Day 33: Clam Lake, WI to Eagle River, WI

It was another hot day with an upper midwest heat wave in full force, and there were many ominous clouds in the sky threatening to storm but also to relieve the heat. We got through the day without a drop of rain, though, and the first half of the day was pretty challenging. We were passed by a group of teenage boys touring from Minneapolis to Mackinaw Island – they were practically naked, in stark contrast to our full-body coverage from the sun, and they were carrying very little in their panniers.

northern Wisconsin ridingAfter lunch, we were riding on typical north woods roads of Wisconsin. There was almost no traffic, the roads were in good shape, and we were surrounded by (mostly) old growth forests and lakes. The route was quite hilly, and the grades of these frequent, small hills were incredibly steep. That also meant we got to ride down some fun little hills as well. The ride was gorgeous. We were sad that we didn’t have time to fully enjoy it, as we were determined to reach today’s ambitious destination.

northern Wisconsin riding

We weren’t sure if we would make it to Eagle River in time to spend the full long weekend with our friends, but we did it! It’s taken us seven days of an average of 106 miles/day, and our bodies are pretty beaten up by the intensity of the riding, but we made it to our mini vacation from cycling. To celebrate our birthdays and spend time with us, some of our dearest friends rented a cabin in Eagle River where we could all spend the weekend relaxing. We’ve gotten a chance to see our friends, catch up on some work, recuperate from the riding, get our bikes tuned up at a local bike shop (4 Ever Young) and catch up on this blog.

Stats:
today’s distance: 124 miles
time in the saddle: 10 hours, 30 min
total distance: 2,526 miles

Day 32: Cumberland, WI to Clam Lake, WI

We woke up after too little sleep in the extremely comfortable bed at Mike and Paula’s, and we wandered upstairs to find breakfast ready in the kitchen. They had prepared oatmeal, berries, hard boiled eggs, toast, and endless cups of coffee for us to enjoy together on their screened-in porch, where we enjoyed chatting and discussing the impending ride. This was well worth the time spent, despite the effect it had on our start-time on such a hot day. We hoped to make to another Warm Showers host about 120 miles further northeast in Butternut, though that ended up being too ambitious of a goal.

northern WI lakes!

northern WI lakes!

Our ride took us through many small but steep hills around dozens of lakes that all looked clean and healthy, with no algae blooms. The heat wave was continuing, so we stopped at every gas station to get more water — both for our water bottles and to drench ourselves, which provides a nice cooling effect when we ride. We were lucky to have a nice tail-wind for most of the ride, but we still couldn’t quite make it to Butternut. We had been rushing the past week or so with ridiculously long rides, and the miles were taking a toll: without going into too much detail, we can just say that saddle sores are common with this much riding. Rachel’s knees have been holding up relatively well, but she’s getting some ulnar nerve compression that has resulted in a loss of feeling in her pinky and ring fingers. We stopped in Clam Lake to assess whether we could push onward, and we were easily persuaded off our bikes for an all-you-can-eat taco bar at the local tavern. It was good to enjoy a Wisconsin beer, too!

Stats:
today’s ride: 102.9 miles
time in the saddle: 9 hours, 0 min
total distance: 2,399 miles

Day 31: Dalbo, MN to Cumberland, WI

enormous, inexpensive breakfast in Harris, MN

enormous, inexpensive breakfast in Harris, MN

We left the Bunkhouse after gorging ourselves on sugary cereals available there, and headed out into the wind that would mostly push us along. After about 30 miles, we made it to a cafe in Harris, MN that Don had recommended. We decided we were ready for Breakfast II, so we stopped. Nick got apple fritter french toast with hash browns and eggs, and Rachel got eggs, hash browns and toast, and the entire meal was about $10 total. It was amazing, and it really helped power us along for our long day of riding.

Hooray! A few days in our home state!

Hooray! A few days in our home state!

The upper midwest was experiencing some very hot weather, so we stopped frequently to get water and to soak our clothes in the bathroom sinks of gas station bathrooms — this really helps with the heat. We were very excited to cross into our home-state, and we stopped in the cute vacation town of Osceola, WI to have an ice cream cone and sit in the air conditioning. We vacillated between feeling strong and happy to ride, and then feeling weak, tired and hot. We were excited to go to a Warm Showers (free lodging for cycle tourers) location, and we were feeling the pressure to make it to Eagle River by the weekend, so we managed to push on for the longest ride we’d ever done. Northwestern Wisconsin proved to be a bit hilly, with many beautiful lakes with cranes and loons in them. When we rode through Amery, we were excited to find a health food store, where we stocked up on a few cooking supplies that are hard to find at typical grocery stores.

northwestern Wisconsin farmland

northwestern Wisconsin farmland

Mike and Paula, our amazing Warm Showers hosts

Mike and Paula, our amazing Warm Showers hosts

As we rode into Cumberland, it was starting to get dark. We felt badly about keeping our Warm Showers hosts up so late, but we were going as hard as we could. It was a shame that we arrived too late to see much of Cumberland, which seemed like a cool town. When we arrived, we met Mike and Paula, two retired teachers that are avid cyclists and *amazing* hosts. They helped us get our bikes into their garage and welcomed us warmly into their beautiful, comfortable home. Then they shows us the dinner they had prepared for us: delicious grilled asparagus, brussels sprouts, potatoes, peppers, and carrots, along with rolls, pasta salad, fresh berries, and brownies. They also gave us a delicious Wisconsin beer that we hadn’t tried before, a Valkyrie Australian Pale Ale. We enjoyed getting to know them and learn about their cycling adventures, and after dinner, they showed us to our own bedroom and bathroom for the night. The bed was the most comfortable place we’d slept over the course of the trip, which was a real treat. We only wish we could have spent more time there!

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 121 miles
time in the saddle: 10 hours, 15 min
total distance: 2,296 miles