Today we hugged the Mississippi River all day long. In contrast to the previous two days when the Great River Road frequently swung away from the river, this portion faithfully remained in sight of the river. The bluffs backed away from the river, allowing room for farmland, homes and vacation rentals opposite the river. Towns were small, infrequent and sported few businesses (you guessed it – a dearth of restaurants!). That left the river and it’s surroundings as the main attraction. On a beautiful sunny day, that was ample for us.
With the heat and the recurrence of strong gusty headwinds, we were happy to take frequent breaks to enjoy the view. A fish hatchery made for a peaceful respite, with its majestic Silver Maple trees. We took a short detour into Blackhawk Park, where the Mississippi backwaters resembled a lake. We appreciated the humor of a farm that wished it was in Norway, proudly dubbed Uf-da Acres. And of course, we stopped for ice cream mid-afternoon at a river-side kiosk with a very friendly owner.
The other constant I should mention has been the presence of trains. The track lies between the road and the river, and the interval between trains is short. While I wouldn’t want freight trains thundering through my back yard, we have rather enjoyed them as a novelty.
I also have to admit that there is one aspect of this route that I have not enjoyed – the traffic. The Great River Road follows highway 35 through Wisconsin, and there is no doubt that it is well travelled. The traffic is not constant, and for the most part the shoulders are wide and smooth. But when semis come rushing past, my heart races and I grip my handlebars tightly, not wanting to be sucked into their slipstream. It’s a natural hazard of road cycling, but one I could do without.
It’s enough to close with this photo, which epitomizes today’s ride. It says it better than I can in words.