Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 29 - Sioux Falls to Worthington MN

Day – 29 – Sioux Falls SD to Worthington Minnesota

Euphoria Meter (1-10): 8.5
The really fun part of today was getting rolling again after a nice day off which followed a pretty easy day.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 70 miles
Riding Time: 4:17 hours
Max Speed: 29.1 mph
Average Speed: 16.3 mph
Total Miles traveled: 2,058
Miles to go: 1,571

Weather: 10
The weather is getting embarrassing to write about. No clouds, no hint of rain. I cannot remember any portion of my life that has ever gone this long with out getting wet by rain. No one I know has ever had 29 bike rides in a row over any length of time, even those who wait for fair weather, without getting wet. I have a feeling that when we get wet it will be a doozy.
We have left the West behind and there is now humidity in the air. My nose and throat are not dry or bleeding. It is the perfect weather for me to bicycle in and I love it.

Incidents and Rider Report:
The biggest deal of the day happened to BIG MIKE. He cracked his custom Titanium frame!! This caused Col Mike Munk to ground Big Mike Heitz from today’s ride. It’s killing big Mike. He is considering this ride to be his training ride for the “real” ride he has planned for later this year. Yes, big Mike is planning to go riding in September on a much bigger ride than cycling across America. He has signed up for a four month trip from Paris to Dakar…4,500 miles on some paved and some dirt roads camping every night. His wife Janet who is doing this ride has opted out of this one.
I suggested to big Mike that he consider using Bob Duncan, my frame designer/builder from Lebanon Ohio to get a new frame for his big trip. The Governator, Ernst had a series of suggestions. Ernst it turns out came from Switzerland as a skilled machinist. He spent most of his working years with the U.S. Government designing and machining titanium and other metallic components of missiles and rockets. Ernst said the problem was that big Mike’s welds were not x-rayed. Ernst claims that the titanium will not crack. The crack starts as a micro crack embedded in the weld and grows from there. Bob Duncan, do you x-ray your welds? You might want to consider it! Especially if you make a bike for big Mike!!

How I Feel (1-10): 10
All systems were a go today. Rich put me to bed early, I woke up early, talked the night clerk into setting breakfast up early for me (5 am v. the scheduled 6 am chow piranhas time). It was nice having breakfast all by myself, leisurely for once. I

Stuff that happened:
The early breakfast didn’t get me launched any sooner. Jeff and Jim hold the group off for loading unitl the appointed time of 6:45 am despite the line of 75 people and all of their bags that circles the Super 8 in Sioux Falls. I start out sort of with Rich who is looking for Sarah. I suppose we were in the first half of the group today. The ride starts by following the wonderful bike path the city has along the river that literally circles the downtown area. We are on the bike path for almost 10 miles and it is very wide with pretty parks and scenes all along the way. This is a nice social time in the ride when we get to chat with one another. There are many gawking joggers and early morning bikers, ladies doing power walks with weights and dog walkers. All of them are a little more than surprised to see such a large group of pretty quick riders zooming along their bike path this Monday morning.
The scenery was very large and prosperous looking farms. The fields were soy beans and dense corn. The big excitement was finding our road closed and an innocuous detour sign. At this point in time, about 50 miles into our 72 mile ride, Gerard and I were leading the pack. When we came upon the detour sign we looked at the closed road (our scheduled road), shrugged our shoulders and said, “Let’s give it a try.” The first mile and a half wasn’t so bad, rough, chewed up by the asphalt eating machines, bumpy, gravel here and there, but definitely doable and no traffic! It didn’t last.
Things went from bad to worse. We came upon a large machine that was beating up the exposed cement that was under the old ashphalt. The road got a lot bumpier. Now the cement was in large chunks about 1 foot by 1 foot. About a quarter mile later we come upon a scooper bucket on the end of a very large rotating crane that was pulling up the broken highway and putting it into awaiting haulers on the back of big diesel tractor trucks. They waived as we went by. The bucket swings big just as Gerard is going around it and I think they are trying to smack him with it. I get off my bike and walk farther around.
Now we are trying to travel through 1 foot high troughs of dirt and rocks that the giant earth movers have been driving trough. It is not too bad if you can follow a tire track. But it doesn’t last. Soon we come upon a huge tractor pulling a tilling device the width of the chewed up road. I wonder if the Sierra club or someone required the State of Minnesota to turn this road back into prairie or corn fields. It is now hard to imagine that this was ever once a road or will ever be again. Gerard and I are struggling to walk. The dirt is so dry and chewed up that with every step our feet sink in so deep that the dirt completely covers our ankles. My nice new Rocket7’s are filled with dirt and rocks. I pick up Miriah and put her over my shoulder. The noise from the fleet of earth movers is deafening. They are grading the tilled earth and doing all sorts of things that scare me. We trudge on and on. Eventually we come to a cross road and the 5 mile long project is behind us. Ahead of us is more chewed up road. It is now quiet enough that we can hear each other.
Gerard looks over at me and in his best English in his cute Dutch accent says, “I don’t think that was a good idea, do you?” … Stating the obvious. We now are on our own. We zig and zag across the country side and eventually work our way back to the highway that leads back to Worthington. It is magnificently smooth. Riding seems easy, maybe we have a tail wind or maybe it is just fun to ride on something besides soft dirt and rocks again.
We make good time for the rest of the road into our destination, the Worthington MN Travelodge. Gerard and I have arrived before the “box” which is hard to do. As we pull in a woman is standing out front with a large camera aimed at us as we roll in. She turns out to be a reporter from the Worthington Globe and she wants to interview us, the first riders in. She asks every question imaginable, writing furiously. We are with her for over an hour. She wants to know about us, our motivations, our equipment, where we’ve been, where we are going. I hope I can get a copy of the article to link to the blog. How exciting!! (we excite easily these days).

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