We said that this trip was to be a test for the longer cycling tour we are doing later this summer. We're trying out carrying the gear and clothes we think we will need for two months. So far so good on that account. Today it was the weather that tested us. After waiting out yet another thunderstorm before setting off this morning, we finally hit the road and ran smack dab into 25 mph headwinds! Since we were cycling through largely open countryside, there was no where to hide from the winds. All we could do was put our heads down, shift down to embarrassingly low gears and pedal like mad.
The only thing worse than cycling into the wind was doing it on an empty stomach. Early on we passing up a breakfast cafe that offered views of a lock and dam but had a waiting line. We should have known better… The following towns had nothing to offer, and our reserves began to run low. I found myself pressing into the wind, counting down the miles to the next town, harboring hopes for a cafe and missing the scenery.
When we reached Fountain City we found a wonderful Irish pub with a delightful upstairs patio. Settling down at a shady table for lunch, we soon learned that we were to be well rewarded for the wait. The food was incredibly fresh and well prepared, including the proprietor's grandmother's recipe for potato soup. And boy did it taste good. After that stop, our outlooks improved significantly, the scenery became visible again, and we even tolerated the wind better.
Despite the fact that today's ride was largely over flat terrain, the wind took a huge toll on our forward momentum. The hours passed by and our destination continued to loom far in the distance. The day turned from cloudy to sunny once again, and heated up into the high 80s. But good fortune arrived in the form of a bike trail. After a grueling 50 miles on the road, we headed onto the Great River State Trail. Not only did it shelter us from the wind, but the shade brought welcome relief from the heat. A great combination!
The early section of the trail passed through a National Wildlife Preserve. There we were in the backwaters of the Mississippi, surrounded by wetlands and with tree branches meeting overhead. Birds were in great abundance and the scenery was just beautiful. That gave way to dryer land but continued to protect us all the way to the north edge of La Crosse. What a godsend that was to our weary bodies!
Bolstered by a stop at a handy Dairy Queen for cones, we made our way across the city – once again counting down the final miles. Nothing ever looked so good as the site of our humble motel for the night. Even better, there was a great vintage restaurant right across the street. We couldn't have asked for more!
I think we passed today's windy test. Regardless, we're not interested in a re-take.