Saturday, April 07, 2007

Time Flies

Wow, time REALLY flies by sometimes. It's been over a week... Okay, your are right... Two. The week after my last post I managed to commute to work and back 3 days. Then I had a couple of rest days before leaving on my adventure to Rice Lake, WI. I had some work to do in Rice Lake for this past-week. I made arrangements with one of the consultants in the office to bring a bag over for me so I could ride my bike over.

I left here just after noon on Sunday. The rain from all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday had finally let up. Still cloudy and about 48, I set out on my adventure. Packed with my panniers and a variety of clothing including a full change of clean clothes just in case (by some miracle) I arrived in Rice Lake before Jim showed up with my bag.

There were several stops along the way with adjustments made to clothing. Drop a layer here, add one there. All in an effort to be as comfortable as I could for the long day ahead of me. I took my normal route out through White Bear Lake and up to Marine on Saint Croix. North on 95, cross the Saint Croix into Wisconsin in Osceola.

From the moment I left the house, I wasn't feeling sorted. Not sure what was on my mind, but I really wasn't in the mood to ride:
  1. It wasn't nice outside. Grey clouds, damp, and like 45 degrees.
  2. I wasn't sure how long the ride was going to be
  3. Wasn't positive of the route
  4. No good base of food in my tank
  5. Not sure what my week was going to be like at customer site
  6. Not sure if I had enough clothing with for the ride.

From Osceola on was all new territory for me. I had a general idea of the route that I wanted to go until at some point as I traveled east, I was going to go north and pick up on some specific directions that I had printed for myself. By the time I hit what was going to be a key turn, it had started to rain. I headed south into the wind looking for the turn because that is what it looked like on the map.

That was just the beginning of missed turns. I backtracked here and there. Missed unmarked intersections and at one point was going completely the wrong way because someone appeared to have turned the signpost.

There seemed to be a number of unmarked intersections. In the rain, it was difficult to determine my progress on the map. At one point, I rolled down a hill and around a corner only to be chased by a couple of loose farm dogs. If it weren't for the descent, I'm not too sure that I would have been able to outrun the dogs. Since the road turned to the south I expected to turn back to the east. Instead I came to a T intersection. Out comes the map.

From that point, I was fortunate, another back-track, but there was at least a route where I did not have to go past the rabid dogs!

Once I got to Mains Crossing Road, it was time for another adjustment in clothing, a double check on the map, and an attempt to figure out where I was. I think this was a turning point for me mentally. I think it was here that I was at about the 65 or so mile point, the point of no return. Up until this point, I seriously had given the thought of going back home and driving some merit.

Backed with the reassurance that I was on the map, on the right road, and knew approximately how much farther I had to go, things started to look better, even if the weather wasn't cooperating. I came across a primitive Wisconsin wayside with an old-fashioned hand pump for water and took the opportunity to re-fill my bottles and drink 1 extra. (Hind sight, good move!) I actually passed it, but turned back after coming to better senses.

From that point, it wasn't too much farther down the road that I got to turn and go north to cross Highway 8 and into my new directions. I had been smart to mark off turn by turn, street by street directions with cumulative mileage estimate and point to point mileage. This proved to be EXTREMELY handy. I couldn't have done a better job on my directions actually. (Good Job Ken!) I had a mix of gravel roads and rural un-marked blacktop.

The sun was setting and it looked as though I was going to be finishing my ride in the dark. I had been smart to bring just a battery powered light to illuminate my queue sheet. I mounted it on my rack and pushed on in the rain to arrive in Rice Lake at 8:40PM on Sunday night.

It's a good thing in ways that it was so cool. There was really nothing between Osceola and Rice Lake with the exception of the primitive wayside stop. I suppose that I could have found something in Range, WI if I had gone door-to-door. I cannot recall if there was a place of business, but I didn't want to stop. Not very welcoming!

Total mileage: 117.x in 8:40 with stops, average 13.4MPH.

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