Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Great Day for 32 Miles

Last Saturday was the Tour de Pepin, a wonderful bike ride along the Mississippi River from Lake City to Wabasha, MN, across the river to Wisconsin and (my section) ending at Stockholm, WI. A Total of 32 miles. Several colleagues and I had a thoroughly enjoyable day.

It had its share of concerns, however. At least one of which was of my own making.

Ever shut the car door and just as it clicks, you know you've locked your keys in the car? Yep. My backpack, including my keys, my wallet and my cell phone were sitting there nice and safe in the (locked) backseat. Panic? No. But I did have a moment of placing myself among the stupid people of the western world.

Fortunately the kind director of the ride knew of a nearby service station that would come and get the doors open. So, before we even left Lake City I was $25 poorer. Well, one of my colleagues was $20 poorer. I didn't have a $20 bill. Though I did now have my keys, cameras, and wallet.

(Full disclosure: I then  momentarily lost my bike. I walked out of the above pictured welcome tent, looked around, walked around, and couldn't remember where I parked it. To be honest, there was a guy standing next to it, so without looking at the bike, I thought it was his. It wasn't. The same colleague who lent me the money was alert enough to spot it.)


Finally. On the road.

Yes, THAT Highway 61. Revisited.

The weather was wonderful. Nearly 800 of us were doing one or another of the three legs: 12, 32, or 72 miles. Heading south from Lake City is one of those famous roads. This was my first time on the Tour de Pepin. I am told that it was also the first Tour with good weather. Last year was in the low 50s and raining.

Your welcome.

The road in Minnesota on the western side of the river is actually quite famous.

Along the way there was a fawn lying quietly along the side of the road trying to appear invisible. He only got up and ran as I started to pull the camera out of my pocket. My colleague (yes, still the same one) was astounded that this guy who could find his bike in the wide open could see the fawn hidden in the weeds.

I did miss the Yellow Lady's Slippers along the road. I was alerted to their existence by the guy taking pictures, but it was only after I passed that their identity registered.

The bridge from Wabasha, MN, across the Mississippi to Wisconsin.
It's about this spot that my chain came off! Fortunately easy to fix and on we went.

We headed north in Wisconsin as the day just continued to be nothing short of wonderful.

It is mostly easy rolling hills with some nice stretches of flat. I found myself cruising along at anywhere from 12 - 15 mph. I have come a very long way in endurance over the past three years of biking.

But of course the last couple miles were mostly up hill. It was a steady climb (sorry no pictures) that caused me to gear all the way down to 1-1 and about 4 mph. But I never stopped pedaling, which is nothing short of wonderful in and of itself.

We arrived in Stockholm, WI. After 32 miles and a 2 hr 42 minute ride, we were successful, though we still had a had a 2 1/2 hour wait to get the boat back across the river. We sat and had lunch and I guzzled the iced tea.

OnTheBoatWe then joined 80 others for the 20 minute slow ride across the river with more bikes jammed into the small space than I would have thought possible.

Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake, and the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River, located approximately 60 miles downstream from Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is a widening of the river on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. The formation of the lake was caused by the backup of water behind the sedimentary deposits of the Chippewa River's delta. It has a surface area of about 40 square miles (100 km2) and an average depth of 18 feet (5.5 m), which makes it the largest Lake on the entire Mississippi River.

Final stop- back in Lake City, MN.

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