Not. A. Clue. Roads that I've not only not ridden, I'd never driven the roads on my route today either. And that's what made it so exciting, just like a REAL tour. The first potential challenge was crossing the bridge across the Father of Waters, an appellation applied to the Nile and Irrawaddy rivers as well as to our own Mississippi. It was a challenge not realized, though, as light traffic and a wide shoulder presented no difficulties at all.
After looping through Marquette, Iowa, the road rolled at the base of a rock face with trees on both sides providing shade and thinning out occasionally for a glimpse of the river on my right. It was still windy and the wind was out of the south which suited me just fine - I was going north today! The route took me around Effigy Mounds National Monument then turned west and up. I didn't know it at the time, but I had already seen the last stretch road with any shade on it and I still had over 60 miles to go.
It was a long pull west with the cross wind not helping so much. Still, I knew at Decorah I'd turn north for the a 40 mile run with the wind. When I entered Decorah, I stopped and called Shirley to find she was only a few miles behind. We had lunch in a small café where we waited for about an hour - something the waitress told us to expect (a big crowd had just ordered) and something I was not too upset about. It was considerably warmer and the break, I reasoned, would do me good.
Turning north around Decorah I encountered two long hills - not big enough to be climbs, but just a little too much to be called rollers. My opinion at the time, at least. My thoughts ran along the lines of "if this keeps up I'm dead!" But the track turned to gently rolling and I had the wind at my back. This, it turns out, did have a downside as it was blowing at about the same speed I was riding meaning there was almost no breeze helping to cool me down. Did I mention it was getting warmer and that there was NO SHADE ANYWHERE?
A good ways out of Decorah and a good ways to go before Lanesboro, a Cenex station emerged like an oasis in the desert. My only shot at filling the water bottles. And getting a very large ice cream sandwich. I finally crossed the Minnesota sate line and after a 3 mile westward ride to Canton, turned north for the final run in to Lanesboro. Just out of Canton, I could look out on the road ahead and take in a long-range view: a series of ever higher rolling hills going as far as I could see - the last one at the horizon looking more or less vertical. Sheesh! And, there was NO SHADE ANYWHERE. Well, at that last hill, I did find about 10 square feet of shaded grass and sat there a few minutes just for the unusualness of it. A few miles later and I was rewarded for all of the ups and downs (each up more up than the last up) with a long descent through a series of big sweeping curves down to the Root River and Lanesboro. Shirley was out for a walk and waved me in to the Stone Mill Suites. Just as in the old west, I had to take care of my mount first and Stone Mill has a convenient storage room behind the main building. The bike safely put away, I could now look forward to a shower and, tomorrow, a day off in scenic Lanesboro!
This was so much fun. Even though there was NO SHADE ANYWHERE.
3420 feet of climbing
Pictures from day 2 of the tour
A Lot Better Than Uff Da Drive:
Big Rollers North of Decorah:
On the Prairie for Sure:
Never Ending Rollers:
Inn at Last: