Saturday, July 31, 2010

PAW Day #7

Rhinelander to Merrill: 56.84 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 3 hours 43 minutes, average speed: 15

Our average speed shows how anxious we were to return to Merrill. We had plans to spend the night in Dorchester, WI at Johnson’s B&B. Joan and John Laabs were joining us there to enjoy hearing about Kathy and John’s 3,000+-mile bike trip west along the Northern Tier. We took one small rest before reaching the AmericInn in Merrill where Janice was their to send us off with kind words and thanks for attending the PAW Northwoods Tour. This was the best 8 days of riding we experienced this season. The rain was very minimal and the temperatures were ideal for biking and the routes could not have been better—very few hills, so strange compared to riding back home. We will keep in touch with our new PAW friends and hope to ride again with them sometime soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

PAW Day #6

Eagle River to Rhinelander: 62.03 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 19 minutes, average speed: 14.3

We saw 4 deer today on our return journey to Rhinelander. The route today was a repeat of PAW Day #2 but in reverse and we were anxious to get out of the woods so we took few breaks and cranked towards Rhinelander in top speed reaching town in time for another Bugys’s lunch and a few more Hodag photos. Our room at Quality Inn was ready when we arrived at 1:00. We attended our last happy hour for this tour and then walked over to Wolff’s Log Cabin where our last PAW dinner was being served. We sat with 6 of our new friends (Joe, Dorothy, Warren, Karen, Tim and Linda) and swapped e-mail information so that we could keep in touch after returning to our less adventuresome lives at home. Dr. J spoke with emotion to this group and invited every one of us to return for another tour in the future. The Mississippi River Valley Tour may be a possibility in 2012.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PAW Day #5

Eagle River to Land O’ Lakes and into Michigan: 62.76 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 30 minutes, average speed: 13.8

It was a chilly 56° when we began biking towards Land O’ Lakes. After 30 minutes of shivering, I had to stop to put on my jacket. Warren biked out with us today as Karen took the day off to shop. Our first food stop was near the Michigan/Wisconsin border where we parked the bike and hiked in search of the source of the Wisconsin River. This season we biked to the beginning and the end of the Wisconsin River as it emptied into the Mississippi at Prarie du Chen during our Tri-State Bike Ride.

We biked past the WI/MI BP store where the border line runs right through the middle of the business. I fear this must be a tax nightmare for their accountant. We were then routed onto a beautiful bicycle path that directed us to an authentic country store back in Wisconsin. The shop keeper was expecting our group and took time out of his busy day to chat with us. This was also a great stop for an ice cream treat.

The Country Store marked the half way point of our ride today. We biked back towards Eagle River on County Road S. We had a blast on this road as we saw many PAW riders taking the out-and-back route to the Country Store. With a tailwind to support us, we were able to bike 17+ mph for the 20 miles we were on County Road S giving us a great total average speed for today’s ride.

We encountered many trees downed by the high winds received the night before. It was amazing how quickly the cleaning crew was able to open the roads to traffic. We are still enjoying daily sunshine with temperatures ranging from mid 50’s at ride’s start to high 80’s by ride’s end. After a return visit to Sweetwater in Eagle River for lunch, we lounged in the hotel pool to watch for returning cyclists. Days Inn had one of the best hotel pools—water was kept to the temperature of lukewarm bath water and many appreciated that making the pool a spot for more social time prior to happy hour.

Supper was served at Riverstone again this evening and it was my best meal of the week—prime rib, carrots, pasta, salad, potatoes and carrot cake for dessert. We sat with new friends, Jane and James with Warren and Karen bringing our dinner guests to six. Tomorrow we would leave this haven in the woods and return to Rhinelander as our tour begins to wind down.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PAW Day #4

Eagle River to Nicolet National Forest: 49.00 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 3 hours 53 minutes, average speed: 12.5

A hot, sunny day was predicted so we began our journey early. The tree-canopied forest was fascinating to travel by bike. The roads were quite and wildlife was abundant—some riders got the extra thrill of spotting black bear. We altered the route some by taking Hwy 70 back into Eagle River stopping at BP for an ice cream treat. A local resident was excited to see us on our bike and shared his experiences biking around the area on his Rans single. Recumbent riders can be found in the most remote areas—including the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

At our lunch stop, we met a couple from Georgia that just finished a camping bike tour in Michigan. They had many questions about our PAW tour and asked how we liked hotel tours versus the camping tours—our preference was clear. At social hour back at the hotel, we made plans for supper at the Tippsy Turtle. They were having an all-you-can-eat shrimp boil and it was excellent. We ate with Karen and Warren and then went back to our room for more dice games.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PAW Day #3

Eagle River to Star Lake: 43.27 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 3 hours 3 minutes, average speed: 14.1

We opted to stall our start time this morning and ride with Joe & Dorothy from Maryland and with Linda & Tim from Wisconsin. We set out at 7:30 a.m. following a full breakfast at the hotel. We really enjoyed sharing the route with this group. The half-way mark was at beautiful Star Lake where we all took a break along the water. Cameras came out here to capture memories of our new friends enjoying this PAW tour and to take back home to share with our families.
After our rest at the lake, we all headed back the way we came. Along the way we stopped to talk to travelers heading east. We were all interested to hear their story. They started their journey at Anacortez, WA biking Adventure Cycle’s Northern Tier. Their plan was to reach Bar Harbor, ME on the east coast. Their bikes were loaded with all the gear they needed to complete the trip including camping supplies. They were truly an inspiration.

Near the end of our ride, we were pelted with moisture. We saw the dark clouds coming and tried to make it back to the hotel before getting wet but our legs could not pedal any faster. We took the hit like troopers. Once back at the Days Inn, we washed up and went to find the hotel laundry before joining the group for happy hour. Supper was on our own this evening so we gathered with a small group to walk to one of the local restaurants suggested to us by a community member. It was very good. We weren’t ready to call it a night yet so bought some dice to take back to our room to teach the group the game of Farkle. Then at 9:30, we decided a trip to the pool was needed to finish this day 3 of our PAW tour.

Monday, July 26, 2010

PAW Day #2

Rhinelander to Eagle River: 56.00 miles
Comments: Ride Time was 4 hours 12 minutes, average speed: 13.2

We were on the bike pedaling towards Eagle River at 7:15 a.m. today after leaving our luggage with Bubha again. Wow! What beauty—the 10 miles on Highway X were fantastic. We glided through tunnels of trees that make up the Northwoods and it was beautiful. We reached the town of Three Lakes too early to qualify for a rest stop so we continued to bike towards the next suggested stop—the Boat Lift on Dam Road. We wandered around the lift area hoping a boat would need assistance so that we could watch the unusual lifting process of transferring boats to higher waters. No such luck. We continued on to finish in Rhinelander where hotel reservations for the next 4 nights were at Days Inn. Our room was not quite ready so we biked to the Sweetwater Resort for some lunch and refreshments. The Resort was on the water so we enjoyed watching the boating activity while we dined. We still had time to kill before the advertised check-in so we biked downtown Eagle River and found a charming ice cream parlor. By the time we arrived back at Days Inn, other riders began to request check-in so we asked again and were told our room was not ready but we were invited to use the pool area while we waited. We visited with Karen & Warren and Linda & Tim as we relaxed in the pool.
Is it time yet? Yes! We finally got into our room and boy was it worth the wait! We were very surprised to find we had a whirlpool in our room, a king bed and a view from the window. This was quite a step up from our last tour of sleeping in a tent.
Happy hour prior to supper was always a crowd pleaser. Many riders would gather around the luggage van behind the hotel to visit and share stories of their biking journeys and drink a variety of beverages—dehydration was not a problem with this group.
Dinner was another social opportunity. The meals at Riverstone in Eagle River were the best and the dining staff did a great job feeding this hungry group. Our tour directors were always the last to eat, making sure their guests were fed first. As dessert was being served, our resident comic, Dr. J. Pedal, would begin to entertain the group with tips on how to survive the next day’s ride. Bike Safety, taught in elementary fashion, was clearly a message of concern for each rider.