Riding out of a bicycle-friendly city was pure joy! Bicycles have their own space and infrastructure — designated lanes and bicycle paths throughout the city. There are many cyclists in this town because it is flat and safe to ride.
The bike ride today was out of the city and through rural Wisconsin dairy land. There were lots of farms, with lots of cows. The hills were rollers which gently flattened out as we approached Illinois. The weather was perfect, in the 70’s, and the sky was clear all day with a zero percent chance of rain.
We have ridden over 2000 miles and we are entering our 7th state. Hard to believe we are almost done! We were thrilled to stay the night in a dorm room with all the extras we have come to expect. One of the biggest benefits — no mosquitoes!
MapMyRide Statistics: 71 Miles | Time: 4:47 | 14.8 mph
The ride today was quite smooth given all the climbing we had to do. The hills were pretty steep; the only one marked was 10% grade but it was over a mile long. At the top of the hill was a serene setting that overlooked the Mississippi River gorge. These happy cows came over to say Welcome to Wisconsin.
While riding in the rolling hills, we got to see lots of Amish people working in their fields. The crops changed to reflect the local population, as we saw more oats and alfalfa growing to feed the working horses. We also saw a few buggies parked next to the river while the men fished.
This was an amazing day, with a strong tailwind the entire trip. We got into the dorms at 11:30 am — after riding 90 miles! It was so early, we had time to walk into downtown Winona, shop at a bike shop and visit Bubs Brewery Restaurant and have some lunch. Of course, we had to taste the local beer. We stayed at the University of Winona in luxury dorm rooms. It was awesome to stay indoors with a nice cool temperature.
MapMyRide: 90 Miles | 4.5 hours | 18.3 mph (Tail Winds make a big difference)
New Ulm is a quaint Minnesota town with lots of farms both large and small. The ride to Owatonna was pretty easy given the moderate terrain, and the cool 70 degree weather. We had a visit from Fritz, the local reporter for the New Ulm Journal, and got front page coverage in their newspaper. We rode into the town of Owatonna and camped in our tents at the County Fairgrounds. The insects were not too bad and with the chill in the air, it was a good night’s sleep in the tent.
The ride from Tyler to New Ulm was fairly easy given the high mileage.
New Ulm, Minnesota has a German influence. Population: 13,522. This little town was established by German immigrants and is home to the August Schell Brewery. The town center has a 45-foot tall glockenspiel bell tower with 37 bells that chime throughout the day, and play beautiful music at noon, 3 and 5:00. In addition, it has what any good German town must have, polka music — playing all day in the downtown area.
The hills were gently rolling with a lot of farm country in between. There are acres and acres of corn and soybeans growing in lush green display. The state of Minnesota had a lot of rain this spring so it appears to be a bumper year for crops with large yields. The only downside that I can see is the mosquitoes and gnats…lots and lots of bugs.
The custodian of the Miller High School said the mosquitoes were so big this year that we could skin them and filet them for dinner. Now that is a big mosquito. All joking aside, it’s pretty buggy this time of year. We started the day out with moist conditions as it rained hard overnight, but lucky for us, no rain for the ride — the clouds opened up and blue sky came in. Another blissfully excellent day on the Big Ride Across America!
MapMyRide Stats: 94.04 Miles | 15.4 MPH | 6 hours and 7 minutes
There is a big promotion on Mapmyride.com for the Tour de France: once entered into the contest, within the smartphone application, all your mileage is automatically logged into the online race. With all this high mileage on the Big Ride, I happen to be in 31st place. Woot Woot! I already won a jersey for 500 miles. This makes me want to sing….do do doit do do do do, do do doit do do do do do ( my fellow riders know the tune).
With all the cornfields here in Minnesota, it’s only natural that we would come across one of these ethanol processing plants. The smokestack was not quite tall enough as the odor of fermenting corn was quite heavy as we passed by.
The team from VeloSante Cycling Services create a wonderful experience for us each day. They feed and water us every 20 miles (and we love it), they rescue us when we have technical difficulty (flats, broken chains, derailleur issues etc.). What is really cool about this organization is that we get the fix we need and they put us back on the road. What a luxury to ride with such an outstanding organization. If you are reading this and are thinking about a bicycle tour, they are awesome!
Now that we have completed the first half of the Big Ride Across America and are at the 1800-mile point, I cannot believe how comfortable I am every single day. No sore butt, no need for chamois cream, no hot spots on my body. I am incredibly comfy…why?
1. My Bike Shorts These Aero Tech Elite shorts are amazing. I do not have any need for chamois cream–in fact I gave it away.
The bike shorts from Aero Tech Designs are the best shorts I have ever worn. The grey Elite chamois pad is a carbon fiber with silver ion threads, which prevent bacteria from building up on the shorts (bacteria is a major cause of saddle sores). The pad has engineered layers of padding that put different densities of thick and thin padding where needed. The shorts fit snugly, holding the Elite chamois tight to the skin so there is no bunching. There are no seams anywhere in the rub zones, thus removing all opportunities for abrasion.
[wpvideo 6pZfiqoT] 2. My Saddle
The saddle is a gel-filled seat that is designed for women. A woman has wider ischial bones than men, so naturally a well-designed women’s saddle would have a wider area for these “sit” bones to rest. There are gel inserts at the exact location where the bones rest. Between the gel saddle absorbing shock, and the Aero Tech Women’s Cycling Shorts smoothing out the abrasion issues, the comfort is amazing. Since I am an old lady, this wider saddle with gel inserts is the perfect complement to my bike shorts.
3. My Upright Position on the Pedego Interceptor bike
The upright position…different? Yes, but amazing. I have been a bicycle geek all of my life. I love cycling and am a former racer. So, for most of my life I held the tightly regarded “racer position” for all of my bikes. I rode for years in the aerodynamic dropped positon. This is how a serious biker should look and any departure from the “look” means you are not a serious cyclist. All serious cyclists have that look…dropped down.
If you don’t have to fit the mold, I recommend the upright position. Again, since I am older, I do not succumb to the peer pressure to fit the “serious cyclist mold” any longer because I don’t care about all that tradition. I am in it for the JOY and nothing more. I ride upright and I love it!
No more Neck Pain – Previously in the dropped position, I would get a serious hot spot on the back of my neck, that started to burn after about 35-40 miles, from keeping my head cocked up to see the road. I do not have that hot spot in the back of my neck now. This painful cycling issue is completely eliminated by riding in an upright position. I just love the Pedego Interceptor for the way it fits my body. My neck is completely pain free–even after 100 miles!!!
No more Numb Hands – I used to have numb hands after riding long distances. The upright position has taken all of the weight off of my hands and the median nerve. I wear Aero Tech gel padded cycling gloves, which also help to reduce the vibration on my hands. Previously, this discomfort would cause serious, numbing hand pain when riding in the dropped position. In the upright position on the Pedego, I have ZERO numbness in my hands.
No more sore butt – The upright position puts all the weight of my body exactly on the ischial bones (where nature intended). The gel saddle and the excellent Aero Tech Elite bike shorts have eliminated all aspects of the sore butt. It is truly an amazing contrast to previous tours where I rode in the traditional “dropped” cycling position. My butt is perfectly comfortable–every day!
4. My Visibility is high so I feel safe.
My clothing from Aero Tech Designs Custom is fluorescent yellow which is the most visible color for motorists. The jerseys have two 3M reflective tabs sewn into the back pocket. I have two different fabrics that I have been using: one is the Coolmax branded polyester and the other is the Aero Tech Standard Wick-Away material. I prefer the Aero Tech fabric; it is very breathable and feels cottony soft next to the skin.
My Lights – I use a white blinking headlight and red blinking tail light for the entire time we are riding.
My Bike – The fluorescent orange paint on the Pedego Interceptor is amazing. I get so many complements on the bicycle because it is beautiful, and different. Just one look at the bike excites people, especially young boys who often shout “nice bike” as I pass by. I added the orange Ortlieb panniers to carry extra battery power for the Pedego electric bike.
5. The Ride Organizer – VeloSante – The Big Ride Across America is enhanced greatly by great product choices, outstanding food for energy and a well-planned route. The food served for the Big Riders is sensible, well-planned and delicious. The route each day is carefully planned in advance and we are given a cue sheet with the day’s directions. There is about 20 miles between rest stops where there is plenty of water, isotonic drinks, high-end food and snacks. The routes are safe and there is a tightly orchestrated daily routine to keep all riders on the road with support and sag services. It is really nice to have all our luggage and supply needs cared for by an outstanding team of people.
The bottom line is that comfort rules when you are bicycle touring. We are seeking more joy in our lives and I cannot find anything negative about this experience. I am riding each day with utmost regard for our planet Earth and the people we meet. Every day I open my eyes, I thank God that I am alive and healthy enough to experience this dream come true. Riding Longer. Feeling Stronger.
76 miles | 17.2 mph | 4 hours 26 minutes | Now, that is a tailwind!
Today’s ride was through the farm country and pleasant little towns in South Dakota. We traveled due East all day. The ride was smooth and easy with a boosting tail wind that pushed us along with ease as we passed through the halfway point at the 1650 mile marker in a little town called Huron, South Dakota. At the end of the day we logged 1669 miles toward our goal of 3300 miles.
Sleeping in Pierre’s Morse Middle School gymnasium does not sound like an ideal resting place, but it was an amazing night’s sleep — I fell right asleep and slept the entire night. It was a pleasure to sleep indoors, with air conditioning, and not have to worry about packing up the tent at 4:30 am. I got a great recovery and was well-rested for the next day’s ride. We had breakfast in camp presented by VeloSante and were on our way by 6 am. The cyclists in this image are riding on a road that was just oiled so it was shiny as we rode out of Pierre headed due east and straight into the sun. Yesterday, we slayed the high winds; this day we slayed the big bold sun that was directly in front the entire morning.
My “mapmyride” report gave 17.2mph average speed for the 73 miles. I used one battery on the Pedego e-bike and it took just over four hours to reach our day’s destination: Miller, South Dakota. Once in town, the agenda was a haircut downtown, dinner at the local steakhouse and then indoor camping at the Miller High School. The staff at the school were very kind and welcoming. Next up: Cycling life on the prairie…more South Dakota.
Cycling from Kadoka to Pierre on Monday July 7, 2014 started out with a fantastic sunrise in the rain. We camped out in tents throughout the Kadoka city park. The mayor personally welcomed us and opened the bathrooms at 5:00 am. We packed up in a slight rain and started out the day with this glorious sunrise:
The cycling was difficult in the morning as it rained with piercing winds. The rain was coming in from our right and blowing intensely. The raindrops felt like pin pricks on all areas of exposed skin. We used our cycling rain jackets with the hoods to protect ourselves from the sharp raindrops. Once we got through the rainstorm, the wind intensified. It was a strong crosswind, with heavy gusts. We only averaged 11 mph on this day of riding because of the wind and the flat tire.
Dinner was in the town of Pierre, where we found this wonderful restaurant called La Minestra downtown. I had a salmon dinner with creme brulee for desert. These fine chefs gave us the royal treatment.