We rolled out of Pepin and down the Great River Road, through towns crammed between the Mississippi River (and dual sets of RR tracks) on one side and steep bluffs on the other.

There was a chill in the air and clouds that were slowly thickening. It felt like September in Wisconsin, not July. With rumors of rain and my rain jacket packed away, I wondered how I would fare with a chilly rain.

In Fountain City we stopped to visit Brone’s Bike Shop, a place better-equipped than you have a right to expect in a town of 800. He had bikes from Cervelo, Pinarello, Colnago, Waterford, and a Schwinn Paramount. He had a time trial bike. One Pinarello had downtube shifters and C-Record Delta brakes. Had it been there for nearly 40 years, or was there a story behind it?

The other side of the shop sold coffee (from Wonderstate) and ice cream (from The Chocolate Shoppe). We wasted spent a lot of time there before getting back on the road. A couple of people bought helmets. On my way out, as I was taking my cleat covers off, Roberto asked for my help in getting the protective cover off of a new button battery. I set my cleat cover on the stair railing (as I discovered later) rather than putting it in my pocket, and sat down to try to help. When I went to take off my cleat covers later, I discovered one was missing. I searched my pockets, the floor of the store, the porch, the steps, under the steps. I searched a second time. Finally I went back inside and bought a pair of new cleat covers, putting on one to walk back out of the store. On the way down the stairs I found mine, as I was no longer looking down to search. Gene says it’s all Roberto’s fault. I’m sure he’s right. Now I have a spare set.

The healing power of coffee came through. As we left the bike shop, the sun came out. It was a warm and comfortable day with a bit of sunshine.

Quarter barrel mailbox – is this an only in Wisconsin moment?

We continued on down the river before turning inland and climbing a few of those hills. We started on a state highway, spent some time on a US highway with bad shoulder and high speed traffic, and made a very welcome turn onto county highways and township roads for the end of the day. I made a detour to visit the Mindoro Cut.

The detour started out as a gentle climb. There were signs warning of loose gravel. The road was freshly chip-sealed, by which I mean they spread a copious amount of pea gravel on the road and left it to its own devices. Some may get ground into the surface, some will be churned up and spewed around by car tires, some will wash away.

As the climb steepened and the switchbacks began, the gravel thickened. It was clearly going to be a seated climb and a hair-raising (and slow) descent. It was an out-and-back detour, as there were no roads turning east to Sparta after the cut.

Hand-hewn – no power tools, no explosives, just hammers and chisels.
Cut by a whole crew of John Henrys
For those who don’t want to watch a video, here is the Mindoro Cut
The road surface at the cut and through the switchbacks

With the detour, I turned into our destination in Sparta after 101 miles. Tomorrow, on to Baraboo and then Devil’s Lake State park Thursday.