Don's Blog: July 18: The Land of 10,000 Lakes
Catching Up on the past few days:
We entered our fifth state early in today’s ride, the fine state of Minnesota. Although it was heartening to exit South Dakota, our welcome into Minny was not exactly a freindly one. First, the difficult head and cross winds we faced in South Dakota followed us into the new state, and boy where they as tough as ever. The cross winds were so strong they were literally pushing us off of our position on the bike. Thus, a subtle adjustment was necessary in order to maintain a correct position. As the miles went by, it not only sapped my energy, it made my lower back quite sore. Simply maintaining a 13-mile-per-hour pace took a very hard effort. Thankfully the stage was “only” 72 miles, but still it translated into nearly six hours on the bike.
The other rather unpleasant surprise was the never-ending odor of fresh manure, which was apparently being used for the corn and soy bean plants, which went on for miles and miles. It seemed as if there was enough being grown to feed the world several times over!
The best laid plans…sometimes things just do not go the way you want them to go. On this day we began what was the first of two straight century days: 102 miles today and an even 100 tomorrow. The game plan for today was to get though this one with minimal damage and get a good recovery overnight for the second half of the triple-digit doubleheader.
The start was easy enough. The winds had lessened somewhat overnight, so we were not being bombarded as we had been on Monday. Ted, Steven, and I meandered along at the back of the pack. In fact, we were the last to arrive at the first sag stop at 32 miles. By the second sag at 65 miles we had caught a few riders but were still moving at a pedestrian pace. I did not feeling like eating much at the second stop, so I did not, a decision I would come to regret later on.
By 80 miles Ted had cranked up the pace and despite the slow early miles it looked like we would wrap it up and reach the hotel in Mankato by 2:00 p.m. With fewer than four miles remaining however, Ted had a flat tire. It proved very stubborn and difficult to fix, and thus added close to an extra hour, all out in the hot sun, by the time Ted was back on the road again. We stopped at the Subway outside of town, since we were all very hungry, and it was nearly 4:00 p.m. when we eventually reached our rooms at the hotel, making for somewhat short recovery. In addition, I had some work to do on the laptop. So it goes somedays, I suppose. Litle restfor the weary.
Mankato is famous as one of the locales in the Little House on the Prairie book and television series. Aside from that, the city did not seem to have too much to offer, but to be fair, I had very little time to investigate it. Dinner was at another buffet restaurant. The hotel was a nice Holiday Inn. My room overlooked the pool. Once again we passed by seemingly endless corn and soybean fields, liberally fertilized with manure. On to Rochester tomorrow, the biggest city we will have seen since we left Astoria.
A small tidbit of info about Minnesota: If you use the commonly used definition of a lake, which is more than 20 acres, the state actually has 11,842, more than advertised 10,000. It pales however, to the state of Alaska, which boasts an astounding 3.5 million lakes of that size!