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Friday, August 6, 2010

Me and Chuck

"Rainwater blowing up under my hood,
I knew that was doing my motor good."
Maybelline by Chuck Berry

With the first two days of the tour ridden in early-July heat, it was a relief to start out in the coolness of this July 5th morning in Lanesboro, Minnesota. Early in the ride, Chuck Berry's rendition of Maybelline was wandering around in my head - (where it had a lot of room to roam. Possibly because it was RAINING. So, while I couldn't see so well with the water collecting on my glasses, I was comfortable as the rainwater did, in fact, do my motor good.

The weather also played a role in another aspect of the ride. I was following the popular Root River Trail yet, after passing two groups just out of Lanesboro, I saw only two lone riders on the remainder of the ride to Houston. The one in Minnesota.

It is quite a nice ride on the flat, paved trail that follows southwestern Minnesota's Root River, mostly tree-line with an occasional break showing the river of looking out over fields of corn or hay. Early as it was, I was looking forward to peddling into Whalan to visit the Aroma Pie Shop, the self-proclaimed home of "World Famous Pies." Closed. Oh well, a bit more riding and I'd be in Rushford where I could check out The Creamery where I was told I would find some mighty fine ice cream. Closed. I'm going to have to have a long talk with my router about proper scheduling.

A few miles out of Houston, it looked like the trail just suddenly ended in the woods. It did not take much longer to realize that I was looking at the main part of a large tree now resting across the trail. With absolutely no way over it, I had to take myself and bike around what had once been the top of the tree. As I pushed through the weedy undergrowth I began to sense a tingling sensation in my legs. Stinging nettles! Years ago we were in France with our daughter (four at the time) when she walked through a patch of nettles and shortly thereafter told us, "My legs are all sparkly." As good a description as I've ever heard for what I was experiencing.

By the time I got back up to the trail I was itching like mad. I rode on for a minute or two until I found a puddle in the road and washed my legs as best I could. That and the passage of a bit of time took care of the issue and I continued on without the sparkly.

The rain would abate from time to time and I took advantage of those times to take a few pictures and wipe off my glasses - I had the presence of mind to pack away a few paper towels in a plastic bag for just this purpose. The trail ends at Houston where I stopped at a coffee shop and enjoyed a brief respite. The ride from Houston to the Mississippi carried me along very scenic roads which were, as was the trail, mostly flat. Shirley went by in the car when I was about 15 miles from La Crosse. We had discussed signaling so when she passed, I waved and she kept going. Had I raised my fist in the air, she would have stopped. I think. But I wasn't going to run the experiment.

I rolled into La Crosse, stopped at the Subway near my house to pick up lunch and finished the tour a few minutes later. And, speaking of Subway, did you know that a 6" sub fits just perfectly in the rear pocket of a cycling jersey?

And there you have it. A semi-supported tour in which I rode 224 miles with 6,875 feet of climbing (only 943 feet on this last day). An enjoyable weekend that re-enforced the view that this area is a great place for cycling.

60.4 miles
943 feet of climbing

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