Michael's Excellent Adventure

Day 17, 7-4-2002

Me

What better way to celebrate my birthday than by riding my bike! One of our wonderful hosts for our layover, Steve Flagg joined us for the ride out of town, and accompanied us all the way to Prescott, Wisconsin, on the Mississippi River. We had a great ride together, emerging from the sprawling development around the Twin Cities surprisingly easily, and spent most of the morning going through some very nice countryside and farmland, massive oil refinery notwithstanding. Steve, John,and I had no trouble matching our paces to each other. Our 40 mile preamble ended at a Dairy Queen in Wisconsin, where our other host, Mary met us to pick Steve up. What a great send off that was! Thanks, you two!

After a yummy soft serve, John and I set off down the river. We'd been warned about the rolling character of the next couple dozen miles, and while going up and down the bluffs over the river was challenging, it wasn't nearly as bad as the warnings had led us to expect. Which made for a pleasant surprise. And by midday, we had negotiated all of the climbs and had nothing but broad, flat flood plain ahead of us all the way to LaCrosse.

This stretch of the river was amazingly charming. All sorts of little creeks and rivers drain down to the "Father of Waters," creating all the climbs we had to make, but also forming little ravines that several of the towns were built into. The towns themselves were very charming — tourist oriented without being tourist traps, full of nice little restaurants and arts and crafts stores. Sort of reminded me of the nicer towns you'd find on the Oregon Coast or the San Juan Islands. In the future, I'd love to do a 2-week dedicated tour and just spend time between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Madison, Wisconsin, exploring the bike trails that run off of the river and through southwest Wisconsin, and all the wonderful little towns in the region.

We finished the day in Trempeleau, Wisconsin, one of the nicest of quite a few very nice towns we went through, 143 miles from our start in Bloomington.