It rained lightly overnight, but seemed to go on for a long time. By morning the rainfly was wet but the ground was dry. It actually got wetter (from dew) while we were eating breakfast.
Thursday’s breakfast caterer earned extra points for providing donuts. Today’s oatmeal was thick enough to eat with a fork. Since the caterer forgot spoons, that was a good thing. There were fresh strawberries and blueberries to go on the oatmeal.
For some reason, we left at the same time and headed out of town in a large group. That was initially fun but I wanted space – I was rewarded after picnic when I saw no one for 20 miles. A few people showed up at the water stop just as I was leaving, then I saw no one again for the last 20 miles. Yesterday people were telling tales of large rides (the “Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred” in Texas and RAGBRAI in Iowa) that are so big that people are assigned to lanes in the morning based on their riding speed. The road is so crowded with many thousands of riders that you have to stay in your lane all day. They described many multi-bike crashes and ambulances all day. Not my cup of tea.
There was a bakery en route. Several people talked of how great it was. I remembered it when I got there. The most remarkable thing was that they had no idea how to use their espresso machine. A shot of espresso to them filled a 12 oz cup. An Americano was on their menu. If a shot is 12 oz, I’m afraid to know how much water goes into an Americano. I gestured to the barista how much water I wanted in my espresso. She said she could adjust her machine to do that. She asked where I was from, saying “Only the Canadians who come in here want it like that”. Despite my attempt, the double shot espresso came with at least 6 oz of water – an Americano in my book. I’d have to say it was among the three worst espressos I have ever had. The bakery was so-so. They had “crispies” on the menu – elephant ears to me. Someone asked if they were fresh and she said yes, they made them three days ago. I guess “fresh” is a relative term.
Picnic was in Olivia – “the corn capital” – of what, I don’t know. See the 2018 post for a photo of the giant ear of corn. A newspaper reporter met us – we seem to be news across Minnesota. We rode through corn, sugar beet, and soybean fields, with a few stands of mixed hardwoods.
The obnoxious expansion cracks arrived later than in 2018. Today was marked by “k-thunk, k-thunk”. At one point I timed it and we were hitting a major “k-thunk” 75 times/minute. Later it became irregular, varying from 40-80 times per minute. The scenery was so compelling that I was measuring the timing of the expansion cracks.
By the end of the day I was cranking out miles to finish – riding at >20 mph and feeling like a well-oiled machine.
We arrived in Hutchinson and I found a brewpub. It being Friday they open at 2 (3 otherwise), so after a shower and change of clothes I headed over. They had a good dozen beers on tap. A few other riders showed up, including the Texas Oilman, who said he had high hopes when Trump was elected, but he was disappointed and did not vote for him in 2020. I can’t say that D. Trump ever inspired high hopes in me, so I bit my tongue a lot during the conversation.
Google Maps is a wonder and gave me a very nice route on residential streets to the brewpub.
Tomorrow we are on to Northfield and the campus of St Olaf College (high on a hill to be closer to god). I will be wearing my Bike Fed jersey in honor of the occasion (with the Holstein cow rampant, as the St Olaf logo has the traditional lion rampant). We’ll be staying in a dorm for the weekend. Happy birthday, ERU, St Olaf Alum. Have fun storming the castle!