Location Distance Average MPH Maximum MPH Boscobel WI to La Crosse WI 82.3 10.3 34.3
Who would have ever thought 82 miles would be considered an "easy" day? It started at 5:50 a.m., already 70 degrees, and would climb to 87 by late afternoon. I had to walk my loaded bike over the gravel road from my host family's house to the road, and from there it was a 7-mile descent to Boscobel, averaging 16 mph. Right on the other side of the river was a 2-mile ascent in granny gear. It was sprinkling and there were huge gravel trucks going by, but the road was smooth new pavement, and my spirits were good, although my average sunk from 16 to 11 mph by the end of the climb.
Heading north on Hwy 131 was a pure joy -- gently rolling hills, sweeping curves, great pavement and practically no traffic. I decided I deserved a break in Gays Mills so I had a donut and coffee with the locals at the Cenex station. Outside I spoke with a woman who was raising a fawn who'd been orphaned.
There was a big drop on the way into Soldiers Grove and an equally big climb out of it, but it was still cool and wasn't so bad. But then the road to Viroqua - one of those straight roads that climbs over everything in its path with names like "Hilltop Farm," "Overlook Dairy," and "Throbbing Muscles Ranch." Had a rest at the top of a hill with a church & cemetary (and cell phone access).
Dined on the courthouse lawn in Viroqua (without realizing the county park was on the other side) and then left for 16 miles of pure hell. All sun, no clouds, and frightening hills. I started hating the downhills more than the uphills because of my sensation of being out of control.
On the upside of things, I did develop a technique for stopping and restarting on hills. Right before stopping, I would clip out of the pedals and upshift onto the middle chainwheel. That way I'd have enough resistance to be able to start again.
One of the most memorable sights of the trip occurred this day, but I chose not to take a photo out of concern it would be inappropriate. While biking through an Amish area, I passed a yard with about 8 older Amish boys & young men, probably between 17 and 25 years old. It was 85 degrees, but as was customary they were all wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts & suspenders. That in itself would not have been unusual, but the fact that they were playing 4-on-4 power volleyball struck me as an odd combination.
Used my pepper spray today for the first and only time on the ride. Three labs, 2 black and 1 golden, were following their master who was on a sprayer and wearing ear protection. They had broken away from the sprayer and were chasing pickups until I came along as much easier prey. I yelled (more for the owner than at the dogs) and sprayed at the closest one, but the wind drifted it. I was just dismounting in the hopes they'd settle down if I wasn't moving when the owner spotted them and called them over. We mutually apologized, and he was very nice about it.
(I had other close calls with dogs this day, causing me at one point to pull out my pepper spray when I heard something in the ditch. It was a squirrel. He didn't give chase.)
Had to stop twice on the descent into Chaseburg to let the rims cool. Kept exceeding the 25 mph speed limit. A detour just before Stoddard turned out to be okay, and I was elated to have Dorothy Wetterlin and her granddaughter as my host for the evening. She biked out to meet me and guide me into her house. Her granddaughter drove me to nearby Goose Island Park for some evening sightseeing.
Learned a painful lesson today. If you're going to put Ben-Gay on your knees before you pull your pants up, make sure you don't drag the Ben-Gay to your road rash. It's a mistake you'll only make once.