Food, glorious food!

After arrival at Jellystone Park, we went for a swim in the pool, then joined Gaspar for a sampling of Michigan beers. Gaspar had ridden with us for a few weeks but had to return to his usual life. He lives in Michigan so he joined us for the afternoon, dinner, camped with us, and after breakfast he drove Brian to the airport. Brian had crashed and broken his pelvis. After evaluation in the ED, he spent a couple of nights in a hotel before flying home.

Dinner was in one of the two family restaurants in Frankenmuth – after a family feud, the dissenting members opened a place across the street from the original family restaurant. The Trail Boss being an egalitarian sort, we had dinner on one side of the street (the newer place) and breakfast on the other side of the street.

Dinner was fried chicken and mashed potatoes (or vegan chili), with green beans, sauerkraut, relishes, breads, salad.

Breakfast was served in a formal dining room with white linens, freshly-squeezed orange juice, the best coffee we have had in six weeks, oatmeal, eggs, sausage, ham, French toast with fresh fruit and freshly-whipped cream; easily the best breakfast of the trip and I think I will declare the competition over.

The buffet
Breakfast is served!

It was warm and dry at night – no need to grab a blanket in the middle of the night, and a dry tent to pack.

We rode out through the covered bridge and into the countryside. There was a light overcast so we didn’t see the sun until we were near Memphis. There was a strong breeze from the south and we were headed south and east.

About 40 miles in we turned directly into the wind. I was looking for a place to go to the bathroom. (Michigan is pretty open with frequent houses so not the best place for a roadside pee.) I was also at my limit for riding without some food.

The Hammerhead passed me, with the Man in Black close behind, along with their sidekick King R. I planned to let them pass. The Man in Black pulled up next to me, offered words of encouragement, and gave me a push onto The Hammerhead’s wheel. She pulled me through the wind to the gas station/convenience store a few miles up the road, where I figured to use the bathroom and buy a snack. The sign on the door said “No Public Restroom”. I made it across the highway to the other gas station before my bladder burst. A snack and a cold coffee drink got me to picnic.

Leaving picnic we rode a few miles and turned back into the wind. It was going to be a struggle for the next 30 miles. A few miles in, I met The Hammerhead going the other way. She said, “It’s much more pleasant this way.” I wondered if she were going to ride this section twice just for fun.

A few minutes later, The Man in Black appeared, following her. A few minutes later they reappeared from behind me, towing two other riders. I joined on behind and eventually our group grew to nine as they led us into the wind. At the 65 mile water stop, I stopped and they continued on. I would have the last 15 miles alone, mostly into the wind. I said, “15 miles – that’s just a ride around the lake. I can do that any time.” So I did.

Riding into Memphis, the pavement deteriorated badly. The Trail Boss said it was bad ten years ago and just keeps getting worse. I think this is how they enforce the speed limit here.

There is a heat advisory this afternoon and thundershowers possible tonight. Then again, there were thundershowers possible during the ride and I am in Memphis dry.

My suitcase inside the tent wasn’t heavy enough to hold the tent down, so I had to hold it with one hand while staking it down with the other.

I went out to batten down my tent and saw an amazing dark sky. The air was still. I went inside to get my phone, which was charging, to take a picture. By the time I got back to the door, it was raining. I decided to forgo the picture.

Tomorrow we cross the border into Ontario. If there is no Wi-fi there may be a day or two without a post, as I don’t have an international cell plan. I know where there is Wi-fi in Niagara Falls for the weekend.

Local politics

On the ferry across Lake Michigan I saw a guy with a hat saying “Trump 2024 – Take America Back”. I didn’t think I had to ask from whom and for whom. I chose not to engage in conversation. Today I saw a campaign sign that said “Trump 2024 – Save America”. The same two questions did not need asking. A yard sign around here says “My Governor is an idiot”. There are a couple of variations on this one. A candidate (Tudor Dixon) calls herself an “America First Real Conservative Republican”. It might have said “true”, not “real”. I can’t verify it now.

I figure “America First” must mean she wants to focus on improving social services, invest in infrastructure, maybe establish a National healthcare system. That would be putting America First. I do not think that is what she means. (I know that’s not what she means.)

Turns out she has been endorsed by Betsy DeVos (of the Amway fortune and the Trump administration). Since DeVos resigned from T’s cabinet after the failed insurrection, one of Dixon’s opponents says he is the true conservative because DeVos is “an anti-MAGA turncoat” and he is “an outsider and businessman like President Trump”. He is also awaiting trial for his part in the failed coup. T endorsed Dixon.

Five other Republican candidates were disqualified for fake signatures on their nomination papers. Attempted vote fraud is real and being perpetrated by multiple Republicans.

By the way, Dixon won the primary and says “Thank you President Trump. It’s time to elect a real woman in Michigan.” I’m not sure what that means about the current Governor, who is a woman and seems to be real, or all of the other women who have been elected in Michigan over the years. I guess they are real and are women but are not real women. Who knew?

You call that wind?!

Today was to be about 90 miles from Hutchinson to Northfield, MN. The forecast was for two rounds of severe weather, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. High winds, hail, up to two inches of rain, and possible tornadoes were included.

We had a briefing Friday night to talk about what to do in case of bad weather. At 4:25 AM I awoke to the sound of raindrops. I checked the forecast and it called for rain from 5-6. I didn’t want to pack up in the rain, so I pulled up the tent stakes and dragged the tent under an overhang. There were no more raindrops and by then I decided to get up anyway.

We had a great church breakfast with pancakes and hit the road. After 30 miles we stopped for coffee and pastries. The sky was darkening behind us. There was a headwind from the southeast, due to the wind circling the low pressure system to the west. The dark was chasing us. When the wind subsided, I figured the storm was catching up, so I sped up and got back into headwinds. I decided a headwind was a good thing today despite my usual strong aversion to headwinds.

I began chasing the light sky in front of me while the dark sky chased from behind. Thunder rumbled in the distance at picnic. I did not linger. There were still nearly 45 miles to go.

Lightning struck very close by, but only once. I continued to chase the light. I lost the official route, but knew that highway 19 would take me all the way to Northfield. The only disadvantage would be that I would miss the last water stop (I had plenty) and there would be no sag or mechanic service available until I got back on the route.

It got darker. The wind got stronger. It began to rain. It was still hot, so I decided the ventilation was more important than a rain jacket and kept riding. It got darker. My headlight battery died. It was a light to be seen, not to see with. It got dark enough to need a light to see with.

The rain came harder and I stopped to put on a rain jacket. I also scarfed a bar, figuring I needed all the calories I could stuff into me for the final push. I figure that when 80% of the ride is behind me, I’ve got it made. Just past that point, the crosswind became too strong to ride safely. I feared I would be pushed into traffic. I got off and walked. A few more seconds and it was no longer safe to walk. Another few seconds and I could no longer stand. I crouched at the roadside and the wind picked up my bike. I was holding it by the top tube and it was standing out horizontally away from me at shoulder height, wheels toward the highway. If I let go, it would fly away. I would likely not see it again. I held on and got as low as possible to try to keep myself from becoming airborne along with the bike.

An SUV going the other direction stopped and called to me. I assumed she was offering a ride but I could hear nothing. The tailgate opened. I could not move for fear of becoming airborne, so I remained crouched at the side of the road. The tailgate closed but the SUV remained where it was.

When the wind let up enough that I could dash across the highway, low to the ground, the SUV opened again. I stuffed the bike in the back, closed the door, and climbed in. The driver explained that she had closed the door because she feared it would be ripped from the back of the vehicle.

She said she had just taken her daughter to a friend’s house and her daughter wanted her to pick me up. She didn’t, but then came back for me.

I had completed 73 of 90 miles. She asked if she should drop me at a store in the next town or take me to my destination. I told her where I was headed and that I would accept whatever she offered. She took me to St Olaf and I had a short ride on campus to my dorm.

You knew this had to be the song for the day.
I could have been Miss Gulch.

Now we wait for everyone else to make it in and be sure we all survived.

Halfway across the USA

The wind roared all night. The hardware on the flagpole was an out-of-tune wind chime that never stopped. I left the rainfly off the tent so the wind blew through it rather than trying to flatten it. The flies and mosquitos in Miller have adapted to the wind – wind that would keep them grounded in most places – but the flies were biting at night and the mosquitos were biting before dawn. Breakfast was at 6:30 and by 6:40 there was almost no one left in the cafeteria.

Sunrise, Miller SD

The tailwind that blew us in Monday had shifted 135 degrees and was now blowing in at 10 o‘ clock. I cursed the router for the first 13 miles, as we continued on the road that had provided that tailwind. I covered 12 miles in the first hour and 80 in the next 4 after making a right turn. The wind varied but was usually helpful (coming in at 8 o’clock for a while, then 6, then 5; at worst 9 o’clock near the end for a brief period, but always at 25 mph and gusty).

We reached the halfway point today. It is now shorter (by our route) to get to the Atlantic than to go back to the Pacific.

2158 miles to either coast this AM

Four years ago, there was a giant horse sculpture in the town where we celebrated that halfway point. My phone camera wasn’t working. Today I went to take a picture of it but it is gone. Still there is this cross. I wonder what the folks at the Bible academy would think of it.

We passed the World’s Largest Pheasant (see 2018 post for photo). Life must be slow out here, so whimsical and large sculptures are the order of the day. I don’t know if this is the World’s Largest Bison, but it is a lot bigger than the SUV behind it.

Is this the World’s Largest Arrow? It is made from a telephone pole and, as you can see, fell short of the target.

We are now in De Smet, SD. Its claim to fame can be seen in the next photo.

This is the town where, four years ago, they didn’t have beer on tap, and bottled beer meant Bud, Miller, and Coors. I found an exotic Pabst. I also learned here that cornhole (AKA bean bag toss) is a professional sport.

We are camped in the town park. Since my tent is mostly mesh, it seemed a little exposed here so I put the rainfly on and the wind immediately tried to turn it into a kite. Once I put all my gear inside it was heavy enough to stay put.

Wednesday should be a short (60 mile) ride into Watertown. Wind should be favorable again – currently westerly @ 28 mph here and there. I am in a little gift/ice cream/coffee shop in De Smet. Limited ice cream choices but beggars can’t be choosers. At least there is no wind in here.

If you can remember this

you’re old.

  • sprocket boards at the bike shop, so you could build a custom freewheel
  • “corn cob” or “straight block” freewheels (14-15-16-17-18)
  • “alpine” gearing (14-28)
  • “Half-step” gearing (in which each shift between chainrings is ½ of each shift between cogs) or the “half-step plus granny” touring variant
  • downtube shifters
  • pre-Hyperglide cogs, which you could flip over when worn and they’d be like new again.
  • Zeus (the Campagnolo clone company)
  • Jack Taylor, Ron Cooper, 3Rensho, Cinelli, Ciocc, and other framebuilders
  • Framesets hanging from ceiling hooks in the bikeshop – you ordered parts to have them built up custom.
  • Suntour, Stronglight, Atom, Regina, Normandy, Simplex, Weinmann, Dia-Compe, and other component manufacturers
  • center-pull brakes
  • No braze-ons – all accessories clamped onto frame tubes
  • Braze-on pump pegs
  • When Cannondale made bags (panniers, handlebar bags), not bikes
  • Tire savers
  • Tubular (“sew up”) tires

How old is old?

  • “40 is the new 30.” (Douglas Coupland, author of “Generation X”)
  • “50 is the new 30…and delusion is the new self-esteem.” (Steve Kelley snd Jeff Parker – from the comic strip “Dustin”)
  • “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” (Jack Weinberg of the UC-Berkeley Free Speech Movement)
  • “14 or Fight.” (Christopher Jones, fictional character from the movie “Wild in the Streets”)
  • “Your old road is rapidly agin’/Please get out of the new one/If you can’t lend your hand/For the times they are a-changin’.” (Bob Dylan)
  • I saw a sign advertising Senior Apartments the other day. This is old to them:

I discovered the lifespan of a Campagnolo Super Record cassette is 3 chains. I placed my fourth chain on the Wilier last week and took it out for a test ride. Fine around the block, so we headed into the countryside. Soon, one cog began skipping under load. Fine, I thought, I can get by without that gear for today. I’ll change before the next ride. Then another and another began skipping. I realized I could not get up the infamous Mounds Park Road missing 3 of my lower gears, so I cut the ride short. I still got to see (and climb) this:

Actually, Campagnolo 11 speeds come with two groups of 3 and 5 loose sprockets, so individual parts could be replaced, if one could buy them that way – or if one chose to take some of the parts out of the box and leave others behind.

Note that we are moving on from the trees blooming to the trees leafing out. This is a few miles down the road from our adopted highway, and a few seconds before I came upon a rider with a broken derailleur hanger – which kind of ends one’s ride. I didn’t feel so bad about cutting ten mostly uphill miles from my ride.

With a new cassette in place I headed out again on Sunday, riding into a strong headwind for 25 miles. It was 45 degrees (7 C), so I tucked a bag between my jersey and my jacket for the first several miles to add insulation and wind-proofing. My luck held and the wind was still blowing for the tailwind part of the day when the temperature soared to 55 (13 C).

I was thinking that the bike is almost ready to go (more so than I), but that it needs new shoes (tires and tubes) before the trip, which brought this to mind:

The wind had me singing wind songs – the mind brings up what it brings up.