Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Le Tour de Pepin (and Then Some)

Finally, yesterday was the day to ride around Lake Pepin. I didn't have to work and it looked to be a nice warm, but very windy day (and it certainly was). With the winds projected to be from the SW, I decided to start in Red Wing and ride down the MN side and up the WI side having cross winds for pretty much the whole ride since the river runs NW to SE. There is only one town to stop in on the MN side (Lake City) until crossing at Wabasha so I decided I'd rather enjoy the little towns on the WI side later in the morning/early afternoon.

About 10 feet into my ride, I found a dime. I don't usually stop for pennies, but I do stop for anything "silver". I thought .... hmmm. Maybe this is going to be a good day. I needed one. I headed south out of Red Wing on highway 61, destination Wabasha where I'd cross the river into Wisconsin.

There was quite a bit of traffic heading south out of Red Wing. And no view of the lake. My second least favorite stretch on the MN side. I pulled over into a nice rest area north of Lake City. It had a great view of the lake (which is actually just a widening of the Mississippi River for those not familiar with it).

Next stop, Lake City the birthplace of water skiing and a very nice marina.

Right across from the marina, and next to Nosh (the restaurant), is a great little bakery called Rabbit Bakery. But it was closed on Monday. :-( Bummer. Oh well ... a few calories and a few bucks saved.

These are the typical views on the MN side on highway 61. Not much for hills on this side ... a few rollers south of Lake City but nothing too bad.

I crossed the river at Wabasha.

And up ahead ... Wisconsin and the town of Nelson.

I stopped at the Nelson Cheese factory for something cold to drink. They don't sell G2 or Gatorade or anything like that so I settled for a sparkling French Berry Lemonade which hit the spot and gave me 100 calories.

In this photo, you can see how the wind was blowing yesterday. After a while I got VERY tired of it.

This was my least favorite stretch on the WI side ... from Nelson to Pepin. The road isn't good and the scenery isn't much better. Nothing to look at on either side of the road.

A nice shoulder though, except on the bridges. Next little hamlet on my route ... Pepin. A cute little town and home of the famous Harbor View Cafe. I have still never been there. Have to put that one on my bucket list.

North of Pepin, the scenery is really nice. Great views of the lake and many Scenic Overlooks.

Next stop? Stockholm. My favorite town on the trip. So many cute little shops. I debated stopping at Stockholm Pie Co. for a piece o'pie but resisted the urge and kept going.

It starts getting more hilly north of Stockholm. Here's a nice view of Maiden Rock.

Not much of interest in the town of Maiden Rock though. I stopped at this little Wayside between Maiden Rock and Bay City to fill my water bottles. After drinking 90 degree (ambient temp) water, even some well water that was slightly cool tasted good.

Little did I know what awaited when I pulled out of the Wayside. THE HILL. Bruce Petz had warned me about THE HILL but didn't say where it was other than the WI side. I hadn't encountered anything worse that what I normally ride around here, but there it was ... it's a doozy. Deceptive. Long. But it was a nice long coast down the other side ... 2 miles I'm guessing. And then just a short jaunt into Bay City where I KNEW I'd stop since I'd passed up pie in Stockholm. There it was ... Flat Penny Ice Cream. Never been there before, but I was hungry (63 miles on a bagel and 2 90 calorie granola bars) and it was hot (90'ish) and it sounded heavenly.

The ice cream (all soft serve) was delicious. I had a small turtle sundae.

It must have looked good to the guy who walked in behind me as he said, "I'll have the same thing she's having." :-) The nicest thing happened ... I was standing outside looking at the menu and the owner (in the orange shirt) came out and said to come inside and cool off and he'd fill my water bottles for me. He even filled them with ice. Heaven on earth. Man that ice water hit the spot. Two guys sitting at a table asked what I thought of THE HILL. I told them. :-)

Then it was about 7 miles back to Red Wing. After crossing the bridge over the river, the 3 miles back into town were by far the least favorite on my trip. Lots of traffic and at times, no shoulder. I mean NO SHOULDER. The fog line was on the edge of the road.

I headed back to Rochester and decided I would really like to having another century ride under my belt. I had 72.01 miles at this point. So when I got home, I headed out for a 14 mile out-and-back ride. Oh my. I headed west and south (Salem Corners, Rock Dell, turning around at highway 30). The wind was absolutely terrible and my mood at this point was worse. The turnaround couldn't come fast enough. The ride ended up being 100.49 miles. :-) And my legs felt great, I must say. The most energy I've had on a century ride yet.

Some thank yous ... to the two semi drivers who each gave a nice little "toot toot" as they passed. The five guys on motor cycles (single, single, 3 together) who gave nice big full arm waves. The guy at Flat Penny who filled my bottles with ice and water. The nice guys in Flat Penny who chatted for a few minutes. The gal in Rock Dell who also filled my bottle with ice and water (forgot to fill them when I got home and I needed water bad ... all I asked for was her outside faucet/hose and she gave me ice water instead. I told her she was an angel.) You all had a part in my very pleasant day, and I thank you.

A good day. A very good day indeed.

p.s. Today's workout ... recovery. 4 mile run, lift, one hour swim.


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