We have been very lucky to experience a ride that has taken advantage of some of the most dramatic waterways in North America. We have ridden on the shores of Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan. We ferried across Lake Michigan on the S.S. Badger. Today, we followed the Mississippi River on the Great River Road. It is a scenic byway that follows the Mississippi from its headwaters in Minnesota until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans. It is 3000 miles long and touches on 10 states. (Details are available at Great River Road).
I had chastised myself a few times through this trip about being in too much of a hurry, worried about finishing the long distances. As we are reaching the last few days of our trip, I decided to slow down and enjoy the journey a little more. I passed a beautiful barn yesterday. It was on the top of a hill overlooking the rolling Wisconsin countryside. It was white, accented with sea-foam green on the metal roof, the window casings and on a large star that decorated the gable end of the barn. It was early in the day with 158 kilometers to ride and we were riding in a group. Not wanting to get dropped by the group, I passed up the chance to photograph the barn. I have been reprimanding myself ever since.
So today would be different. I joined up with a woman, Deb, who was like-minded and we allowed ourselves the luxury of stopping whenever we wanted. We had a chilled Starbucks coffee at the gas station. We swapped cycling stories with a man who rides in the RAGBRAI, which is a seven day bike ride across Iowa that is in its 43 year. It is the oldest, largest and longest running bike tour in the world. (Something to add to the bucket list?) We went antique shopping. We stopped at an overlook along Lake Pepin, which is actually the widest naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River. We photographed an 1875 town hall. We chuckled about Lake City on Lake Pepin being the birthplace of water skiing. We just enjoyed the scenery on the Mississippi.
I didn’t get off the road until 4:30, my longest day by far, but this was the kind of day that I love on a bike.
Details for today
Distance: 151 km. / 1250 km. total
Weather: 27 degrees, feels like 35
Route Map: Winona to Hastings, MN