Cow-to-Cow 2000

Day 5 - Red Wing MN to Osceola WI

Location Distance Average MPH Maximum MPH
Red Wing MN to Osceola WI 79.0 9.4 36.5

The following is taken directly from my trip diary which I wrote at the end of Day 5:

Amazing to me that after biking 100+miles yesterday I could get on the bike. But I could and did, and nothing hurt ... much. Thighs, shins, seat, all what you'd expect, but no joint pain in the knees and NO pain in the neck, shoulders, back or arms. I attribute that to the incredible way the Terry Moo's geometry fits my frame. Although this was to be my last day as originally planned, I know in my heart of hearts that were it not for the heat wave, Moo & I could have continued.

There was an eery mist in the morning, and with rush-hour traffic it was occasionally intense. One of the detours because of road construction put me on a lovely ride through cornfields and scattered small farms. There were some toughter climbs coming into Prescott, but nothing too difficult.

I stopped at a county park to look over my maps because of more road construction and had a chance conversation with the prescott High School band director. He had come to the park to think about the fall field show. The next 3 miles were very scary. The detour was 2-way traffic, no shoulder, and lots of truck traffic, including semis.

Then there was the "road closed" sign. After chatting with some folks in the area, they thought a bike could still get across. It was a fast descent and gravel at the bottom, so I walked for a while and ran into some wild turkeys. I walked past all the barricades and determined that it was a 3-4 foot drop on the opposite side of the bridge into a pile of sand. I went first and then hoisted the bike over. It was a long, sweaty climb back out of the valley.

I ate lunch at a deli and had to vehemently decline an offer to go swimming in a backyard pool. I took a brief nap in the nearby park, which I wish I would have postponed until later. It was much cooler at noon than it would be at 5 p.m. when it would hover near 90 degrees.

At Stillwater I stopped at a bike shop to have the brakes checked and enjoy the AC. Ah, how the fates would turn against me. The climb out of Stillwater would remind me of Frodo and the Mount of Doom. The bridge is a narrow two-lane drawbridge, and even though it is the approved bike route, a bike will back traffic up behind it. Since it was 5:15 when I got there, I chose instead of walk my bike along the walkway. It started out well, with the bridge trusses on one side and a guardrail on the other. But at the end of the bridge, the guardrail disappeared and the walkway became a footpath up a steep hill, no gravel and all weeds. And just to make things interesting, nothing to keep you from falling down the ravine into the river. The path was only a foot wide in some places and the edges were crumbling away.

I couldn't even decided which side of the bike to walk on. If I was on the left and the heavily-loaded back tire slid, I wasn't sure I could hang onto it. Walking on the right side meant that if I lost my footing, I wouldn't even be able to grab the guardrail between the footpath and the road. I opted for the left. At one point, the path became so narrow I had to get in front of the bike and pull it across. If that weren't enough, a branch snapped as I went over it and some twigs got stuck in the spokes. So here I am in 90 degree humidity, steadying the bike with one hand, leaning against the guardrail, and removing the offending shubbery with the other hand. Roadkill smelled better than I did.

After all this, I still had to negotiate the bluff, and there was no way I could start from a dead standstill. I developed a pattern of going 12-15 paces and then stopping to catch my breath, in the hopes that no motorist would see me stop twice. From there it was a heart-wrenching 27 miles into Osceola. Hills, hills, and more hills.

The lowest point of the trip came when I was several hundred yards from Hwy 35, which although it looked good, was not the recommended route. I turned away from Hwy 35 and started up a long hill when a dog, still a quarter mile away, started barking and bounding after me. I practically sat down and cried. I turned around, not want to confront the dog, and came across a couple of walkers. They told me that Hwy 35 had been resurfaced and now had paved shoulders and no steep hills. I know now that the dog was sent to put me on the right road.

I had some hard decisions to make once I reached Osceola. I felt my spirit had been broken. I wanted to go on, I didn't want to be a quitter, and I felt I still had the physical strength to do it. But I needed to be mature and make a mature decision. The towns were going to be further apart as I headed west through Minnesota, and the weather predictions continued in the 90s with high humidity. To make matters worse, a line of severe thunderstorms was predicted to be rolling across my very route the next day.

I was still waffling on what to do as I lay soaking in the bathtub. I stared blindly at the wall for sometime and then looked down at my legs. They were covered with dozens of tiny bruises, and I couldn't remember getting them. I also realized I had taken practically no photos all day. Something inside me snapped then, and I decided that it was no longer safe for me to go on. With the increasing heat, I was fearful that I was losing my perspective and my powers of observation. The first leg of Cow-to-Cow 2K had come to a close.

Go to Day 6

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