122 miles - Total: 1153 miles
I wake up and I shake the sleep off my face, I wobble to the bathroom to wash my face and my hands. Without realizing I walk to the bicycle and as I begin to find my bearings on the smelly carpet I look at the back tire. My worst fear comes to pass: the tire sits idly on the rim, it is completely flat. This is not promising. I eat a quick continental breakfast gulping down two bowls of cereals full to the brim with cold milk. I stretch and I check out of the motel. I am faced with the choice of hitching a ride to the closest bike repair shop, which is 15 miles North, or trying to put some air into it and see what happens. Choice one is not an option so I pump as much air as possible into the tube with my small travel size pump. The tube inflates to about 60%. Can I make the 15 mile journey on that pressure without wrecking the wheel? I can. I fly down the road trying not to sit too heavily on the saddle, which is not a good idea if you don't want to train your triceps. By the time I get to the shop my upper body is sore and I cannot feel my toes. However, I quickly shake it off and I have a new tube installed. Now the day can really start.
As I leave the bike shop in Baraboo the wind picks up and it is a headwind of course. Not as gusty as yesterday but lively enough to make things interesting once again. I follow highway 30 all the way to La Crosse. The traffic is a bit annoying for the first ten miles then it thins out. It is a long day but despite the wind I enjoy the ride. I notice that the scenery is beginning to modify. The surrounding flora suggests that I am going North, the vegetation takes on a more dramatic look and on the short slopes around the road I can see a thick and lush undergrowth. There's a greater array of trees and plants, I wish I knew something about it so I could mention some names of trees and plants that I see today. The new development of the local flora cannot be detached from the climate of course and I am noticing the dip in temperatures as I make my way North. It is more noticeable at dawn or late at night. This morning the temperature hits 64F at 8pm with a high of 78F at 2pm. So I seem to have left behind the humid and sticky summer days of Virginia and Ohio. I reckon that a couple of more days and I will have to buy a warmer jersey to take on North Dakota and Montana.
If it wasn't for the wind, I would say that today is the perfect day to ride. I pass through several villages and small towns where I stop to take pictures and load up on ice-creams. I quite enjoy the rural feeling that all these relaxed-looking places have. On the road I can clearly make out the tracks of horse carts and muddy tractors that have just passed. The air is pretty heavy with the familiar smell of horse manure but also with all sorts of magnificent scents coming from the fields and the many plants that perfectly color the setting I ride in. I pass through the charming Wildcat Mountain State Park which sits on a steep ridge overlooking the scenic Kickapoo River Valley. This place is great for canoeing, hiking and fishing. The road runs parallel to the river and snakes its way through the bluffs and the thick forest which covers them. It is an absolute pleasure to ride on this road which is consistently shaded by tall green trees which also do a pretty good job at keeping the wind at bay for a while. Today the scenery keeps the frustration away and I finally stop feeling sorry for myself having to ride into a headwind the whole day yesterday. I detach myself from the schedule and I savor the scenery. I come across several Amish farmsteads, one lady wants to sell me honey and jam which I would love to purchase but practicality wins so I soldier on without the goods. Wisconsin is the state with the fourth largest Amish population. All the farms and homesteads usually come with a barn and a horse and a grazing area. They all have small businesses and they heavily engage with the "English" for business opportunities.
I am keen to get to La Crosse which sits on the banks of a very important waterway. I know that I will achieve another milestone today. I cannot wait to see it. And so we meet again Mighty Mississippi. At this stage you are not as mighty as you are in Missouri and not as frightening and powerful as you appear in New Orleans. I am sure the mild weather puts you in a good mood but tonight you seem calm and at peace with yourself. The streaks of the dying sunlight that hits you from the West make you look even more peaceful. The breeze blowing from the North and the urban skyline of the city add a romantic touch that I have not seen before. I walk the bike for a few minutes and stare at the Blue Bridge which connects the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. I am staying on this side tonight. I ride for another ten miles before I spot a Comfort Inn next to the highway. My home for the night. I am keen to rest. La Crosse, while not as large as Madison, is a college town with a perfect street grid plan and a lovely riverfront. The city sits in the Driftless Area which is a region of the American Midwest with several deeply carved river valleys. The geology of this area is really interesting, I will not add anything here but it is worth looking it up.
I start the day with a flat tire and I finish the day with the same back tire almost totally deflated. While I ride around La Crosse I find a bike shop and my stubbornness gives way to a practical choice, I make the decision to get a new tire altogether. Hopefully, it should be solid now and won't bother me for a few days. I have enough to worry about, the mileage, the wind, temperature, traffic, my heavy legs and the unhealthy food that seems to be the only option available. I am high in spirit and I am eager to head North tomorrow. I will follow the river, there is a road that runs along it for most of the route. It could a tough day but I am hoping to be in Minneapolis this time tomorrow. Good night.
Waking up to a flat tire is not a very encouraging way for a cyclist to start the day
A new kind of vegetation grows around here
Same old same beautiful barns
The road entering the Wildcat Mountain State Park
Scenery from the morning ride
The laid back town of Wonewoc, Main st
First hairpin curve of the route
An Amish man in La Valle
A brown horse taking shelther from the sun
A bicycle overtaking a horse cart, this should be fun
From the road in the afternoon
My dirty legs. A combination paste of sunscreen, dust, dirt and mud gets carefully applied on my skin everyday
Wisconsin is the dairy state of the country
At the bottom of those bluffs river Mississippi is patiently waiting for me
A cute postcard from rural Wisconsin
Mississippi in La Crosse
Me, the bike and Mississippi. Who is missing?