Day 31 - Mankato to Rochester MN
Mileage: 100 miles
Weather: Mid 60s to start. Upper 80s to end. Headwinds.
Highlights of the day:
The route started with 4 miles on a state numbered route with a little more traffic and a few more trucks. A left turn and we found ourselves on quieter roads with all the sights and smells rural Minnesota has to offer. And a headwind. We definitely had a headwind all day today. It made a long day longer. We also had a fairly long stretch on a “ker-plunk” or “ka-dunk” road. It’s older concrete with seams that, over the years, have deteriorated and expanded. It makes for a very bumpy ride. It was Hwy 24. Ask just about any North alumni (or soon to be alumni) about Hwy 24 and I bet you’ll see the same shudder in response. It’s definitely one for the memories.
Minnesota is know for having two seasons - winter and construction. Today we saw the construction season. Heading towards what was to be our first SAG, the road was gone. It was not just being repaved. It was ripped up and dug out an extra 2 feet. It was gone. Using Google Maps, Ride with GPS and lots of arrows, the staff re-routed a good ten mile chunk of the day & found a new SAG stop location. Riders were patient. Staff was running on adrenaline. It all worked.
Back on route, we continued through lots of towns, past lots of farms, and ended with a bike path in Rochester. Quite a few towns along the way have had extensive bike lanes and bike paths. Our routes use them whenever possible. We are staying in larger towns as we move east, and the bike paths are a big help in avoiding downtown traffic. Rochester is a sizable city with lots of auto, bus, pedestrian and bicycle traffic particularly around the Mayo Clinic. The bike path provided a slightly calmer, saner way to end the day.
Speaking of the end of the day - we had a strong, fast moving storm to cap off our day. It hit at 5:00pm, minutes after our last rider came into the hotel. The sky turned dark, there was lots of lightning and it poured! There was also a tornado warning. The hotel asked all of its guests to come down to the first floor, so we all huddled around the tv in the hotel lobby to watch it move through the area. We all watched from inside the hotel. That made everyone very happy. The excitement was finished by about 5:30. That was one intense 30 minutes!
Time to sleep well for tomorrow we get up and do it all over again.