Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 41: London, ONT. to Brantford, ONT. - 69 miles with 1,250' of climbing

Today many of the riders chose to wear the "Canadian" jerseys they bought at a local bike shop as we started out under cool temps and overcast skies. The traffic on today's route was very light so it was a relaxing ride through the Ontario countrside past fields of corn, tobacco, ginseng, soybean and rolling horse pastures. We rode through the small towns of Springford, Otterville, Oakland, Mt. Pleasant and the struggling to stay viable town of Brantford.

After putting 55 miles behind us many of us stopped for lunch in Mt. Pleasant just before a light rain began. The rain stopped shortly after it began and the remaining 10 miles into Brantford was on dry roads.

Roadkills: 379
Flats: 4
Hurts: All's good

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 40: Port Horon, MI to London, Ontario - 90 miles with 1,500' of climbing

Today we all lined-up together in the hotel parking lot so we could travel across the Blue Water Bridge (traffic was held back for us to cross) and through Canadian customs in a group.

One of the riders, Jeff, took us on a short detour through a treelined parkway, a beach and a park where his Mother met us with pastries.

Along the rest of the route we rode through the villages of Sarina, Watford, Srathroy, Mt. Brydges and London. We passed several fields covered with solar panels, an old cemetary full of children from the 1860s and many farm houses that had signs posted to discourage the installation of wind turbines. We got to the hotel around 2:00 giving us plenty of time to shower, clean our chains, rehydrate, visit a bike shop and work on the internet before rap (daily meeting) at 4:45.

Roadkill: 374
Flats: 4
Hurts: N/A today

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 39: Birch Run, MI to Port Huron, MI - 87 miles with only 800' of climbing

A cold front moved in last night making it a welcome cool morning for the ride to Port Huron. My old buddy Troy (aka the son I never wanted), who rode with me on my 2 previous coast-to-coast trips came up from Ohio with his wife, sister-in-law and 2 kids to ride with us today. He did pretty well for someone who hasn't been riding much and was able to pedal the first 62 miles of the ride before throwing in the towel. It was fun to visit with him.

We rode through the small towns of Millington, Brown City, Yale (the home of the Bologna Festival and the Bologna Museum - REALLY). We rode passed a few abandoned barns, several nice looking farm houses, Amish farms, and had lunch in Yale. We rode most of the final 25 miles with a view of the "Carribean blue" water of Lake Huron and finished near the Blue Water Bridge that links Port Huron with Ontario.

Roadkill: 368
Flats: 4
Hurts: Everything is okee dokee

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 38: Mt. Pleasant, MI to Birch Run, MI - 73 miles with 650' of climbing

Today was hot and humid but the short mileage and flat roads made for an easy day of riding. Evidence of the decline of the American family farm is obvious in this area of Michigan. We rode past many abandoned barns and buildings.

About 50 miles into the ride Tom broke a spoke which waffled his wheel so we had to wait a bit for Jim the mechanic. Jim quickly put Tom's cassette onto a spare wheel to get us going again and then he will repair Tom's wheel tonight.

Once we arrived in Birch Run we found an A&W for lunch and then it was off to the hotel where Troy, a rider on my two previous coast-to-coast rides met us. He plans to ride with us tomorrow into Port Huron and thinks he will have no problem keeping up. With almmost 2,800 miles behind us already, we'll see.

Roadkills: 346
Flats: 4
Hurts: All is good

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 37: Ludington, MI to Mt. Pleasant, MI - 113 miles with 2,410' of climbing

Today we had breakfast at the hotel and were on the road by 6:45. The morning was cool and the roads were smooth making for a quick 113 miles. Along the way we saw a few turkeys, a woodchuck and many picturesque barns. We rode through the towns of Big Rapids, Lake Isabella and Mt. Pleasant. At mile 95 we spotted an ice cream shop called "Happy Endings" where many of us got some ice cream to fuel us for the final 18 miles.

Roadkill count: 328
Flats: 4
Hurts: Minor leg soreness

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 36: Manitowoc, WI to Ludington, MI - 7 miles with 0' climbing plus a 4-hour ferry ride

Today was considered a "day off". We rode our bikes to downtown Manitowoc to catch the SS Badger for the ride across Lake Michigan. We had a few hours to kill so we went to the Manitowoc Maritime Museum and toured the SS Cobia WWII submarine. The ferry departed around 1:45 and we arrived in Ludington, MI around 6:30 having lost another hour moving into the eastern time zone. From the ferry we rode to a nearby Italian restaurant and then another few miles to the hotel for the night.

Roadkills: Still 314
Flats: Still 4
Hurts: Just sore quads

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 35: Fond du Lac, WI to Manitowoc, WI - 57 miles with only 1,350' of climbing

Today we got to sleep-in until 7:00 because we only had 57 miles to ride. The rural Wisconsin scenery coupled with the lightly traveled country roads made today's ride one of the most relaxing of the trip so far. Most of us treated it like a day off and took our time getting to Manitowoc. We stopped at a lighthouse on Lake Winnebago, took pictures of windfarms, and savored the cool breezes off of Lake Michigan.

Once in Manitowoc my brother Gary's wife, Lauri, picked us up and took us to her folk's farm just down the road where her Mom and Dad have a 10 acre apple orchard and a huge garden. They planned a picnic there where many of my relatives stopped by on their way home from our annual family reunion in Escanaba, MI. It was so great to see everyone again and share a fantastic meal as we sat outside surrounded by an apple orchard, flowers and gardens. I look forward to next summer when my girlfriend, Belle, and I can make next year's reunion.

Roadkill: 314
Flats: 4
Hurts: Left knee occassionally lets me know that it needs some rest.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 34: Wisconsin Dells, WI to Fond du Lac, WI - 83 miles with 1,800' of climbing

Today we started out under cloudy skies and wet pavement but the weather report called for clearing by 10:00 and they were right on... another day without rain. It was a beautiful day riding along smooth rolling country roads under "Simpson" like clouds. We road through Briggsville, Packwaukee and Montello.

We stopped for lunch at an American Legion barbecue in Princeton where many of us had tasty brats, corn and soda before continuing on through Ripon and Fond du Lac. Once in town some of us needed a laundromat and some of us needed a beer. We found a place called "Shooters"...a pool hall, laundromat and bar all under one roof. I played the laundry lottery as I pumped quarters into machines hoping to find one that worked. After several hours and a few beers the laundry was done and we headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Roadkill: 310
Flats: 4 (My new armadillo had to be replaced due to a 1/4" cut.)
Hurts: Minor pain in left knee during only certain parts of the ride.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 33: LaCrosse, WI to Wisconsin Dells, WI - 75 miles with 2,425' of climbing

The first 27 miles of today's ride were on country roads. The next 34 miles were on crushed limestone on the Elroy Sparta bike trail that took us through 3 cold, damp train tunnels that we had to walk through with flashlights. It was slow going. We had lunch just off the trail in Kendall, WI where we also visited a Veteran's Park built to honor those men and women from the area who have served in the military since the Civil War to the present. While there, a man parked nearby and walked over to talk to us. As it turned out he was a 90 year old vet named Richard Campfield who fought in WWII and lost his brother in the war some 70 years ago. Both their names are engraved on the WWII plaque. After chatting for some time we thanked him for his service and were back on the route for the remaining 50 miles.

Once at the hotel we had to wash the limestone muck from our bikes and lube our chains for the next day's ride. Dinner was across the street at a Perkin's where an old friend from college, John, his wife Cathy and son Kevin joined us for dinner. Last time I saw them was way back in '94 so it was fun to relive our glory days as he used to say.
Thanks for checking back in. Tomorrow is another adventure.

Roadkills: 307
Flats: 3
Hurts: Zero

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 32: Rochester, MN to LaCrosse, WI - 90 miles with 2,850' of climbing

We started riding today in rain gear as we had horizontal rain and headwinds for the first 20 miles. After that we another 30 miles with a light drizzle then a few more miles of hard rain before we were able to put our rain gear away for the rest of the ride. We had a ten mile section of bike path that wrapped through forest and cropland before ending at the Houston Nature Center where they had many owl and birds of prey on display.
As we left Minnesota we took pictures at the Wisconsin state line sign and then again as we crossed the Mississippi River on our way into LaCrosse.

Considering the rain and headwinds the 90 miles went by pretty fast.

Roadkill count: 303
Flats: 3
Hurts: None