Day 1: May 25, 2020 Anacortes, WA to Marblemount, WA 58 miles: Rainy Day Schedule
Today was fairly uneventful except for a constant Washington rain that was light but consistent the whole day. We got soaked, Ed had a flat at about mile ~30. Hills were moderate and just entry-level to prepare us for the next big day of 86 miles and 7200ft of climbing. The evening was spent at the Apline RV Park just outside of Marblemount, WA.
Day 2: May 26, 2020 Marblemount, WA to Winthrop, WA 86.3 miles: No way out, just keep going
It was clear and not raining today, that’s where the fun ended. From Marblemount we went up. 7200ft in ~55 miles, including the descent off of Washington Pass we accumulated 86.3 miles for the day. Anyone familiar with these numbers in the amount of distance ridden understands this is a huge ride in a short distance. The scenery was spectacular and the traffic was really light which we totally appreciated. We finished with plenty stories …like probably the toughest day in the saddle ever or in a long time. We had no mechanical’s, flats or other problems. We suffered like the dogs we are and lets hope that our powers of recovery do their job tonight for us tomorrow. Stay tuned…
Day 3: May 27, 2020 Winthrop, WA to Riverside, WA 52 miles: Unexpected pass
So, we got a late start this morning after cleaning bikes and closing up the rig for the journey to Riverside. Ed and I rolled-out and were met with a road work stoppage about a mile and a half from camp. That took about 10min, and we were on our way. Went thru Twisp, WA and immediately went north and up. We climbed the Loup Loup pass which was about a 10 mile climb at around 5-9% grade. Mostly 7-8%. We were kind of not expecting this as Google Maps was showing a ~2900ft elevation gain when in actuality it was more like 3800ft of climbing. Nonetheless, it was way less than yesterday but we felt today and we were ready to end the ride at 52 miles when we rode into camp this afternoon. We’re looking at another ~3500ft of climbing tomorrow which is mostly back-loaded towards the end of the ride, not sure if that’s good or bad. We’ll find out.
Day 4: May 28, 2020 Riverside, WA to Republic, WA 66 miles: Another Pass and much road work…
We headed out from Riverside, WA a little later than we wanted around 9:15am or so. We headed north east on hwy 20 towards Tonasket. It was pretty easy riding until then and right out of Tonasket we hit our first real climb of the day. Only made brutal because of the last two days of climbing. After approximately 22 miles of climbing we finally got to the top of Wauconda Pass, elevation 4052ft. I was toast but Ed was riding strong. We hit a few road work scenarios towards the pass and made it thru, the stoppage was welcome for me. We blasted down the pass into Republic, WA where were going to stay the night. Minimal services there but Rhonda was able to wrangle a place to park at the local fairgrounds. That worked out well but no hookups. Kinda sucked but not too bad. Found a good pizza place to order a couple pies so we did. I guess covid is still going on in these small liberal towns, kinda blows since I thought it would be over by now. Tomorrow we’re off to Kettle Falls, opting to only have a 42 mile day opposed to a 70 mile day.
Day 5: May 29, 2020 Republic, WA to Kettle Falls, WA 42 miles: A slightly easier day …sort of
Headed out of Republic, straight up hwy 20 east. Climbed for about 15 miles at between 5-8%. The legs felt it as they have four full days of climbing in them. Slow and steady was the name of the game today. Ed was strong once again and led us up the mountain. We were greeted by roadside streams coming off the mountain at the pass where we could fill up our water bottles and scream down the hill. Met Rhonda riding up about 10-11 miles out of Kettle Falls and made our way into town. Setup camp in an overflow area of an RV park, where we have wifi, laundromat and showers. It’s Friday night and all the surrounding National Park campgrounds are closed so everybody is hitting the RV parks and of course it’s Friday night. Rest day after tomorrow in Sandpoint, ID. We have reservations, yay!
Day 6: May 30, 2020 Colville, WA to Sandpoint, ID 60 miles: Ummmm, as my Uncle Rollie would say, “Now that’s done!”
Headed out off from Colville, we cheated a bit and got a lift to the top of 49 Mountain Resort, we rode from there to Sandpoint about 60 miles or so. It wasn’t so bad but with 5 days of grueling miles on our legs, it wasn’t a cake walk. We finished with a little of fatigue, but happy to know we’ve got a day of rest. It’s all awesome, got some chores to do tomorrow and some naps to have, but it’s all good. Not to mention major electric storms tonight and good sleepin’. Be ready for a big day on Monday morning. See you in Libby, MT!
Day 7: May 31, 2020 Rest Day Sandpoint, ID: Recover, fix stuff on the rig and have some good food in downtown SandPoint, ID.
To say the rest day was a welcome time, was a major understatement. It was nice to go out and get something to eat at a local brewery/restaurant and dine-in! The place was call Mick Duff’s and the food was great and the beer was cold! We did some shopping to try and address some little issues with the rig and some things that would help us while we’re boon-docking with no hookups during the week. If you’ve ever owned a motorhome or trailer you know there’s always something that could use to be improved, made better or fixed. This is no exception, we fixed a few latches outside on doors (still need to find some parts), I added the capability for us to be able to charge our electronics that can charge off standard USB using just our two big Optima D31M batteries. Since we added two, 200 watt solar panels we have power for days and being able to charge and use power off these batteries has been great. They’re always topped-off at 13.6 volts. Cleaned bikes and got ready for week two!
Day 8: June 1, 2020 Sandpoint, ID to Libby, MT: 81 miles 3000ft of climbing A big upside-down U.
Day one of week two was a long day by our standards. Overall climbing wasn’t quite as bad as what it has been but it was still a tough day. Basically, we traveled more north and south than west to east. The scenery was spectacular in the mountains and pretty much nothing was flat. To my estimation we had two cat 1 climbs and one cat two climb. We stopped in Troy, MT and got a nasty frozen bean burrito, warmed it up, ate it and watched the traffic go by for a while. We then knocked-out the last 15-20 miles into Libby, MT.
Day 9: June 2, 2020 Libby, MT to Whitefish, MT: 61 miles 2600ft of elevation gain. Kind of a bypass.
In the morning of day 9, I was looking closely at the map and satellite imagery on google maps. The original route I spec’d out seemed to be a fire road and mostly gravel. Since we’re on road bikes and don’t fancy off-road terrain with these bikes, we got a ride to Rexford, MT from Libby which was due north of Libby and we felt since it didn’t go west-east we were ok going up there and riding down to Whitefish. The day turned-out to be a bit of a tough one since there were minimal to no services between there and Whitefish. Luckily, realizing this, Rhonda had pulled over for us around mile 40 and was a lifesaver. We got water, a bit to eat and were on our way into Whitefish. The ride itself was relatively uneventful until the end where the road narrows significantly going into to a busy Whitefish, MT town. Once into town we were able to get something to eat at a great new brew pub. Another 60 in the books.
Day 10: June 3, 2020 Whitefish, MT to Essex, MT: 63 miles 3300ft of elevation gain. Great burritos, scenery and tailwinds ….mostly.
Heading out of Whitefish was fairly pleasant, we stopped at a coffee shop about 10 miles out on the route. We headed out to West Glacier and found a place near the entrance to Glacier National Park that was making burritos and tacos. We had to stop, they were the best burritos ever. We could only eat half of like this 2lbs burrito. We wrapped-up the other half put em in our back pockets and carried them home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t ride thru Glacier National Park up the “Riding to the Sun Rd.” Saved for another time, it’s a spectacular area. The rest of the ride thru this valley on route 2 was awesome! We stopped at a great lodge being renovated and had one of those suspended rooms you can rent pictured below. The rest of the ride was in front of a great tailwind and ended up at a great RV Park called Glacier Meadow RV Park.
Day 11: June 4, 2020 Essex, MT to Cur Bank, MT: 59 miles 1100ft of elevation gain. Crossing the Continental Divide and heading down to Cut Bank.
This day led us into the high terrain of the flat lands (at least flatter than we’ve been seeing since we started). Today we headed out and started close to the official Continental Divide, we stopped and took some pictures before heading out. To start out we had a nice 10 mile downhill in to a pretty depressed East Glacier town. Pretty much everything was closed-up except for the one gas station in town. There was an Amtrak station in town as well but doesn’t look like it has seen any action in a long time. Many, many trains coming thru though. Further down we rode into the town of Browning, MT. This has to be the most depressing place we’ve gone thru on the trip so far. We tried to stop for just water with no success. They are requiring both masks and gloves to enter any structure. We rode out of town as fast as we could. Luckily today we had an awesome tailwind which pushed us all the way to Cut Bank. Rhonda rode out to meet us and actually continued out farther and then rode back. I guess it took her 1:30hr thirty to ride out and 50min to ride back. Just the major influence the wind has. Little did we know the next day would prove how the wind affected our ride negatively.
Day 12: June 5, 2020 Cut Bank, MT to Chester, MT: 68 miles 1300ft of elevation gain. Against the wind …a constant 10mph headwind for 68 miles.
Not much to say about this ride. My picture below tells the whole story except for the headwind you can’t see. Seemed calm when we were sitting still but once we started off up to 12-15mph the headwind was brutal. It was consistent the whole way and frankly sucked. Took us 6.5hrs to get into Chester, MT. We were happy to be there and were able to get dinner at Spuds Cafe in downtown. Chester is a cool little town that got off the world bandwagon back in 1955. We stayed for free at the town park that welcomes folks traveling thru to park there or pitch their tent no problem. Well advertised in my Adventure Cycling documentation and sure enough was a great place to stay. Had a great electrical storm and a bit of rain overnight. One more day to the rest day.
Day 13: June 6, 2020 Chester, MT to Havre, MT: 62 miles 1100ft of elevation gain. Headwind, tailwind and headwind again.
Today we were motivated by one more day until our rest day Sunday. Basically, to encapsulate the day, the first ten miles were up hill like 1-2% which isn’t bad, slight headwind. At mile twenty the road headed down hill and the wind turned to a slight tailwind and our average speed doubled. We got within ten miles of Havre and Rhonda rolled-in. We headed out to complete the last 10 miles and it seemed the wind shifted to a headwind and started getting colder. We finished and are staying at a nice campground just outside Havre, MT. Day was good. Expecting rain overnight and actually most the weekend. Forecast is showing rain on and off on Monday for our ride from Havre to Malta, MT. Long day of 89 miles tomorrow so appreciating the rest day!
Day 14: June 7, 2020 Rest Day Havre, MT: Uneventful rest day, cleaned bikes and did some shopping.
Not much to report for our rest day. Havre is a small, seemed like depressed town. Not unlike many of the ‘larger’ small towns we’ve gone thru. On our way to week three.
Day 15: June 8, 2020 Havre, MT to Malta, MT: Wet n Wild
Our ride from Havre to Malta started off in the rain. We got about 15 miles up the road and we ran into a “road work” situation. I’ll translate this into wet, dirt road for five miles. They were letting groups of cars thru the construction zone one side of the road at a time. It was our turn and about a mile in, I got a small rock stuck in one of the derailleur wheels that to get out I had to take off the rear wheel. 5 minutes of panic, mud and slippery road sucked. We made it thru after five miles, wet, muddy and ok for the most part. We traveled up the road about another 30 miles or so and packed-it in. We rode the rest of the 35 miles in the truck. Live to ride another day.
Day 16: June 9, 2020 Malta, MT to Glasgow, MT: Total Contrast to yesterday
Malta was a quaint little town on the highline. As far as my bike goes I ended us changing my rear derailleur cable since it had slipped a bit and I wasn’t sure if it was damaged from getting the rock stuck in it the previous day. By the time you really can inspect the cable you have it out so I went ahead and changed it out with spares I carry on hand. shifting was great after that. The ride from Malta to Glasgow was 70 miles with a really nice tailwind. This was a welcome change from rain and crappy conditions the day before. Traffic was light and the shoulder was good. All in all a good easy ride for doing 70 miles. We averaged almost 18mph with almost 3 1/2 hrs and an average of 125 watts, which is pretty great. Minimal power to sit up and fly at 22mph, awesome. Terrain was rolling 1-2% up and down and many stretches 0%.
Day 17: June 10, 2020 Glasgow, MT to Wolf Point, MT: Another tailwind …oh darn…
Glasgow to Wolf Point was another tailwind type day. It was 50 miles, averaged 18.6 moving speed. This was an awesome ride, only 50 miles and plenty of time for recovery in the middle of the week. We weren’t sure what tomorrow would bring since we’re checking a cool app called windfinder and noticing the next few days may not be as favorable. We’ll see.
Day 18: June 11, 2020 Wolf Point, MT to Glendive, MT: Multi-stage ride with a little bit of everything.
Wolf Point to Glendive was a long haul around 103 miles. First cench of the whole ride for us. We headed south for the first time off the highline and were headed to a small town called Circle. Rhonda parked the rig near an intersection where she would then ride back and meet us. She rode a good 15-20 miles before seeing us and riding back with us. Circle was at about the 56 mile mark and a good place to stop at the rig, refill our water bottles, sit down on something other than our ass-hatchets and eat a burrito. We’ve begun to measure our rides in burritos. Today was a three burrito ride. Rhonda then drove the rig to our Glendive RV Park and rode back 10 miles to meet us. I think she got like at least 60 miles in which is really a tough thing to do, ride 40 miles, take a couple hour break driving to the next place and get back on the bike and ride again. Hats-off, she’s been doing an awesome job!! Once we left Circle we had roughly 25 miles of slight rolling up hill. The wind, since getting on the this new highway was much better and now behind us. We crested the final rolling portion of road about 30 miles outside of Glendive and we had a 1% descent with a 10 knot tailwind which equates to sit-up and do 25mph just cruisin. That was nice. Interestingly, the whole 30 miles was ridden next to a train track with cars sitting on it the whole 30 miles into Glendive. Rhonda met us at mile 92 and rode back with us the rest of the way. We had a good dinner in downtown Glendive at a place called Gust Hauf. Next day we knew may not be as favorable so we wanted to get out early.
Day 19: June 12, 2020 Glendive, MT to Medora, ND: Brutal headwind for 64 miles
The contrast of the last 30 miles into Glendive and this day was pretty noticeable after the 10 mile mark. The wind picked up and in many parts we were only able to go 10mph on flats. Today was our last day in Montana, we’d be entering into North Dakota. The countryside was definitely changing. Wibaux was a our first burrito stop and last stop before crossing over into North Dakota. Wibaux was a cool small town the next town would be Beach in North Dakota. The road conditions improved substantially in North Dakota which was a welcome event. The last 20 miles into Medora were definitely hilly in contrast to what we were doing the past few days, when arriving into Medora we were happy to have that ride of 64 miles over. In Medora we found a great restaurant called Boots Bar n Grill. We had some great food and beer and had no problem sleeping. Next day would be a short ride into Dickinson, ND for our rest day.
Day 20: June 12, 2020 Medora, ND to Dickinson, ND: Another headwind but way harder
So, the ride in from Medora to Dickinson was a short 30 miles. We decided, since it was blowing a good thirty knots and threatening rain we punted and rode in to Dickinson for our rest day in the truck. The wind was blowing so hard it was blowing the sand over the road and even in the RV Park we stayed at was blowing so hard it was rocking the slide-outs and blasting the drivers side of the rig with sand and dust. It was quite miserable actually.
Day 21 & 22: June 13 and 14, 2020 Rest day Dickinson, ND: Continued windy and fixed some projects on the rig and rested
Because we had done a couple longer rides during the week we were ahead of schedule so we spent Saturday and Sunday working on projects and maintaining bikes and generally relaxing. On Sunday we went out to breakfast which was really nice and relaxed in general. Starting on Monday we anticipated a longer ride and some good tailwinds to begin the week.
Day 23: June 15, 2020 Dickinson, ND to Bismarck: Tailwind and Interstate for 105 miles
We headed out of Dickinson, ND and back on to the Interstate. The shoulder is actually very nice and matched with a 20 knot tailwind we sat up and were flying along at 19-23 mph. It was a seven and a half hour long day on the ass-hatchet. We were welcomed with a nice RV Park (Hillcrest Acres) on the east side of Bismarck and found a great brewery called Laughing Sun. Great beer and good food. Tomorrow we were on our way to Steele, ND.
Day 24: June 16, 2020 Bismarck, ND to Steele, ND: Headwind for 35 miles, what a difference a day makes
Today we are headed to Steele, ND. We left around 9am and faced a mild 5-10 knot headwind for about an hour. After this the headwind increased to 20-30 knots and was from the southeast, this was straight off our right shoulder and totally exposed out in the plains of eastern North Dakota. We had no shelter and were leaning ten degrees to the right just to stay upright. Luckily we only planned 35 miles. We were planning to boon-dock in Steele near a truck stop and open parking area. The wind was blowing so hard once again that the slides were actually rocking in and out and the dust was pounding the side of the trailer. It was hot and miserable and so we decided to move up to the next RV park up to the next town of Jamestown, ND. Upon arriving into Jamestown we setup the rig at a site and found that the front left landing gear was not supporting the rig. We took it apart and found that the lead-screw was completely stripped-out. We decided to order a new landing gear and have it shipped to our camp site in Sauk Center for the upcoming weekend. Also, the next day was expected to be rainy and windy again. We opted to hang out another day in Jamestown, ND and wait for more favorable conditions.
Day 26: June 18, 2020 Jamestown, ND to Fargo, ND: Monster tailwind and a couple flats going into Fargo
Today was a great tailwind with a bit of light rain. We rode the Interstate again and on into West Fargo, ND on the Minnesota – North Dakota border. The day was easy and we enjoyed our campsite at a Minnesota state campground just across the border.
Day 27: June 19, 2020 Glyndon, MN to Sauk Centre: Good conditions and wanting to make up some time.
Today was good conditions and favorable winds. We headed out with a great tailwind for about eight miles and great shoulders. We made a right turn to head south along I94 and hit some real crappy farm roads for another thirty miles. At the point we could get on the Interstate, we took it. Much better shoulder, great tailwind but as we got closer to Sauk Centre the traffic got much heavier and actually scary at some points. We exited the Interstate and waiting for us at the end of the off-ramp was a Minnesota state patrol car. He asked what we were doing and explained that it is not allowed for non-motorized vehicles to be on the Minnesota Interstate. We explained we’d come all the way across North Dakota on this very Interstate. He said it wasn’t allowed and we’d need to find another route. I had no problem with this as the side roads and bike trails were a much better option. Rhonda found us a great bike trail that went for about 30 miles or so and was pretty good condition. We found where the rig was parked and took it into town to our camp site for the weekend. Since we were ahead of schedule and needed to fix our landing gear with the new part we ordered and having delivered to Sauk Centre we decided to stay in Sauk Centre for Saturday and Sunday our rest day.
Day 28 & 29: June 20, 21, 2020 Rest day in Sauk Centre, MN: Fix landing gear and relaxing
We had dinner at the historic and haunted Palmer Hotel in downtown Sauk Centre which was ok and we anticipated fixing our landing gear the next day which will allow us to disconnect the truck and checkout the surrounding cities with just the truck. The landing gear issue doesn’t keep our trip on hold it’s mostly just an inconvenience. So, Saturday came along and we never got our shipment of the new landing gear part. Ed was pretty pissed and we eventually found that UPS had shipped back the part because it was in an empty box?? I don’t get it but in any case we didn’t get the part. Everything was closed on Sunday so we had to wait till Monday morning to reorder, get our 2nd day shipping charge refunded and have a new part sent out to La Crosse, WI next Saturday. So, part is on order again and we’ll see if we can get it installed then. Sunday Rhonda and I rode up a great bike trail to a cool little town called Osakis, MN. Had some ice cream and took some pictures. Overall round-trip was around 30 miles. Our camp site at Sauk Centre was awesome and right on the Sauk Lake. Was a great place to spend a few days relaxing.
Day 30: June 22, 2020 Sauk Centre, MN to Isanti, MN: Great bike lanes and some country roads
On today’s ride we were expecting to go to Isanti, MN from Sauk Centre around 100 miles or so. Conditions were favorable and the first eight miles were freshly (I mean a couple weeks new) brand new asphalt. Slight tailwind and we were happy campers. We were able to ride this bike route for approximately 36 miles. The bike trail ended on the west side of St. Cloud, MN. St. Cloud is a basically a depressing city and quite frankly some areas were pretty sketchy. We were both glad to get out of that town and on our way down Interstate 94 towards Cambridge and then down to Isanti. We had a wind off our left shoulders and the first ten miles of I94 was a really crappy shoulder. It was miserable asphalt over concrete which creates a huge rut every fifty feet or so. My feeling was going faster thru this was better, so I did. Ed’s hip was hurting and the rough road was not helping that. Eventually the road improved but we still had around 20 miles to go when we hit Princeton, MN. We met up with Rhonda about 15 miles later about 10 miles from camp, she continued out to 15 miles and finished with 30 miles. Ed and I continued to camp and logged 96 miles for the day. We were happy to be finished with that ride.
Day 31: June 23, 2020 Isanti, MN to Centre City, MN: Easy day and I got us lost …a little
Today Rhonda and I headed out for a ~30 mile ride from Isanti, MN to Centre City, MN. The ride was great, tailwinds mostly, great shoulders and anticipation of a shorter day which equals most time to recover. Well, I assumed our camp site was in or just outside Centre City (which was the nearest city for us this day). My assumption was completely wrong as our camp site was about 15 miles north of Centre City. We’d ridden thirty miles and then realized we needed to ride another 15, north up against that nice tailwind we had coming south. Rhonda took over navigation and got us to the camp site with no help for me. I’d still be out there wondering where the camp was. Oh well. Over all it was a great ride and even better riding the whole day with Rhonda!!
Day 32: June 24, 2020 Alumland, MN to Somerset, WI: Into Wisconsin!! Looking for cheese curds, baby!
Today we had really favorable conditions and a easy mileage total of 38 miles to do. We were spending our last day of riding in Minnesota …for a day or so and entering into Wisconsin between Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls. After crossing into Wisconsin we headed south to Somerset, WI. We were on I35 for five miles or so and were happy to get off this road and on to County Road M. This road was great except for a mile of gravel in the middle but a great rolling and no traffic standard awesome Wisconsin road. Made it down to Somerset and a great camp site next to the Apple River. Tomorrow morning my cousin Calvin joins us for three days riding into La Crosse, WI. Is going to be great to see him and ride with him, can’t wait!
Day 33: June 25, 2020 Somerset, MN to Red Wing, WI: Back into Minnesota!
Today was a great day, because this day my cousin from Madison, WI would be joining us for the next three days. My cousin Calvin Bergman is joining our ride and we couldn’t be more pleased! He’s a super strong rider and is at least 6’3″ and someone I can draft for hours (sorry Ed). We did 56 miles along the Mississippi river and following Calvin at around 24mph was a lot of work and something we wouldn’t be able to do by ourselves however many matches were burned in about 10 miles. ;). The ride was uneventful really, starting to get hot and and humid and several storms all around us now but we seem to have missed most. Looking forward to the next few days.
Day 34: June 26, 2020 Red Wing, MN to Winona, MN: Back into Wisconsin and then back to Minnesota!
Today’s route took us back over to Wisconsin and still cruising along the Mississippi. The ride took us back over to Minnesota from Wisconsin just on the other side of the river. We had a great ride about 58 miles no significant climbing. We stopped at a, quite frankly, a pretty crappy campground just north of Winona. The water was horrible but we grilled up some burgers and watched a movie. Had a great ride, it was great putting the hammer down again and riding along the river. Getting warmer and more humid. Had a few sprinkles early but the day ended up ok.
Day 35: June 27, 2020 Winona, MN to La Crosse, WI: Back into Wisconsin for a rest day and a quick 45 mile ride
It was a quick ride and mostly flat into La Crosse, WI. Today would be Cal’s last day with us but he’d ride tomorrow with his wife Claire and Rhonda. Today’s ride took us thru Winona and down thru Dakota and Dresbach. We stopped to top off some water in Dresbach and Cal and I decided to have a bloody mary while at this bar. It was awesome since we had just 10 miles to go and actually was just perfect. We arrived in La Crosse and the landing gear jack was waiting for us as were the water valves we’d needed since the old one had a ripped an o-ring and had been leaking. So we got the new jack installed as well as the new valve replaced and the rig is back to normal. The water doesn’t leak anymore and we can get the rig off the truck now.
Day 36: June 28, 2020 rest day in La Crosse, WI: Working on things around the rig, cleaning bikes, cleaning the rig and Cal, Claire and Rhonda went on an epic ride thru La Crosse and surrounding areas for around 50 miles.
We woke up and fixed the jack, washed the rig (which hadn’t been done since we left) and did some eating at a great Mexican restaurant in La Crosse as well as a cool bar on the river in walking distance from the campground. We got more provisions from Walmart, Rhonda did laundry and rode and we said goodbye to Cal and Claire who came down to pick him up. We had a great four days with him and wanted him to keep going with us. They will possibly see if they can join us on our last days into NY in a few weeks. We’ll see.
Day 37: June 29, 2020 La Crosse, WI to Prairie Du Chien, WI: Back on our own and heading south.
Today we head south again but on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi. We head down Prairie Du Chien. The ride was uneventful and quite nice the first 40 miles of the ride. We crossed into Iowa for the first time and took a bridge from Lansing, Iowa back over to Wisconsin. We rode over the river but the bridge was closed but the barriers on the Iowa side were open, so we went. We got over to the Wisconsin side and there were a couple other smaller bridges to cross that were being worked on. We got stopped by a worker and we wanted to send us back but we convinced him to let us thru. That was a good thing since it would’ve been several more miles out of our way. The rest of the ride on the Wisconsin side was ok, I got a flat about 8 miles from our camp. We arrived in our camp and it was really nice. There was a great bar in walking distance right on the river. The food was great and the beer too. Next day continuing south along river.
Day 38: June 30, 2020 Prairie Du Chien, WI to Kieler, WI: A bit longer ride than we wanted.
Today we were hoping for a quicker ride of 50 miles which actually ended up being 65 miles. Today was also much more climbing than we’d done in the past few weeks. We felt it since it was hotter and more humid today. We made it to a town called Potosi, WI and were sitting drinking some water and Rhonda rolled-by pretty quick out on a ride after delivering the rig. We thought the route went the direction she was going so we took off in chase. We caught her about 5 miles up the road and realized she was getting some miles in and this wasn’t the direction to camp. So we all headed back in the right direction which added some miles for us. By the time Ed and I got back to camp we were pretty toast. Not sure if something mental about thinking you’re going to ride a certain amount of miles and then having to ride more. 65 miles is nothing for us right now but when not expecting it, it matters. Also, miles in our legs are stacking-up which is making us stronger but also adding to the fatigue factor. It’s a balance we’re on right now and the next few days is three more of sixty plus.
Day 39: July 1, 2020 Kieler, WI to Thompson, IL: A detour and a couple wicked climbs.
Today we headed out of Kieler, WI for our last day in Wisconsin and still headed south down into Illinois. We anticipated some climbing but less than yesterday. The day started out awesome, it was a bit cooler today and a bit less humid but would warm up in both capacities as the day went on. We got about 20 miles up the road and hit our first +15% grade and this was about a mile and a half. Pretty long for that steep of a climb. We hadn’t seen anything like that even when were were in the North Cascades or the Rockies. We got to the top of this climb and the road was closed for work and they offered a poorly marked detour for us. We got a bit down the road and a woman stopped and asked if we were lost and as a few guys will say to that question, we said, “YES!!” She gave us decent directions and we did make it back to the route but not until after some pretty steep climbs and a bit longer than I thought to get back on the route. We made it to a town called Hanover and had our first burrito and three bottles of water. We were both soaked by then as it had become really hot and humid. We continued on for a while and made it to a town called Savanna, IL. We met up with Rhonda there and continued down a really good bike path and then some farm roads to make it into a pretty good campground right on the Mississippi river. Now on to recovery for tomorrow because we need to drop another 60+.
Day 40: July 2, 2020 Thompson, IL to Kewanee, IL: A little bit of everything, long straight roads but nice with a gravel trail for ten miles along a canal/river.
We left Thompson and a pretty cool campground along the Mississippi, this was going to be our last day/ride along the river so it was nice to stay in a pretty cool camp site right on the river. We woke up to a million May flies all over the side of the rig facing the river. All the other campers had the same. It was harmless but a weird thing to wake up to, especially from someone born and raised in California. We headed-out into another truly hot and humid ride heading due south to Kewanee. The ride itself was pretty uneventful, probably a one to one in a half burrito ride. We met up with Rhonda about ~15 miles out on a gravel “bike path” that we rode for ten miles. Ed was not a happy camper but as was many of the roads we were riding this one was ok to average. We were out of water on a super hot day and stopped about five miles from camp at a Shell station and topped off with cold water and sat in some AC for a bit. The highlight of the day came when we disconnected and headed for a cool brewery in Geneseo, IL. Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised at how cool this town was and more so with the food and the beer at the brewery. Their story was pretty cool as well, family owned and some of the family members came back to help with the business due to the pandemic disruption. Great place and highly recommended if you’re ever in the area.
Day 41: July 6, 2020 Germantown Hills, IL to Gridley, IL: Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda!!
So, today was an interesting day. It was really hot and humid again. Mid 90’s and 90% humidity. Kind of horrible but doable if you kept moving and kept a breeze going over your wet, sticky body. About thirty miles into the ride that was actually quite nice the tarmac started to bubble on this road we were riding down. As we rode over the bubbles it was like riding over thin ice and how you’d imagine it would sound as you rode over it. Snap, crackle, pop. …In that order. Well, ten miles of this and our tires began to collect a thick layer of tar on them and then small rocks were collected on that and producing a pretty effective sandpaper type of consistency. The problem with this, is I have a road bike, the tolerances between the tires and the chainstays (the lower part of the frame that goes from the cranks to the rear wheel) are very minimal. When the sandpaper builds and the wheel spins it sandpapers the carbon fiber on my bike and that’s really bad, not to mention ruins my frame and keeps the wheels from spinning. We made it to a gas station on the the main road and called Rhonda to come pick us up. She did and took us the rest of the twenty or so miles to camp before I destroyed my frame. Ended up putting on a new tire, problem solved. Warmer days I carry a knife with me in case this happens again, I can cut off the tar of the tires.
Day 42: July 7, 2020 Onarga, IL to Remington, IN: Into Indiana we go
Today was another pretty uneventful day, hot, humid straight farm roads, avoiding the melting tarmac and trying to strategically find ice and cold water whenever possible. We did almost sixty miles and did it pretty proficiently. Which is to say we left early and tried to get it done before it gets too hot. Not much to see out in the farm land of Indiana, Corn, soy beans and pretty much that’s it …same thing in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. Made it camp and another night along a busy highway and major truck route between Chicago and Indianapolis. No worries, one day closer to our goal.
Day 43: July 8, 2020 Remington, IN to Logansport, IN: Is this Logan’s Run?
Today was a ~50 mile ride of more farmland and sticky tarmac. I chose to drive the rig and Rhonda rode with Ed the entire way. After delivering the rig to our new campsite for the night, I set out to meet them hopefully at the 15 mile to go marker for them and giving me a thirty mile ride for the day. Well Lognasport, IN is kind of a weird place and I made it across town but was unwilling to ride the busy 24 highway that Ed and Rhonda were going to come into. (It was crazy …it seemed, too many trucks and not enough shoulder). They thought it was fine but there was no other alternative. Luckily they weren’t on the there for too long. Apparently, Rhonda got a flat, they hit some nasty gravel roads and generally had a good day. Another scorcher and humid for sure. It was a good training ride for Rhonda to build on to.
Day 44: July 9, 2020 Logansport, IN to Fort Wayne, IN: Woa, woah, …Woah!!
This day we set off for a longer ride of 82 miles. It was quite hot …again which basically meandered thru the Indiana farmland and led us up to the sound end of Fort Wayne. From there we took a litany of different roads, bike trails and highways to get to the north side of town where camp was that night. Overall, following the stupid GPS thru a city looking for particular bike paths and trails really sucks! The woman on the GPS calling out the directions really sucks at non-road routing. We were so pissed, it took us 90+ minutes to go ten miles thru town. Detours, wrong bike trails, mis-marked trails. One time during our last ten miles, I had to stop to keep looking at the map to make sure we were on the right trail. One time I stopped at a fork and stopped abruptly and Ed almost plowed into the bacck of my bike. All I heard was “WOA, WOAH, WOAHHHH!!!!” I went out in the middle of the fork a bit to avoid him hitting me but now I know Ed’s panic voice. Fort Wayne was not one of the highlight cities of the trip thus far either. A college town I guess (Purdue University) great school, terrible town. Seemed depressed, dirty and generally a place I would never consider living …or going to school. However, we found a great place for dinner, good food and good beer selection.
Day 45: July 10, 2020 Fort Wayne, IN to Defiance, OH: Rain you say?!
Getting out of Fort Wayne was almost as bad as getting into it. We managed and eventually made it out to a great road with many horse and buggy carriages. I guess we were in an Amish part of town and that was pretty cool. Many horses and carriages out going to some event and we felt very much at home there on our bikes. We had a tailwind most of the way and knew that rain was in the forecast. Since it’s been so hot the past few weeks, we welcomed the rain very much and were not disappointed. It rained quite heavily for about ten miles of our ride but we didn’t care, it cooled the air temp down at least 15 degrees and apparently the farmers welcomed the rain as it’s been pretty dry of late. It was a quick 52 miles today and dare I say one of the easiest days in the saddle thus far. Had a great dinner at a golf course in Defiance, OH. Oh and yeah, we’re in Ohio now. Knocking em’ down!
Day 46: July 11, 2020 Defiance, OH to , Bowling Green, OH: Easy-peasy and straight shot.
43 miles, relatively easy day. Pretty much a straight shot from our camp in Defiance to Bowling Green. Ed decided to take the day off and let Rhonda ride, so we got a good ride in with minimal wind and not too hot temperatures since the previous day it had rained pretty good and over night and it seemed to drop the humidity and temps to something manageable. On to the rest day…
Day 47: July 12, 2020 Bowling Green, OH: Rest day, bike shop, good Mexican restaurant and a side trip to Grand Rapids …Ohio.
Had a good rest day just south of Bowling Green. The town was kind of a ghost town as most have been the last two months. Some things were open and we found a bike shop. Needed to load up on my Chamois Butt’r. As most bike shops have been far and few between and when we do find one, they are all out of stock of mostly everything. This shop was good and we picked up some socks and some butter. They recommended a ride up to Grand Rapids, so Sunday Rhonda and I headed up about twenty miles on bike to check it out. It was a super small town on the Mawee River (not sure the spelling is correct). Kind of boring actually and definitely nothing going on and nothing open. Made it back to camp and Ed has done all the laundry. Rhonda made dinner and we hunkered down for the next week.
Day 48: July 13, 2020 Bowling Green, OH to Huron, OH: On to Huron, OH, hot and busy…
Today started out relatively uneventful, nice bike trail for two miles to start out and then across some farm roads with a nice tailwind. We’re approaching Cleveland and traffic is getting larger and one of our last parts of the day we’re going thru Sandusky, OH, kind of a town you probably won’t want to stop in (just my opinion). We’re about ten miles out of a 72 mile day and the GPS puts on this busy road for a mile to transition back to a farm road. This busy road has no bike lane and three lanes each side. It’s around 3pm and busy so I decided to got up on the sidewalk. The sidewalk transitions from driveway to driveway and as it does there’s several different signs right in the middle of the sidewalk. I approached one to come back on to and there was a large pole there, I couldn’t make it around on the left so I went out on the grass and Ed followed. The grass was soft but I managed to get back on the sidewalk with the momentum I had, Ed was not so lucky. His front wheel caught the lip of the sidewalk and down he went. Pretty hard fall. He was dazed but ok, we decided to go get the truck and come back and pick him up. So we did, he was much better and we headed to camp, another advertising for wearing your fricken helmets people!!! Nobody wears a helmet either on a bike or a motorcycle around this part of the country. I don’t understand it. They got a stupid mask on and no helmet! Idiots!
Day 50: July 14, 2020 Huron, OH to Geneva on the Lake, OH: Busy highway, some depressed neighborhoods and a lake view.
Today we actually rode thru Cleveland, OH. OMG, I thought Lebron had done some good here and fixed things up, not so much… Every goof about Cleveland is completely true. I’ve never been but geez, there’s no reason to go back. GPS guidance thru the city left a little to be desired but we made it thru and got out of Dodge as quick as possible. Towns northeast of Cleveland are pretty depressing. Some were sort of nice and others we were just happy to have a good tailwind and not have to stop for any reason. We were flying along the lake front and the farther we got out of town the more nicer the neighborhoods became. We met up with Rhonda about twenty miles from camp and so she got a good ride in today as well. Also, of note are the poor road conditions in Ohio. By far the worst roads all the way across to this point. They need more budget for fixing infrastructure around here, it’s bad.
Day 51: July 15, 2020 Geneva on the Lake, OH to Erie, PA: Some more depressing towns but a great tailwind today
Today was relatively uneventful and when I say that, this is a good thing. We made our way along the Lake Erie coast and passed some really nice houses, nice farm roads and some kind of depressing towns. If this Cov’s thing is not killing anyone it’s really killing the economy of some of these towns (or perhaps that happened long ago). The disparaging difference between some towns on either side of the tracks is amazing. I always thought that was just a saying but it’s true. One side will be depressed, dirty and plain nasty and the other will be nice shops, nice houses, cleaned up. It’s weird. Tomorrow we pickup Ed’s brother Aram and he will take over rig driving for Rhonda and she’s ride the entire day with us.
Day 52: July 16, 2020 Erie, PA to Sheffield, PA: Tough day with a little bit of everything.
So, with Aram along for his first day Rhonda showed him the ropes and they both drove to Sheffield for camp. Ed and I shoved off from camp in Erie, to a lot of wind and dark skies. We were still going along the Erie Lake coast for about 31 miles to a small town of Westfield, NY. We were pleasantly surprised with a nice tailwind during this time but about fifteen miles in it started raining. It wasn’t cold but the temp dropped to about 70. We made it to Westfield and had our burrito break and waited for the rain to pass. It subsided for a bit and we pushed out. We immediately started some climbs inland away from the Lake. We are now going thru the Alehghany forest. We haven’t hit 7-10% climbs since western Montana so our legs were not ready for this. However, having two months of riding under our belts we were more than up to the task. We went over rolling hill and rolling hill. We got to this town of Bemus Point and what a great town it was. Right on a Chautauqua Lake, unbelievable houses, scenery and great towns. Since today was a 95 mile day we saw about everything as well. Some pretty depressing towns as well. I forgot to mention we hit a pretty significant headwind going inland and we fought this the entire 60 miles to camp. We made it to camp to meet Aram and Rhonda there. We went in to Warren, PA a town we’d cycled thru a couple hours earlier and had an amazing dinner and a great place. Best food this side of the Mississippi so far.
Day 53: July 17, 2020 Sheffield, PA to Coudersport, PA: Roadkill and other stuff…
So, this day was interesting. We started the day with a spectacular three mile descent and a mild tailwind. It was hot but not too bad. Since it was Friday there seemed to be a lot of truck traffic which always sucks. We ended the day with a pretty substantial climb of a mile and a half of 7-8%. Not a killer but not a fun way to end the day. A comment about road-kill in these parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, nobody cleans up anything. You have deer, racoons, possums all dead for days, months or years it seems. Some are just bones. Seems like a health hazard to me but who knows. Tons of roadkill everywhere though.
Day 54: July 18, 2020 Coudersport, PA to Covington, PA: Fast, slow, dusty and up hill
This day started off awesome. The first twenty miles was the fastest of the trip. Four mile downhill, the rest was 15 miles of great pavement and tailwind. I got a front wheel flat at mile 21, then a couple miles later Ed got a front wheel flat and about ten miles later Rhonda had a rear wheel flat. We met Aram in Wellsboro, PA by chance and had about twenty five miles to go to camp. We filled water bottles and headed out. About a mile and a half outside of camp is a dirt road and a 15% grade to climb. This pretty much toasted all of us by the time we found where Aram was camped. We went in to town and found a great place called Yolohoff’s Brewery. We had dinner there and some drinks. As most towns we had this place to ourselves. The farther we go east the more uptight people and things are becoming. Masks seem to be required most places here but it’s hit or miss. The whole mask thing is BS, just sayin’.
Day 55: July 19, 2020 Covington, PA rest day: No cell service, no Wifi, a nice place.
Well, we completed our last rest day weekend at a campground on top of the hill. This is a nice campground, we were setup in the back 40. Campgrounds are really interesting in these parts, they’re basically pull your rig in and all amenities are there in stumbling distance. Kids have all kinds of stuff to do, the parents booze until they can’t see straight and a band plays until 11pm at the pavilion. Quite the experience. No Cov’s around these parts apparently, no masks, no social distancing, yet you go thru town and it’s a ghost town and they require masks but 90% of people don’t wear them. Yes, we have them with us and use them when required. The economy in these parts is pretty depressed it seems to me but I have no idea. Heading east on Monday morning to start our last week riding!
Day 56: July 20, 2020 Covington, PA to Laceyville, PA: Not much flat, some gravel, some great roads and some hills
We headed out and immediately ran into our first mile of gravel but we only had three total miles of gravel, so we can’t complain. We only had a little over 50 miles to do and the first thirty were great. Tailwinds and mostly downhill. The last half tough we had a significant climb of like two miles and had a nice couple mile descent into a nice campground right on the Susquehanna River. It’s these days, you think this will be an easy day and we’ll arrive fresh and have some extra time to recover. But unfortunately it doesn’t seem to ever work out that way. Oh well. It was hot and humid out so we went for a swim in the river, which was great. Went to a decent hotel in town for dinner, the food was pretty good, no complaints. The owner of the Endless Mountain Campground was a great host and glad to have us. That was great and he was a great host.
Day 57: July 21, 2020 Laceyville, PA to Clifford, PA: Nice easy going start, detours and rough steep finish
We rolled out of camp with about 41 miles to ride and I was thinking, great! We’ll just take it easy, take in the countryside and once again arrive early and have plenty of time to recover. Well, once again, the first twenty miles of the ride were great. Some pretty good climbs but good side roads and minimal traffic. We lost Ed about at mile 10, he was off the front and missed the turn the GPS told us to make. We never saw him again until camp. After our burrito break, we headed out on US 92, not much shoulder and huge truck route. Not my favorite. We made it to US 374 and it was closed because they were fixing a bridge, so were were detoured. According to talking to a trucker on the detour he says they’ve been working on the bridge for two months. Unbelievable. The worst part was we were taken off on a dirt road with climbs of 15% plus for miles. We would scale one climb, go down the other side and then turn the corner and go back up. Totally sucked. We made ten miles in like two hours and fried our quads. Made it back finally to 374 for a mile or so and then had a couple miles up to camp. 1.5 miles of 15% just for good measure. Rhonda was pretty toast, having some “hot feet” and pretty tired. We’re looking at 56 tomorrow but I’m preparing for anything. The roads around here are pretty sketchy and trucks are flying by pretty fast. Hopefully we’ll get some good roads but I’m sure it’ll be hilly again. Just four more ride days left…