DAY 29   JUNE 25   88.1 MILES

If, during the Second World War, the United States had retooled its factories for manufacturing bicycles instead of war materials, we'd be one of the healthiest, least oil dependent and most environmentally sound constituents in the Nazi empire today.          Ralph Nader

We are now in Minnesota.  This morning, we could not believe our eyes when our maps called for a 15 mile heading of due east.  Are we not bicycling to Seattle?  Regardless, extra miles may have been added to our total but we are now back on the Mississippi with all its inherent natural beauty.      

The remainder of the day was spent in virtual ecstasy traversing the undulating roads beside this very significant river.  Well, nearly all of our day.  On four occasions, and for no apparent reason other than to torture us, the road suddenly veered away from the river and up some extremely steep hills.  

These inclines generally lasted for more than a mile.  They must have been stolen from New Hampshire because, with grades of eight to eleven percent, they were totally out of character in the Midwest.  The ride down the backside was phenomenal, however.  I reached speeds of over 40 miles per hour and that part possibly was worth the long, difficult climbs.  

Rumble strips!  Once we reached the Mississippi, the roads were of excellent quality with a reasonably nice bike lane and very little traffic.  That earlier road was another story.  It was essentially a highway with only a very narrow eighteen inch strip available for bicycles.  It was separated from the road by a rumble strip nearly as wide.  This necessitated either focusing our complete attention on remaining within the narrow bike lane or risking disaster with a two inch drop off to loose gravel or hitting the dreaded rumble strip.   

At two inches deep, rumble strips represent only an inconvenient BRRRRP to vehicles but to bicycles, they are bone shaking and equipment destroying.  Once you encounter one, you vow never to hit another.  There was no alternative but to ride with the heavier traffic to the left of the strip.  Most of the vehicles were tolerant, however, and we were able to reach the next town without any further problems. 

So now we are in Minnesota and one more state closer to Seattle!  

Tip:  Ask your local bicycle shop about their group rides.  They are usually run on week nights and weekends and range from 10 to 25 plus miles, depending on your ability.