Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 92, 8/8/2010 - La Crosse, WI to Lansing, IA

Just the Basics: Note: The computer is very slow this evening, so the signal must be weak. This may turn out to be a pretty minimalist post.

44 damp miles and 3 states before 3 p.m. ( we ended our ride around 4:30, but were in our 3rd state, Iowa, by 3). There was a big thunderstorm Saturday night after 3 a.m. and most of the morning was drizzly. That ended by afternoon, but then it was very humid and there was a lot of upping and downing so we stayed damp anyway.

Motel breakfast at 7:15 in La Crosse, WI; Breakfast-for-lunch at 11:30 in Brownsville, MN at about mile 18; Tomato juice and dill-flavored potato chips at a bar in New Albin, IA around Mile 31 and dinner in Lansing, Iowa, where we are spending the night.

We spent most of the day along the Mississippi River on Highways MN 16 and 26 and IA 26. We crossed the river from La Crosse, WI to La Crescent, MN at about Mile 5. We rode on quiet and not-so-quiet city streets and walked on sidewalk across the bridge and rode on highways with no shoulders to wide shoulders with varying amounts of traffic.

Tomorrow: Most likely we will go 27 miles to Marquette, IA- if we can find a place to stay there. If not, we would need to go 57 miles to Elkader, IA. We might find camping before that but this area is in for a week of thunderstorms and rain so that's not a real attractive option.

For Those Who Want More:

The Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge: We stopped at a scenic overlook along the river today and learned about this wonderful place. Here are a few highlights.

  • Started in 1927!
  • Runs for 261 river-miles from Wabasha, MN to near Rock Island, IL
  • Hosts 306 species of birds, including 250+ eagles' nests and 5,000 heron and egret nests in 15 colonies
  • Contains 50% of the canvasback ducks in the world and 20% of U.S. tundra swans
  • Is home to 51 species of mammals, 42 of freshwater mussels and 119 of fish.

Over the years, the natural ecology has been degraded by dams and other interventions, which have been particularly destructive of islands and aquatic plants, thereby seriously degrading wildlife habitat - there is now a huge effort to re-build islands and re-create these vital places of refuge and renewal for migrating birds and resident fish and other species.

Folks We Met Along the Way:
Mike is a WI resident whose parents live in this part of IA. He tries to do some rides in this area when he visits his folks and we met him today when he was outbound on a ride. He was pretty interested in our adventure, and after he had cycled away Riley realized that we could have given him our bike maps of Minnesota - which we no longer need. We caught him on his return ride and did just that. = ) = ) (And of course we gave him one of our "business cards" with the URL for our bikin' blog.)

John: Not far from Lansing, John saw us biking along Highway 26 as he was walking down a side road and called out to ask what we were doing. We had a nice visit and then rode off just as a woman (likely his wife?) arrived and he told her we'd ridden from Oregon. She exclaimed "Oregon Oregon?!" and Becky called out "Yes. Oregon Oregon" to which she replied with a hearty "Godspeed!"

The Guy in the Red Car: As we got into Lansing a man driving a red car and waiting to enter the street from a parking lot called out to Becky who had turned into the lot to ride around behind him as she wasn't clear that he saw her after Riley had passed him. We had our usual conversation about our trip. Turns out he rides in Ragbrai, Iowa's very famous huge, week-long "party ride," and he heartily gave us his good wishes.


  1. Hey guys, this is Mike who you met just north of Iowa. I'm so inspired by your trip! I've dreamed for a while of doing a long bike trip, and even contemplated the possibility of doing a cross-country trip like yours. It's going to be a while before I'm in a stage of life where I could pull it off (my wife and I have 4 kids - the youngest being 6), but you give me hope that there is still plenty of time for me to accomplish it. God speed to you both! I'll be eagerly following along as you go.

  2. An Email from Cousin Steve: I was looking at the map of your progress again, and thinking what an amazing feat it was that you all were accomplishing. I was going to send you a joke email about whether or not you were going to accept the invitation to the White House after your trip was finished, when it hit me, what an incredibly small percentage of the population will ever bike across the country from coast to coast. a hundredth of one percent? Probably more people in the "mile high" club (!!!) than in the "bike across America" club.

    Now, don't go getting a big head or anything. Continue doing the other thing you are doing to be proud of: keep on talking to and making friends with as many people as you can along the way. It'll keep you humble and provide you with a surplus of good will Karma for the times you need it.

    Continued success, Steve