Deja vu?

We crossed the Mississippi into Wisconsin, riding along Lake Pepin (a large wide spot in the Mississippi River).

As a child I boated up the Mississippi with my family (from Winona to St Paul). It was windy and rough on Lake Pepin and my dad sang a sea shanty about a young boy who becomes a sailor after his father is lost at sea. It scared the crap out of me and I was sure we were all going to die as our little boat bounced over the waves. We went right down the middle of the lake, eschewing the calmer waters near the shore.

We passed Maiden Rock today, which I rode by on a previous tour many years ago. The link is to that post.

Next up is the Sparta to Elroy Trail, covered in the July 4 post.

Happy birthday!

Today is my daughter’s 22nd birthday. As they are a big fan of Taylor Swift, I should link to a Taylor Swift song, but I can’t bring myself to do that 😉 not knowing what song to choose.

Instead I’ll go to our mutual love of Jackson Brown, and one ofthe songs that sustained me while working in a war zone in Nicaragua.

I know, this is not particularly celebratory, and doesn’t seem like a birthday song, but I think Emery understands.

We are leaving Emery’s alma mater on their birthday; this seems somehow fitting. At 22, working for a living, you’re definitely a grown-up. Congratulations!

I rode into St Olaf wearing my Wisconsin Bike Fed jersey and will ride out the same way. St Olaf’s crest contains a lion rampant, just like the flag of Flanders. The Bike Fed jersey has a cow rampant. I hope I don’t offend any more Belgians or Flemings. Thanks to Dave Schlabowske of the Bike Fed for defending our honor last time. Based on the Ole fight song (below) I don’t think they’ll take it too seriously.

Flanders coat of arms from Wikipedia, t-shirt from Wisconsin Bike Fed.

St Olaf Fight Song (altered, but the version I know) (It’s a waltz):

We come from St Olaf
We wear cashmere sweaters
We live on a hill t
Be closer to God.

We don’t smoke, we don’t drink
At least that’s what they think
And under the covers
We Um-Ya-Ya-Ya.

On (to) Wisconsin!

A great rest day in Northfield, and the first one that I didn’t really need. I still felt pretty good. The bike needed it.

Dinner (as planned) last night at Chapati. Breakfast (as planned) this morning at Brick Oven Bakery. Back to the dorm to clean and lube the bike, put on a new chain, and add a second layer of bar tape after the beating I took this week. (Also washed out water bottles.)

The bike sounds happier, which makes me happy. Then down to town for a late lunch at El Triunfo (a great little Mexican restaurant) and a visit with the rug seller who sets up outside there. I’ve passed him many times but never stopped to chat.

Old Main, our dorm, Big Ole (the source of St Olaf power)

                                         street sculptures
fairy garden (note the Little Free Library in the back), old train depot, Cannon River

I then went on a little tour of the other (Carleton) side of town before checking out the new brewpub, Tanzenwald. They had live honky tonk music with a singer/guitarist accompanied by a pedal steel guitarist.240F339E-B709-423E-A8A1-A8DD413DEDCD

We will cross the Mississippi River tomorrow, another milestone. Fourteen new riders, thirteen new bikes (another tandem). A short day so they are delaying breakfast by 45 minutes.  If breakfast is like dinner, that will delay our start by about an hour and a half.

St Olaf is hopping. We shared the cafeteria with a cello institute, a chess club, and a diving camp. They had us all arrive at the same time (which is not how it works during the school year) so it was a madhouse.


We have arrived in Northfield for a day off. My tent is dry, my laundry is in the machine.

It was a beautiful day – warm, sunny, breezy. I saw trees – not just tree or a windbreak, but actual woods!

Even the air smells and tastes richer here.

We saw the famous 2-story outhouse. I couldn’t figure out how you get in the upper door, and I wondered why there is a power line to it.

I also passed a sign for a “Man Sale”. I couldn’t figure out what that was. Later I saw a sign for a “Man Sail” and it appeared to be a garage sale of stereotypically male stuff. I also got a picture of our fearless leader hard at work.

The most remarkable thing about this group of people is how unremarkable we are. Sure, we have our eight time iron (wo)man and a former competitive arm wrestler (who retired when she broke her arm in competition) and the guy who has ridden cross-country seven times now (five of them self-contained), but if a bunch of us walked into a café you wouldn’t think anything of it if we weren’t wearing these weird biking clothes. If a bunch of NFL players walk into a café, you know it. We are a bunch of unremarkable people doing a remarkable thing.


A while back I wrote about what to bring for a trip like this. Today I’ll talk about how that has worked out so far.

My duffle bag is infamous for its density. It contains tools and parts I hope not to need. The other night a rider needed a 16Nm (Newton meter) torque wrench. The one the mechanics have only reads to 6Nm. I had one.

I had my first “patient” (besides myself) needing Kinesio-tape. She saw the tape on my hamstring tendon insertion (which lasted a week, peeled off, and the tendon is now fine, thank you very much for asking).

I taped her Achilles‘ tendons and she told me that she rode pain-free for the first time after that.

I bought a new tent for the trip. My old one was pretty ratty. The new one has side entrances instead of at the end. They are on both sides and both have vestibules. I can store gear in one and use the other as an entrance.

It is a two-person tent so, when it is raining, I can keep all my gear inside with me. In addition to the usual gear pockets in the corners, there is a really handy net pocket in the ceiling, above my head, where I can safely store my glasses.

I bought a new sleeping pad. My old self-inflating pads are fine for a short trip but I would not want to use them for a bed for two months. This one is self-inflating and 2.5 inches thick. It is great, though would be heavy for backpacking.

I have a great fall/winter/spring sleeping bag but it is way too warm for summer. I have car camping bags (heavy, flannel-lined). I bought a new lightweight summer down bag. An unexpected bonus is that the zipper pull glows in the dark. I never realized that would be useful.

I thought about bringing only a flannel sheet and a fleece throw instead of a sleeeping bag. That still might have been a good idea.

I’m not mentioning brand names, lest you think this is a commercial site and someone is paying for my praise. If you want to know more, ask in the comments.

Some parachute cord and a few clothespins have come in really handy. While I usually wash my bike clothes in the shower with me, my collapsible kitchen sink has been handy when that was not possible (and to soak my feet).

I brought a mid-sized saddle bag; bigger than the one I usually carry that fits only a tube, patch kit, tire levers, and ID. It can’t hold rainwear or extra layers, but the straps that came with the sleeping pad  enable me to lash that stuff under it. So far it has been big enough.

Inside, it holds tire changing stuff (including patch kit, two tubes, two CO2 cartridges, and an inflator), sunscreen, Cytomax – not any more – I drank it -money, ID, and (currently) an emergency shot of espresso that I saw in a convenience store a few towns back. (Not any more – I drank I it in an emergency)

An item that goes unnoticed is a water bottle and cage. Having a combination that works makes life much easier. I can reach down, get the bottle, drink, and put it back without looking or changing cadence. That’s a bigger deal than it seems and, if your bottle and cage don’t work well together, can be a repeated pain in the *ss.

Stuff wears out and gets used up

Stuff I’ve needed to replace:
– tires (2)
– tubes (about 5)
– chain (new one going on tomorrow)
– shorts (they touch my under-saddle bag with each pedal stroke – repeat that enough times and they wear through)
– Dr Bronner’s soap (16 oz bottle almost empty – used as soap, shampoo, laundry soap), sunscreen (on my second tube), toothpaste, dental floss
– Cytomax (4.5 lb can of powdered drink mix gone)
– Hammer Gel (16 oz bottle of concentrated electrolyte/carbohydrate)
– chain lube (almost gone)

Across the Mississippi!

After a day off Sunday we will cross the Mississippi River into Wisconsin on Monday.

We have ridden >2500 miles. Five people are leaving after this week and 14 more are coming on. (I guess Wisconsin is popular.)

We’ll end the week with a ferry across Lake Michigan.