Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 42

Day 42 was a relatively easy day from Brantford to Niagara Falls.  I was excited to get done, partly because tomorrow is a rest day, mostly because Kim is meeting me in Niagara Falls. Again, we were in the middle of two rain systems, but we biked in cool cloudy weather and made good time. The first picture is of a brick mansion next to the road.  What was unusual is that the house was not unusual, but common.  Today and yesterday we saw huge brick mansions alongside the road, one after another.  About 15 miles from Niagara Falls the terrain changed and was very wooded with houses interspaced.  It felt like riding in a vail.  The second picture reflects that part of the ride. 

Riding into the Canadian side of Niagara Falls at noon on Sunday was congested to say the least.  I found some other riders on the walkway and took some pictures of the falls, myself and other riders.  The whole walkway was full of people and we heard many different languages.  Niagara Falls is the result of glaciers retreating about 50,000 years ago creating a lake which gradually uplifted creating the Falls about 12,000 years ago.  The original Falls were about 7 miles north, but over thousands of years have moved due to erosion.   I knew they were beautiful, but they were more majestic than I anticipated.  Though Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years, I am sure the early white explorers were amazed at the first sight and hearing the Falls.

Five of us went over in a group.  We had to be in the car lane as bicyclists are not allowed on the sidewalks.  We were all wearing our ABBike jerseys and it was slow going across the bridge into the US.  For that reason lots of passengers in cars asked us about our tour and wished us the best.  Most could not believe we were biking across America, so do we.  The next picture is Jeff and Julie behind me in line.  When we finally got to customs, we all resisted the urge to be funny. 

The last pictures are Gary, Jeff and me under the New York sign.  About the same time we got to the hotel, Kim arrived and it was great to see her.  We plan to hang out tomorrow and then hit the road again on Tuesday. 

Day 41

As biking days go, on a scale from one to ten, today from  London to Brantford, Ontario was a twelve.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, warm but not hot, not humid and a slight tailwind most of the way. It was a great day to be on a bike.  It was “only” 68 miles so by tour standards was a short day.  We did not leave until 8:30.  I needed the late start as was tired after yesterday and was able to sleep in a little.

We were on local roads going through farm land and farmsteads.  Like the states we just went through it was very green all over, especially after the recent rains.  One thing at which I have been surprised is the number of farmsteads.  Unlike the western US where ranches were far and few between, here there are lots of rural homes.  Some were obviously big farming options while with many it was difficult to know if active farming or just lived in a rural setting.  Since entering Canada there have been lots of small towns through we have biked. Close to Branford there were huge brick mansions alongside the road. The first picture is a rest stop in a small town and the second a corn field in the distance surrounded by trees. 

Many riders stopped at small fruit and vegetable stands alongside the road at the 50 mile mark.  They were selling fruit and vegetables grown locally plus pies and other baked goods.  Some riders bought a pie to be taken to the hotel in the sag wagon.  I thought about it, but was pretty sure I would eat the whole thing so opted to buy a basket of blueberries on which I have been snacking all afternoon. 

Brantford is the birthplace of Wayne Gretzky and one of main highways is named after it.  It also is the birthplace of Jay Silverheels who people my age and trivia experts would remember as Tonto on the series “The Lone Ranger.”  The longest living Canadian died here, Andrew Lucas, who lived 125 years.  He was born a slave and was owned by Stonewall Jackson of Civil War fame and died a free man in Brantford.  Though the information I read did not state if Lucas was one of the slaves smuggled out of the South before and during the Civil War via the Underground Railroad ending up as free men and women in Canada.  Canada is a great country and this part of their history is one of the reasons why.  Finally, Brantford was the home of the parents of Alexander Graham Bell and along with New York City where Bell lived, claims to be the birthplace of the telephone as he worked on it here. 

Tomorrow we bike back to the US crossing the border at Niagara Falls.  Kim is flying in to Buffalo and then after renting a car will drive to Niagara Falls.  Weather looks good so far. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 40

We caught another break with the weather.  Today we went from Port Huron, MI, over the Port Huron bridge into Canada ultimately ending at London, Ontario, about 82 miles.  Because of the bridge crossing and going through customs, we had a very structured start which was a little stressful.  We had to load by 6:45 and at 6:55 (keep in mind Mike, the tour leader is a retired officer in the Air Force  so times are precise), we left for the road to go across the bridge as a group. The bridge is a suspension bridge and we had to be very careful going over the joined parts as a  tire can be very easily caught in one of them.  Part of the tension was the structure and going through customs and part was the forecast was t-storms last night and today.  We did have t-storms all last night and it rained hard, but it stopped raining shortly before we left.  30 miles south of Port Huron there was severe weather as well as in London.  We just had a wet road.  One of the riders hit a slippery spot on the bridge and went down but was all right.  If the t-storm had been on top of us, we still would have to leave as customs closed the bridge while we crossed the bridge stopping all traffic making our passage very safe. 

The first picture is loading the van, the second going through customs and the last, the sign for Ontario, Canada. 

The stormy weather produced a nice wind from the west so we made very good time.  Was cloudy and very humid, but no rain.  We were on local roads with not a lot of traffic and farmsteads every  few miles.  After 40+ miles a guy in a car slowed down as I approached and yelled at me there was “a big Rottweiler about 5 clicks ahead.”  Terrific.  With the wind I was in high teens for average mph but with inspiration I kicked it up.  Taking no chances on how far 5 clicks really is, for the next 5 miles I was in the 26-28 mph range.  Adrenalin is an amazing thing.  After four miles a big dog came charging out of a farmstead, but I was by in a blur (for someone with poor vision).  Other riders were chased by the dog.  Dogs can be very dangerous for cyclists and there have been a couple of encounters.  The main risk is not getting bit by the dog, as that is very rare, but the dog getting in front of the bike and running over the dog which can be serious for the both  the dog and cyclist.  I don’t blame the dog, but the owners.  Owners who let their dogs run free should be required to pick up dog poo for one year in a major city. 

We road by a lot of farmsteads, almost all well kept.  I am far from an expert, but the corn here and in Michigan did not look to be anywhere near the quality as what we saw in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.  I cannot describe how, but the terrain was different. 

It looks like the weather will move out for awhile.  Hopefully so. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 39

We caught a break on the weather today.  It rained with t-storms all night and the forecast was 80% rain and t-storms today.  When we got up, there was severe weather south and of us with 2-3 inches of rain and flooding including some road closures.  The first picture is the rain ending and the parking lot of the hotel.  We held off departing until 7:30 and by that time the rain had stopped.  It was cloudy and humid, but did not rain and there was a light tailwind so I averaged over 16 mph which is good for me.  It turned out to be very good day as we road 87 miles. 

I was one of the very last to leave as I could not decide on which rain gear to wear and bring.  I have very good rain gear which I bought years ago when I biked the coast of Oregon by myself.  I also have a very light jacket which is water resistant, but not waterproof.  I hate being wet and cold so originally had on my rain gear, but given that it was already above 70 degrees and very humid when I was getting ready to go, I carried my rain jacket in a backpack, left my rain pants and wore my rain booties.  Everyone gave me a lot of grief for being over dressed at the start.  I am not used to riding in warm rain. In ND when a rain system comes through, unless it is a passing t-storm it can cool off and stay cool even in the summer.  Anyway I changed on the sidewalk before loading my gear on the truck which was an occasion for more grief.

Though I road with Jeff and Karina for a while, for the most part I road by myself which I enjoy.  One of the reasons is the fast riders who leave before me I will never catch and those that leave behind me normally catch me in 20 minutes to an hour plus depending on when they leave.  The strongest riders, those who are on the route the longest during the day, I will normally catch within an hour or two depending on when they actually leave.  The middle riders like me often do not see each other except at rest stops or if someone takes a lot of pictures as we are going close to the same speed.  For that reason, after an hour or two it is not unusual to be pretty much by myself the rest of the day.

Morgan would say I like riding by myself because that is how I train and am not used to riding with other people.  Courtney would say I like my personal space.  Kim would say it is my personality or more accurately, lack of.  They are probably all three correct.

The next picture is of Nancy and Adrianne at the second rest stop.  The park is named after Adrianne’s father’s family who are from this area.  Unfortunately, Adrianne’s father left Nancy and children when they were very small and Nancy raised the children on her own  as a single parent.  She became a very successful realtor.  She probably kicked the sign after we were done taking the picture. 

The last picture is riding into Port Huron and one of the homes alongside the lake.  Many of the homes were spectacular mansions.  Tomorrow we ride over the bridge to London, Ontario.  The forecast is more rain.  Like every other place we have ridden through, there is so much history here.  Lake Huron is named after the Huron Indian tribe that inhabited part of the Great Lakes area. They fought with the French against the English and the Iroquois nation made famous in the book “Last of the Mohicans” and later the movie.  We think of the frontier as the American West, but for well over a 100 years the frontier was throughout the eastern part of waht is now the US.  There were many different tribes, all were eventually defeated and either moved or put on small reservations.  Often all that remains are the names of towns and rivers.  


Day 38

Day 38 was 40 miles less than yesterday, but to me actually felt longer.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this.  One I felt really good yesterday and for the first part I was in a zone, but felt good all day.  By comparison, the last 20 miles today was a real grind.  I suspect another factor is we did not load until 7:30.  Though I understand the reason for the late start, (shorter day and flat terrain), we are primed to be on the road generally between 6:00 to 6:30 so we just ended up sitting around after breakfast waiting to leave.  The first picture is me kicking back before I left. 

We did ride through some pretty wooded areas as we have before.  The second picture is of a densely wooded area along the ride.  We have been in and out of these areas yesterday and today and though difficult to describe, they seem different to me than wooded areas in MN.  Part is the trees are right next to the road with no ditches in places. 

I got my chocolate milk fix when I got in.  I also had a sub sandwich from Subway.  I have eaten at enough Subway’s on the trip to be Jared's assistant. 

My room is very nice as have been the rooms all along the trip.  Some were quite small, but they were clean and met the objective.  I have met and thought a lot about the invisible workers in America on this trip.  These are the service people who work at hotels cleaning rooms and working at convenience stores and restaurants among other jobs.  These people work very hard, for very little money and the only time they get noticed is when they do not do their job.  We all expect a clean room at a hotel and the hotel expects the rooms to be cleaned as fast as possible during the busy season.  Many of these workers are seasonal, or laid off when business is slow, but also expected to work very hard when they are there.  Many do not have health care or adequate dental care.  I have seen women with few or only one tooth in their mouths.  I have been impressed at how many take their jobs seriously and work very hard.  I always try and visit with hotel service people and thank them for their work.  Our country has spent most of the last two years debating raising taxes on the wealthiest in our country and though I am not super rich, I am clearly blessed and by most definitions would be considered in the wealthiest group.  We spend very little if any time discussing the millions and millions of individuals who work hard cleaning rooms, bussing tables or working in convenience stores making our lives possible and easier.

Tomorrow looks to be a long day with rain and t-storms all day in the forecast.     


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 37

Some days life is just good and Day 37 was one of them for me.  In athletics every once in awhile you can get in a zone and though mine are few and far between, today was one of them.  For the first 40+ miles I just cruised and felt really good.  I actually skipped the first rest stop as I did not want to get off my bike.  (This is not good as we sign in at each rest stop, that is one of the ways the staff keeps track of riders.  Fortunately, a friend saw me go and signed in form me.)  We were going through county roads with low traffic, in or near a government forest land.  We were often right next to the trees and even at 9:00 I was in an area where the road was completely covered by shade. Unfortunately, the zone ended and I still had 73 miles to go, a total of 113.  But I still felt pretty good and made good time.  

The only picture is from the third rest stop which was next to a senior center.  I could not help but think that some of the riders were the same age as some of the individuals in the senior center.  Life is partly about genetics and health issues, but it is also about the lifestyle we lead and the choices we make.  At a rest stop a friend told me he doesn't date women his age because they are “really old." I am not sure that is true as I know women his age that are pretty amazing, at the same time it was funny and had some truth to it.  Many women could say the same thing about a lot of men.

After a great day of riding, I got great news.  Morgan just found out that he passed the second level of the CFA (Charted Financial Analyst) exam.  In my estimation, this is the most difficult program in the financial services industry and passing the second level is an amazing achievement.  

Tomorrow we go to Birch Run.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 36 - Part 2

The ferry ride was better than I anticipated.  Before getting on the ferry, I found a bike shop in Manitowac which had restored antique bikes.  The picture is of bikes in the shop along with an owner.  One of the bike was a kid’s bike from the 1950s that weighted over 50 lbs. 

The next pictures are of the ferry unloading, riders stacking their bikes and the Michigan coast from the ferry.  The ferry was three stories and it was a beautiful days so most riders spent the ride on the top deck in lounge chairs.  There were two restaurants, big screen TVs and bingo which I ignored.  I read and took a nap.

The last picture is me under the welcome Michigan sign.  Tomorrow we ride 113 miles and again we lost an hour as we moved to Eastern time.  Cuts the night short. 

Day 36 - Part 1

Today is virtually a rest day.  We bike a few miles to the ferry across Lake Michigan and then when we arrive in Ludington. Then we bike a couple of miles to the hotel.  A few comments.

Wisconsin was a great ride.  We caught a break with the weather as one day our ride was the only area in WI which was not getting hit by severe weather.  Wisconsin is a great bicycling state.  Part of it is all the paved farm (dairy) roads throughout the state.  Part is WI was an early developer of the rails to trails bike trails which helped develop a bicycling culture.  Part is WI is an outdoor state where residents and visitors enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities.  It is also is a very beautiful state and the ride through was especially scenic.  One of the riders said Wisconsin is the state Illinois always wanted to be, but could not.  Not sure if that is true, but it is a great state. 

Minnesota was beautiful as always.  Riding through farm country in the prime of the growing season was to me very impressive.  To often when we eat, we forget a farmers everywhere are working hard to grow the food we eventually consume.

Since our last rest day in Sioux Falls we rode accross MN and WI in 7 days.  Though hot in MN, we did not run into any major storms and caught a tailwind many days.  For me it was a especially wonderful leg because of the people who came to visit me.  It started with Dot and Ken in Sioux Falls who drove from Fargo to see me and take me wherever I wanted to go.  Then, Charlie and the Barb and the banner going into Rochester.  That is not only a tour highlight, but will be a lifetime highlight for me.  That was followed by Morgan and Christi coming to Rochester.  One of the riders asked Morgan if he brought his guitar, Morgan said no, just wanted to hang with his dad.  Very cool and special.  Then going out for supper with my friends at Harbour.   That was a long day and knowing that great food and more important being with great friends really gave me incentive.  Finally, Kelly and Kevin surprising me in Fond du Lac.  They drove a lot of miles to be with me and it was very special.  It is very easy in life to forget that you are important to other people.  This leg helped me remember that.  Thank you everyone and all the rest that have sent me good wishes.

We lose an hour when we arrive in Michigan.  Riders have been asking me if I will be torked again.  I said yes, I do not mind losing an hour when I drive or fly, but on a bike tour it really bites, especially when we have 113 miles the following day.

Time to pack and go find the ferry.  I have four hours to get there.  Hopefully, it will be enought.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 35

By our standards, today was an easy day, 58 miles from Fond du Lac to Manitowac.  Another very nice day for riding with a tailwind part of the time. 

The first picture is of Nancy and her daughter Adrianne.  Nancy turned 69 today.  This is her second time on this ride.  She did it four years ago and now is doing it again with her daughter Adrianne.  She proves every day that all ages can do this tour, you just have to want to and train.  Nancy works out all year long and has actually done bike tours all over the world.  She is a very consistent and strong rider. 

The second picture is of the lighthouse as we left Fond du Lac.  Pretty cool.

The third picture is of an unscheduled rest stop.  Travis, who is the rider with MS which is in remission, is doing this ride to raise money and awareness for MS.  His wife SuEllen flew in from Denver a couple of days ago and some of his family from Chicago drove up to have cold water and snack bags for us.  It was very nice and a real treat.

The fourth picture is our first sighting of Lake Michigan.  As we approached the Lake and rode near it, the temps really dropped. 

Finally there is a picture of Kim's sister Kelly and her husband Kevin from last night.  It was awesome they came to see.  They took me out for turtle sundaes and I think that was one of the reasons I was not hungury today. 

Tomorrow is virtually a rest day as we take the ferry across the lake to Michigan.  We ride a couple of miles to the lake and a couple of miles when we get in at the other side. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 34

Day 34 was a good day.  We rode 84 miles from Wisconsin Dells to Fond du Lac in Wisconsin.  Again, we got a break on the weather which made the day better.  The forecast was for scattered t-storms, some possibly severe; However, when I got up around 5:15 Fond du Lac was having a severe t-storm which essentially cleared all the weather out of the way for us.  The rest of the bad weather was south of us. This meant we had cloudy skies and relatively cool temps for the first 40+ miles.  I have commented before on the different smells as we have ridden through varous areas.  Mountains with evergreens, prairies with sage, and all the farm smells when we road through MN.  Today, with the recent rain, the smell was clean and fresh, as long as I did not smell myself or other riders. We rode along beside lakes through green wooded areas and crops growing. 

The first picture is of some falls at the first rest stop.  The second picture is of me being totally color coordinated.  My shirt is red with black biking shorts, my bike is red and white, my tires black with a red stripe, and my shoes black with red and white print on them.  Normally, I could care less about fashion, especially on a bike, but yesterday I got a lot of grief from other riders for two reasons.  I was wearing rubber booties over my biking shoes.  The reason is the forecase was for rain and I wanted to keep my shoes dry and riding on the crushed limestone would be dirty, especially if wet.  Since it only sprinkled, I ended up not needing the booties and caught a lot of grief.  The second reason is normally I wear touring shorts with pockets, but every once and awhile I wear traditional biking shorts.  Since I like pockets, I cut the bottoms out of some old touring shorts and put them over the top.  Since they are both black most people do not notice (see picture), but yesterday word got out and I got a lot good natured ribbing.  I just said I am a trendsetter.  

Had a great surprise tonight.  Kim's sister Kelly and her husband Kevin came to see me on the way to see his familly in Wisconsin.  It was fun to hangout and eat some ice cream.

Finally, Courtney turned 30 today.  I have talked to her and sent her a text, but also Happy Birthday Courtney.  You are an amazing person and I am blessed to have you as my daughter. 
Tomorrow we go Manitowoc.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 33

At 91 miles, day 33 was only three miles longer than yesterday, but it was much longer in a lot of other ways.  It started late, as we loaded at 7:00 and then myself and a number of other riders waited to see if a t-storm would blow through.  We left and the t-storm fizzled out.  After about 30 miles we road on the Elroy-Sparta trail which is one of the earliest rails to trails bike trails in the US.  It is very scenic and the first picture is of the beginning of the trail.  The one problem is it is crushed limestone which slows down the average speed pretty significantly. Also there are three tunnels that you have to walk through and carry a flashlight.  The first tunnel is about a mile long and it is completely black inside. Without a flashlight, it would be impossible to see.  The picture is of the entrance -- it looks like something out of Lord of the Rings.  When I entered the tunnel, I immediately remembered I do not like enclosed spaces.  I finally got through and the next two were much shorter. 

When I got to the Wisconsin Dells, I had a great treat.  Some friends from Harbour with whom we have worked for years came up to take me out to supper.  We had a great meal at an outstanding restaurant.  It was a great time and I am most appreciative of them taking the time to do so.  It was very special for me. 

Tomorrow we have chance of t-storms again. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 32

If it is possible to have a rest day while biking 88 miles, today was it.   Compared to the past few days, we had cool temps and overcast skies all day and either no wind or a slight tailwind.  It was a great day to go for bike ride.  I did not work very hard and still cruised. 

For the second day in row, I encountered a bicyclist coming toward me riding against the traffic or right at me.  Both times I yelled at the cyclist, in a very kind and sensitive manner, that riding against the traffic is very dangerous and a good way to get killed.  It also makes it less safe for other bicyclists who are obeying the laws.  I would like to see any cyclist riding against traffic get a ticket just like a car. 

The first two pictures are of views coming out of Rochester on a hill looking at fields and groves of trees and a cornfield.  With all the rain that has taken place, it was like riding in a greenhouse.  The next picture is of the first rest stop which was in a park next to a river.  It was one of those places, if there was time, to kick back and contemplate the meaning of life. 

We biked through part of the Root River Valley. The Root River Valley trail system is one of the original rails to trails in Minnesota and may be the best.  Kim and I have biked down here several times. The original bike trail runs from Fountain to Rushford City and follows the Root River most of the way.  We did a branch of the trail from Rushford City to Houston.  As the picture indicates, most of it was like riding through a canopy.  We have ridden through a lot of beautiful places and the Root River is one of them. 

In Houston the rest stop was next to a very neat coffee, pastry, sandwich shop.  Normally I do not eat lunch until the end of the ride, but a turkey sandwich sounded really good and it was.  Unfortunately, coming out of Houston we had a mile climb which seemed straight up.  In parts, it  was over 15 grade.  My sandwich seemed like extra weight the whole way up.  From then it was just a cruise to Wisconsin.   The last two pictures were of the enter Wisconsin sign and the Mississippi River. 

Minnesota was good  to us, or at least me.  Even though we had extreme heat, we did have tailwinds most of the time and we biked through Southern MN farm land in the prime of the growing season.  I am sure the rain had a lot to do with it, but it was green from the west to the east end of the state.  Driving through farm land is one thing, but biking gives a person a time to appreciate the magnitude of miles and miles of corn fields, shelter belts and farmsteads surrounded by groves of trees. 

On a different note, we have had two bike accidents the last two days.  Yesterday Adrian got her tire stuck in grove in the road and tipped over and today Barb had a mechanical problem and tipped over.  Both are fine, though a little banged up.  Both had cracks in their helmets which saved them from more serious injuries.  I have always thought that individuals who ride without a bike helmet must believe that brain damage from a head injury would not be much different from their current brain functions.  There is risk in bicycling or most activities for that matter, but for most of us the major risks in life include being overweight, smoking, drinking to an excess, not exercising, and living a life of stress.  Bicycling is one answer to most if not all of those risks.

After getting in I had two bottles of low fat chocolate milk and a dark chocolate Milky Way.  The closest thing I have ever had to withdrawal was giving up caffeine a number of years ago; however, when I am done with this, I am clearly going to have withdrawal when I have to give up my chocolate milk habit.

Tomorrow we have another 90 mile day with the chance of rain. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 31

Day 31 started early.  The staff loads the sag van with luggage at the same time, today it was at 5:45 with breakfast afterwards.  I made some oatmeal in my room and left as soon as I loaded.  I thought the extra 20-25 minutes would benefit me later.  The picture is of the flags in front of the hotel.  The wind was 15-20 all day out of the SSW.  Anything out of the west is always good, so had at least a slight tailwind most of the day. Even so, after yesterday's heat and 102 miles, 100 miles today was grueling at the end, especially with the heat. 

Riding in heat like this can be very difficult, and many riders are suffering.  The only happy rider is Terry from Tucson who is used to riding in 100+ degrees.  So far, I have been hanging in there. I try to drink a lot of water which is one key.  Also, not so bad when biking, but when I get off the bike, my first thought is wow, it is really hot here.  Locals in various towns are always asking how we can bike in this weather.  Some think we are crazy, others are sure we are.

All day riders were mentioning to me the banner Barb and Charlie had made for me, they thought that was pretty special, and it was.  Also, many met Morgan and Christi and were very impressed.  The funniest was Karina who told me afterwards that “Morgan was really handsome."  The way she said it while she was looking at me, it sounded likes given the genes, this was a total surprise. 

Many riders are amazed that it can be this hot and humid in Minnesota.  I told one rider that sometimes alligators hide in corn fields so be careful.  He thought I was kidding, but not sure.  He was pretty nervous the rest of the day. 

Tomorrow we leave Minnesota and cross the Mississippi to Wisconsin. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 30

Day 30 was one of the most amazing days I have had on the tour and probably ever.  We biked 102 miles from Worthington to Mankato.  As the first two pictures indicate, it was very hot early in the day, but fortunately we had at least a slight tailwind the whole day and I made a good time.  The  scenery was pure Minnesota farm land in the prime growing season with green fields of primarily corn but other crops as well along with groves of trees, shelter belts and farmsteads.  I did not stop to take a picture, primarily because it was too hot and did not want to spend any more time out there than I had to.

With the increasing heat, the last ten miles were difficult and I was ready to get to the hotel and air conditioning.   We are staying at the Mankato City Center Hotel in downtown Mankato and when I pulled into the hotel drop off area, I had an amazing surprise.  My very good friends Charlie and Barb from Bemidji had made a banner for me and driven down to Mankato to have it across the entryway when I pulled in.  When I first saw the banner I thought that is very cool and when I saw it was for me, it was exhilarating.  The pictures are of us in front of the banner and the three of us.  My fan club may be small, but it is exclusive, classy, and contains very bright, thoughtful individuals.  Charlie and Barb, thank you so much.  They also had low fat chocolate milk waiting for me in a cooler.  Again, thank you.  This was a special moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. 

The day got better as Morgan and Christi drove down from Minneapolis to spend the rest of the day with me.  The pictures are the three of us around my bike.  We went out for dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant.  Making it better, Jeff and Karina from the tour and Adam, who I call my second son by different parents along with his wife Lindsey joined us.  We had a great time, the conversation was excellent and the food was a nice change from the normal buffets where we have been eating. 

Tomorrow looks to be another long hot day with 99 miles to Rochester. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 29

By tour standards, Day 29 was pretty mellow.  Sioux Falls to Worthington, MN, about 70 miles, and we caught a moderate tailwind so a I made good time.  The first pictures are from the Falls in Sioux Falls, which are very impressive, especially with the high water in the Sioux River.  I have been to Sioux Falls a number of times for business and have never visited the Falls or the surrounding park which was very nice. 

The next two pictures were of the sign announcing we were entering Minnesota.  Though SD is a great state, we are hoping for better weather in MN. 

The hotel we are staying at in Worthington would win the award so far for best welcome.  When we arrived they had water bottles on ice, fresh fruit, and yogurt waiting for us. 

Many riders could not believe that Minnesota could be this hot in the summer.  I think some assumed it would be still snowing.  For many of them, their frame of reference is the movie Fargo.  They are disappointed I do not  speak like the characters in the movie. 

Tomorrow 102 miles to Mankato.  Let’s hope for tailwind.