Friday, July 13, 2012

De Smet, Tyler & New Ulm

Made it to Minnesota, and another state !   I believe we have left the West behind us and are now entering the Eastern US.  And we crossed our half-way point on the Big Ride, crossing the 1650 mile mark.

De Smet

On the road to Des Smet we crossed that half-way point.  We were about 20 miles or so, from the South Dakota Minnesota state line, and realized we had cross a big piece of country !   All the way from Seattle, across all of Washington State, through the Idaho panhandle, then through the Missoula Valley and across most of Montana, into Wyoming and now across all of South Dakota.   Not bad for an old guy on a bicycle !

Half-Way ... still 1650 miles to go !

Looks like a bicycle explosion !

Awesome quote from Laura Wilder
We traveled to De Smet which claims fame as a place where Laura Ingles Wilder lived.  Apparently it wasn't quite like "Little House on the Prairie" the TV series.   The family lived outside of town and a couple of the houses were brought to town and placed in a corner with a gift shop that Rob and I went to.  We stayed in a neat little park, pitching our tents and walking down to Ward's Restaurant and Store for a lasagna dinner and a great breakfast with ham, bacon, sausage and eggs and biscuits and gravy !   Great stuff to ride off across the country on.


US Highway 14 is the Laura Wilder Highway

Great little city park to camp in
We ran across a father and son team who were bicycling from Boston to San Francisco on their own, carrying all of their stuff with them.  Pretty impressive stuff !  I think this is hard enough with my junk being hauled in a truck.


Up again, with an early start and a journey to a new state.  I went to Minnesota once, for a business trip, flying in during the middle of winter, seeing a lot of plowed snow, and not seeing anything other than some office and the airport.   This is much better.

Our ride started with a prediction of some rain and we did get a little bit of sprinkles during the morning which felt great !

We are starting to see corn,  Lots of corn.   And then more corn.  Every so often you can pass by a field that has lots of experimental varieties planted, like this one:

GM crops




Wind Farm
In Tyler, we stayed at the local high school.  A couple of beers at the Timber Pub, then lasagna and some great lemonade for supper.   Most of us spread out in the cafeteria.   It's actually pretty cool, everyone finds a hunk of floor, spreads out their sleeping bag and pad, gets cleaned up, and by 8 pm we had the lights off and people were going to sleep.   A bit before 5 am, one can hear the sounds of a few alarms kicking off and then the whole party is getting up and getting themselves ready for the day ahead.

New Ulm

This morning we ate at the Log Cabin in Tyler.    One of our riders, Ben, is conducting a study on Exercise Induced Asthma on recreational athletes ( that would be us ! )   So, each morning of the ride and each evening, we get our volume capacity measured, and it gets logged for Ben to help him with his Medical School project.   It's pretty cool, some of us just puff really hard, and others sound like an elephant trumpeting !

Reesh getting ready to puff 
 This morning we had a nice treat.   A local fellow, Alfred and his wife Laverne  brought us a bunch of pastry and orange juice and met us a our first Checkpoint.   He had heard about the Big Ride and wanted to do something for us and it was pretty nice.   He brought a couple of stalks of corn and was talking to several people about the pollination and how the seed germinates.   Really interesting and one of those things that I wish we had more time to hang around and study more.   There is so much to learn.  We are seeing a lot more on this trip than I ever would see in a car, but we still miss stuff.

Charleton, Alfred and Lynne at Checkpoint in Tracy, MN
That first checkpoint was at a museum in Tracey, and they had this train.   Someone spied it, and a bunch of us piled in for a mandatory photo op.   I am in the back someplace.
You should have seen us running for this little train ... would have been hilarious !

So corn either goes to feed animals, or gets turned into Ethanol, and here is one of the places that does it.   This plant is big.  Really big.  With a railroad line next to it.
Ethanol plant - big tanks

Ethanol plant
Highway 14 was getting busy with lots of trucks, most of whom were cool, but some were not.   Sarah and I were riding pretty fast this morning and at this point were were riding along between the rumble strip and the "edge of the earth" where the dirt starts.... it's about 10 to 12 inches wide and requires a lot of concentration to keep the bike going straight and true.   And I believe I am getting a lot better at it.

Narrow strip to ride a bike on
Today, Sarah, Rob and I finished at 11:58 with our 86 something mile ride, and once in New Ulm, we headed off to a German restaurant for some brats.  We are staying at Martin Luther College, a Lutheran school here in New Ulm.   Tomorrow is a day off, and I think a brewery tour is in order.   Right now, it's time for me to get my laundry out of the dryer.   After 6 days on the road everyone was running out of clean stuff to wear.   Showers, toilets and washing machines are awesome things to have !

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