Tour of the USA – Week 12

Well, How Did We Get Here? Miles, Feet Climbed, Maps & Profiles.

Previous updates described how we travelled from Seattle to Oakwood Lake State Park in the first 11 weeks of our adventure. Now find out where we went & what we did in Week 12! Hopefully picking a single photo to represent each day will refresh my mind when it comes to looking back on my adventure!

Saturday saw us cross the State Line from South Dakota into Minnesota & ride alongside a 25 mile wind turbine farm. We followed long, straight roads for miles between Maize & Wheat fields on Sunday on the way to Redwood Falls. Monday provided us with unexpected gravel roads into Hutchinson, but we had a tailwind as compensation. Tuesday was all about riding on rail to trail cycle paths into Minneapolis. On Wednesday we visited Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, had the bikes serviced & enjoyed a night out. We explored the Stone-Arched Bridge & Minnehaha Falls on Thursday, our 2nd rest day in Minneapolis. We crossed 2 State Lines on Friday, as we left Minnesota, explored the Mississippi from Wisconsin, then returned to Minnesota for the evening!

Another great week with some sightseeing, getting off the beaten track & exploring some of America’s best scenery on our Coast to Coast adventure.

Week Twelve – Oakwood Lakes State Park (SD) to Winona (MN)

DateStart LocationEnd LocationMilesFeet Climbed
16/07/22Oakwood Lakes State ParkMarshall701,499
17/07/22MarshallRedwood Falls47184
18/07/22Redwood FallsHutchinson631,027
19/07/22HutchinsonMinneapolis731,734
20/07/22REST DAYREST DAY00
21/07/22REST DAYREST DAY00
22/07/22MinneapolisRed Wing582,385
Totals3106,827

Minneapolis to Tomah

Friday 22nd July to Monday 25th July – Stages 64 to 66.

Friday 22nd July – Minneapolis to Red Wing (Stage 64).

We had a final Big Breakfast at our hotel & were on our way by 9.30am, leaving Minneapolis via Minnesota’s State Capital city of St Paul. The first 45 minutes saw us navigating urban sprawl with the occasional interesting sight, like the Capitol Building & the view looking up the Mississippi river from Robert Street Bridge. We could just make out a tug pushing a raft of barges upstream, as a freight train headed down river.

Within 10 minutes of crossing the bridge, we picked up the Mississippi River Trail at Kaposia Park & found ourselves on the banks of the Mississippi itself. For the next 5 miles we rode along the defensive levee that protects the communities along the Mississippi from serious flooding. The ant sculpture was made from trash collected from the Mississippi river itself.

We crossed the Mississippi for the 2nd time at Newport on a cycle path by the side of the busy Highway 494. As we left the town behind us, we picked up a cycle path at Cottage Grove that took us through peaceful meadows that teemed with butterflies & dragonflies. Somehow we also found ourselves cycling around a busy sports day as the path took us past a local school.

We were aiming for the small town of Prescott, which marks the State Line between Minnesota & Wisconsin & the start of the Great River Road Scenic Byway. Passing the railroad swing bridge, we spotted the Twisted Oak Coffee Shop where we stopped briefly for a strawberry fritter & americano. We also topped up our water bottles.

The Scenic Byway climbed up to the bluffs above the river, where we stopped at the Great River Road Visitor Centre to learn more about how cargo is transported up & down the Mississippi. Dry Cargo Barges are 195 feet in length & 35 feet in width, enabling them to carry a cargo of 1,500 tons. The even larger Liquid Cargo Barges are 295 feet long by 50 feet wide & they can carry 2,500 tons. The vast majority of the wheat & grain harvest is transported by Dry Cargo Barge at some point on its journey from the Bread Basket of America.

A single tug can push a raft of up to 42 barges – they’re configured in a 7 wide by 6 long rectangle. The journey of 1,800 miles from Minneapolis to New Orleans takes the barges anything from 14 to 50 days, depending on the load & whether stops are required to pick up or drop off any of the barges.

The railroad is still active too, with about 70 freight trains a day travelling in each direction – the trains are upwards of a mile long! Vast volumes of freight are transported each day up & down the Mississippi, whether by rail or river.

The sculpture was again made from items removed from the Mississippi, there seems to be a small sub-culture of artists who use reclaimed metal in their works.

Returning to the Scenic Byway, we were passed at regular intervals by groups of Harley Davidson motorbikes – we had plenty of warning, as we could hear the throaty gurgle of their engines long before they reached us! We were back on rolling terrain, as the road climbed up to the bluffs above the river before plummeting back down to the valley floor – for this stage of the route, the river remained hidden from us.

As we reached the small community of Trenton, we turned right & headed for our overnight stop of Red Wing, on the Minnesota side of the Mississippi – our third crossing of the Mighty Miss in a day!

We found a great little bar in town where we had pizza & a beer to toast our first day of riding along the Mississippi. Tomorrow we’re hoping for more of the same, although rain is expected later in the day.

Stage Stats – 58 miles, 2,385 feet of climbing. Our first experience of the Mighty Mississippi on the Great River Road Scenic Byway.

Saturday 23rd July – Red Wing to Winona (Stage 65).

We were up early today & on our way by 8.15am, as electrical storms are now being forecast for early to mid-afternoon. We retraced our way back over the Mississippi into Wisconsin & on to the Big River Road, passing an artillery cannon at the gates to Red Wing Memorial Park.

Almost immediately we spotted a heron walking in someone’s front garden – we’d only seen heron either flying or wading in the water, so this was new behaviour to us. The early part of the ride was on a rolling road as it took us through woodland & occasionally offered a sneak peak of the Mississippi.

Lake Pepin is a natural lake on the Mississippi formed by the back-up of water behind the sedimentary deposits from the Chippewa river’s delta on the Wisconsin side. It’s about 21 miles long & 2 miles across at its widest point. There were a couple of overlooks where we pulled in & took 5 minutes to admire the vast vistas across the lake to Minnesota – the lake is a popular recreation site & we saw plenty of small boats out fishing with a few speedboats too.

Heading into the small town of Stockholm, we spotted Stockholm Pie & General Store – we had to stop, just to see what pies they offered. The answer was every type of fruit pie under the sun!!! I chose a slice of warm cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream & it was a serious contender for best pie of the adventure so far!

As we set off again, we were on the final section of small rolling hills as the road continued through woodland. Heading through Pepin we stopped at a Historic Marker where we learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder (author of the Little House series of books – the tv show Little House On The Prairie was based on her books) was born near here.

I took advantage of the town’s oversized deckchair to rest my weary bones! The old railroad station has been renovated & restored to something like its original condition. Much of small town America takes care of its historical monuments & as a visitor its a really interesting way to learn about a town’s past.

Leaving Pepin, the scenery had changed & we were back among the wheat & maize fields again, but soon enough we crossed the Chippewa river, with the railroad visible in the distance. We also passed a number of slow moving tributaries that were covered in pondweed, resulting in the water having a green film over the surface.

We also saw that the sky was changing colour – it seemed to have an orange tinge to it, a sure sign that a storm was moving in! This was confirmed by a driver who spoke to us as we were riding into Alma – a big storm was due within the next 1/2 !

We decided we couldn’t beat the rain, so might as well enjoy a 2nd coffee & cake stop at Hotel de Ville – a tasty piece of peach pie & turtle ice cream (no animals were injured in the making of the ice cream!). We were also treated to a tour of the back garden, which the owner said was based on a Baroque European theme.

As we left Alma, we were right next to the Mississippi & ahead of us the forked lightning started giving us fair warning the storm was closing in. We’ve generally ridden well within ourselves on the adventure to date, but this was a moment when we needed to make some distance quickly. There was a bit over 20 miles to go until we reached our motel in Winona, so we took turns to ride hard on the front – my greater weight is an advantage on the flat, so I took slightly longer turns & we managed to maintain about 18 mph for the next hour.

You can see from the last photo how dark it was, as Sean’s rear light & the car’s headlights really stand out.

The video footage give an idea of what was happening & how I was feeling about things.

The rain arrived for the final 15 miles or so of the ride – to begin with it was gentle drizzle, but it soon became a full on monsoon! In no time we were soaked from head to toe, but unlike the UK, the rain was actually warm, so wasn’t too bad to ride in.

Just over an hour after leaving Alma, we were crossing the Mississippi back into Minnesota & making our way to the Super 8 in Winona. Once I’d checked in I took a couple of short video clips of the weather & the state of my kit – damp would be typically British understatement!

Stage Stats – 74 miles, 1,958 feet of climbing. Our final night in Minnesota.

Sunday 24th July – Winona to Tomah (Stage 66).

After yesterday’s deluge, the weather was back to normal this morning – hot & sunny with a light breeze. Heading out of Winona, we finally saw our first (& only) paddle boat steamer before crossing the Mississippi for the last time as we returned to Wisconsin.

We’d be following the railroad for most of the day, starting as we crossed the Wisconsin spur of the Mississippi before heading for the wetlands that run alongside the Great River Road.

After 5 miles we took a right turn at Marshland & left the paved roads behind. We entered the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge on the Great River State Trail – we would be riding a combination of farm track, gravel, crushed limestone & mud for 21 miles as we rode between the many ponds & lakes. We were in prime osprey territory & I managed to capture a shot of one as it was perched on a branch.

Every now & again we would see a paved road, but for the majority of the next 10 miles we were alone. On one stretch of gravel, a tree had fallen in last night’s storm & it was strewn across the entire path. I forgot to take a photo, but we ended up having to remove the panniers from our bikes & the pair of us had to lift our bikes over the fallen tree!

Although we didn’t see any more wildlife in the morning, the views of the wetlands were beautiful & we also had some protection as the trees kept the sun at bay.

Sometimes the lakes would appear to be in the middle of a field & other times the lakes stretched away into the woodland.

There was even a river where there appeared to be a beach on one of the banks, while looking in the opposite direction we could see the railroad crossing the river on a trestle bridge.

We briefly re-joined the road at Onalaska – it considers itself the sunfish fishing capital & “Sunny” (a 20 foot long by 12 foot high plastic fish) is their way of reminding everyone of the fact! The fish was impressive in its own way, but I preferred The Crossroads pop-up ice cream shop, where we stopped for a brief break!

On the outskirts of Onalaska we picked up the LaCrosse River State Trail for a further 23 miles. It follows the route of the abandoned Chicago & Northwestern Railroad between LaCrosse & Sparta.

The surface was crushed limestone except where the route crossed restored bridges. We passed maize fields one minute, then headed back into prairie & grassland.

There was a siege of 9 heron in a field of soya beans – it looked like they had found a source of food on the ground, although from such a long way away, it wasn’t clear what they were doing!

The last few miles of the State Trail ran alongside the current railroad & delivered us to a renovated Sparta Station – my one disappointment is the station sells tee-shirts & keyrings, but not coffee or cake & I’m sure they’re missing a trick as many people join & exit the trail here.

Sparta is only a small town, however it had 4 unusual displays – a 19th century man on a penny farthing, a covered bridge, a helicopter & a tank (the last 2 were displayed by the American Legion).

Our route then took us to the entrance of Fort McCoy an active military base. We found ourselves on a public gravel road that took us past one of a few areas where training exercises take place.

At one point we ended up on a sandy trail that was only just rideable & we worried that we may be on private property. However, just 2 minutes later we found ourselves back on a paved road about 5 miles from Tomah, our home for the next 2 nights. We toasted our big adventure on 3 separate bike trails & our trip across an army training ground – we lived to tell the tale!!!

Stage Stats – 75 miles, 948 feet of climbing. 3 rail trails explored.

Minneapolis – Rest Days

Wednesday 20th July & Thursday 21st July – Rest & Relaxation

Wednesday 20th July (Rest Day One)

Back to Back rest days for the first time since West Yellowstone on 15th & 16th June. The plan is to combine sightseeing with some essential admin like getting the bike serviced, laundry, catching up with my blog, planning the route & booking accommodation for the coming week or so.

I found a local bike shop less than 1/2 a mile from the hotel that had good reviews, so we dropped off our bikes off at 10am with a list of what needed looking at – rear & front gear indexing, brake pads, checking tyre pressures & a squeaky headset for me. The same for Sean, plus truing his front wheel. They should be ready this afternoon.

While we waited for the bikes to be serviced, we had time for a bit of sightseeing – there’s a Tram stop less than 2 minutes from the hotel, so we took the Green Tram as far as Nicollet Mall ($4.50 for a 5 hour ticket) then took a walk -Minneapolis has a relaxed vibe, with Games On Nicollet that anyone is welcome to use. There’s a statue of Mary Tyler-Moore near the site where she threw her hat in the air at the end of the opening credits of her show. I also took a photo looking back towards Nicollet Mall, as the sun reflected off a nearby building.

Our plan was to head towards Loring Park, maybe find a coffee shop (we found Dunn Brothers for coffee & an apple fritter), then explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

I picked my favourite sculptures & have included the titles & their artists – there are now over 40 separate sculptures in the garden & the centrepiece is the Spoonbridge & Cherry which was funded with a $500,000 donation from Frederick R Weisman in 1988. The cherry was removed last year so it could be repainted & was re-united with the spoon earlier this year.

This is a great place to spend an hour or two relaxing, taking in the art & people watching. Without further ado – Salute To Painting (Roy Lichenstein), Gog & Magog (Martin Puryear), Untitled, Reclining Mother and Child (Henry Moore), Without Words (Judith Shea).

Double Curve (Ellsworth Kelly) & Amaryllis (Tony Smith), Double Curve (Ellsworth Kelly), Spoonbridge & Cherry (Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen), The Spinner (Alexander Calder).

Spoonbridge & Cherry (Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen), Woodrow (Deborah Butterfield), Hahn/Cock (Katharina Fritsch), Hare On Bell On Portland Stone Piers (Barry Flanagan).

For Whom…. (Kris Martin), Dawn Tree (Louise Nevelson) & Arikidea (Mark di Suvero), Arikidea (Mark di Suvero), Love (Robert Indiana).

Hahn/Cock (Katharina Fritsch.

Spoonbridge & Cherry (Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen).

Walking Man (George Segal), September Room (Mark Manders), Adam & Eve (Simone Fattal), Hephaestus (Matthew Manahan). The final photo is overlooking the park from the bridge.

I took the photos of the Basilica of St Mary as we crossed the bridge above the Freeway & 2 photos of the Skyline of Minneapolis as we strolled through Loring Park.

I also spotted a couple of small murals in the brick columns by the Stadium Village Station & on the Electric Generator that we passed on the way back to the hotel.

We picked the bikes up this afternoon – everything is sorted & ready to be ridden on Friday. It’s time to celebrate a successful day with a few beers (more than a few in the end!)- tonight we tried Sally’s Saloon, another really enjoyable night sampling the local IPA’s & Blue Moons!

Thursday 21st July – Minneapolis (Rest Day Two)

We headed back into Minneapolis on the Tram again to visit the Stone-Arch Bridge. On the way I stopped to get photos of The Commons Park & the US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play their home American Football games.

The Stone-Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge crossing near to St Anthony Falls. It’s the only stone-arched bridge on the entire Mississippi & is the second oldest bridge of any sort across the river. The bridge was completed in 1883 & is now exclusively for use by pedestrians & cyclists.

On the West Bank you can see the Old Mill Museum. The museum was built in 2003, in the footprint of the original Washburn ‘A’ Mill. The museum focuses on the founding & growth of Minneapolis, especially flour milling & the other industries that used hydropower from the St Anthony Falls in the 1870’s.

The St Anthony Falls is the only natural major waterfall on the entire Mississippi River – the river drops 49 feet (that’s 10% of the total height that the river loses in the 560 miles from Minneapolis to St Louis.

Between 1857 & 1868, the falls were retreating at a rate of 26 feet per year, due damage from logging activities & hydro schemes to power the flour & timber mills. The damage continued until the US Army Corps of Engineers carried our remediation work between 1874 & 1885. Those works continue to protect the falls to this day along with a concrete apron that protects the delicate limestone from erosion.

Looking downstream the main channel of the Mississippi is re-joined from the Lock & Dam on the West bank & the hydro-electric facility on the East bank.

The upper level of the lock & dam have been closed to navigation since 2015 in an attempt to prevent carp infesting the upper reaches of the Mississippi. The lock measures 56 feet wide by 400 feet long & the drop is 49 feet.

We only spent about an hour exploring the area, as sadly the Visitor Centre is currently closed as a precaution against Covid. In the event you ever visit Minneapolis I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Stone-Arch Bridge & surrounding area.

Making full use of our $4.50, five hour Tram ticket, we returned to US Bank Station & caught a Blue Tram to Minnehaha Falls. It takes about a 15 to 20 minute journey on the tram, followed by a 5 minute walk to reach the Regional Park.

We were limited for time, so chose to just visit Minnehaha Falls, although the park has so much more to offer. The park is one of the oldest & most popular in Minneapolis & is most famous for its 53 foot waterfall & limestone cliffs, as well as its river overlooks.

The park had quite a few visitors, but it never felt overly busy – there were a few groups of cyclists exploring the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, kids playing in the rockpools & ponds, while adults roamed the gardens. The temperature was in the 90’s today so after we’d walked the Minnehaha Falls trail we stopped for a sprite & then headed back to the hotel.

I’ve had a great couple of days, exploring the City & some of its sights, enjoying some genuine Rest & Relaxation over a pint or two (or three), as well as getting the route planned for the next week or so & also getting the mundane tasks done like laundry.

Tomorrow we start our next block of riding, as we head off down the Mississippi on the Great River Road Scenic Byway. I hope you’ll join me on the next stage of our adventure from Coast to Coast across the USA!

Redwood Falls to Minneapolis

Monday 18th July to Tuesday 19th July – Stages 62 & 63.

Monday 18th July – Redwood Falls to Hutchinson (Stage 62)

We were on our way by 9am, so we could complete today’s ride before the stifling heat that was forecast for mid-afternoon. As we left town, we passed Memorial Park, which displayed a decommissioned Sherman M4A3 tank in memory of World War 2.

There was a steep descent in the first few miles as we had to cross the Minnesota River. We then had a short, but fairly steep climb up the opposite side of the valley.

Having conquered the climb, we returned to a familiar landscape of a long, straight road, penned in by maize & wheat fields.

Out of the blue we stumbled across the Birch Coulee Battlefield Historical Site. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 & commemorates the costliest military engagement for US forces during the Dakota War of 1862.

Overnight on 1st September 1862, 200 Dakota Warriors surrounded 170 US Troops & civilian support staff. Within the first hour of the siege, the Dakota had killed most of the horses, prevented the US Troops from escaping. The siege lasted a total of 31 hours & at the end of it, the US forces had lost 13 Soldiers, 50 were wounded & 90 horses had been killed in the battle. More horses & men died from their wounds afterwards. The Dakota lost 2 of their Warriors.

The historic site has self-guided trails & markers interpreting the battle from both sides.

Our next surprise was a section where the tarmac had been removed (as it was in a bad state of disrepair) & replaced with gravel. The Minnesota Department of Transport estimates that almost 50% of all its public roads are gravel, so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised! We briefly returned to paved tarmac, but it didn’t last long as the road had been dug up to lay drainage pipes & we had to take a detour…..on more gravel!

I carefully map every stage, so we know what to expect & I’d managed Sean’s expectations at the start of the day with the statement “Good news, we’re on tarmac all day!”. As you can see below, we weren’t. However, we’re on an adventure & we don’t let a bit of gravel ruin our day – plus, I’m beginning to enjoy riding gravel now I feel a bit more confident riding on it!!!

After about 7 or 8 miles we returned to tarmac & picked up a slight tailwind as we headed North towards Buffalo Lake – this was our one & only hope for a coffee stop. Sadly the gas station only sold fuel & the local grocery store didn’t serve coffee. We settled for an ice cream each from the freezer & a can of coke, plus the obligatory refill of our water bottles.

We had 22 miles remaining when we left Buffalo Lake (no buffalo & no lake, in case you’re interested!). County Highway 8 had recently had its tarmac re-laid & we flew along the deserted road. We stopped briefly at Lake Allie County Park to admire the blue water & watch the dragon flies skimming across the surface.

The final 10 miles were on a variety of different roads, but the only difference in the views was the colour of the tarmac – the surrounding countryside remained constant. We arrived at our motel in Hutchinson by about 2.30pm, so we’d made really good time & treated ourselves to 20 minutes in the pool to ease our aching limbs & cool down from the ride.

This evening’s dinner was chicken pasta alfredo (that’s garlic bread, not toast!), washed down with coke – we’re hoping Minneapolis provides us with beer options tomorrow.

Stage Stats – 63 miles, 1,027 feet of climbing. Road closures resulted in about 10 miles of unexpected gravel riding.

Tuesday 19th July – Hutchinson to Minneapolis (Stage 63)

3 bowls of Frosties, yoghurt, toast (with peanut butter) & coffee to start the day – you can’t beat a big breakfast before a big adventure on the steel steed! We were on our way by 9am & picked up the Luce Line State Trail straight away that took us past a wildlife refuge (with deer, swans & geese), through Hutchinson Law Enforcement Park & past a pretty lake as we navigated across town.

The Luce Line State Trail is 63 miles long in total, following the old railroad – we only rode the 10 miles to Silver Lake (all paved), but in that short time we experienced a wide variety of landscapes as we passed small lakes & ponds, heathland, fields & wooded areas.

The 10 miles from Silver Lake to Lester Prairie was either into a strong headwind or crosswind (there was no protection from the wind), so we made slower progress than expected & as a result we chose to look for a coffee stop. We stumbled across the Central Cafe, run by Mary Kay with help from Shelby. We had an enjoyable 30 minutes talking travel, music & growing up in the 60’s / 70’s with Mary Kay – these random encounters with kind spirited people adds so much to the adventure.

We joined the Dakota Rail Trail as we left town – we would be on the paved trail for the next 15 miles to St Bonifacius. The early part of the path was through a wooded area, before returning us to maize fields. At times we shadowed the main road, as we made our way East via New Germany.

Passing through Mayer I stopped at the Carver County Veterans Memorial – almost every town has a memorial to remember those who fought & lost their lives on behalf of their homeland. The strong wind was whipping up white-topped waves on Lake Waconia & there were even a couple of brave soles wind surfing.

A cyclist passing the other way shouted “Watch out for the tree up ahead!” – an odd conversation opener, until we realised he meant a tree had been blown down across the trail!!! While we were taking the kit off our bikes so we could portage it over the fallen tree, a couple of other cyclists joined us & said the trail was clear only an hour ago when they were travelling in the other direction.

At St Bonifacius we stopped to top up our water, then followed the road for a couple of miles as we made our way to the next element of bike trail at Carver Park Reserve, home of the Lowry Nature Centre. Back in 1984, 6 young osprey were placed in Carver Park, with the aim of establishing a viable nesting population – it’s been a complete success & I was delighted to see a nest being used! This was the first osprey we’ve seen since Mount Rushmore almost 3 weeks ago – welcome back my friend.

The Lake Minnetonka Light Railway Trail follows the route of the old Minneapolis & St Louis Railway & we would be following it as far as the outskirts of Minneapolis. For the first few miles we were surrounded by mature woodland, but slowly the landscape changed as we passed through Tonka Bay & Shorewood.

The trail hugged the shore of Lake Minnetonka as we passed through Excelsior & Greenwood – we could see across the lake to the mansions on the far shore.

We were surprised when a gang of 3 turkeys crossed the trail in front of us (I prefer the term gobble, but apparently that’s not the correct collective noun!). I took the photo as I cycled past, so you can see they weren’t phased by two people on bicycles.

By now the trail was tracking Minnetonka Boulevard & our adventure on remote cycle trails was almost at an end. For me, the challenge of the day was starting in earnest, as I now had to get us across Minneapolis to our motel. My task wasn’t helped when the cycle path we needed was closed for repairs & I had to navigate by landmarks alone for a while.

I managed to navigate the couple of miles of detours & got us back on the cycle path into Minneapolis. No sooner had we re-joined the path, than we got our first views of the Minneapolis skyline! A train also arrived right on cue to welcome us to The Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St Paul.

I thought the complicated navigation was out of the way, but as we reached Downtown & Central Minneapolis many of the roads we should be taking were closed for construction projects. I’ll let you insert your own comment for the first photo -it’s a word I used a few times trying to navigate in Minneapolis! I was genuinely pleased to be able to stop at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins baseball team.

After just over five & a half hours we finally made it to the Mighty Mississippi, 2nd longest river in the USA (we crossed the longest a few weeks ago- the Missouri). Within 10 minutes of crossing the river we were at our home for the next 4 nights next to the massive Minnesota University complex. The 3rd & 4th photos below show where their American Football team play their home matches…..it cost $303 million to build when it was completed in 2009 & can hold 54,000 fans currently & is designed to increase the capacity to 80,000 in future!!

After a block of riding for 5 days, it was time to relax & toast our safe arrival in Minneapolis – we found Stub & Herbs for a burger & couple of beers. The perfect end to a great day & it looks like it will be another one tomorrow if Red Sky At Night can be trusted!

If you’re wondering why so many of the places in Minnesota have Minne at the front – (Minnehaha, Minneapolis, Minnetonka for example) it means water in the Dakota language.

Stage Stats – 73 miles, 1,732 feet of climbing. 3 different rail trails taking us through remote countryside before depositing us safely in Minneapolis for 2 days Rest & Relaxation.

Tour of the USA – Week 11

Well, How Did We Get Here? Miles, Feet Climbed, Maps & Profiles.

Previous updates described how we travelled from Seattle to Philip in the first 10 weeks of our adventure. Now find out where we went & what we did in Week 11! Hopefully picking a single photo to represent each day will refresh my mind when it comes to looking back on my adventure!

Saturday was all about Tom & Dan as they got Gene Genie back on the road. Philip to Murdo on Sunday involved rolling hills all day & saw us cross our second time zone as we moved to Central Time. Monday was a short riding day into Kennebec, so I practiced my Hay Bale Surfing skills (“more work required” was the result). We had a tailwind as we rode into Wessington Springs on Tuesday, meeting Don & Susan in the evening. Wednesday was another short day, where we celebrated the arrival of a Rest Day in Huron. I visited the Largest Pheasant In The World on our Rest Day. Finally, the week finished with us riding into Oakland Lakes State Park & making new friends at The Wagon Wheel.

Another incredible week of making new friends, getting off the beaten track & exploring some of America’s best scenery on our Coast to Coast adventure.

Week Eleven – Philip (SD) to Oakwood Lakes State Park

DateStart LocationEnd LocationMilesFeet Climbed
09/07/22REST DAYREST DAY00
10/07/22PhilipMurdo632,500
11/07/22MurdoKennebec451,063
12/07/22KennebecWessington Springs772,231
13/07/22Wessington SpringsHuron38305
14/07/22REST DAYREST DAY00
15/07/22Wessington SpringsOakwood Lakes State Park782,011
Totals3008,103

Huron to Redwood Falls

Friday 15th July to Sunday 17th July – Stages 59 to 61.

Friday 15th July – Huron to Oakwood Lakes State Park (Stage 59)

Today marks the beginning of a 5 day block of riding with the aim of reaching Minneapolis next Tuesday. The plan is to then enjoy 2 of days of Rest & Relaxation off the bike for the second time on the adventure (the previous occasion was Helena on 15th & 16th June – just before we set off for Yellowstone National Park).

We woke up to blue skies, with cotton wool clouds & from our rooms it looked like perfect riding conditions. When we stepped outside at 9am we realised it was over 80 degrees fahrenheit already (at 9am) & for large parts of the day we’d be riding into the Easterly headwind, plus it was humid. I hadn’t slept well overnight, but you simply have to get your head in the right place & enjoy the day – I could be at home working, instead of having the adventure of a lifetime!

Leaving town, we took the same route as the railroad, crossing the James river along the way. The route missed the World’s Largest Pheasant, so I was glad I got my photo opportunity in yesterday!!! The first 20 miles on Highway 14 were Easterly into the wind on a long, straight road, taking us past the big Grain Elevator Building at Cavour.

Reaching Iroquois (population 266), we took the chance to stop at a gas station to top up our water bottles, enjoy a cold sprite & wolf down a Hostess Cherry Pie (not worth a photo, it’s a mass produced, processed pie). Iroquois has even come up with its own motto – Small Town, Big Dreams.

After our brief stop, we took Highway 39 North for 8 miles, giving us some respite from the Easterly headwind. Occasionally there were stands of trees to break up the fields of wheat & maize – there were quite a few farmers out on the road, move their equipment around. The majority continues to be John Deere, always easily recognisable by the green & yellow paintjob. We also crossed the railroad, although I’m still unclear which is the right & wrong side of the tracks when we’re this far from civilisation!

At the 28 mile point we turned right for what I knew would be a 32 mile stretch of road that would be straight into the headwind – I chose not to tell Sean how long the road was, as I didn’t think it would help to know that the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours were likely to be seriously draining.

We both remarked on the huge grain silos in the far distance – they were enormous! I’m stood on the bottom of the ladder in the second photo, you may just be able to make out my pink jersey.

The road was perfectly straight & we could see every undulation in the road laid out in front of us. In that time, we saw one house of note & I managed to find a few roadside flowers to get a photo. Other than that the view was constant for the hour it took us to cover the 11 miles.

As we reached Spirit Lake, the road took a couple of small twists & turns – as if that wasn’t enough excitement, we also spotted 3 mule deer in the field outside a house & then saw 2 pelicans on the lake. Suddenly our wildlife cup was overflowing!