no way to get over that, hehe. 

Here is a pic of Karen:

We started the ride about 6:30 AM, rather pleasant morning.  But 93 miles takes me a long time to complete.  It took over nine hours of elapsed time to complete the ride.  As the day progressed, it got hot really hot.  One of the guys we were riding with, Dave got so dehydrated that he got dizzy.  We stopped at Three Sisters Restaurant and after a bit, he said he was feeling better.  If you can see on the sign, it says "if he is lopen, we are open."  The pie was supposed to be the best, I would say, not so much.

Here we are climbing up to the Interstate:

Here is another pic of a jackalope:

Someone mentioned that this was the first school house in Wyoming, not sure, but I will go with it:

If you look closely at the beginning of the clip, you can see the Lost Springs sign shows "Pop 4."  This was the lowest population sign we have seen so far.

Finally, arrived at Lusk:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Day 19 - Casper

Rest day today.  Quick update:

Biked through Idaho, seemed like, here today, gone tomorrow:

Wyoming is taking a lot longer to get through:

The line on the US map is now legible, since it has gotten so much longer:

The accountant in me cannot help it; By the Numbers:

Total trip miles:  3,690
Days of trip: 50
Miles completed so far:  1,315
Percent miles completed:  36%
Percent days gone:  38%
Total climbing so far:  55,510'

Since we were picked up at mile 109 yesterday, we missed out on the final 10 miles.  The head mechanic was gracious enough to take us out to where we were picked up yesterday to ride the final 10 miles in today.

I thought that this was pretty cool, the bike path went along the North Platte River:

Day 18 - Riverton to Casper

About 119 miles and 2,800 feet of  elevation gain.

The start of the day looked amazing:

The guy in the center is John Dobbs; he started riding with us in the mornings to start his ride.  He typically stays with us until we start to climb and then he falls behind. 

On the ride, we stopped to take the pic of the Boysen Reservoir, and he kept going. 

We passed him once we got started riding again and we did not see him the rest of the day, but heard he got in earlier than us.  Funny thing is, we never saw him pass us; never thinking he got a ride in.  Well, low and behold, we found out he got a van ride from the 2nd to the 3rd rest stop, about a 30 mile hop.  It just made that much sense once I found that out; I knew we were a bit stronger than him and I just could not figure it out.

The day started out really nice, seemed to be going really well.  Around mile 20 we stopped at the Reservoir and then when we got back on the bikes, the headwind hit us.  It was a really strong head wind that just really took our pace down from 14 mph to 16 mph to something like 10 mph, ugh, the day just got a whole lot longer.

Right after we stopped at the first rest stop of the day, we ran into a couple of guys named Dave and Evin.  We decided to ride together.  We pretty much stayed at a pace of a steady 12 mph, rotating every half mile, and it just worked out really well.  They were like life savers.  So now instead of having to pull for a half mile every mile, I only had to pull once every two miles.  The ride truly got a lot easier.  We rode together with them like that from about mile 35 to about mile 109.  I had another flat and they even waited for me to change the flat.  (Gonna put a new tire on the bike)  Really upstanding guys!!!

At mile 104, there were a lot of grey skies, but to the south, and Karen, one of the ride leaders said Casper was dry, that we could keep riding.  At 109, they scooped us up saying the storms were coming our way.  I will say we saw lightning, but never heard the thunder, so that means we were never in danger.  And it was raining pretty good when we were picked up. 

Proof of a small town:

We also saw Hells Half Acre.  The clip of the video said the buffalo killed themselves, that is incorrect; here is more info:

Hunters herded the bison and drove them over the cliff, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. Tribe members waiting below closed in with spears and bows to finish the kills. The Blackfoot Indians called the buffalo jumps "pishkun", which loosely translates as "deep blood kettle". This type of hunting was a communal event which occurred as early as 12,000 years ago and lasted until at least 1500 AD, around the time of the introduction of horses. The broader term game jumps includes buffalo jumps and cliffs used for similarly hunting other herding animals, such as reindeer. The Indians believed that if any buffalo escaped these killings then the rest of the buffalo would learn to avoid humans, which would make hunting even harder.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Day 17 - Dubois to Riverton

Just under 80 miles with about 1,600 feet of elevation gain.  This was the fastest ride for me so far.  Satish pulled me for about 50 - 60 miles; anyone that knows me knows I am a draft hog.  Also, we had some tail winds, but some head winds also.  The key was we had a net of 2,000 feet of elevation loss, lot more downhills versus uphills, that is why it was by far the fastest ride for me so far during the tour.  In other words, FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

It was really cold this morning:

Pic from yesterday:

Dubois was a quaint, wild west town.  The sidewalks were wooden planks, just like in the olden days.  Dinner last night was not the best, but breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe was pretty good.

From the Wind River Indian Reservation:

Smallest town we went through so far:

Day 16 - Jackson to Dubois

Dubois is famous for the Jackalope:

This ride was originally scheduled for over 80 miles; however, beginning last year with the new President, bike tours were no longer allowed to ride through Teton National Park.  As a result, the ride leaders transported us through the park and we were able to ride 53 miles with 3,300 feet of elevation gain.

I rode this ride up to and over the Continental Divide.  On the way down, the winds really picked up and the rain started.  While I was prepared for the rain, the wind was so strong that I felt like I was going to be blown over.  Further, the rain storm turned into a lighting storm.  When the lightning started, I had the van pick me up.  I did not feel safe  to ride in the lightning with the very strong winds, so I ended up with almost 44 miles with almost 3,200 feet of elevation gain.

Me being a weather weenie:

View from the start of the ride:

Climbing begins:

Downhill begins:

This must be a Wyoming thing, they make arches out of the antlers of dead elk.

Day 15 - Idaho Falls to Jackson

About 91 miles and 6,100 feet of climbing.

Today we say goodbye to Idaho and hello to Wyoming.

One of the tour guides mentioned that this is the TOUGHEST day on the tour.  We had two tough climbs, but at about the 75 mile mark, the 2.5 mile climb at a 10% grade started.  And it just seemed like it never ended.  It took us about an hour to make the climb.  I think the altitude was affecting my performance.  My heart was beating very fast; the only way to control it was for me to pull over and wait a few moments.

This was the first climb, the EASY climb (lol).

Rest stop:


Snake River:

Top of the world:

Hello Wyoming:

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Day 14 - Pocatello to Idaho Falls

A couple of pics from yesterday:

South Broward Wheelers Jersey Day in Idaho:

On the road:

Who ever thought I would say a ride that was almost 67 miles with just under 500 feet of elevation gain is an easy ride.  Just seemed kind of easy; tomorrow will be BACK TO WORK!

I had a dog chase me today.  This was the second time during the trip I had this occurrence.  A little chihuahua was hiding in the brush.  As I was passing, he bolts out of the brush barking like only one of those dogs can and he stayed with me, longer that I thought was possible.  But I should also add, when a dog chases me, it always seems like it lasts a lot longer than it should.

During the ride I saw a catapult, not sure what it was doing on a farm, nor why would a farmer pay for such a device, but here it is just the same:

During the ride, we were riding along the Snake River a lot, here is a clip:

Did not really see anything else of interest until we got to Idaho Falls and the falls were pretty cool.