Day 27: Venturing Into The Real West

Start/End: La Crosse, WI/Rochester, MN
Mileage: 83+
Weather: Windy and Hot

Today we got to “sleep in” after yesterday’s long day so that we could leave at our usual time of 7 AM. We are so thankful for the amazing hospitality that the First Presbyterian Church of La Crosse showed us during our short stay. We were very excited to have the pastor of the church join us at the beginning of the ride. He has competed in numerous Ironman competitions, so certainly knew his way around road cycling. He also knew his way around the town and the group riding with him actually got to see and learn more about La Crosse, which was pretty awesome.

Before we get too far into that, though, today’s ride was dedicated to a rider’s relative who passed away from breast cancer. She was an awesome lady who is very dearly missed.

Despite the fact that we were near the Mississippi River last night, we actually travelled north through Wisconsin before crossing over the river. Many groups, as usual,moot some fun state line crossing pictures. It is always great to cross a state line because you feel accomplished, like you are actually going somewhere. So that was fun. Additionally, many groups have made it a point to stop at local farm stands, getting honey, fresh fruit, or of course some ice cream. Today we passed quite a few, and I know that some of these great local items were bought- something you may not be able to do if traveling by interstate!

Looking at the altitude map of today’s ride proved to look scarier than it actually was, which is a great realization as we go into the west and face longer climbs. But we had 2 very good climbs with about 6% grade. It doesn’t sound like much, but a grade like that over a long distance can be challenging. I am glad to report, thought,Mehta the group admirably attacked the hills working our way up onto the plateau which are the high plains.

The group I was in got to see quite an amazing sight with a beautiful bald eagle flying with it’s baby quite close to roadway, though high. It was a beautiful, especially after crossing the Mississippi River. It just seemed so American. The baby eagle seemed to being doing pretty well with flying, probably a lot better than some of us when we were first riding our bikes…. I heard another group got to see a baby deer and a doe as well. Such great timing on seeing these young animals!

The group was pretty excited to arrive in Rochester, MN today because we get another rest day tomorrow. After all of the hills I have been telling you about, I know my muscles could use a little bit of a break. A lot of the group had the opportunity tonight to visit a street festival, where there was food, live music and some craft sales. It seemed like fun, but was slowing down when many of us arrived after dinner and a team meeting, but should you find yourself in Rochester, may want to check it out! Getting some much needed rest now…tomorrow we get to sleep in until 7:45! Woohoo!

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