Thursday, June 14, 2007

June 13-14, 2007 Little Falls, MN

We are in Little Falls, MN, does than mean that Frostbite Falls is close?

We are having a rest day before our final two days of riding. Yesterday was a very interesting day for me. I started out leaving the hotel with most of the other riders when about a half a mile away I realized that I had forgotten my cycling gloves. Since it was a 77 mile day I did not want to ride without then. I turned back to the hotel and dug my suit case out of the trailer and got my gloves. I started out again but everyone was well ahead and I could no longer see them. About three fourths a mile down I hear two of the women calling me from behind. I had turned right when I should have turned left. (Thank you Linda and Barbara)

I rode a pretty good distance by myself when I hooked up with Anne. We got to a point on the cue sheet that had us turn left. Unfortunately, there were large barriers with signs saying road closed. We could see workmen down at the bottom of the hill working on a bridget. We rode down hoping they would let us carry our bikes over the constuction area. Turns out there was nothing to go over because they had torn down the old bridge and hand not started on building a new one. The workmen were helpful in giving us directions to detour that would get us back on route. Bicycling is always and adventure.

I really felt strong since I had rested the two previous days because of the intestinal problem. As Anne and rode together it soon became apparent that the day was going to be closer to 86 and 77 miles. At mile 80 my ride unraveled. Anne said that she noticed that my riding was slowing seriously and she said my breathing started sounding labored. She suggested I stop and take my inhailor. Turns out that was a very good idea just as I got off the bike my legs went weak under me. I was able to stil my bike down just as I crumpled in a heap on the side of the road. I was so fortunate to have Anne with me. Anne is the only MD on the whole trip. She had one electrolite pill left in her bag and gave it to me. She also had me eat a power bar and a Gu packet. She had me drink lots of water and stayed with me until the SAG arrived to drive me in the final 6 miles. I was pretty sad that I was unable to complete the ride but I think the whole intestinal problem "drained" me so to speak. Once we got to the hotel Stephanie, Georgia and Anne got me, my bike and luggage to the room. I was starting to fell better and wanted to take a shower. Clark sat in my room while I showered to make sure everything was OK. Then I lay ed down and rested. All the women on this trip have been so supportive and helpful. I cannot tell you how great they have taken care of each other. I went down for dinner last night and had a good rest.

This morning I felt fine. I had breakfast at the hotel and did my usual rest day routine, laundry. Then I walked over to Wal-Mart and bought some Powerade. I have enough for the two remaining rides plus I drank two 32 oz bottles today. Tomorrow we have 65 miles and the second half is on a bike trail so it should be relatively easy. I really need to ride the two last days.

When I got back several women were planning on taking a taxi to the Charles Lindbergh's boyhood home museum. I joined them and was so glad that I did. There was a wonderful exhibit on the Spirit of St. Louis.

Greg notice the book written by Charles A. Lindbergh, SR

A cool looking heater in the house.

The 1916 Saxon Six that 14 year old Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. drove from Little Falls, Mn to Redondo Beach, CA. Charles did all the driving. His Mother rode with him.

This evening most of us went to a wonderful restaurant call the Black and White. Who would have believed that Little Falls, Mn would have a restaurant run by two Cordon Bleu trained chiefs? It was wonderful. I had almond crusted Walleye with a balsamic reduction, mango risotto and asparagus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June 12, 2007 Cambridge, MN

Yesterday, the group rode to Stillwater, MN. Notice I said the group and not "I rode to Stillwater." Yesterday morning I woke up with a very violent intestinal problem. I had to SAG to Stillwater. I arrived at 11:00am and fortunately they had a room ready to assign me. I went to bed right away. My roommate was one of the SAG drivers and she went and brought me some chicken broth and crackers. I tried eating the soup but I just could not so all through the night when I woke up I would eat one Saltine. All I was able to eat for over 24 hours was Saltines. I got up at 6:45 this morning and was too weak to be able to ride. So sadly I had to SAG another day.

Because the SAG stopped six miles outside of town to help one of riders with a flat we arrived in town about the time several of the riders were coming in. My roommate for the evening and two other riders were going to bike the .75 miles into town for lunch. I changed into riding gear and did a whole mile and a half today. We went to a small local cafe and I had some homemade chicken and dumpling soup. It really helped.

Tomorrow we ride to Little Falls, the boyhood home of the aviator Charles Lindberg. It is a 77 mile day. I plan to take it real easy and do the whole thing. Tomorrow is 77 miles then we have a rest day in Little Falls. I figure the rest day will give me more time to recover from the intestinal problems. After that we only have two days of riding, Pine River 65 miles and Lake Itasca 87 miles. I really want to be able to ride the final three days. With this touchy stomach the best way to do it will be to take it very easy.

I still cannot believe that the trip is almost over. Assuming that I complete the last three days I will have ridden over 1,700 miles since I left New Orleans. Not to shabby if I do say so myself.

Tomorrow I will have pictures to post. Ridding in the SAG does not give one much of an opportunity to take pictures. Little Falls is susposed to be a nice little town so will post pictures from there and from the ride.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007 Red Wing, MN

Total mileage as of today, 1,476..approximately 328 miles to go. Today was a short 32 mile day. I was able to sleep in till almost 7:00 despite the fact the alarm clock in my room went off at 4:15. Everyone was moving rather slowly knowing that it was such a short day.

Last night at the map meeting one of the women said that according to the Woman Tours website today was supposed to be really hilly. We all figured that 32 miles with hills could not be to bad. We were correct and the website was wrong. There were some hills but they were mainly rollers that you could get up enough steam on the downhill to make it up most of the way. I road most of the way by myself enjoying the wonderful views of the Mississippi. The area around Lake Pepin was particularly beautiful.

I passed through Lake City, Mn

I took this picture along the way since I never saw a welcome to Minnesota sign. I still cannot believe that I have bicycled from New Orleans to Minnesota.

When I arrived in Red Wing I passed a Caraboo Coffee shop so I stopped and joined a couple of other women and had a frozen mocha. It is really surprising what tastes good at the end of a bike ride on a warm day.

Because it was such a short ride I arrived way to early to get my room. I wondered over to the Red Wing Pottery Store. I only had my biking sunglasses so it was difficult to do much shopping. Finally at noon the bike shop next door opened. I took my bike in to get the cables adjusted. After almost 1,500 miles the cables had stretched and shifting was not going smoothly and braking took all my strength. When I got back to the hotel my room was ready. I relax and did laundry.
Later in the afternoon I went with some of the other women to the Red Wing Pottery Store.
Tomorrow is a short ride (48 miles) but THREE bridges. Trying to figure out what to do. Will let you know tomorrow.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007 Wabasha, MN

This morning we began by following the Great River Off-Road Bicycle Trail out of La Crosse,

and then picked up the Great River Road as we road into our final state. Somehow over half of us got lost and what was supposed to be a 60 mile day turned into a 72 mile day. We biked in areas with name like Onalaska and Trempealeau. There were several bridges along the route most of which were wooden. This one had a wooden surface but obviously steel beams.

We had been told about a restaurant in Trempealeau that had walnut burgers but unfortunately we we there long before time to open so we continued on.

A very fortunate miss cue on our cue sheets lead several of us through the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. It was really a spectacular place. Besides the fact we added 12 miles to the route we were on a rock trail that was not meant for tiny tires like mine. I managed to make it through without any problems. I was sure my tires would just explode on the sharp rocks.

We had another Mississippi River crossing and you know that means a bridge that I do not like. It turns out there were actually two

I had to walk the main bridge but did make it across. Mary, Clark, Laura and Edith waited at the foot of the bridge for me. Once in the town of Winona (Winona Ryder is named for it) we stopped for lunch. Here are three of us as we left the restaurant. (Sorry Clark my camera cut you out of the picture.)

Tonight we are in the town of Wabasha
Linda, out cook prepared a wonderful chicken pot pie in the dutch ovens using hot charcoal to cook. It is amazing what she has been able to do.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

June 7-8, 2007 La Crosse, WI

My roommate and I decided last night that we wanted and early start. We had a 5:15 wake-up call and were downstairs for breakfast a little before 6. I think everyone left the hotel by 6:30-6:45 because we were all afraid of the bad weather predictions. I have never ridden so fast in my life. We had a wonderful tail wind for the 62 miles. Unfortunately my Garmin was not charged and I have no mph report.

Along the way we have seen many dams and locks like the one below.

When I got to the hotel in La Crosse I had a nice surprise, a care packaged from Bridget and her family. Her are the pictures drawn by my two talented grandsons that were included in the care package. Notice the mountains in the first one and the Mississippi River in the second.

Rest day in La Crosse was fun. I walked along the beautiful riverfront and then treated myself to a facial, a pedicure and a massage. It was fun.

Went to the local bike shop

Had dinner a the local COOP restaurant and heard Barry Byrne, a Celtic Harpist.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June 6, 2007 Prairie du Chien, Wi

Today was a very mixed bag of riding. There were a couple of long steep up hills and long steep down hills. I actually prefer the up hills to the down hills. I just don't like to get going super fast on roads I am unfamiliar. We rode through towns with names like New Vienna, Luxemburg, Guttenburg and McGregor. Not sure what that says about the people that settled this area. Here is a view from the river park area of Guttenburg toward the locks.

This picture was taken of me at our first Sag stop of the day. It was at a scenic overlook of the Mississippi. We have been away from it for a while and it sure is nice to see it again. Of course, that means bridges. That is our little SAG wagon affectionately called Bo Peep. (We are her lost sheep)

After some pretty challenging and long up hills (my Gramin said that at some points they were 12% grades) I made it to the town of McGreger. It was a darling little town that I think is doing a pretty good job of attempting to survive. I spotted two bikes parked in front of the Twisted Chicken. I knew our hotel would not have our rooms ready so early so I decided to join Carol and Joanne. Within minutes the rains came. They were soon followed by just about all the rest of the riders still out on the road. The Twisted Chicken had a wonderful menu. I had the spinach and mushroom soup and a portabello mushroom sandwich on pita bread. It was wonderful. Of course, no bicycling lunch is complete without dessert.

As most were finishing there lunch the Anne, the Sag driver for the day came in to report on the last three miles of the ride. All I needed to hear was that there were two long bridges to cross with very narrow shoulders. I sagged the last three miles. Total for the short day was 43 miles.

We stayed at a very nice AmericInn in Prairie du Chien. They were wonderful to us allowing us to use their meeting room to eat our dinner. It was nice to eat at a table rather than holding our
plates in our laps while sitting in a motel parking lot.

Our map meeting warned up potential severe storms so everyone planned on and early start.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 Dyersville, Iowa

Sorry I have been missing in action the last couple of days. June 3 we went from Burlington, to Muscatine, Iowa, a distance of 61.77. June 4 we went from Muscatine to Maquoketa, Iowa, a scheduled distance of 71 miles which turned out closer to 58. I had a tough mentally and sagged after 17 miles. In retro it was probably a good idea for me to SAG. There were head winds at 25 mph and generally a very tough ride. Most people made it but were really wiped out last night and this morning. I felt much better today and was able to do the entire distance.

On the way to Maquoketa a group of us stopped for lunch

It is pretty challenging for the waitresses when we all descend on a restaurant at one time but generally they do pretty well. I had some wonderful homemade chicken and noodle soup.

This morning I took these pictures of fellow rider Judi as were were getting ready to depart. Unfortunately I set my camera down on the breakfast table at the van and did not realize that I left it until I wanted to take a picture along the way. Fortunately the trip leader put it in the van for me and I got it when I got to the hotel.

As I rode closer to Dyersville my focus was finishing. Unfortunately it meant I flew past the turn off for the Field of Dreams movie set. Oh, well I didn't have my camera anyway. Once I did get my camera I headed for the other big tourist spot in Dyerville, Iowa . Who knew? I actually really enjoyed it.

These were just across the parking lot from the Nation Farm Toy Museum:

Finally, I want to tell you about Edith. Barbara (thanks) pointed out that I talk about her all the time but haven't really included a picture or any sort of information on her. First let me say she is amazing. Edith is a 67 year old cancer survivor who went through chemo and radiation about two years ago. She is originally from Northern Germany but has been in this country over 40 years. She still has the cutest accent though. Edith has already done the Southern Tier with Woman Tours (San Diego to St. Augustine). She has only sagged one day (the day to Hannibal). She has amazing mental and physical toughness. She has really encouraged me on my tough days. Not sure what I would have done without her.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Press Coverage

Remember when we were in Dyersburg, Tennessee and I said we had an interview by the paper well the article is in it now. That is yours truly in the Arizona jersey!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Women bicyclists stop in city while following Mississippi
For many people, the thought of a 2,000-mile bicycle trip through the heart of America sounds like something they might try when they get into shape.For others, it is a dream they think they should have followed when they were younger.But for the 29 women who are taking part in the "Meandering the Mississippi" cycling tour, the timing of the trip is just right. And most of these women are between 50 and 60 years old."The average age of these ladies is 60," said WomanTours owner Jackie Marchand of Rochester, N.Y. "They are riding an average of 60 miles per day."The rest of this article can be read by subscribing to the State Gazette. Please call 731.285.4091 to start your subscription today!

June 3, 2007 Muscatine, Iowa

Before I forget any longer I have to respond to a couple of question I have received about my knitting. I think I know how to knit. I have not picked up my knitting needles on this trip except to move them around in my luggage. The poor yarn is starting to look a little battered. I just am to tired and busy when I finish my daily ride to even think about knitting. When I get home I am going to have to get busy and start on my Christmas knitting. Only a little over six months. In answer to the other pressing question...I DID NOT buy yarn at the yarn shop. My purchases have been limited to bike shops and the basket I bought.

Last night a bunch of us went to dinner at a restaurant Big Muddy's. It was right on the river and had a great view of the bridge. I tried taking a couple of pictures but they did not turn out very well. Unfortunately, dinner went late for me and I did not sleep well last night. Today's ride was 61 miles and pretty flat but I am feeling tired now. It will defiantly be an early night for me tonight.

This morning when Edith and I left I was able to get this picture of the bridge. Again Edith helped me walk across the bridge.

Today most of the riding time was spent in Illinois again. We saw our first covered bridge.

In case you cannot read the sign above the bridge it says, " Five dollar fine for leading or driving any beast faster than a walk or driving more than thirty head of cattle, mules or horses across this bridge at one time."