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The Second Letter From the Road

I am writing from the office of my hotel in Stillwater, Minnesota. I chose Stillwater as my mid-way break place because of its reputation as a "Book Town"...I know: a busman's holiday. I must admit that the number of book purveyors here is far less than I expected, but a couple are truly extraordinary. So that helps.

Stillwater is probably a couple of hundred miles short of being truly halfway, but I am also about a week ahead of advance projections, so that works. I'm sure I will loose that week in the mountains. So far my ol bod is holding up well. A little fatigue in the right knee, which is helped by Arnica AND by using a different position to squat in the bushes. Also by then pushing off with my hands on the ground rather than just standing up. Every little bit.... I am truly in love with my split saddle (Serfas brand), which insures an absolute minimum of crotch discomfort. However, the suede cover is already beginning to abrade in spots. Weather has really been nice so far. Got one serious drenching in western NY state, and three other short rain episodes in Michigan and Wisconsin; but that's all No extreme heat yet, and only three days of scream-at-it wind. That, too, will change.

To date I've come 1622 miles through 7 states (New England makes that number high). Daily average speed runs from a high of 11.8MPH to a low of 9.9, evening out thus far at 10.75. Load continues to hover around 40 pounds of gear. My average riding day is 5 3/4 hours, with a high of 7:46 and a half-day low of 3:21. I'm shooting for a 60-65 MPD average, but have done four days in the 70+ range and one of 84 miles. Hopefully I won't be so silly as to do THAT again. What a wipe-out. I've had no mechanical problems thus far, and no flats. At the moment the bike is being serviced here in Stillwater, on a preventive basis. Will probably do that once more in Pocatello.

In general, I'm not eating as well as I should; but oddly, the pickings in both Michigan and Wisconsin were rather slim. Wisconsin holds my personal record as the heartburn capital of the country. The state is truly lovely, but the diet stinks. I've never seen so many overweight (seriously overweight) people. I learned early on that I cannot sit at the counter in restaurants because the stools are set so far back that I fall off when I try to reach my plate. I've also figured out why I have been reluctant to camp much thus far: this is the land of woods and lakes, and I think that I am a bit reluctant to go off alone down a dirt road into the trees. The ribbon of highway is my friend and companion, and I guess I'm just not too comfortable leaving it behind. (Once further west, the tree issue will cease to be an issue, and I also will have less choice.) Both these factors are exacerbated by the fact that I am not on a regular cycling route, but am rather riding a path of my own devising. Being generally Indian country, Michigan and especially Wisconsin are liberally laced with casinos. I even saw a couple of computer slot machines in a gas station quick-stop, which I'm told means that the station is Indian-owned. Interesting.

From Stillwater (tomorrow) I will drop south around the Twin Cities and then head west across southern Minnesota to Sioux Falls, and west from there across southern South Dakota and into Wyoming. I'm still undecided about how I will handle Wyoming route-wise.

So that's about it so far. I have a contact in Mankato who may ride with me for a day (more??); otherwise...? Had two more homestays in Wisconsin, one of which was quite simply smashingly wonderful---in addition to the one in Michigan whence I last wrote. Mankato will probably be another. And I have a hopeful in Sioux Falls.

© 2000 BFZ

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