Day 29: Through Strong Winds, We Press On

Start/End: Rochester, MN/Lake Mills, IA
Mileage: 95.8+
Weather: Cloudy, windy, and afternoon clearing with a hot sun

We made it to another state line crossing, despite some of today’s weather related challenges. Last night after reviewing the weather, it seemed as if we left an hour early, we could in fact avoid some strong weather headed in our direction,but as we woke up, it became apparent that would not be the case. As the van was being loaded, lightning was spotted and so we post-phoned our departure time. So with that, we ate breakfast and then just hung out. Most of us returned back to sleeping on couches and chairs- really whatever we found comfortable until we rolled out an hour after we typically depart. Tough morning, but we did avoid some strong weather and did not even go through rain!

We are so thankful to the Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester, MN that has allowed us to use their space for the last 2 days. It was a great space for us to spread out and be comfortable. Additionally there were some pretty awesome showers, which are always appreciated, not only by the riders, but also the folks we visit on the rest day (yesterday at the Mayo Clinic).

As we prepared to roll out, we dedicated today’s ride to a rider’s Uncle Chuck, who as a child had fought a type of bone cancer. While we are happy to call him a survivor, he did in fact lose his leg while facing cancer, which was probably difficult growing up.

Heading out of Rochester was pretty uneventful despite the late departure. We did get a chance to ride on the Laura Ingalls Highway for a brief time, which, for me was pretty exciting as I grew up reading her books. But before long, we turned into the wind. For most of the morning we either had a headwind or a crosswinds, which are much better than a headwind, but still challenging. I am very proud of how well all of the groups faired in these winds which were steady around 20 mph. After our first snack break,the sky got very dark and cloudy and I thought we might encounter more weather, but it did not evolve into anything. Later in the afternoon, the winds did calm and the sun came out and it was just a whole lot brighter, and hotter. Luckily we were already halfway done with the ride, though. As we reached the end of our visit to Minnesota, one of the riders mentioned that for being the state with more than 10,000 lakes, we did not expect to see me all, but we had only seen about 4….. We did see a few more before crossing into Iowa, but that was a pretty interesting, valid statement.

We arrived a little later than usual at our stay over and were warmly welcomed by the pastor and his family who had generously prepared a delicious meal of sloppy joe sandwiches, cut up vegetables and fruit and had cold water and soda ready for us. This was not expected at all, but I know the team was very excited about a warm, delicious meal. Thank you so much!

Some riders, after arriving, decided that 95.8 miles was just too close to doing a century (100 miles), so before dinner while waiting on other groups to ride, went out and captured a few more miles. I guess it really does take a certain kind of “crazy” to do Illini 4000, but it is so exciting to watch members of the team who are so new to road cycling, get so excited and not shy away from doing more.

Well, with all of the excitement of today and the longness of it, I am happily going to go to sleep so that I, as well as the rest of the team, are well rested for another great day tomorrow!

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