May 7, Saturday

Mileage - 49.5

Started 8 AM,  Finished 2PM

Average mph - 10.2

biking Time 4hr 51min

Weather - some light rain, 20mph wind out of the SE; at our back,  temp 68.


Started from our house, got on the Luce Line and traveled about a total of 20 miles and exited onto Hwy 83 to get to Maple Plain and to Hwy 12.  There was only light rain and we didn't even get our rain coats on.  John put the solar panel away.  The traffic was fairly heavy at times on Hwy 12, but we had a quite nice shoulder.  We biked through Howard Lake and then turned north on Hwy 5; then left on 35th Street, then N on Hwy 4 to get to this campground - the Cokato Resort + RV Campground or something like that.  It's OK, but $32!!


My legs hurt, my back hurts, my arms hurt, but all in all we were so lucky the wind was at our back and there were very few hills.  We had quite a good day.  We saw 2 egrets, lots of cardinals, a flock of yellow headed blackbirds and a dead deer.  We also heard an owl (as we were on the Luce Line Trail) and we heard some roosters crowing (pheasants).



May 8, Sunday

Mileage - 47.67

Started 8:20 AM  Finished 3PM

Average mph - 9.4

Max speed 00.0 Pat, 24.6 John

Biking Time 6hr 06min

Weather - cloudy, 20mph out of the southeast; mostly at our side.  Temp at start 66, at end 84.  Threatening weather most of the time, but no rain.


Started the day by going down the hill at the campground place onto the highway and immediately going up a long, fairly steep hill.  It was quite hard for both of us.


Once we got back onto Hwy 12 we traveled mostly on straight roads, that were mostly pretty flat and somewhat boring.  We did however see some white pelicans flying in formation, a blue heron, a red tailed hawk, a little garter snake and 2 turtles; one dead and one alive. (The second one probably soon to be dead as he was trying to cross Hwy 12.)   We heard a couple of rooster crow.


We traveled through Meeker County and then through Kandiyohi County.  Kandi has much agricultural stuff.  So many massive fields and grain silos and smelly farms of pigs? Or turkeys?   We are slowly encountering more hills and get some coasting time on the down part.


We are staying at the Days Inn in Wilmar.  And get this - last night we stayed at a campground that cost us $31.95 and tonight the motel is charging us $41.61 and we have a whirlpool and get a free breakfast.



May 9, Monday

Mileage - 58.41

Started 7:30AM  Finished 6PM

Average mph - 8.1

Max speed 21.9 Pat,  23.4-John

Biking Time 7hr 7min

Elevation  1085

Weather - 66 degrees, got up to 82 degrees.  Primarily cloudy, we saw one fantastic rainbow.


We ran into rain early on that lasted only about 15 min. When we got to Montevideo, we stopped at McDonalds to eat and it poured for about an hour; we just watched it.  When it cleared up we left. Heading for Dawson.  About 5 miles from Dawson it started to rain.  Which it has done on and off now for the night.


Right as we were leaving Montevideo Bob got a flat.  John fixed it and then about 2 miles out of Dawson, he got another flat.  John used a brand new tire and tube.  As it turned out, the patch on the other tube had let go.


We biked with a crosswind for a while and then it turned such that it was in our face.  It was tough going today.  We continue to have a relatively nice shoulder.  As we get further west it gets more wide open with not much to see except huge fields.  The roads are still mostly straight and with few hills.  We had to climb out of the MN River Valley out of Montevideo.  Then it flattened out, except there seemed to be a very slight but persistent rise in elevation.  That coupled with the wind in our face made for a tiring day.


We are staying at the Picket Fence Motel in Dawson, a pretty cool older motel.



May 10, Tuesday

Mileage - 53.34

Started 7:45 AM  Finished 3:30PM

Average mph - 8.2

Max speed 15.1 Pat,   ? John

Biking Time 6hr 30min

Elevation  1975

Weather - Temp 52, got as high as 60.  Very cloudy, no rain, winds out of the NE, 10 -20. 


It was very windy starting out and slow going.  The shoulder changed from being great to where we could ride together and/or John could draft; to being very narrow and we had to ride in single file and I would bike off into the gravel when 2 trucks would be passing each other right by me. 


For some reason the wind was super tough at first and when we crossed into S. Dakota the wind became much less and it was easier biking.  At some point, Hwy 212 and Hwy 15 joined for a mile or two and the road turned so that we were going south and we literally flew with the wind pushing us. 


The weather was really cold today.  John even put on his socks and his lightweight jacket.  I had on practically everything I could have on. We also started to climb; about 900 feet although very slowly and steadily.  It was super tough.  The last 15 miles the wind seemed to be pushing us and it was great.


The plan was to camp at a state campground.  However, it is supposed to get quite cold, windy and rainy tonight.  With more of the same tomorrow.  So we stopped at the Holiday Inn and they had no room!!  So they recommended the Day's Inn and that's where we are.  It's interesting that as we were checking in, it wasn't raining.  John took his bike around to the back and it was fine, but when he got mine, it had just started raining.  We were so lucky; we missed the rain by 5 minutes.  I would have frozen to death had it started raining while we were still out there. 



May 11, Wednesday

Mileage - 12.5

Started - on and off all day

Average mph - 

Max speed

Biking Time

Elevation  1975

Weather -  extreme wind out of the NE

 cloudy, no rain.  High of about 44.


We stayed in Watertown and went to the library, then to the grocery store.  We also went to the Redland Art Center.  A beautiful place with all of the paintings of Terry Redland who grew up in Watertown SD.  He paints a lot of wildlife stuff.  It was quite lovely.  The building was designed by his son and that in itself is quite outstanding.  Also the grounds all around it were quite awesome. 


We went and sat in the hot tub and then John biked down to the grocery store and got us some dinner.



May 12, Thursday

Mileage - 72.59

Started 9:08 AM  Finished 4:45PM

Average mph - 13.7 !!!

Max speed 28.51 Pat,   ? . John

Biking Time 5hr 17min


Weather  39  degrees, raining, wind 20-30mph out of the East.  We left anyway, with many clothes on.


It was 35 miles to Clark and we flew there.  There was one area where the road turned into the SE and we slowed way down; also my hands got so cold and John's feet were numb. 


We ate lunch at Clark and warmed up.  After talking to some of the Locals, we found out that there was a motel 20 miles down the road and that those first 20 miles were mostly flat and on brand new road.  It was quite beautiful.  The wind was so strong that it actually pushed me up (small) hills.  Going down (small) hills, I almost felt like braking.  We were cruising easily at 17mph.  Unfortunately after those 20 miles were up, the road turned bad.


The good news is that it had quit raining and was slowly warming up (48degrees).  The wind was still strong, but not as strong as before and was getting slightly variable.  And it started to drizzle now.  Then about 15 miles out of our destination (Redfield) John got a flat tire.  The side wall actually blew out.  He patched both the tube and the tire and we were back in business.  The road even improved, with a much nicer shoulder.  And then at about less than 1 mile before our motel, John said "I hear something" and BANG the tire blew up, John sort of flew over the handle bar, did a really neat roll but unfortunately the front fork got a little bent.  At this time it seems to be working OK.  This time he got out a new tire and a new tube.  A bunch of people passed us both times and no one stopped to help.  Except this time when John was just finishing up, a nice guy from Nebraska stopped.


We got to the motel before 5 and John zipped down to the hardware store and bought another tire and a tube.


It was an amazing day.  The wind did most of the work.  It's been one of our longest days, and definitely one of the fastest (miles per hour). 



May 13, Friday

Mileage - 49.4

Started 9:30 AM  Finished 6:30PM

Average mph - 6.9

Max speed 14.2 Pat, ? . John

Biking Time 7hr 3min


Weather about 40 to start 51 when we ended.  There was no rain, very little sun and horrendous winds, probably mostly out of the west.  It was supposed to have been out of the NW.


The long and the short of it was that going into the west was close to impossible.  I could usually stay up and draft from John if we were going between 5.2 to 6.2 mph.  Anything faster than that I would just die.  It seemed we stopped almost every mile for a 30 second break.  We were lucky enough to have some southerly miles; about 18 of them which helped to get us further down the way.  I never thought we'd make it.


Bob did have a flat tire today.  John fixed it without too much ado; however it was so cold and misting that he had a hard time getting the patch to stick.

We saw scads of ring necked pheasants, flying all over the place.  John thought they were probably as many as we have blackbirds.


The shoulders have been pretty good, although most have been only 2-3 ft. wide, enough for just one bicycle.  When we travel on really deserted roads, we ride side by side or whatever works best for drafting.


We took  Hwy 281 south out of Redfield, then 26 west and 45 south then 191st Street going west to our campground which is Lake Louise.  There are surprisingly people here at this campground on this blustery cold weekend.



May 14, Saturday

Mileage - 3.34

Started  sometime in the afternoon

Average mph - 

Max speed  Pat, . John

Biking Time hr min

Elevation  1585 

Weather temp as high as 56, mostly clouds, no rain.


The reason we stayed is because the winds were stronger than yesterday.  The radio said gusting to 45mph.  We just biked up to the entrance of the park to use the phone (no cell service) and to look at the phone book.


As we are traveling on these westerly roads, there is just nothing between us and the next county.  There are only fields and flat lands.  On those few occasions that we pass by trees, they are such a help as a windbreak but they are so few and far between.



May 15 ,Sunday

Mileage - 76. Miles

Started 6:50 AM  Finished 5:30PM

Average mph -9.8; John - 10.1

Max speed 20.1 Pat;  40.5 John

Biking Time 7hr 44m


Weather 26 degrees when we got up, 81 hen we finished.  Sunny all day!!!  The wind was about 10-20 out of the SE and or SW.


We started out by taking the road out of the park that turned every which way and took us, in about 10 miles to Hwy 14, which was our highway of the day.  As we were traveling on the back roads to get out of the park, we saw many many deer in the fields. (This was at 7 in the morning).  They were running across the road and through all the fields.  It was really cool.


The first city we hit was Highmore and upon entering the city John had another flat tire.  The new tire that he had bought a couple days ago at the Redfield hardware store blew out the sidewall.  We figured that out after he fixed the hole in the tube and had it all back together.  It was at such an odd place; we missed it the first time.  So he had to do it all over again and put on his good spare tire.


We rode into the city and did some grocery shopping.


The wind this day was partially pushing us and partially in our face.  It was pretty easy after that horrible day before and we moved along quite nicely.  It was so nice to see the sun out; we stopped once and put the footprint (tarp) down and slept for a little while in the sun.


We stopped for something to eat in one of the little cities and talked to the owners  who were quite familiar with the city of Pierre.  They told us about this free city park that has camping and that's where we are.  We are right on the Missouri River.  It's so beautiful.  Since we are in the Missouri River Valley we had some major hills to negotiate, both up and down.  The same will be true tomorrow as we leave here.


We stopped at Walmart and got some more tires and a tire pump.



May 16, Monday

Mileage - 57.6

Started 8 AM  Finished 5:15PM

Average mph - 7.5;  John 7.9

Max speed 20.9 Pat,  22.6  - John

Biking Time 7hr 34min

Elevation  2290

Weather temp at the start 66; got as high as 84.  Winds at least 20mph out of the SE.  Sunny today.


We left the city park via the bike path and had a nice scenic path that took us right up to the bridge, where we crossed the Missouri.  We then turned into the wind and got on Hwy 83 and traveled about 30 horrible miles going into the wind.  We started up and up to get out of the river valley and unfortunately those hills never stopped.  The really bad part was that the wind was so strong that we had to actually pedal down the hills.  And they were pretty big hills.


No flat tires today.  I did see one snake slither off into the grass, a sort of big garter snake maybe.


When we finally got to the interstate, we stopped at the truck stop and had a hamburger.  Then we took local Hwy 16 instead of the interstate.  The scenery was beautiful, the road was good, but there were so many hills.  The wind pretty much stopped.  We were expecting it to push us, but we only felt a slight breeze now and then.  Tomorrow we will take I-90.



May 17 ,Tuesday

Mileage - 70.82

Started 7:40 AM  Finished 5:30PM

Average mph - 9.1  John - 9.2

Max speed 25. Pat;  30.2-John

Biking Time 7hr 41min

Elevation  2343

Weather starting at 64 degrees, cloudy.  Temp got as high as 73.


We went through some rain.  It was all around us and we saw lightning and heard thunder, but we were very lucky.  We only got a little wet at 3 different times.  The sky was actually quite awesome; very dark and threatening but we mostly just kept biking.


We rode on I-90 today.  From the standpoint of many hills, it was very nice.  There were some hills, but they were mostly gradual.  We had a lot of long ups and also lots of long downs followed by quite a few flat areas.  That was all good.  The really bad news was the shoulder we had to travel on.  It started out as cracked up black top, however there were good places to bike on it.  However from there, at perhaps slightly over midway they just put small gravel.  Like when they are repairing the city streets and they just put down gravel and have everyone drive over to wear it in.  Obviously not too many people ride on the shoulder, so it was quite treacherous at times.


We passed so many dead turtles.  They do poorly trying to cross the freeway.  We also passed a couple of dead snakes, and saw some live prairie dogs, scolding us.  We also passed what I am sure was a live snake (probably a rattlesnake).  It was coiled up on the shoulder that was blacktop, and trying to warm up; it didn't move at all.


The wind was supposed to be 10-20 out of the SSE.  It started out that way, then practically died altogether.  Then in the middle of one of the storms the wind picked up like crazy and was out of the NW; for about 2-3 miles.  We flew for that amount of time.  It remained quite variable and not really strong.


We exited at Cactus Flats, exit 131 and picked up Hwy 240 that took us to the start of the Badlands.  We are camping at a Natl Park Campground - Cedar Pass I think it's called.  There are quite a few people here on a Tuesday.  Maybe about 20.



May 18, Wednesday

Mileage - 31.46

Started 8:10 AM  Finished 3:30PM

Average mph - 6.3

Max speed 28.8 Pat;  31.2 - John

Biking Time 4hr 56min


Weather  starting temp - 64, got up to 77.  Primarily sunny today. Need I say ungodly windy; 20-30 with higher gusts (enough to almost blow me off the road) and out of the NW.


We left our campground and started on our route through the Badlands.  It was quite beautiful.  It was like a small Grand Canyon and you got to be right up close to it.  Very interesting to look at.  We saw turkey vultures flying up and around.  With all the spires and stone formations, and the road going in every which direction, we weren't affected by the wind that much.  However we climbed an unbelievably steep pass and got up onto a prairie/plateau where we could feel the full force of the wind.


There were many views to observe and some trails, but we did not walk on any.  I think we stopped for all the views.


Earlier in the morning John broke a spoke.  He fixed it in the evening, with no problem during the day.


The worst part of the day came at the last couple miles of the park; we had to climb the road to the top of the Pinnacles.  It was not quite as steep as the first horrendous pass we went through early in the day, but it almost went on for close to 2 miles.


We then took Hwy 240 to Wall and we went to see the famous Wall Drug Store.  It is very unique; much like a mall,,,,,, but cooler.



May 19, Thursday

Mileage – 52.32

 Started 9:45 AM  Finished 5:30PM

Average mph - 9.3

Max speed 28.5 Pat; 33.0 John

Biking Time 5hr 36min

Elevation  3247

Weather Start temp (at 9:45) was 87.

My thermometer got as high as 109, John's got to 97.  A very sunny day; wind was ok. 5-10 maybe and not in our face.


I felt quite poorly in the morning so I slept until about 9:30 while John hung out and did bike maintenance stuff and then he went to the library.  I felt better and we left and had quite a good day.


The first 10 miles were quite wonderful; we went mostly downhill.  The next couple were flat and the next 3 were up and up and up to cover the elevation we had lost earlier.  The next 20 were gradual ups and gradual downs and not too bad.  The last 10 were primarily down.


We had a while of good shoulder and then S Dakota went and put all that small gravel down again and it was quite ugly.  We also had some problems on the bridges in that the shoulder went from being 10 feet wide to about 3 feet.  We had to really watch the traffic to make sure there weren't 2 cars abreast as we were crossing.


The other tricky part was when we got near to Rapid City that the flow of traffic picked up and we had to be very careful of cars merging.  Since we ride on the shoulder, we would just have to sit there and wait until there were no cars and then proceed.  However that will be the last of I-90.


We are staying at a KOA in Rapid City which is very nice.  They offer a free pancake breakfast which we will have and then be on our way (up and up and up, we've heard) to Mt. Rushmore.



May 20, Friday

Mileage - 34.34

Started 7:30 AM  Finished 4:45PM

Average mph - 6.6

Max speed 37- Pat; 40.6  John

Biking Time 5hr 9min

Elevation  Mt Rushmore - 5400

Weather Begin temp 68, end 95.  Hot sunny, some wind.


We started off with some free pancakes from the KOA.  Then we had some ugly biking on a busy road through Rapid City in the middle of morning rush hour.  After that it got even uglier as we had 3 really big climbs, followed by 3 pretty big downhills.  We did stop in the middle of all of that and went to the Reptile Garden.  It was actually quite neat; lots of stuff to see but we only stayed an hour or so.


We eventually got to loose all of our elevation gain by going down into Keystone.  From there we had to bike 2.5 miles of never ending up, up to Mt Rushmore.  When we made it to the top, there was a sign for $8 parking per vehicle and I was just not going to go in.  But the nice man in the booth let us through for free.


It has changed drastically.  There is now a huge marble mall area with neat arches to allow you to see the heads while walking toward them.  There are many shops, and the whole place is quite beautiful.  I think the whole area is neater than the heads.


We stayed there a while and then left, thinking (incorrectly) that we would be going downhill.  We continued with ups and downs.  I did see a mountain goat while we were biking to another KOA.  We had planned to go further down the road, but my legs would just not move and we were in one of our "downhills" and there out of nowhere was a KOA and we zipped right in there.


The monstrous KOA had shuttle rides in the evening to Mt. Rushmore (for $2 each) to see the lighting show.  We went to see that.  It was quite neat.  They had a guide talk for about an hour about the Presidents and Mt. Rushmore and the guy that carved them. We also saw a short movie. Then they turned the lights on the faces, we sang the Nat'l Anthem and then the guy giving the presentation said that any vets could come down to help take down the flag.  John was the first one there; about 20 other vets went down for the retiring of the flag.  It was really very nice. 



May 21, Saturday

Mileage - 62.88

Started 7:30 AM  Finished 5:45PM

Average mph - 8.4

Max speed 30.2- Pat;     John - 30

Biking Time 7hr 27min

Elevation  3200

Weather  starting temp 77, up to as high as 89..  Hot, sunny and windy.


We started off by biking up out of the KOA.  Legs knew immediately. We only had less than 3 torturous miles of up and down to get to the Michelson Bike Trail.  We knew from the elevation profile that we would be going up, at a 3% grade, but it was murder.  And it was about 5 miles of going 4-5 mph on loose gravel.  Words cannot describe....


However after we finally reached the top we coasted down another 5 miles and that was great.  The rest of the trail was primarily down but the gravel at times was horrible, there were horse prints all over the trail;  They could really learn something from biking on the Luce Line.  The good part was the elevation never being more than 3%.  The grade, when it went up after those first 5 miles was not so bad and most of it was downhill.  The wind cooperated for the most part.  The scenery was quite spectacular.  For the most part, and especially the last 30 miles, our legs got somewhat of a rest.  We biked at about 10-13 miles an hour, but the wind was at our back and we weren't struggling with going up.



May 22  Sunday

Mileage - 49

Started 7:40 AM  Finished 5:45PM

Average mph - 6.5

Max speed 20.6 - Pat;    John

Biking Time 7hr 29min

Elevation  - 5000

Weather  Starting temp 66,  ending 89.  Sunny, windy at times, usually in our face.


We started by taking whatever the road was to Provo; it was 8 miles.  When we got there we took something like Hwy 2462, which was gravel, for the next 35 miles.  It was quite exciting.  We probably saw about 15 cars the whole day.  There was usually a car tire track that you could bike on that was a hard surface for the wheel . 


The bad part is that we started at 3200 feet and worked our way up to 5000 feet.  Besides the struggle of going up, we also had to contend with a lot of downs.  The problem would occur when the packed track you were riding in would turn to loose gravel.  Neither of us fell, but it was tricky at times.


We saw so many mule deer.  There were groups of them everywhere. We probably saw at least 50 of them.  They have such a graceful high bounce; they're beautiful to watch.  At one place, there was one grazing on the side of the road that didn't see us until we got near the bottom of the hill and he and John were basically side by side going down the road together for a little while until he bolted off over the fence.


We were in the Nat'l Grasslands and it was so beautiful.  It was also very green which hasn't occurred in a couple of years, but they've had a fair amount of rain lately.  Since we went over about 1500-1800 feet of elevation change (as we did the day before) we saw a great change in the ecosystems.  When you zip through in a car, it is not so apparent, but it was really cool how you could see the land change.


At one point on the road there was a sign that let us know that for the next 13 miles there were no fences up and that we should watch for cattle on the road.  Usually when we come up to cows or horses they will frequently come over toward us.  So I was quite concerned that we might get run over.  The only thing that happened once was that most of the cows were on one side of the road, but on the other side were 3 calves and a mama.  Naturally when we got very close 2 of the calves decided to run across the road.  But that's all that happened.


We did see a dead porcupine and a dead snake.


It was an extremely tiring day, but we saw wonderful scenery.   We are camped at a free city park in Harrison NE.  Every single store in the town is closed so we had to eat our emergency cans of baked beans, cream corn, tuna and fruit cocktail.



May 23, Monday

Mileage - 69

Started 8:15 AM  Finished 3:15PM

Average mph - 11.5

Max speed 37.5- Pat; 40.8  John

Biking Time 6hr

Elevation - 3880

Weather starting temp - 72, ending 89.  Sunny, hot, WIND at our back!! About 20mph.  Rain and storms at end of biking day.


A good day today.  We started out by going down hill with the wind pushing us.  It was so great to the point that we would coast down one hill and sometimes be able to get to the top of the next hill with minimal pedaling.  When we did have to actually pedal up high hills, we probably did it twice as fast as yesterday (6-7mph instead of 3-4mph) and we didn't have to stop for rests every 100 feet.


We saw a couple of dead snakes in the road.  We got to see that wonderful huge empty grassland area.  On the side roads, we would see signs that would give the names of the ranches and the mileage to get there. Some of them were like 9 miles down the road.


As we were on one of those wonderful 5 mile down legs, we passed by a house that was fairly close to the road.  John is usually a ways ahead of me because the trailer makes him go downhill faster.  I was going to yell to him that there was a deer right along side of him.  Then I looked closer and noticed it was the world's biggest dog.  Luckily for me, the dog didn't spot me right away, since I was back a hundred feet or so.  But when I saw him, I got into my 3 - 7 gear, the highest gear I have and when the dog spotted me I was flying.  There was no way he was going to catch me.  He came out into the road, but gave up after a short time.


When we got to Scotts Bluff, we went to the campground, right by the little zoo.  We quickly put up our tent, as it surely looked like rain and the mailman in the previous city told us that it was going to rain in 2 hours.  We  went to their little zoo; it was nice and then we went about a half mile down the road to a grocery store. Enroute to the store it was lightning and thundering.  After we got in the store it absolutely poured. About 20 minutes later everything was dry.


As I write this in the early evening it is raining again and getting quite windy. 



May 24, Tuesday

Mileage - 46.4

Started 8 AM  Finished 3:15PM

Average mph - 8.7

Max speed 35.7- Pat;    John

Biking Time 5hr 17 min

Elevation - about 4700

Weather starting temp - 61, ending 72. Cloudy, some wind, kind of pushing us.  Skies very threatening in the afternoon.


We started out with John's bike having a flat tire before leaving the campground.  There was a thorn in the tire.


We biked through incredibly beautiful country; although we had quite a lot of ups.  When we got to Wildcat Mt. State Park, we biked up there (a little bit higher) to go to the Nature Center and observe the view of the area we had just biked up from.  Outstanding.  They also had a 2 story Nature Center with a big pine tree growing up in the middle of the building that was outstanding.


It seemed we did a lot more ups and then John spied some trucks and then he remembered a sign for food, so we swung in there and had a wonderful hamburger.


We were getting close to Kimball, our destination and the skies were getting very menacing.  They had slowly worked up to that all day and you could see rain off to the West of us.  As time went on the skies got darker, and rain seemed to be falling all around us.  One thing we always watch for is if the approaching cars have their windshield wipers on and no one did.


As we were coasting down the hill into Kimball, there was a flag person out stopping the traffic as only one lane could go at a time.  So we asked her where the library was, and the campgrounds.


We thought it would be raining any minute so we went to the library, checked email and the weather channel.  It showed there was a huge red and yellow cell, but it had stayed south of us.  Then we went to the campground and put up the tent.


It did rain, but not until 9PM.  We got to see beautiful electrical activity all over.  The bad part was, that the wind picked up to at least 35MPH. 



May 25, Wednesday

Mileage -22.91

Started  Noon   Finished 3:45PM

Average mph - 7.8

Max speed 20.2- Pat;         John

Biking Time 2hr 45 min

Elevation - 5047

Weather starting temp - 53  ending 60? Very windy, a crosswind.  Partly sunny.

When we got up the wind was horrendous, and it looked like rain and it was freezing out, so we slept in.  The library opened at 10 AM so we went down there and checked the weather (and email and typed up a report).  It showed the wind should die down in the afternoon (HAH!) and no rain was indicated.  So we left at noon for what I thought would  be a terrible day.


It wasn't that bad.  We had to gain about 300 feet in elevation, but for the most part it was kind of flat.  The wind was mostly at our side, pushing us into the highway (with no shoulder), but there were not many cars.  We were headed mostly West and the wind was out of the north.  The neat part was that we rode along side a train track and the trains were running almost every 10 minutes.  They did a fantastic job of shielding us from the wind.  The tracks were set up high sometime, and that acted like a birm to protect us from the wind.


John saw a fox run across the road.


We are camped at Pine Bluffs in WY.  The minute we crossed the state line, our road got a shoulder.


Our original plan was to bike out to Cheyenne and then head South to Ft. Collins.  The owner of the place here suggested that we go South from here to Hwy 14 in CO. And then go West to Briggsdale, that has a campground.  He said there would be less traffic and less hills.  So that's what we will do.



May 26, Thursday

Mileage -60.67

Started  8AM   Finished 4PM

Average mph - 9.1

Max speed 24.6- Pat;    24.6 - John

Biking Time 6hr 36 min

Elevation - 4850

Weather starting temp - 51  ending 74. 74 degrees. Cloudy early, little wind.  Around noon the sun came out and before that the wind picked up, about 10mph frequently in our face.


We took the alternate route today.  It was a little tricky to find but John picked the right roads every time.  The guy said it was about 40 miles but it turned out to be 57.  It was fairly flat; some ups and downs, but we actually lost about 200 feet from yesterday.  It seemed that whenever there was a downhill, the wind would blow especially hard in our face.  Actually our route took us in all directions today and every time we turned, so did the wind.  We decided the wind didn't like us today.


We saw quite a few antelope out in grasslands today.  We are camped at a USFS campground called Crow Something or other.  It's a nice little campground with about 15 sites and there are only 2 other campers here right now.



May 27, Friday

Mileage -46.6

Started  7:45   Finished 2:30PM

Average mph - 9

Max speed 23.7- Pat;         John

Biking Time 5hr 7min

Elevation -

Weather starting temp - 57  ending 73 but very hot sun.  Some wind


We left from Briggsdale, very chilly, not much sun or wind.  As the day went on, it warmed up, the sun was shining and it got windier, usually in our face.  At 24 miles we hit Ault, CO and had lunch at a city park.  By this time we have left the grasslands and are in farm country.  We have been noticing the ditches, many filled with water, and the irrigation.  We have noticed how smelly it is with the cows and animals, quite a few feed lots.


We were kind of expecting it to be flat, but there were the obligatory ups and downs; and with that darn wind in your face, and small up was a struggle and any down, I at least, had to pedal down to keep up with John.


The worst part was that we just kept going up and up and at last John saw 3 cell towers, so we were pretty sure that would be the highest spot - 5200 feet.  That was 12 miles out of Fort Collins and it was downhill from that point into the city.


When we hit Fort Collins, there was so much traffic.  Hwy 14 had a nice shoulder part of the way in the city, but then it quit.  We eventually got off that street (as it was driving me crazy) and John found us some good, not busy streets to Nat and Andy's house.


I got the back of my neck sunburn today - not good.  I think since it was so cold in the morning, I didn't put it on sun tan lotion very well.



Saturday, May 28th - we went shopping for groceries, bike stuff, a battery for the PDA (mini me), and went to the Whole Food Store.  We walked Jezebel (Andy, Tela and Haley left already for Boulder).  John worked long and hard on the bikes getting them ready for the trip home.



Sunday, May 29th - A cool, cloudy day.  We are trying to figure out what to wear for the race tomorrow and soon we will be leaving for Boulder.



Monday, May 30th Memorial Day - race day dawned cool, cloudy with a little wind.  It didn't seem to keep many of the entrants away.  It was the best race I was ever in; we walked it and saw all the bands, the hula dancers, Elvis, it was great.


To finish the race we walked into the College Football Stadium and one lap around the track.  Then we went and got our lunch bags, with food in them, got a beer, a soda and we found a place to sit in the stands for the festivities. They were supposed to have 4 parachutist jump into the stadium, and then have some Armed Forces Jets do a flyby.  However since it was so crappy out, and the ceiling was so low, they didn't do any of that.  They had a speech by a medal of honor guy who was in WW2, there was a 21 gun salute, they sang the Nat'l Anthem and then we watched the elite women run a 10K race      and we left while the elite men ran the 10K race.



May 31,Tuesday

Mileage -48.63

Started  8:30   Finished 2:45PM

Average mph - 9.7

Max speed 24.6- Pat;         John

Biking Time 4hr 59 min

Elevation -

Weather starting temp - 52  ending 65.  It was cool, sunny, light wind; for the most part it was sideways or slightly pushing us.  The last couple of miles still light but in our face.  I never took my jacket off; it stayed pleasantly cool.


We left Nat and Andy's and biked slightly out of our way down to Drake Ave.  That was a much better road than when we came in on Mulberry. We turned left on Timberline, right on Prospect and then left on County 5.  We got over I-25 without a problem, ran into a few construction sites but no real problems.


The whole way out of Fort Collins was pretty speedy.  It must have been partial downhill and some wind at our back.  It was great.


We counted the mule deer that we saw today; there were 38.  They're everywhere.


We are again camped at the Crow Valley Campground in Briggsdale, again site 2. 



June 1, Wednesday

Mileage -65.5

Started  8 AM   Finished 4PM

Average mph - 9.7

Max speed 27.5- Pat;  31.6 - John

Biking Time 6hr 41 min

Elevation - 3940

Weather starting temp - 58  ending 81. Sun and clouds, slight wind.


It was a long tough climb out of the campground and up for a couple miles.  Our poor legs never got a chance to rest.  After that however, it was pretty flat and we were cruisin'.  As the day wore on, a strong crosswind developed.


We stopped at Raymer (I think) for lunch and our campground "birders" were there.  It was an older lady (76) and her daughter.  The older one had stopped over the other night to find out where we were going.  She had also done a long bike trip way back when, and she had canoed and still does hike.  Her passion now is birding, so they were out looking for birds.


Immediately after that we came upon 15 miles of construction.  In the first 7 miles, we hit 2 areas that had one lane open and they controlled who went through.  Obviously there were a lot of people hoping we could bike faster. The last 8 miles were open, except on our side of the road they had grooved the pavement the entire way and it almost jarred our brains out.  Bob (the trailer) with a smaller size wheel would sometimes get caught in one of those grooves and John had a heck of a time.


Someone had told us that Sterling, our day's destination, had camping at the city park.  We stopped there, but it was not to be.  We had to go a couple miles further to the Buffalo Hills RV Campground.


After we got the tent set up, we walked a short ways to the Country Kitchen and when we came back, it looked like rain.  We sat out on the picnic table and watched the spectacular lightning show. As it came closer, we went in the tent, but it was quite a storm.  And we saw 28 mule deer today.



June 2, Thursday

Mileage -42.1

Started  8:30 AM   Finished 2:45PM

Average mph - 9.5

Max speed 17.2- Pat;         John

Biking Time 4hr 24 min

Elevation - 3745

Weather starting temp - 60  ending 75  .Cloudy, very little wind.


I was still tired from yesterday  and anticipated a hard day.  It turned out to be either flat or tending down.  We biked alongside a railroad.


It was partly cloudy, somewhat humid and the wind picked up by mid morning.  We were going NE and the wind was out of the east.


After exactly 40 miles we turned west on a gravel road (uphill) to get to our campground. We seem to be the only campers here.  It's on a reservoir and there are cars from time to time that drive by to get to the water.


There was a deer in the ditch today, about 30 yards from us.  He was on our right and he had to go up a short hill to cross over the railroad track.  He watched us come up; we slowed down so John could take his picture, but he got scared and ran off.



June 3, Friday

Mileage -47.26

Started  7:45 AM  Finished 2PM

Average mph - 11.3

Max speed 23.9- Pat;         John

Biking Time 4hr 10 min

Elevation - 3300?

Weather starting temp - 60  ending 75. Fairly humid, light wind, sun and clouds.


Last night we had quite a storm.  I was talking to Leslie on the phone and there was no wind; it was absolutely quiet.  Then it started to blow just slightly, it picked up a little and we hung up.  Within 1 minute the winds were probably up to 60mph (John was out redoing the tarp and ropes and it almost knocked him over.) The tent was practically tipped over on its side.  The wind persisted for almost 30 minutes, then it started to thunder and lightning and shortly thereafter, the wind settled down to a regular bad storm and it rained.  We all made it through the night with no problem.


Today we took off down the gravel road and discovered that the road was soggy from all the rain.  It was tough to pedal.  When we got to the main highway we were flying.  There was no wind, the road was flat and we went 20 miles in 2 hours.


We stopped at Julesburg and used the library, went onto Big Spring where we saw the buffaloes that a guy had made from barbed wire.  They are so neat.


Then we biked up a megahill for 2 miles  (we're in Nebraska now).  When we finally got to the top, it leveled off and even though the "light and variable" wind was pounding us in the face, we still made good time. 


We are camped at Brule at the Riverside RV Park.  Lucky for us that they had a Laundromat.  


We ate (very good food) at Verg's Lounge.  Verg is an old guy.  The guy back where we were camped said that Verg's Lounge had good food, but they were slow.....So we walked in; the sign said open.  There were no lights on, no one around.  But an older guy came around the corner and looked at us.  John asked if we could eat. Long pause....Did we want rib eye steak or hamburgers?  John chose the steak; he was told it came with a baked potato.  I took the hamburger and asked if I could have a salad.  After he stared at me for at least 30 seconds, he said OK and did I want French fries?  After that he got our drinks, just sort of hung out, washed his hands, finally ambled on back and was hopefully starting our dinner.  He was the strangest guy ever.  We did get our food, at last. 


We told the other guy at the campground store about our eating adventure and he said that Verg just really doesn't like to serve people.  Strange that he is in the restaurant business.



June 4, Saturday

Mileage - 65

Started 7:45 AM   Finished 4:30PM

Average mph - 11

Max speed 19.3- Pat;         John

Biking Time 5hr 50 min

Elevation - 3900

Weather starting temp - 55  ending 70. Starting with sun and clouds, drizzle, slight wind. 


We got out onto the flat that was tending down hill and really moved.  We started with little wind.  After it came up it was mostly quartering us.  Again we were traveling alongside a railroad track with frequent trains.  We would always wave to the engineers and usually they would respond with a whistle.


We went through many small towns, and stopped at one of them for lunch.  We had been watching the sky with black clouds everywhere.  While we were eating the weather radio came on with a warning about a tornado nearby and bad thunderstorms.


We left; checked the sky which was actually looking better, and made it into North Platte, our destination for the day.  There was a Walmart right before our campground so we brought groceries.


The rain did come about 8PM.  About 14 miles south of us there was a severe thunderstorm with baseball size hail.  We merely got rain and some thunder and lightning.



June 5,  Sunday

Mileage - 44.85

Started  8AM   Finished 2:30PM

Average mph - 9.8

Max speed 31.2 - Pat;  40.5 - John

Biking Time 4hr 33 min

Elevation - 2565

Weather starting temp - 53  ending 72.  It was sunny, a slight wind, a very nice day.


We had to go back about 3 miles to get out of town and when we came to the overpass, there was a sign that said the road was closed.  There was a guy there, so John asked him how we could get across and he pointed out another overpass to use.  The road was closed because there was going to be a soapbox derby; 46 cars were entered and the winner would go to Akron for the finals.


We had a most wonderful day today.  There were hills, but here in Nebraska there are downhills along with the uphills.  In SD they only have uphills.  Maybe it was because today the wind was not 25mph in our face.  It was either behind us or quartering us.  The temperature was perfect, sometimes we enjoyed shade because the sun was behind some clouds, the roads were very nice.


We are camped at the Arnold State Rec. Area, about a half of mile out of Arnold.  We are the only campers at this time although I'm quite sure that half of the town has driven through the campground to see what is going on.



June 6, Monday

Mileage -36.83

Started  8:30 AM    Finished 2:45PM

Average mph - 9.2

Max speed 39.4 - Pat;   45 - John

Biking Time 4hr

Elevation - 2575

Weather starting temp - 66  ending 85. Start of the day was sunny, windy, humid and warm.


We started out later than usual since we knew it would be a short day.  We stopped at a hardware store to get another tube for Bob, then decided to go to the grocery store, the post office and the library. And what a good thing it was that we took all that time!!


Just outside of the city, there was a rancher who was moving his cows to another pasture and driving them right down the middle of our road!  We got up close to them and the one guy said that if we yelled at them, they would get out of our way and we could get past them.  So of course John zipped right up there and started yelling at them and there we were right in the middle of about 100cows, mamas and calves.  It was actually pretty neat.  The only concern I had was that one of those cows might get to close and slobber all over me.  They had a little kid, maybe 6-8 years old, wrangling and about 8 other adults, all on horse back.  As we moved into the herd, the cows would just move out of our way.  At one point, John and I were completely surrounded by the cows with the wranglers on the outside of the herd and we were all moving down the road together.  Eventually the herd turned off the highway on one of the side roads and we continued on our way down the highway.  Really cool.


We then had to bike some tough 20 miles up and down the "sand hills" of NE.  There was a strong wind quartering us.  Then when we got to the top of the world (The one guy called it the Merna Divide) we turned North and almost literally coasted 10 miles , with the wind at our back into the city of Anselmo.


From there we turned east and went a grueling 6 miles up and down hills to our campground.  By this time the wind was stronger, had turned somewhat and it was quartering us, but more into our face.  We are at Victoria Springs Rec. Area camping and they even had a shower here!!



June 7, Tuesday

Mileage -  47.95

Started - 8AM   Finished - 3:30 PM

Average mph - 8.8

Max speed  31.8 - Pat;       - John

Biking Time - 5 hr 23 min

Elevation - 2255

Weather - starting temp - 68 ending 85.  It was warm, sunny, and windy.


We started by heading East for 22 miles.  The wind was out of the SE. It was kind of flat, but otherwise pretty tough.


After that we turned North onto Hwy 183 for 7 miles.  We had to climb up for 3-4 miles (with the wind at our back) and then coast down the remainder of the way.  And right at our turn was a gas station and small fast food place so we ate lunch there.


Then we had to travel 13 miles on 91 to Burwell.  Somehow the wind had shifted from that morning and it was quartering us more, instead of in our face.  It was much better.

At Burwell we discovered that their new library as closed on Tuesday (today is Tuesday).  We were going to camp at their city park, but decided against it; the very nice part of the park they didn’t allow camping in.  So we biked another mile or 2 further to the Willow Springs Campground, which is very nice.  The proprietors' names are Al and Marilee; they are most friendly and helpful and even gave John a Willow Springs RV Park and Campground hat.


The wind, if possible, is getting stronger.



June 8, Wednesday

Mileage - 68.73

Started  8 AM  Finished  3 PM

Average mph - 10.9

Max speed  31.8 - Pat;  35 - John

Biking Time - 6 hr 17 min

Elevation - 1700

Weather - starting temp - 60,  ending 85.  Sunny all day, light wind to start.


There was light wind to start and as it picked up it was at our backs.  What fun it is to bike when you're not killing yourself, fighting that wind.  The first 20 miles was fairly flat and we were cruising at 15 - 16 mph.  It was so great that we decided to change our route.  We started going East and instead of going North, we decided to go South for 6 miles and then continue East for 35 more miles.


We stopped at a city called Spaulding and had lunch at their beautiful city park.  Then we got back out there, expecting it to still be pretty flat; but no.  There were so many hills.  Like John said, they would have been fun early in the day, but we hit them at about 50 miles.  The wind was still at our back, so it was still alright.


We did have a couple of scary moments.  The road had no shoulder; only at times did one appear, when you went uphill. One time, when there was no shoulder, one of the cars behind us was going to make sure he didn't hit us and he got way over in the other lane except there was a car in that lane and he had to pull way over, past the shoulder even.  Let me add here, that frequently there are no cars in either direction and then suddenly there are cars and trucks from both directions.


So there are 1 or 2 cars coming toward us and there is a monster tractor behind us, and behind him is another car.  And we're going up a fairly steep hill.  There is a shoulder and we are as close as we can get to the side rail without falling over it. But the car behind the tractor won't pass because he is taking up the entire lane plus a small amount of the other lane and he doesn't want to hit us. (Maybe he did want to hit us, but was kind enough not to.)  We just stopped so he could judge better how to get around us.  He waved; I waved.  The car behind the tractor finally passed the tractor and John and I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was a regular traffic jam.


We got to Albion on time to make it to the library and the library was even open!!  We are camped at their very nice city park.



June 9, Thursday

Mileage - 36.08

Started - 7:45 AM    Finished - 2:30 PM

Average mph - 9

Max speed  23.2 - Pat;   26.6 - John

Biking Time - 3 hr  59  min

Elevation - 1555

Weather - starting temp - 64,  ending 71.  Cloudy, overcast, slight wind.


The entire day it looked like rain, but we only ran into a few sprinkles.  We heard thunder a couple of times.


These back roads that have no shoulder are not fun to bike on.  There is just a lot of traffic.  You'll have stretches where you don't see anyone and then there are cars and trucks from both directions.  The exciting thing today was that we were heading north and there was at least one or more cars behind us.  Going South was 1 car, then a 4 wheeler, 2 more cars, another 4 wheeler and then a couple more cars.  Everyone was trying to pass the 4 wheelers, so all those cars were in our lane.  It was a bit unnerving.


As we entered Neligh, our destination for the day, we ran into the Cowboy Trail, a biking trail that we will take tomorrow into Norfolk.  We are camped today at Riverside Park in Neligh.



June 10, Friday

Mileage - 37.64

Started - 9 AM;   Finished - 3 PM

Average mph - 8.2

Max speed  12.5 - Pat;  12.5 - John

Biking Time - 4 hr  32 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 60, ending 74.  Cloudy, overcast, humid, very little wind.


It was raining at 6:30 this morning so we slept in and did not leave until 9 AM.  We biked on the Cowboy Trail which runs from Neligh to Norfolk in about 36 miles.  It was a very tough day.  The trail was crushed limestone and since there was so much rain, there was a lot of drag on the wheels.  It was almost perfectly flat and we were working hard to bike 8 mph.  The highway with a perfect shoulder paralleled us the whole time so after about 8 miles of slugging it out on the trail we switched over to the highway and cruised along at about 12 mph.  I don't know what we were thinking, but when the trail veered away from the highway, we decided to go back on the trail (for the scenery)


So for the last 10 miles we biked on the trail.  We did stop at the town of Battle Creek and visited the library and had our lunch at their nice city park.


For excitement we got to watch the stupid bunnies run back and forth across the trail right in front of us.  The trail also crossed the Elkhorn River which was flowing quite swiftly.

As we entered the city of Norfolk, the trail became concrete, it took lots of twists and turns and there was finally some scenery.  After the 2 miles on concrete the trail ended at a city campground, which is where we are camped.



June 11, Saturday

Mileage - 46

Started - 7:40   Finished - 1:30

Average mph - 10.6

Max speed 29.6- Pat;  31.8 - John

Biking Time - 4 hr  18 min

Elevation - 1520

Weather - starting temp - 60,  end 74. Cloudy, overcast, threatening rain (but it never did.)


It has started to rain closer to 5 AM so when we get up, even though it is not raining, everything is all wet and it looks like it will rain any minute.  We took off on Hwy 81 with a light wind at our back. It got stronger as the day went on.  We were headed due North.  We finally found a road with a beautiful shoulder.  We actually went through 4 miles of construction and had a 2 foot shoulder that was 2 feet more than any shoulder we had in the last 3 days.


We turned East on Hwy 20 for the last 18 miles.  Hwy 20 also had a wide shoulder, but not in as good of condition as Hwy 81.  The wind was quartering us, becoming fairly strong.  We stopped after 4 miles at Randolph for lunch and to hang up and dry the tent, the fly, the tarp and anything else that was wet.  When we got back on the road, the wind was beginning to switch so that it was almost behind us.  It was like a miracle.


We are camped at Laurel, in the Lion's Club Park.    



June 12, Sunday

Mileage - 54.9

Started 8 AM  Finished 4 PM

Average mph - 9.2

Max speed 26.3 - Pat;       - John

Biking Time - 4 hr  18 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 60, end 75.


I am 3 days late typing this and so cannot remember a whole lot.  I do remember that they locked the bathrooms sometime after 9 PM so when we got up in the morning we packed everything and went over 8 blocks to the other city park that had a bathroom.


As we entered South Sioux City, NE we weren't sure which road to take to get to the bridge to cross the Missouri.  John decided on the road that looked like a freeway (but wasn't) and it worked perfectly.  It had a nice wide shoulder and took us right to McDonalds that was at the base of the bridge.  As we were eating there, John noticed other bicyclists coming and going off the bridge on the sidewalk, so we decided to take the sidewalk.  It turned out to be part of their bike trail and when we got to the other side (Iowa) it did not allow us onto the city streets, but took us right down by the river via the bike trail.  John stopped a biker and told him we were looking for Stone State Park.  The guy told us all we had to do was go to the end of the trail, ride a mile or 2 on the highway and we should see a sign for the park.  He was right!!  Going through cities can be such a nightmare; as can going over bridges.  We were so lucky not to mention we got to ride right alongside the Missouri River; it was so beautiful.


We camped at Stone Park.  We had to climb a MEGA hill to get there.



June 13, Monday

Mileage - 57.59

Started  8 AM  Finished 3:15 PM

Average mph - 11.1

Max speed  37 - Pat;  40.3 - John

Biking Time - 5 hr  8 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 67,  end 75.


Leaving Stone Park as we got to go down those hills, we did take a wrong turn once; their roads are marked quite poorly.  But on the way out we passed by 5 wild turkeys and saw a deer standing on the side of the road.


It was an easy, flat and wind at our back kind of day.  Since I did not own 1 piece of clean clothing, we stopped at Hawarden and did some wash.  John went to the library.


At some point we crossed from Iowa into S. Dakota and just kind of wound up taking a lot of their back roads to get to our campground.  All of those roads were in great shape and had very few cars or a shoulder.


For some reason it seems we always end up the day climbing a huge hill.  We had a monster hill to go down, followed by a monster to struggle up.  It was practically to steep to downshift.  We stayed at Newton Hills State Park.  It was very nice.



 June 14, Tuesday

Mileage - 35 + 7.6

Started  8 AM + 9AM  Finished 3 PM

Average mph - 7.2

Max speed  29.3 - Pat;       - John

Biking Time - 4 hr  48 min

Elevation - 1330

Weather - starting temp - 60,  end 65.


Last night we were biking around the park and it started to rain so we zipped into a covered picnic shelter.  It rained quite a while.  When it started to slow way down we quickly biked back to our tent, jumped in and it poured.  The weather radio said that around us got 4inches in 2 hrs.  We got a lot of rain, it thundered and lightning at least half an hour and we got a couple bouts of pea size hail. 


When we got up in the morning it was overcast, drizzling and WINDY.  Unfortunately out of the northwest.  We were going to be going north and west.


We had 3 miles to go (heading west) to get to our Hwy 11.  It took us about 35 minutes to go 3 measly miles (actually 3.94 because we had to get through the park) and the ROAD WAS CLOSED. Alas.


We decided to bike back to the park (made it in about 15 minutes) and took the other route to get to Hwy 11.  To make a long story short the wind was terrible.  It was hitting us broadside and as the day went on it got stronger and would literally blow me off the road.  John and Bob got blown off too but not as much as me.  Plus it was drizzling and misting on and off and then the sun would come out.


We were on our last 3 miles to get to our campground and it started to pour. In a couple minutes after we were totally drenched, the sun came out.  That happened again before we got to the campground.  We decided to take a cabin and it is pretty nice.  We are at Big Sioux Rec Area in South Dakota. 



June 15, Wednesday

Mileage - 42

Started  8 AM   Finished 3:15 PM

Average mph - 7.9

Max speed 20.6 - Pat; 24- John

Biking Time - 5 hr  15 min

Elevation - 1740

Weather - starting temp - 60,  ending 73.  Cloudy, overcast, some wind.


We had a pretty big climb out of the campground;  the wind was of course in our face though certainly not as strong as the day before.  We stopped at a McDonalds within a couple miles and noticed a sign that said trucks were not allowed on Hwy 11 (our route) they had to take I-90 to Luverne.  We just should have guessed there would be a problem.


Immediately as we got onto Hwy 11 a sign said road closed to thru traffic.  We still rode on.  Then a sign said "one lane bridge".  We thought it was a little drastic to close down the whole road because of a 1 lane bridge.  We rode on; went over the 1 lane bridge and kept traveling even though the workers said they were working on the next bridge and we'd never make it across.  They were right.  But we were so fortunate that there was a road we could take to the east, as that's the way most of the traffic was going. (Certainly they didn't have any kind of detour signs up).  John got out the map, figured that we could go 3 miles this way, turn, go 2 miles that way and we should run into Hwy 11. (Hwy 11 has such a wonderful shoulder).  But then John said "how will we know it's Hwy 11?"  and I said "because there will be a big sign that says "Road Closed".  I hate it when I'm right.  Except there wasn't even a sign.  But the road was closed.  John talked to the construction workers as we biked through the mayhem and they assured us that after we biked about a mile and a half on the dirt road, we would in fact hit Hwy 11.  And we did.  It was worth it.


Since they had that sign up about detouring the trucks to I-90 there was very little traffic all the way to the Minnesota border.  And we had that huge shoulder to bike on.  It was quite humorous because we went from that beautiful road in S. Dakota to this measly, poorly maintained road with no shoulder when we hit MN.


The wind was in our face, plus we climbed about 400 feet today.  It was quite a tiring day.  It was also quite chilly out. I had my extra shirt on most of the day.  It did not rain however.


We had lunch at Jasper and are camped at an RV place in Pipestone.  Tomorrow we leave on Hwy 30, heading for Lake Shetek.



June 16, Thursday

Mileage - 44.58

Started  8 AM   Finished 3 PM

Average mph - 9.6

Max speed 20.9 - Pat; 30 - John

Biking Time -4 hr 37 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 60,  ending 75.  Sunny, windy, warm.


We had an uneventful day.  We were on good roads, with a small shoulder.  The traffic was fairly light.  The wind was in our face, although not really strong.  It was a tiring day.  The wind was out of the SE so for the 6 miles when we went North it was great. 


We stopped at Slayton for our picnic lunch.  When we got to Currie, which was 3.5 miles to the campground, we got on the bike trail and biked on that into the Lake Shetek campground.  John spotted 1 deer on the trail.


Early on in the day, we went by many many windmill farms.  They are so beautiful.  And we figured out the correct wind direction for them to work best. Of course, SE to NW.  You could see how they were all in that line.  So they should have had a good day today, and according to the weather a good blowing day tomorrow.



June 17, Friday

Mileage - 63.21

Started 7:45    Finished 3:30 PM

Average mph - 11

Max speed  26.9 - Pat;    27.1 - John

Biking Time -5 hr  42 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 60,  ending 85.  Warm, sunny, dry (no dew).


For the most part everything today was flat. The wind was also very kind to us.  It was very light, usually not hindering us at all.  We averaged 11mph which was great.  We traveled on Hwy. 14 - the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Hwy - with a very small shoulder.  And there were no signs up as to what city was next.  We stopped at Walnut Grove for a break.  And at Lamberton.  And at Springfield, we stopped at the library.


We are camped at Sportsman Park in Sleepy Eye.  There are only 10 (nice) sites and we were lucky to get a site.  Something about some lady reserved it (site 6) but then didn't pay for it.  Hopefully it will be kind of quiet tonight.


The park people at the campground in S Dakota said that they fill up on the weekend, and last night at Lake Shetek they said they fill up on the weekend.  John called the private campground we will be staying at tomorrow and they said they were full, but that they would find a spot for us.



June 18, Saturday

Mileage - 55.7

Started 7:40 AM    Finished 3:30

Average mph - 10

Max speed  23 - Pat;  25.2 - John

Biking Time -5 hr  30 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp - 70, ending 85.  Sunny, hot, some wind.


We started out on Hwy 14;  there were some elevation changes, but it was quite gradual.  When we got within 3 miles of New Ulm, there was a road closed sign.  But in MN they give you detours to go on.  We only went out of our way about 2 miles.  As we left the city on the new highway we noted the beautiful, wide, smooth shoulder.  They frequently fool us in that half a mile out of the city it is reduced to 18 -24 inches.  But this shoulder remained huge and beautiful until we had to change highways.


At the city of Nicollet we had lunch and from there we had to go onto Hwy 99.  What a pleasant surprise.  The whole 12 miles to St. Peter was flat and we had about a 30 inch nice shoulder.


At St. Peter we went down down into the Mn River Valley, got some groceries and then decided to quit messing around.  We would just take Hwy 169 to LeSueur instead of all those back roads.  It worked out well.  The shoulder was big, the road was flat.


We are camped at Peaceful Valley Campground just outside of LeSueur.  We knew we had to turn on a dirt road.  But the road in front of us showed a little hill and then a mega, steep hill.  We both got down to our lowest gears and right before we were going to start up mega hill there was a hidden sign saying that the campground was down, to the right.


The mosquitoes have been pretty bad for at least the last week, even during the day.  The weather today, I thought, was unbearably hot, with actually not a lot of wind.



June 19, Sunday

Mileage – 69   

Started   7:40  Finished  6 PM

Average mph – 9.3

Max speed   25.2    - Pat;       - John

Biking Time - 7 hr  21 min

Elevation -

Weather - starting temp – 65, ending 85.  Sunny, some wind.


Well, Peaceful Valley Campground was anything but peaceful.  Since they were full, they put us in actually a nice campsite, right near the showers and not too far from the pavilion.  There was a sign posted that there was to be a potluck that night at the pavilion.  What I didn’t see posted was a sign that there was going to be Karoke going on that night.  As we laid in our tent and listened to the karoke, it was quite good; there were some very good singers.  We sort of figured they would stop at 10 PM, the normal time for quiet hour.  They went till almost midnight.  It was not a good thing.


We decided in the morning that we would go all the way through to get home today.  We got out onto  Hwy 169 and headed for Belle Plaine where we would find the MN Valley Trail.  When we got to Belle Plaine, we had to bike down into the river valley because the trail is right next to the river.  We followed the instructions on the map and found no trail or any signs for a trail.  We biked back up that horrible hill and found a neighbor who was quite sure that that was where the trail was.  We biked back down and John got out and walked down to the river (as opposed to biking down the last steep gravel road).  He found a kind of wet, mosquito infested trail with tall grass on it that has not been maintained or used for quite a while. We biked back up the big hill, got back onto 169 and started watching for Hwy 57 which was another Hwy showing that we could access the trail from that point.


Hwy 57 was not paved but we thought we would try it anyway.  We went back down to the river valley and did in fact see signs and found a trail.  We met another person who was new to this trail and he said that he did see the campground about 2 tenths of a mile down the road.  We thought we would get on the trail, bike the 2 tenths to the campground and if it was too bad, get off.  We biked a mile and a half and never saw the campground.  Apparently it was only accessible from the road.  Meanwhile the trail was unbelievable.  We were on a regular mountain bike trail that no mountain bikers ever used (just some horses).  We were going through tall grass and none of it was beat down at all. There were hordes of mosquitoes and deer flies.  We had to go around 2 trees that had fallen over the trail.  We were searching for a glimpse of the road. But never found it.  What we did find was a swamp; it looked pretty deep.  We turned around and went back.


We had lunch at the very nice picnic area when we got off the trail, then got back onto our favorite Hwy 169 (very nice shoulder) and started looking for Hwy 41 to take us into Chaska to find the start of the Light Rail Trail to take us into Hopkins.  We found Hwy 41 – under construction.  It was not a long area of construction, just a little dicey with very little room for us and the cars.


We did find the LRT to Hopkins, but it was also marked very poorly.  If we had not had a map showing us exactly where to go we never would have found it.  It was a wonderful trail.  And there was construction on the trail!!  They did have a detour that was marked and easy to find.  All was well.  We got to Hopkins, hopped on part of the other trail to take us about half a mile to Hopkins Cross Road to get us home.  When we got to Hwy 7 there was a big sign that said ROAD CLOSED (referring of course to Hopkins Cross Road).  There was a detour which we elected not to take because we were too tired to go out of our way.  We thought we could get through the neighborhoods somehow.  When we got to where the actual construction was, there was no road.  It was completely torn up.  We biked into the nearby neighborhood and there was a guy washing his car.  We asked if there was a way through and he said he was just out there this morning on his bike and that we should in fact be able to get through the construction area itself.  There was a kind of path.  And yes there was.  At last we made it home.  It took some doing, but we made it.  THE END.