Tomorrow marks a milestone for me. I’ve been setting little goals for myself, both in terms of arrival dates as well as daily mileage: getting to Portland, Brunswick, Orford, the Adirondacks, Niagara, and tomorrow, Stillwater, MN, hometown of one of my biking inspirations, Ben Lake! Geographically, it means I’m almost far enough North to make the 90 degree turn and seriously start heading West again! When I decided to ride the ACAs Northern Tier, I didn’t really research options that detoured from the route, even though there are numerous alternates. Now I know that there is a connector route that goes through Canada rather than south of Chicago. It ends up being fewer miles and the weather is probably a bit cooler up north, so it might have been a good option… but oh well! 🙂 Finally after Stillwater, I’ll head north west again in earnest!
The day after tomorrow I also have a rest day planned in Minneapolis with my Bowdoin friend Rose. I didn’t do my mile calculations quite well enough, and I’d left myself with a somewhat awkward 100ish miles from Winona to Stillwater, too much (for me at the moment) for one day, but too little for two days. I decided to head for Bay City in Wisconsin after Tracy’s recommendation, but find myself ensconced rather nicely in Stockholm, 12ish miles short of Bay City, instead.
So what am I doing in Wisconsin, and didn’t I just get to Minnesota!? After a few recommendations, I decided to cross the bridge out of Winona into Wisconsin so as to ride the scenic 35 North. It has been an awesome decision!
After an amazing breakfast with my Warm Showers hosts, I pumped up my severely deflated tires and headed over the Mississippi to Alma, WI. Being off the ACA map made me a tad nervous as I didn’t have the safety net of the designated mile markers, rest stops, and resources, but when my bladder started relating to me how thoroughly I’d enjoyed my morning coffee, I pedaled into Alma and stopped at the Chamber of Commerce.
Inside I met Bobby. We got to talking about birding in Alma, the history of the town, and the rejuvenation it has undergone in the last decade. It is a phenomenal town about 2 hours (by car) South East of Minneapolis, and I FULLY intend to return, with everyone who will join me in tow.
Don’t ask why I went inside with my helmet on. I honestly forget I’m wearing it! Even before this trip I’d do my grocery shopping wearing it. I think the proper word to describe me is a goober. 🙂
Bobby and his co-volunteer Larry pointed me in the direction of Fire & Ice, Coffee & Ice Cream Shop where I met Abby. She gave me a tour of the hotel that is upstairs from the Coffee Shop. My plan (secret, shh!) is to persuade Ruth, Mahesh, Vic, Vij, Julianna, Ivan, and Papa and Mama to all fly to St. Paul and then drive together to Alma, where we’ll absolutely take over the Hotel de Ville. From there, we’ll go to Winona and back to Effigy Mounds. Elkader? Cascade? No reason to not dream big! 🙂 I had so much fun talking about birds with Bobby that I really need to find time to go back one year in the fall when the migration is under way. Anyone else who is interested in joining, just let me know!
Route 35 was spectacular. I made great time riding, and I actually think I spent more time in the towns along the way than biking! I stopped for lunch in Pepin and for pie in Stockholm. The truth is, I’m so full of pie that I don’t think I could bike to Bay City even if I wanted to! I’ve been dreaming of my Mama’s blackberry pear pie recently. I told Vijay about it, and I even asked my sister to freeze copious amounts of Seattle blackberries so I can bake such a pie upon my arrival. I roll into Stockholm and the first person I meet is a man named Russ who owns a bookstore right on Highway 35.
He called me over and starts up a conversation about biking. Apparently every once in a while a touring cyclist will come through Stockholm. Russ is a cyclist himself, and he went into his shop and brought out this picture of him from the 1960s when he biked from Minnesota to California on a 9 speed! So cool! Can you see his button near his left shoulder? It is a Fun Meter for Stockholm. He had it set on Medium (he says in his old age he’s become more balanced), but I asked if he’d put it on Max Fun for the picture. He even gave me my own Stockholm, WI Fun Meter pin. Papa – get ready – another one for your pin hat!!! After we chatted for a bit, he told me about camping at the city park here. Why go on!? He also told me about The Stockholm Pie Company. The rest is history. (Belly ache!) 🙂
So concludes day 32! Tomorrow I’m off to the Lake’s in Stillwater, and then to see Rose the next night. I’m really glad that I decided to ride in Wisconsin today!