Thursday, June 28, 2007

6/28/07 2:24 PM Sauk City, WI Afterthoughts

Ted and I wanted to add a few thoughts to our blog for the next time around. It may be not all that interesting but other present or future bike tourists might find this helpful.
  1. Would we do this again? Yes, we will although we realize that some wouldn't as it can be hard and unpredictable. you need to be patient and tolorant of occasional discomfort.
  2. What's the biggest change we would make? More rest days. We cranked too hard too long to make it here on time.
  3. Shorcomings in terms of equipment or changes in what you would bring?
  • Andy would use a more heavy duty frame. While the Volpe worked okay itbent and wiggled more than I would like. Ted's bike was very solid in comparison.
  • Ted had a pair of Avid Shorty 4 caliper brakes that were not really adequate. My bike had short pull v-brakes that worked brilliantly even with a heavy load.
  • My rear cassette was a 12-28 and could have keen stretched at both ends. Ted had an 11-34 that worked really well.
  • If going through any part of the southwest you need thornproof tubes. I left without one in my front tire and probably patched it 8 times before I picked up a thicker one in Las Vegas, NM. Interestingly enough that tube blew out in Kansas and we replaced it with a regular non slime thin tube and it worked for the next 1000 miles without incident. Ted never had a flat.
  • We broke 3 bottle cages. Make sure that the ones you have are high quality and in good shape before you go. If not bring spares as insurance.
  • Don't be miserly in terms of water storage. We carried over 2 gallons of water between us in NM. We never ran out but we did drink most of it up.
  • Bring high quality biking shorts that you have worn before as well as chamois lubricant for those ocassional hotspots that develop on a hot day. We had three different types of shorts and the $25 Performance shorts had shortcomings that the other higher quality ones didn't.
Finally, don't plan exactly where you will go and stay. Things change too much and you need to react to circumstances. Do plan generally though. Plan for the big picture and let the details unfold.

6/27/07 Roxbury, WI

We made it!

After leaving the town park in Wauzeka we put in a good strong day of pedaling, coving 78 miles (more than I thought) before arriving at my brother's house at about 4:30 pm. The riding was beautiful as we covered level ground along the Wisconsin River. The Wisconsin River has an almost unbroken wildlife corridor consisting of lush wetlands and prairie/forests. We appreciated the efforts of the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources as all of the creatures who live there do too!

During most of the day we rode hard because we knew where we wanted to be. After lunch we rode even faster and, I'm sure, made record time getting here. I gave Bob a call when we crossed the river and headed out of Sauk City for his farm and we were delighted at our welcome party as we chugged up the steep gravel driveway for the final few yards of a long ride.
I am happy.

Ted on being finished:
Well, we're done. finished, and we're going to mail the bikes back home to ABQ. I wish we could ride back home, but unfortunately no such luck. With our schedules, and all that jazz, it just couldn't work. But I'm also happy to be finished, it's nice to have a bed, and warm water, and not have to pack up evrey morning. It's nice not to have to worry about where I'm gonna sleep tonight, it's nice to have a place to take off my contacts, it's nice to have a warm shower evrey night. I am very happy to be here.

Mileage today: 78 miles
Total mileage for the trip: 1571 miles

6/26/07 10:18 PM Wauzeka, WI

We left the park later than I would have liked but we didn't wake up
very early. We rode thru level country before heading into an area
that was much hillier. We went past a number of Amish farms and saw
some horse drawn traffic on our road. The green shirted children
seemed very interested in us and one even chased us. The road we
planned to get us down to the Mississippi River was under road
construction but this time we had no problems passing the asphalt
pavers (same operation as before) and the foreman was very helpful.

It was or very hot day today and we were drinking a lot of water,
about 2 gallons each over the day. After climbing out of the
Mississippi valley on a wrong tum we added some distance to our trip
but gained another memorable descent. Eventually we ended up on a big
bridge crossing the river and we were in Wisconsin.

After grocery shopping at the Piggly Wiggly (new store chain and new
food choices) we headed east on Hwy 60 paralleling The Wisconsin
River. Highways in this state are several notches better than Iowa
simply because they have paved shoulders with some width.

We wanted to cover at least 80 miles today and we did. Usually,
however, a camping place or hotel appears when we need it. Tonite it
didn't as easily. On the advice of the Sheriff we are camping in a
spacious and well mowed city park tonight.

I think we have only 60 miles to cover on our last day.

Ted, on mood swings, and the signs of hapiness:
It's amazing what a granola bar can do to one's outlook on life. After
making a wrong turn, and grinding up a number of hills, I was in a
foul mood. The kind of mood that makes bad vibes you can feel miles
around. When we stopped for a break, I had a granola bar. Suddenly the
sun was happily shining, instead of beating down mercilessly. I was a
little put off by how fast my mood had changed. Soon after, I began
noticing good signs, like trucks on wedges (8%), and squiggly arrows.
There was a fast twisted road leading down to the Mississippi. I think
I hit 50 at least. Coupled with steep turns, that was the most fun
I've ever had breaking the speed limit.

Now, bed.

distance today: 86 miles
Total mileage: (Ted's odometer broke and I don't want to do the math now)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

6/25/07 10:58 PM Backbone State Park, NE, Iowa

As I sit here with a full stomach after a long day of riding the day
blends together into a green blur. More corn, cows and beans, but not
in any pejoritive sense --it's actually quite beautiful.

At lunch we were joined by another rider who was out for a day jaunt.
He was very envious of our trip and would have joined us but thought
his wife would object. He recently retired and had time to ride his
bike more. We had covered only 40 miles but he said he had already
clocked 120 miles! He planned on making it a 200 mile day. At his
average speed of 18 mph that's still a much, much longer day than we
would consider. Our longest ride so far has taken us only 8.5 hours.
We were inspired. Up to just west of Des Moines we had seen no riders
at all but today we saw several and yesterday we even saw a loaded
tourer going the other way. We have been told by many about the
Ragbrai, which is a ride across the state with up to 10,000 riders.
People camp all over the place and folks open up their yards and
homes for general use. We can only imagine. Aside from complicated
navigation, that's all.
We are camped in a beautiful park, complete with big trees, limestone
cliffs and clear running streams. It's a cool and quiet night with few
mosquitoes and we are enjoying it greatly.

Ted, on raccoons, and the Holy Gloves:
At the moment, I am having rather poisonous thoughts towards a
certain raccoon. While I was showering, and dad was on the phone (at
the top of a hill) one of the little pests broke into our noodles, and
our breakfast and our powdered milk! Soon after, the beast was back. A
few feet away from our table, and us, as we were eating our (very much
boiled) dinner. We hissed at it, and showed it our fangs. That's
scared the bugger(s?) off!! In other news, my gloves have recently
become the holiest things around. They're positively papal, and
therefore well ventilated. Not quite as...whole as they used to be.
They're better than blessed, and they're also comfortable on a saintly
level. Needless to say, they needed replacement after being
sanctified. They only become more powerfully Popelike the longer I
wear them. I fear soon they shall become holier than the Grail itself.
Really, though they've got more holes than a than your oldest pair of
socks. And on that note, I shall leave you so I can fend off vicious
hoards of noodle craving raccoons, in

Monday, June 25, 2007

6/24/07 10:06 PM Tama County, Iowa

We gladly left Adventureland and guessed our way towards another 25
mile section of abandoned railway. We really love those trails and
this one didn't let us down. We desert boys were loving the green
tunnels we rode through and large rivers we crossed. After a grocery
stop and lunch in the small town of Baxter we proceeded to "up (north)
and over (east)" our way through sometimes flat and sometimes hilly
cornfield/soybeanfield/cowpasture central Iowa.

We normally find a wifi hotspot at any library, open or closed but we
struck out twice today so we missed posting. We'll surely hit one
tomorrow as we are probably going through more towns with libraries.
Sometimes we get lucky and we pick up signals on sidestreets when we
pull off on to rest or eat but I would rather be legit and use a
signal meant for the public.

With only a few days left before I need to be at my brother's house I
want to he sure that we get there on time. It's hard to judge
distances since we don't travel in a straight line but I'm pretty sure
that we'll arrive on Wednesday. To do this we plan to ride so miles
and then find a place to stay. Today I couldn't figure out where we
would stay as we rode past a nice hotel at 70 miles but, as it always
seems to happen, we saw a sign to or county park in 5 miles. Knowing
nothing about the place we were very pleasantly surprised to find it
to be absolutely lovely. We are in a quiet wooded private campsite
surrounded by thick forest. There is only one other group here and
they are out of sight and hearing for us. We are very happy still.

Ted, on RVs, and chipmunks:
The RV, the motor home, house trailer, whatever you call it, they're
the biggest thing on the roads. These massive behemoths sometimes
measure up to semi-trucks, and are almost always bigger than busses.
I've often thought about living in one, but then I see the price. I
did meet one man who lived in his gargantuan trailer, his comment was
''I live very comfortably in there. It's better than a pre-fab, and
cheaper, too!''. I have been 'camping' among these metal titans for
too long, so now is a nice change. We're camped in a woodsy area with
lots of wildlife nearby. Chipmunks are the most common, but there are
some deer roaming about. I've seen both kneeling on a deer trail
leading out of our camp. It was very peaceful, and I was just waching
all the world go by. Happiness.

Mileage today: 79 miles in 5.9 hours
Total: 1311 miles

6/23/07 10:56 PM Atoona ,IA

We left Creston under very low overcast skies that stayed with us all
day. We rode north and east on low traffic county roads in various
states of repair. The countryside actually became flatter or maybe the
hills became gentler. Either way we didn't suffer the severe up and
down hills we had been riding for the last several days. After 50
miles we stopped for lunch in a small town with a bike path running
through it. We saw the first real bike riders since we left Abq.
Because the path ran on an old rail bed (thank you Rails to Trails) it
was flat and isolated. At times we rode through tunnels of trees -- we
felt like we were in the jungle. The path took us all of the way to
central Des Moines.

Yesterday a big storm in hit one area we rode to and there were many,
many trees tht had fallen and that were freshly cleaned up. We saw one
semi-truck trailer that had blown over, and the path was flooded at
times so we had to detour. Once we got to the downtown we were advised
by bilars to ride up the main drag of the city right past the capital.
The traffic was fine and the view grand. At this point we were quite
ready to stop but all of the hotels were full so we kept riding on
bike paths until we came to this town where all of the hotels were
full as well. Fortunately we found an empty spot put up our tent at
Adventureland. We think Adventureland is some sort of amusement park
but I have never been in such a packed and large "campground." Either
way its not well named but the showers were great.

Getting thru Des Moines was an adventure but we're certainly ready for
the country again tomorrow.

Ted, on Lamborginis, and inner city safaris: today was interesting in
that we rode through our first real forest. I also saw a Lamborgini
Countach sitting in a parking lot, with the owner nearby.
Unfortunately, the engine was unaccessable due to a complex hood
mechanism. *pout* so, after a few photos for proof, we headed on, and
soon got into the city at which point, we proceeded to wind through a
complex maze of winding, muddy and sometimes flooded paths. After a
few miles, the bike path was covered in large brolen branches, due to
a violent storm the night before. The path ended abruptly, dumping us
on the corner of a busy intersection. From there we navigated through
Des Moines, and we got to our campsite (Adventureland!) and promptly
ate and slept. But its sprinkling now, so g2g. Bye.

Mileage today: 102 miles in 8.5 hours total miles: 1,232

Photos stuck in camera

I'm trying to upload the photos in my camera but cannot get them onto the computer in this library. All well here stay tuned...

Andy and Ted
La Porte City, Iowa