Location Distance Average MPH Maximum MPH La Crosse WI to Red Wing MN 103.5 10.0 30.9
My first and only century ride!!! Okay, so it took 13 hours. All but 20 miles of it was on US 61 on the west side of the Mississippi. The day started with a wrong turn in LaCrosse, a ride across the river, and a nasty little bluff in LaCrescent. The views from the top of the bluff made the effort worthwhile, including looking down on I-90 where it crosses the river and turns north. Staying on top of the bluff took me through a growing residential area and newer farm homes, but no seasoned bike-chasing dogs.
I learned another lesson today. When the Adventure Cycling Map seems to go the long way around, there's a reason for it. I figured I could cut off a few miles by descening to US 61 at Dakota instead of waiting for Pickwick. Well, the descent at Dakota isn't safe for a Ferrari, much less a bike. It didn't help that it was recently paved and smooth to the point of being slick. I actually walked DOWN part of the hill until I could get a clear view. If I wouldn't have braked all the way thru down, I probably would have still been going 25 mph when I hit the T-intersection at the river and sailed out into the Mighty Mississip.
From then on, it was US 61 all the way. On the good side:
- 10-foot wide shoulder approved for bike travel with few intersections or turnouts
- long, slow climbs rather than steep ones
- outstanding view of the river
On the down side:
- no random personal contacts like you get on the backroads
- very few checkpoints, or short-term goals of roads or towns to look forward to
There was a lot of road construction near Kellogg and the smell and loose pellets were making for a psychologically tough day. The turning point was when a sheriff at a convenience store told me how much further Red Wing was, and I realized I was in for a century. He also said I'd be getting for shade from the bluffs as I headed north.
I took a break into a beautiful little marina town, Lake City. From there to Red Wing the road quality was uneven, and occasionally I took to the road instead of the shoulder. The last 30 miles of the day were a blur. I was numb from the inside out by Ibuprofen & Lanacaine. I had been forcefeeding myself gel, warm Gatorade & water, to the tune of 7-1/2 liters. At the Days Inn, I rewarded myself with a whirlpool and half of a carry-out pizza, the remainder being donated to the grandparents of a kid who was always hungry.
Even Moo slept the sleep of the dead that night.