Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30 2014 Frankenmuth to Memphis MI

Last night we had the famous Frankenmuth chicken dinner.  It was one of the best meals on the tour.  After supper it started to pour. The rain just hammered down.  So it was hit the tent right after rider meeting. The lightening and thunder continued until around 10:00 Pm and the rain continued on until after midnight. 

When I got up in the morning the clouds where still hanging around and it looked like more rain was on the way.  Ed W and I started down the road together.  It was really humid and cold.  Maybe even gloomy.  At mile 10 it started to spit on us but it never amounted to much.  By 11:00 Am the clouds were starting to break up.   I rolled into camp just after 1:00 Pm and the sun was out.  It was good to be in early as I had a ton of chores to do.  My bike needed some maintenance and it was good to get everything dried out after all of the rain.

Lunch was at Brown City which claims to be the birthplace of the motorhome.  I have no idea why.  Brown City also had a very nice 911 memorial.  

We are riding through pretty rural country side which consists of small farms with very little elevation change. The towns are all quite small and look as though they have seen better days. 

Ken C had some interesting facts today. We have covered 75% of the distance and 75% elevation gain.  We crossed the 3000 mile mark Frankenmuth.  The total ride was 4273 miles and we have 1088 remaining after today’s 80 mile ride. 
Tomorrow we enter Canada on our way to Niagara Falls.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29 2014 Farwell to Frankenmuth MI

It was cold and dark when the 5:20 alarm went off this morning. In fact it was so dark that I had to turn on my led tent lantern.  The heavy cloud cover was blocking any light from getting through. This made it really hard to get rolling. 

The ride was really three parts to day.  The first part was 37 miles down the Pare Marquette trail.  This was a continuation of yesterdays ride.  The route was almost dead flat and the pavement was very close to perfect.  There was a pretty good west wind blowing however being inside the green tunnel formed by all the overhanging trees it was not a factor. It was quite dark riding down the pathway as there was no sunlight getting through.  The sides of the path were covered in yellow and purple cone flowers which were very beautiful.    Ken C and I rode down this section in no time flat.  The path way ended in a big parking lot which lead to city path and then on to a busy road.  This took us out to picnic at mile 42. 

Picnic was kind of cold as Ken and I had been working quite hard and worked up a good sweat.  So we rolled as soon as we could.  The second part of the ride which was 20 miles down a quite busy road. However with the wind at our backs we sailed down it in no time flat. Although I did not look at my watch I think we made it in less than an hour.

The third part was the most difficult as we turned south for 20 miles. The road was in terrible condition and the west wind was now a side wind.  Even though it was coming over your shoulder it was a terrible grind. Ken and I took turns on the west side which really helped. 

Frankenmuth is a Bavarian town and home to the Frankenmuth chicken dinner. We are going out to have the famous chicken dinner tonight.  There is also the Bonner Christmas store in Frankenmuth.  It is the size of a Walmart.  You can get anything related to Christmas there.  I had seen it in 2010 so I sent Ken over to see it and he came back humming “Jingle Bells”

I am really hoping for a break in this cold and rainy weather.  It would be nice to cycle with out being all layered up. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28 2014 Ludington to Farwell MI

It was cold last night (50F) with a nasty cold north wind blowing pretty much all night.  The wind kept the tent flapping almost constantly the entire night.  Then at 12:00 AM the metal casting company which was across the road from the school started up. They were grinding up scrap metal and making new castings so there was an on going grinding noise and being on the north side of the school there was a kind of acidy smell spread across the school grounds where we were camped.  This was in residential neighbourhood.  I can’t imagine living across from it. 

I dressed warm for the day as it was only going to reach 61 F and with the north wind blowing it was going to be a cold day.  I also put on my winter work gloves as cycling gloves were not going to cut it.  I was glad I had them as it was cold on the bike even after I got rolling. 

Ed W and I started out together and rode down to picnic which was at mile 42 in the historic town of Idlewild which was a African American resort town while there was still segregation in the US. Idlewild also had the Flamingo Club there and it was a place for African Americans to perform.  The Flamingo club is closed now and the resorts are pretty much empty as there is no more segregation in the US. 

Ken C joined the two of us at lunch and the three of us rode on.  We still had 52 miles to go so we hurried along and picked up Earnie who joined us.  At mile 58 we started down the Pare Marquette Trail where John joined us.  This trail is a paved rails to trail path and is very nice.  It is heavily wooded so we were happy to be out of the north wind.  With 5 of us in a line we made great time and were down to Farwell in no time flat.  We had a great time together and just gobbled up the miles.

After we got to town Ed and I broke off from the group and found an ice cream shop where we enjoyed some locally made ice cream. It was wonderful.


July 27 2014 Rest Day Ludington

It was so nice to sleep in this morning.  I didn’t stir until 6:30 AM  and lay in bed until almost 7:30 Am.  After a quick shower I was on my bike and rolled downtown to find breakfast.  I found a nice looking place and went in and had French toast.  It was great not standing in line to be feed and having really plates and metal knife and fork rather than plastic.  It is amazing how the little things that we take for granted become important.

It was really foggy this morning however the fog burned off and it has turned into a beautiful day. 

After I got back to camp  I was just wondering about laundry when the custodian showed up and unlocked the laundry for the riders to use.  I quickly threw my stuff in with Derek’s stuff and it was done in no time. 

I finished my pictures and walked downtown with some other riders for lunch.  It hasn’t been a very exciting day but then rest days are suppose to be rest days.   All I have to do is find a place with internet so that I can post my blog.  Maybe at supper tonight. 

Tomorrow is a 94 mile day and most of it is down a paved path.  This will make it an easier ride but a longer day as you cannot go very fast down the pathways.


July 26 2014 Plymouth WI to Ludington MI

Last night Colleen G drove up to take Ken C and myself out to supper.  We went out to a very nice restaurant.  We had a great visit and caught up on all the stuff which has happened since last February when I left Trilogy. It was a lot of fun hearing all the gossip. It was also very nice to have a meal away from the group where you didn’t have to stand in line to be feed.     

Today was billed as the longest short day on the tour.  The ride itself was only 40 miles however it takes 12 hours to get in.  I left camp in Plymouth at 7:00 Am and headed towards Manitowoc. 

The route was down a lot of very nice quiet back roads with absolutely perfect weather.  At times there was even a hint of a tail wind.  Ken C and I rode along together and were not in any real hurray as the ride was only 40 miles.  At about the 25 mile mark we got our first view of Lake Michigan.  The lake is so large that you cannot see the opposite shore.  When you got an off shore breeze it was about 10 degrees cooler. 

We rolled into Manitowoc and continued on down to Kathy’s house. She was a Cycle America staffer many years ago and now hosts the group for picnic when they come to town.  Kathy had a huge feast laid out for us and the hungry cyclists fell upon it like a cloud of locusts.   From Kathy’s house it was only a mile down to the ferry which runs from Manitowoc to Ludington. 

The ferry is called the Badger and it crosses Lake Michigan.  This ferry was launched in 1953 and burns coal.  The Badger is 410 feet long so it is only a few feet shorter than a World War II aircraft carrier.   By today’s standards it is small and slow.  It takes 4 hours on a good day to cross the lake.  I found a good place to sit and work on my pictures

After the ferry docked it was only a couple of miles down to the school in Ludington where we are staying.  There was a time change on this side of the lake so I lost an hour.  This meant that when I rolled into camp it was 7:00 PM.   It took me 12 hr to reach camp on a 40 mile ride. So I got my tent set up and went for supper with Ed W.   We had a real good visit over supper and a couple of beers.

Tomorrow is a rest day so I will finish my pictures and get my blog posted. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25 2014 Beaverdam to Plymouth WI

Breakfast this morning was down at the Ponderosa.  This meant that it would be at 7:00 am rather than at 6:30 Am.  An extra 30 minutes to lay in bed yahoo.  I still woke up at 5:20 even though the alarm was set for 5:50 but laying there in the sleeping bag was so nice. There was a sprinkle of rain at about 5:30 but it only lasted 10 minutes or so. However it was enough to make me re-evaluate what I would wear today.  So I pulled out the heavier arm warmers and the leg warmers.

Breakfast was really nice at the Ponderosa.  No egg casserole, no coffee made with one spoon of coffee for a 10 gallon urn. Instead we had fresh French toast, very nice pastries, real bacon and good coffee.  It was hard not to over eat and then regret it when you had to get on the bike.

The morning was over cast and there were a few spits of rain but not enough to make me pull the rain coat.  It was nice on the bike as there was no sun load and the cooler air made it quite pleasant.  There was a good wind out of the south which was a cross wind when we headed east and a tail wind on the north legs. 

The route was a different one from the 2010 route. In 2010 we rode down a crushed limestone rails to trails route for the first 50 miles.  This year we rode down a lot of back roads alternating east and north.  The back roads were generally very nice but some of them had a lot of cross cracking which gave you a rather harsh ride.  There was an option to ride  about 4 miles out to see this bird sanctuary  which I did but all I saw was some Canada geese and  a lot of squirrels.  The bird sanctuary was on the migratory route but I guess everyone had flown north.

I got to within 4 miles of picnic when the rain got hard enough to make me pull out the rain jacket.   After picnic there was only 20 miles to ride in and it was down a lot of tree lined roads. There were almost no traffic and a person had to remember to watch for approaching vehicles.

It was a very nice ride and after I go to the school the sun finally peaked out. Best part is that tonight Ken C and I are meeting Colleen G for supper.  She has some reservations and I am really looking forward to this.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24 2014 Baraboo to Beaverdam WI

Last night Earnie and I camped at the top of the hill so we had a beautiful view of the Baraboo hills to the south.  It was well worth packing our bags up the hills

This morning we had a relatively short ride of only 65 miles up a new for 2014 route to Devil’s Lake.   So being that Ed W had routed it he was riding today so the two of us set off together.   It didn’t take long before those hills we enjoyed looking at were being climbed and they were steep.  At the top was Devil’s Lake which was very pretty and the sun was shining on the steep rock cliffs surrounding the lake.  

After a quick stop to enjoy the view we headed down the other side and enjoyed a great down hill decent.  There were a lot of steep pitches to come though.  The hills were just a little too long to be a roller coaster ride as you had to grind up the last half of nearly every one.   The other high light was a free ferry ride across the Wisconsin River.  Rolling down a short hill and onto a a tem minute ride was fun.  

Picnic was only 30 miles out se we were at picnic by 9:30 Am.  I was glad to see picnic as there is always such good treats and lots of fresh fruit.  Breakfast was pretty poor this morning so I was hungry. 

At picnic Ed and I picked up Earnie who is always great to tag along with.  He never fails to have a quick comment on stuff.  Ed got out front and was just charging.  I was working as hard as I could to stay with him.  I think that I was only able to get a couple of turns for maybe a total of 4-5 miles and Earnie was only able to get one turn of maybe a mile before Ed was back out front. This fast train put us into town at just 12:30 PM.

A place called Chippy’s Popcorn Creations was offering free lemonade to Cycle America riders so we rolled in there and had an ice cream cone and a glass of home made lemonade which was great. Earnie bought ---  Thanks Earnie. 

Another Great Day.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23 2014 Sparta to Baraboo WI

The day started with a great breakfast at Ginny’s Cupboard cafĂ©.  The cinnamon rolls were excellent and so was the homemade granola.  Last nights supper there was great so I knew this morning’s breakfast would be good as well.  Earnie, who only eats breakfast at McDonalds came by and met Ken C and myself so we could ride out together. 

Today was the Sparta-Elroy bike trail and the 400 bike trail.  These two trails are probably the best know of all of the rails to trails routes.  The Sparta – Elroy bike trail was one of the first routes. It is approximately 32 miles long and is a crushed limestone surface which is very ride able on road bike tires.  The 400 bike trail starts in Elroy and and runs up to Reedsburg. It is 22 miles long.  I believe it was named after the express passenger train which ran up this route.  Today it is a tree lined piece of bike heaven. 

Earnie, Ken C and I started the day with photos of Ben Biken the giant statute in Sparta of a man on a penny farthing bike.  Then on down the trail we went. It was just beautiful with the sun shining through the trees.  The first 7 miles are about 2% grade up to tunnel #3 which is 3800 feet long.  The sign said it was completed in 1837 using dynamite. However I don’t think dynamite was invented until much later.  You have to walk the tunnel as the surface is quite rough and there is a lot of water dripping down making the surface inside the tunnel slippery.  On down the trail to the next tunnel which is much shorter and dry in side.  The last tunnel is only a few hundred feet and a person could easily ride it but I chose to walk it as I don’t need a stupid accident to end my trip.  

Riding along under the green canopy so far from all the cars and traffic was absolutely great. I am just going to let the pictures speak for them selves. 

At the end of the trails we had a further 17 miles to ride down some rather hilly back roads to get into Baraboo.  Earnie has been telling us he knew a great place to camp at this place but when we got here there is a construction project under way on Earnie’s spot.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22 2014 Pepin to Sparta WI

It was hot and humid last night.  In fact it was so hot that I took my watch off.  There were a lot of trains which rolled through the town and as none of the crossings are controlled the trains blew their whistle 5-6 times as they went through town.  I think there was one every twenty minutes or so.  The town air raid siren went off about 9:30 pm.  There was a little sprinkle of rain around midnight and it sure cooled things off. 

To day we had a 95 mile ride so it was going to be a hot and humid ride. There were people bailing out of camp at 6:00 am so that they could get a jump on the ride.  Fortunately it was heavily clouded over and the south wind which had been plaguing us had shifted around and was now out of the SW.  So most of the day we had a reasonable enough tail wind.  I had set off with Ed W but he had eaten his Wheaties this morning and soon left me in the dust. 

The country side has changed from the wide open flat plains with huge fields to rolling country side.  The road generally follows one branch of the Mississippi or another so it is pretty flat but there are huge bluffs on either side.  The Army Corp of Engineers has constructed dams and locks all the way down the river. 

I got down to picnic which was at mile 47 by around 10:30.  After picnic there were several longer hills to climb and being the end of the day it was tough.   I saw a couple of signs which said 89 F but my bike computer was reading 101 F.   I rolled in at 2:30 and found Ed so we headed off to DQ to get ice cream cones.   By the time we got back my odometer was reading 99.5 miles, however I didn’t go ride around the block to get the century it was just too hot.


Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21 2014 Northfield MN to Pepin WI

I know that there are people out there who would argue with me but I personally believe that today is one of the most beautiful rides on the tour. I have been looking forward to  this day for several weeks.

We started the day with a hardy breakfast in the St Oalf Cafeteria.  There was just about every kind of breakfast food you could think of on the buffet.  The cafeteria didn’t open until 7:00 so we got to sleep in to boot.  The ride today is only 68 miles and Greg had told us that he would be delayed getting in to camp so don’t rush down to Pepin.  This gave us extra time to have a second cup of coffee before hitting the road.

The ride is really two parts the first part before lunch is a short spin down to Cycle America World headquarters in Cannon Falls and the bike path.   After a quick tour of world head quarters and a refill of water bottles I was on my way down the bike path.  The Cannon Falls bike path is a 17 mile rails to trail ride down to the town of Redwing.  It is beautiful paved path with a green canopy of mature trees over it.  Most of the path is a gentle down hill which follows the river. You could roll along at `5 mph with barely a pedal stroke. 

The path ends in the town of Redwing where picnic was.  Picnic was in a beautiful green park on the Mississippi river.  Redwing is famous for the Redwing boots.  Jos is a big fan of Redwings and rode over to the factory and got a tour.  I sat down in a chair over looking the river to finish my lunch and promptly fell asleep.  When I woke pretty much everyone had left.

After picnic you cross the Mississippi River and enter Wisconsin.  The second part of the ride is along the river and then the river widens and forms Lake Pepin.  The road is gently rolling and has a beautiful smooth shoulder.  There is very little traffic and hardly any trucks.  You pass through several quaint little summer cottage towns which over look the lake.  It is so pretty along the lake it is easy to see why there would be lots of summer cottages.  Naturally some of the summer cottages look more like summer mansions.

Being I left picnic late I didn’t get into camp in Pepin until 2:30. By not it was pretty hot.  My bike computer showed 101 F however I saw a lighted sign which said 89F.   However Greg was not yet set up.  So I stopped at a gas station with several other riders and ate donuts and drank iced tea.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20 2014 Rest Day Northfield MN

We had our rest day on the St Oalf College Campus in Northfield MN.  It is a beautiful campus located on a hill overlooking the town of Northfield MN. There are approximately 2500 students enrolled here.  Northfield is the site of the famous bank robbery by Jesse James. 

The campus consists of these beautiful sandstone buildings set amongst these huge maple trees.   Scattered on the lawns are Adirondack chairs and running between the huge maple trees are really fat squirrels.   

Ken and I got up and wandered over to the cafeteria and had a laid back breakfast. Lingered over coffee and then wandered on down to Walgreens to get a new razor.  I am tired of using disposables which give you a terrible shave and are scratchy. 

Bike cleaning was next on the agenda. SQUIRREL With this chore behind me the only thing to do was to sit in one of the Adirondack chairs read a book and have an afternoon nap.  It was pure heaven. 

Sunday supper was in the campus cafeteria and it was great.  This is a huge upgrade from the Northfield Middle school where we stayed in 2010.

The following week is one of my favourites with all of the bike paths,  the ice cream parlours, and of course the ferry ride across Lake Michigan.