Once we left my family's house in Minnesota we made our way down to Decorah, IA so I could take Mike on a quick tour of my Alma Mater, Luther College.  It is in a beautiful area with rolling hills and lots of trees, 2 things I had been missing since we got out of the mountains.  But boy did I feel old rolling through campus - it has only been 8 years but it feels like an eternity since I lived there.  The tour was short and uneventful as the 2 people I know on campus were not around, so we had a picnic and kept on cruising through the Amish Country of northeastern Iowa.  Here we encountered many horse-drawn buggies carrying people who refused to wave at us and got chased by dogs.  There was one dog who took off after me, barking like mad.  I saw him as I approached so sped up and sprinted past before he could catch me.  However, Mike was coming behind me, saw it all playing out and still had to get past.  He, too, picked up speed, but as he got to the dog he found him still barking after me as I went down the road, totally unaware that Mike was coming.  As Mike went by he let out his loudest and meanest dog bark he could, totally caught the dog off guard and frightened him out of his skin.  He jumped in terror and Mike made it by unscathed, laughing all the while.

We had originally planned to ride for several days through Iowa as we made our way down to some friends' house in Illinois, but all I have to say about bike touring in Iowa is, to put it nicely, it sucks!  We took several detours and altered our desired route in search of good roads, but all we ever found were busy roads with absolutely no paved shoulders that were super bumpy, which was really painful on our already bruised bums.  After a mere 100 miles or so we decided to give Wisconsin roads a try (and Mike had been saying he wanted to go Wisconsin ever since we got to Minnesota), so we crossed the mighty Mississippi on our now rickety bikes and were adequately pleased with what we found on the other side of the river.
Crossing the Mississippi.

Smooth roads, big shoulders, lots of hills...and cheese curds!  Cheese is one of our staples so we're loving that we're riding through the cheese capital of the world.  All was going well and we were enjoying our short detour through Wisconsin until today.  Disaster struck 30 miles into our ride, near the town of Platteville.  I had made it up the monster hill into town, but when I turned and looked back, there was no sign of Mike.  I waited 10 minutes thinking maybe he had stopped to go to the bathroom, fill water bottles or fix a flat, hoping that he'd soon pop around a turn in the road where I could see him and not have to ride back down (and ultimately back up) that big hill again.  Just as I began to get really worried and was getting back on my bike, a car pulled up alongside me telling me Mike was totally broken down a few miles back.  I stashed my bike behind some buildings and the woman in the car, Melissa, kindly drove me back to where Mike was stranded on the side of the road.  There he was with a mangled rear derailleur, several broken spokes and a bike that was unrideable and unfixable without some new parts.  We proceeded to stash Mike's bike in some bushes along the highway and Melissa transported us to her friend's house who had a van and was willing to pick up both bikes and drop us off at a campground where we could stay tonight and wait for a bike shop to open Monday morning.
Mike and cheese curds.

One broken bike :(

We learned another valuable lesson today - when something on our bikes is acting funny or making noises, fix it immediately.  It's not worth trying to wait until we get to the next town because then stuff like this happens.  We're not positive the sole bike shop in town will have what we need to fix the bike - or if it's even repairable at all (the rear derailleur bracket got severely bent which could be a huge problem), but we were lucky to have it happen near a good-sized town with a bike shop, so at least there's hope.

In the mean time I guess we'll be hanging out around our campfire in the campground in the center of town, drinking beer and hoping things go well tomorrow so we can get back on the road.  Otherwise, we might be staying in Wisconsin for a while longer than expected.
Camping out in Platteville.


Mom said...

Boy what a day! I am sorry for the bike problems, but glad you are both safe. Received your package, thanks for the jelly. Made your deliveries today; all is well. Love you bunches!!

Melissa said...

There really are not many good biking roads in Iowa, particularly since so many roads have a gravel shoulder. Probably a good choice to head to WI - I hope the bike is fixable, and fixed quickly!

Stephanie said...

Hi Guys,
I hope that things went well at the bike shop today. We can't wait to see you guys. Please, please don't hesitate to call me if you need a ride here. Addie and I are available for a short road trip. Have a beer and enjoy the nice cooler weather.

Anne said...

I'm so freaking happy for Mike that he finally got a chance to get to the state of Wisconsin. I wish I could play a song on my recorder for the both of you! It was so wonderful to see you both...happy riding.