Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 27- July 30 - An Irish (weather) day in Wisconsin

Day 27 - July 30 -   Decorah, IA to Platteville, WI - 92.3 miles (148.5 kms); total so far -  2190.5 miles  (3525.3 kms)

Distance:92.3 miles (  kms)
Total time:9hrs 35 mins (including lunch, a couple of lengthy sightseeing stops and trying to wait out the rain in Lancaster) 
Average Moving Speed: 12.4mph (20.0 kph)
Maximum Speed: 33.9mph (54.6kph) 
Calories burned: 4427
Elevation gained: 3740 ft (1140 meters)

Weather:  Cloudy and threatening to rain in  Decorah at 9am in the morning with temperatures about 60 degF (15C) with south south east winds at 5-10 mph (10-16kph). It stayed that way all during the day. Again mostly a headwind for me, especially as I headed south.  Temperatures never really warmed up and never reached 70F (20C). Rain started about 5pm in Lancaster and lasted till I finished for the day about 6:45pm and the day ended foggy, rainy and cooler. 

Powered by:  Breakfast - 2 bowls of Raisin Bran, banana, bagel, muffin, lots of orange juice; Lunch of a subway veggie sandwich,  1 banana, 1 protein bar,  Coke,  2 liter of water and a McFlurry

The day started off with low clouds that threatened rain and remained that way till about 5pm, when it finally rained.  It was a classic Irish summer's day - temperatures in the 60s (about 17C), an annoying wind from the southeast, fog in the valleys, and high humidity in the 90% range.  The road east of Decorah was bit better than state highway 9 west of the city since it was asphalt and the expansion cracks are not as large.  Still hundreds of jolts does not make for a pleasant ride especially going fast downhill where the threat of painful damage to the sensitive parts of my nether regions suggested that the best course of action was to stand on the pedals and raised off the saddle.  Thankfully when I crossed into Wisconsin, shoulders (margins) magically reappeared on the roads and the expansion cracks disappeared for the most part.  Does Wisconsin not suffer the freeze-thaw action of its neighbor across the river?  Most of the route today was through the "driftless area", a large region that was not glaciated but was surrounded by ice sheets.   This was proven conclusively by Jim Knox, a geographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, through longtime field research. (He died last year).  Regardless of the research, it's a hilly area and as the elevation profile show, my route today took on the same profile as the teeth of a saw or of a shark.  I climbed many gradients that were 6-7% and while I was thankful it was cool, I was still shedding water like a golden retriever emerging from a pond after fetching a stick.

A foggy morning in Northeast Iowa

In a time of high unemployment, here is a job opportunity. No women need apply, though.

I passed by the national monument of the Effigy Mounds and make a brief trip to some of the mounds close to the visitor's center.  One can hike up to 7 miles on the trails to some of the outlying mounds.  As the sign explained, the presence of the mounds were puzzling to early explorers but later archaeological research has demonstrated their genesis and the traditions of the mound-builder peoples.

Some of the Effigy Mounds

An explanation of the mystery of the mounds

Right on the bank of the Mississippi, riverfront property - a little rehabbing needed.

A nice shoulder too on the bridge

Maybe a little riverboat casino gambling?

My 9th state - and the roads improved measurably when I left Iowa

Despite its attractive name, Prairie du Chien ("Dog Plain"), was a disappointment apart from some well-preserved older homes. It suffers terrible commercial sprawl south of the city and as a tourist destination for the region, especially from the Chicago area, has too many establishment selling all kinds of tsotchkes.  The big hill a few miles from town that made me pay for the nice fast ride down to the Mississippi river.  

Thanks to Pere Marquette - what's the oldest?

One of the many Wisconsin dairy farms

What if you're not a goose?

I was on this road for a while - it follows the Mississippi all the way to Gulf of Mexico

Before the Big Box stores - Bloomington, WI

One of many of these hills that I climbed today

The last 30-40 miles was full of ups-and-downs and passed hundreds of dairy farms with happy looking cows.  I passed an elderly Amish couple in their horse-and-buggy and they reciprocated my cheery wave with modest , maybe reluctant, salutes.  The thought occurred to me that it would be fun to cross the US in an Amish buggy but one would probably need a relay of horses like the Pony Express. As I arrived in Lancaster, 15 miles short of my destination in Platteville, it finally began to rain and I headed for Mickey D's to wait it out.  After 45 minutes, nothing much was happening so I headed out into it.  Somewhat to my surprise, the fenders (mudguards) worked well in keeping off the splashing and the guaranteed waterproof panniers by Ortlieb lived up to their vaunted reputation.    It was a little tricky on the downhills but I was cautious in using the brakes and arrived at the hotel intact.

Tomorrow I head for Rockford Il and the wind promises to change direction to the northwest (favoring me) and it should be a lot less hilly.

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