We woke up to the sound rain falling. Thunder boomed and lightning flashed while we packed up the car. We drove to our starting point in a torrential downpour. It was an ominous way to start our week-long cycling trip. But as we neared Prescott, Wisconsin the weather gods smiled down on us, we drove out from under the clouds, and were able to set off without delay. Whew!
Following the Great River Road in Wisconsin, we had beautiful pastoral scenery and ample views of the river. Since leaves have not yet come out in Duluth yet, it was a delight to pass through countryside painted with that bright spring green. Seeing brilliant tulips and daffodils blooming added to our pleasure. It was definitely a day of cycling up and down rolling hills as we travelled through bluff country alongside the Mississippi.
We hadn't gone far when we came upon a number of other cyclists. Only these folks were decked out in classic English garb, and riding all manner of old bicycles. We had stumbled upon the Pepin 3-Speed Tour – a 2-day bike ride fashioned after cycle touring in pre-war England, strictly riding English 3-speed bikes. We happened to share the same route for the day, so we had ample opportunity to stop and chat with many of the 118 adventuresome folks on the tour. Not only were they passionate about their bikes, but they were up for good old fun. Many bicycles sported wicker baskets and the occasional baguette. Tin cups hung from leather trimmed bags, and we spotted a flask or two making the rounds. And I overheard some sore cyclists applying “sticking plasters” to their blisters. It was clearly a highlight of our day!
By mid-day, the weather had improved significantly and we basked in the sunshine on an outdoor patio while eating lunch. By the end of the day, we both sported sunburns. It was the first summery day of the year, and it sure felt good!
Our destination was Wabasha MN where we had our first stay in a Warm Showers home. We were told we'd know the place by the teepee in the yard, but that in no way prepared us for the gorgeous home right on the river with a pool and enormous deck next to the water. What a treat! We are accompanied by at least 5 other cyclists on various trips, some on 3-speeds, others on rides longer than ours. Trading cycling stories was a must before all bedding down for the night.
Day 1 of the Upper Mississippi River Cycling Tour – we're off to a great start!