2015-06-27 - MN - Day 31 - Wabasha to Minneapolis
We left early, around 6:50 AM, for a long day. We got to rest stop 1 at Lake City relatively quickly by staying on the highway to make the ride shorter. Lake City had an art fair for that weekend, at which a variety of artisans dis[played their wares. After a break with a cheese danish and an Arizona Iced tea, Libby, Nils, and I took off.
Nils and I biked together to the next rest stop at Red Wing. A mere two blocks away from our stop, we were cycling on a fairly fast highway with narrow shoulders and crappy pavement, again to cut the riding distance of the day. Nils was cycling close behind me when suddenly I saw a raised manhole cover ahead. I yelled, "Watch out!", as I turned to avoid it. The next thing I heard was a metallic squeal and I turned around to see Nils mid-fall, his bike at a grotesque diagonal. He had slammed on his front brakes before hitting the obstacle, a strategy that launched him forward over the handlebars. He landed on his wrist and chipped a screw off his bicycle. Nick, our resident doctor later said he was incredibly lucky not to have landed another way and, say, chipped his wrist bone like I did a couple months ago. We still had fifty-five or sixty miles to go but he felt good enough to ride after taking some painkillers and washing out his wounds. At Red Wing, we visited the town's namesake boot factory which had on display the largest boot in the world, fit for a man twelve stories tall. In the factory's small museum, there was also an article about two men who ran across the US in Red Wing shoes. We left Red Wing together, Nils, Alex and me. Alex missed a turn no more than a block after leaving. Oh that guy...
We cycled across a bridge over the Mississippi River and into Wisconsin. Most people missed the state sign but I got a photo of it. After a few hills slowed Alex down, Nils and I rode together to our third rest stop in Prescott. We had lunch at a diner before I got to pose for a photo with the lovely Kate and Raechel. Kate works as a 1st grade teacher, and Raechel as a psychologist at a school. They had joined us for the week and today was their last riding day.
Alex, Nils, Bridget, and I left around 2:20 PM, heading towards Minneapolis. I had found a Warmshowers host who welcomed all four of us. We rode on the freeway a lot, beside cars moving at 65 mph. The on-ramps especially were a bit sketchy. I led almost all of the way but at one point, while Nils was in front, he saw a branch on the road in the shadows of a overpass and swerved to avoid it. Bridget, an excellent cyclist, avoided it while pointing it out to me. I didn't have time to warn Alex as I swerved myself to avoid it while turning around to make sure he was OK. Alex bunny hopped it successfully, but that could have been bad. We were all so happy to get off the high speed freeway and immediately found ourselves on a great bike path. I led the way back to the surface streets. We stopped at Burger King to use their restrooms and refill water before heading to the Cycle Hub. I had discovered earlier towards the end of the freeway riding that I had a flat in the back. My well-worn tires were not doing so well. I had to pump them full every five miles with Alex's pump to survive to the bike shop.
We reached the bike shop, or rather, the Bike Co-Op! Besides the flat, I discovered that the relatively new tire I had bought from Neil was rubbing against my front fork. I had both tires replaced and put a new tube in the rear wheel. The bike mechanic Jesse also straightened my rim tape and loosened my front hub. I also bought a pump and a Cliff Bar. The Co-Op staff were so amazing and knowledgeable and did not charge me for labor! I ended up spending about $150. They also ran a recycle/reuse center for tubes and tires, and a $5 rental DIY area which they let us use for free. Alex used this area to replace his saddle with a Brooks B-17 he ordered. I think out of all the bike shops I have been to, this one is my favorite. Their smaller sister location nearer to the University of Minneapolis is cool too. (http://www.thehubbikecoop.org/)
2.8 miles later, we arrived at Emily's house. She and James, her husband, were our hosts for the night. They had two children: Olin, aged two and a half, and Mavis who was only three weeks old. They were so kind to us, letting us shower and preparing dinner for us in the form of tortilla wraps with mango chutney. It was so so so good. :) After James showed us his electric long-board, Alex, Nils, and Bridget left for donuts and to sample beers at a German pub. Two of us shared the guest bed while the other two slept on the awesome couch upstairs. It was glorious. This was such a perfect place to stay as they had four family members with MS (two aunts, one uncle, and one cousin), one of whom had died from the disease. Also, James used to be a bike mechanic. In fact, he drove a pedicab during college to help pay for tuition. Emily was the only female driver who rented the pedicab from him. They started hosting on Warmshowers after using it to stay in places like Australia. They prepared breakfast for us too the next day. They were just such a fantastic family. This was my second time using Warmshowers and both times, I have been blown away.