I set up camp in the rain. I woke up and broke down camp in the rain. Pedaling out again into the downpoor, I realised this might be the reason why people have fenders. I have ridden through a lot of rain so far, and had no problems… but on a muddy track, everything changes. My panniers got covered. My just cleaned shoes got soaked. My beautiful bike got slammed. Everything was very very wet and muddy. I wrote a phone message to a friend, “It’s muddy and I’m miserable!”. He told me that when it rains, he just ‘tries to enjoy it’. I realised I hadn’t actually given that a go yet, so I got back in the saddle and saw the beauty. It was so green and lush. Cool long black bike tunnels with no lights. I met a family of cyclists who gave me pizza for dinner. I set up camp in the rain.
Making it to the Mississippi felt like a milestone though and rolling into Winona was a pleasant ride. Another tourer had just arrived at my Warm Shower’s hosts place, Paul, a 53 year old guy who is riding from Florida to Seattle. We took a day off to enjoy the happy little town, swim in the mighty river and play with the kittens. The next day we cycled off together, and made it to Red Wing. It was such a beautiful ride. A perfect day of sunshine, rolling hills, chance encounters… one of those ‘blissful biking’ days.
I set out again from Red Wing the next day, alone, and suddenly the tables had turned. The wind felt stronger, the hills seemed steeper, and the roads I rode were highways and carways. It was ridiculously hot and I went through 2 litres of water every hour. It took me 8 hours to make it 60 miles, and when I finally found my way into the city, I was close to tears, questioning how much more of this I want to do, and whether it’s all worth it.
A swim in the lake, and the beautiful Minneapolis parks and bike-lanes soothed my soul a little though. Turns out this is THE bicycle capital of the USA. They beat PORTLAND this year! I had no idea! Bikes everywhere, and it’s nice to be here resting a while. Some time off to plan my next move.