Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Orange Beach, Alabama in the News

Dover Loop: 20.63 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 33 minutes, average speed 13.1

Goal reached: 512 miles for August and we still have a few more riding days in the month. We enjoyed a quiet supper ride to Dover and while eating our “Tuesday Tacos” heard on the news that hurricane Isaac was preparing to roll into the Orange Beach, AL area. Our 2012 biking season started in Orange Beach and we were familiar with the images we were viewing on the large screen at the Roadhouse. The evacuation process went into effect and all that could be done was to wait it out. It was a relief to hear that the storm was downgraded as the evening went on—what a relief.


Hurricane Isaac threatens the coast of Orange Beach, AL

We headed home to start getting ready for our main event of this biking season: The Midwest Tandem Rally being held in Middleton, WI will begin Friday, August 31. The event is being hosted by our COWS Tandem Club and has been in the planning for two years. We are expecting over 400 teams—very exciting!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Smooth Pavement

Utica Loop: 21.51 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 39 minutes, average speed 12.9

We are working hard to get 500 miles for the month of August and came from within 9 miles of that goal today with 5 more days left to this month. We routed to Utica with a rest stop at Brewskies. We queried our man George, Brewskies’ bartender, about the construction situation on US-14 heading back towards Saint Charles and were amazed to learn the paving was complete, just some painting left to do. We get excited about new pavement so on down the road we went and what a smooth ride it was. We reached Saint Charles just as the town’s summer fest was wrapping up. We returned waves from those still milling around the tents downtown as we rolled on through on our bicycle built for two.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Attack of the Grasshoppers

Tri-County Trail: 53.31 miles Tandem Pedal Time: 4 hours 15 minutes, average speed 12.5

imageWith our morning chores out of the way, we had the afternoon to play. It was agreed we would bike from home to pick up the Tri-County Bike Trail near Eyota and then bike the trail into Elgin. We noted the temperature was in the 90’s as we began pedaling down the road but a slight breeze out of the south added comfort to our ride. We stopped in Saint Charles for a Subway lunch and then pedaled down US-14 towards Eyota. We cranked our pedals around and around for 18 grueling miles before we pulled onto the Tri-County Trail to enjoy a 2+ mile non-pedal glide towards Viola, MN. The attack of the grasshoppers began shortly after we reached the trail. They continued to jump onto various parts of our bodies causing us to jerk and twitch which made for a rather unsmooth tandem ride.
At 25 miles into our route we found ourselves in Elgin and directly in our path was the Huddle Bar & Grill. This bar not only offered a cool place for us to rest but also provided an extremely friendly atmosphere. From the time we stepped inside we were greeted by all with introductions and friendly chatter. Dennis was surprised to learn that the bartender was married to the daughter of a VoTech teacher he had in the 70’s—small world.
It was now time to turn this bike around and head for home. Remember those 2+ miles of downhill? Well, we now got to repeat those miles but in reverse—always up for a challenge. Once on US-14 we had no problem enjoying the wind at our backs as we pedaled towards supper awaiting us in Dover at the Roadhouse. We hate to eat and run but the sun was already starting to crawl below the horizon and we still had 10 miles to go.
We pedaled down our driveway as the sun quietly slipped from the sky. This trip of 53 miles will definitely be a repeater—such an enjoyable day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Supper Time

Dover Loop: 20.57 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 41 minutes, average speed 12.1


I was so tired after work today but just the mention of a bike ride brought blood back to my brain. Dover was our destination for this evening and the promise of eating at the Roadtrip Roadhouse Bar motivated me to pedal into the surrounding hills along this neighborhood route. We enjoy the welcoming feeling we get each time we visit and the variety and flavor of food served keeps us coming back.


We enjoyed temps in the 80’s but could have done with a little less wind—20 mph out of the SW forced our average speed to decline but we still made it home before the sun fell from the sky.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Banana Run

Saint Charles and Home: 12.35 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 2 minutes, average speed 11.8

We can tell the hours of daylight are decreasing. Biking after work must now consist of short loops around the neighborhood. We made a banana run to Saint Charles and then climbed out of town to head for home. The hill out of town remains a challenge but we always manage to talk ourselves through it. It’s smooth sailing once on top and then we see the beauty of the sun setting in the west and all struggles are forgotten.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 COWS Wrangler Ride – Cumberland, Wisconsin

Hosted by Mike Lindgren and Terri Backus


Cumberland, Wisconsin Wrangler Ride: 45.02 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 3 hours 31 minutes, average speed 12.7

Mike and Terri were wonderful hosts for this Wisconsin Wrangler ride. We drove 3 hours to get to their lake-front home in Cumberland, WI, north of Menomonie and near Rice Lake. We reached Cumberland at 9:30 a.m. and began unloading the bike along with 12 other teams. That is when the rain decided to fall. After a quick check of the weather radar, we were given thumbs up for a clear day of riding and the rain only delayed us for 15 minutes.


Our lunch stop was scheduled at the County Line Tavern, 30 miles into our 45-mile route. This was a very quaint bar and grill nestled amongst the desolate wilds of northern Wisconsin. After lunch, we had only 12 miles of riding to finish back at Mike and Terri’s.


What could be more pleasant than resting out on a deck overlooking a lake, enjoying sunny skies, being served drinks and a variety of delicious eats and visiting with new biking friends? It was hard to say goodbye! We thanked Mike and Terri for planning such a wonderful event and then returned to our van for our 3-hour trip home.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Almost A Century

RRT and HPT: 83.87 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 6 hours 33 minutes, average speed 12.7

Today was a play day in and around Lanesboro, MN. We packed the tandem in the van and drove to Lanesboro to begin what we hoped would be a 100-mile biking day. We started pedaling at 8:30 a.m. towards Rushford then turned the bike to head back to Lanesboro. On our way back, we came across Quinten and Glorie Ann Robley from Canton whom we just saw recently at the PIGS Tandem Rally in Iowa. We had a short visit and then continued back towards Lanesboro.


We now had 40 miles on the bike but wanted 60 more so we continued along the RRT towards Preston and up to Harmony. We stopped for lunch at the Chrunchy Side Grille happy to have a total of 60 miles accumulated thus far. Will we make 100 before 5:30 p.m. when we would have to stop to get ready for our dinner/theatre date with Alan and Michelle? As we neared the trail junction at Isinours, it was 4:00 p.m. We debated going up towards Fountain but decide that would make us late for our 5:30 reservation at Riverside on the Root so we turned the bike towards Lanesboro again, satisfied with the 83 miles we were able to ride on this beautiful near-fall day.  We fell short of our goal by 17 miles today but will try again another day before this biking season is over.


Soups On

Dover Loop: 20.62 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 42 minutes, average speed 11.9

It’s supper time in Dover again. We took the tandem out to prove we could bike to Dover and back without a breakdown. The rim and hub are operating beautifully and our confidence is building. We set out under cloudy skies and did get a few drops of rain near the end of our ride but we laughed it off and continued to pedal putting another 20 miles on the bike for this month of August.

Friday, August 10, 2012

2012 PIGS Rally – Cresco, Iowa

Thursday, August 9, 2012–Pre Rally Day 0

This rally actually began for us on Thursday evening with a quick trip to the Blue Heron Bike Shop in Onalaska after an evening call from shop owner, Kevin. He did the impossible for us again by completing repairs at record speed—the tandem was ready to roll. This now meant we could fulfill our plan of biking from home to the PIGS Rally in Cresco, Iowa. This day was also our 32nd wedding anniversary and as a gift, I finally received silver. No, it did not fit around my neck but to all who understand bike parts, it was a very substantial gift: A Phil Wood hub for the tandem’s rear wheel and boy is it sweet! We thanked Kevin and drove home to pack our panniers for our self-supported trip to Iowa.


Friday, August 10, 2012–Day 1
Home to Cresco, Iowa: 58.53 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 4 hours 41 minutes, average speed 12.4


We left home this Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. surrounded by birds singing and puffy white clouds dancing across the blue sky. We were bound for Cresco, Iowa to attend our 5th PIGS (Paired Iowans Going Somewhere) Tandem Rally. The van would be staying home using only pedal-power to make this trip.


We biked on country roads to Lanesboro, MN where we picked up the Root River bike trail followed by the Harmony-Preston trail that took us south into Harmony for a quick lunch stop at “The Crunchie Side”. The food here was great and the staff made us feel like old friends. After licking our plates clean, we were sent on our way with wishes for a safe journey.


The next cue on our route sheet instructed us to find Hwy 139 to continue south towards Iowa. This roadway was unfamiliar territory but we found it to be lightly travelled with rolling hills and paved shoulders once we left Minnesota. Just over the border we began to see signs for Cresco and watched for the Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail that would lead us directly into Cresco and to the Super 8 motel—host accommodations for this rally.


Liz was at the desk of the Motel when we arrived early for check in. She had our room ready on the ground floor to allow our bike to join us in our room. We removed our 50-pound luggage from the bike and returned to the lobby to await the arrival of Dwight and Pat Beavers, the PIGS 2012 Rally organizers. As registration commenced, it was evident that this was going to be another charged PIGS Rally—what a lively group! Robert and Faith Ericsson were in the crowd as were Quinten and Glorie Ann Robley whom we haven’t seen for a few years.

Friday, August 10, 2012–Day 1

Ice Cream Ride: 10.07 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 1 hour 8 minutes, average speed 8.8

The Ice Cream ride was scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and all 23 teams were ready to ride through the town of Cresco in search of our ice cream treat. While enjoying our treat, Dwight entertained us with his famed banana song. A small group of riders then gathered at the Teluwut Grill House & Pub to visit and have a drink. Keith Wherry, volunteer and Cresco bike shop owner, escorted us through town towing his hand-made trailer behind his bike. When it came time to head back to the Motel, I was invited for a spin in his chariot. Faith was charged with taking photos but she just wasn’t quick enough for the fast legs of Keith Wherry. We all followed Keith back to our Motel, huddled close in the dark of the night.



Saturday, August 11, 2012–Day 2

Long Route to Decorah: 59.77 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 4 hours 48 minutes, average speed 12.4

After breakfast in the Motel lobby, the teams met to ride. We headed south of town at 8:30 a.m. 50% of today’s riding was on trails and 50% was on the hilly roads of Iowa. We travelled as far southeast as Decorah where lunch was served at the Elks Lodge—the sandwiches were very good.


Our trip to Decorah included an unplanned surprise: Ward Bugweg agreed to take us on a private bicycle tour of his town. Ward and his wife, Jackie, were scheduled as guest speakers at our evening banquet. We learned that they just got back from bicycling around the world—a trip that took them 3 years. We felt honored to have Ward as our guide. He took us to some of the geological sights found in Decorah and we even had the chance to go caving.


Ward and Jackie parted from us at the town of Calmar and we continued our journey back to Cresco on the Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail, making it back to the Motel just in time to ready ourselves for the 5:30 p.m. social—a mile walk for us.


The Prairie Farmer Rec. Trail was named for a radio show once broadcast throughout the Midwest. The trail occupies the right-of-way of the former Milwaukee Railroad, which ran between Calmar to Cresco through these parts.

The banquet was fun and Ward and Jackie’s talk was very interesting. However, Dennis and I decided we would not be seeking to follow in their footsteps. Our adventures will remain on the calmer side compared to the challenges faced by this young couple. Their adventures are posted at:



As we walked back to the Motel, we decided we would join the group once more for a Sunday breakfast being served at Keith and Mary Wheery’s and then we would depart for our 60-mile trip back home. So far the weather has cooperated. We needed just one more day.


Sunday, August 12, 2012–Day 3

Cresco to Home: 58.28 miles
Tandem Pedal Time: 4 hours 49 minutes, average speed 12.0

It was agreed the night before to begin this final rally day by biking to the Wheery’s home in Cresco for breakfast. All teams were to meet at the Super 8 Motel at 7:00 a.m. and ride out together. We were in agreement until we checked the forecast for the day. We said our goodbyes in the lobby of the Motel explaining that we wanted to get as far towards home as we could before the predicted rain caught up to us. As we pulled away, it was apparent that most riders chose to leave their bikes in their vehicles and drive to the breakfast gathering then head for home.


On this closing day of the 2012 Summer Olympics, we were faced with an Olympic challenge of our own—climbing the many hills of this un-glaciated region of SE Minnesota. Home was 58 miles away and we anticipated rain during the journey. We reached Harmony, MN by 8:30 a.m. and stopped at the Village Square for breakfast. We are never alone on these journeys. We always have great friends calling to check on us. After ordering our food, Michelle and Alan called. They had planned to bike out to meet us on the Harmony-Preston Trail but the possibility of rain changed those plans. Dennis and I suggested they stay home and dry. We then continued biking down the Root River Trail with a planned stop in Lanesboro to check the weather radar. We had a small window of clear skies so made the decision to climb out of town on Hwy 250. We had to encourage each other to keep the momentum going. With 40 miles on the bike, we were thankful the traffic we encountered respected our right to be on the road. It’s funny that we would meet one driver coming out of Lanesboro—the bicycle center of MN—that did not appreciate seeing us on the road. He chose to harass us with his continued use of his horn. We can only hope that our friendly smiles as he passed made his day a bit brighter.

We managed to crawl to the top of this category #5 hill powering our 50+-year-old bodies on with the determination of a true Olympic team. We were awarded the gold that awaits every cyclist at the top of any challenging climb. We now knew we could make it the rest of the way home without needing to call for back up. We still had more hills to climb but the miles remaining were decreasing quickly. The rain did hold off until we reached home which reminds us that the best biking conditions can be found on cloudy days even when rain is in the forecast.

The PIGS rally is always an enjoyable event. The 23 teams attending were well-fed and entertained throughout the weekend making this gathering another tandem rally success thanks to the organization of Dwight and Pat Beavers and their team of volunteers.


Happy to be HOME!

Total 2012 PIGS Rally biking miles: 186

Monday, August 6, 2012

20-Mile Neighborhood Route

Fremont Route: 20.50 miles
SINGLES Pedal Time: 1 hour 41 minutes, average speed 12.0

Our single recumbents are getting a workout this week while the tandem is laid up. We started out the evening with no specific plan—only to pedal away until we felt ready to return towards home. A slight wind faced us as we headed south but nothing too fierce. We passed Fremont’s historic country store taking a right near the Lewiston/I90 exit to climb to a higher elevation before calling it quits. Once this climb was complete, we turned to enjoy a long-awaited descent—and what a glide it was reminding us why this sport is so rewarding.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back on the Trail Again

Douglas Bike Trail—Pine Island to Douglas: 17.25 miles
SINGLES Pedal Time: 1 hour 41 minutes, average speed 10.1

With another beautiful Friday for outdoor play, we headed towards Onalaska to drop off the tandem for repairs prior to meeting Alan and Michelle in Lake City for a 90-minute tour aboard the Pearl of the Lake Paddlewheel. We used our complimentary Tour de Pepin tickets and all four of us really enjoyed the trip.


It was then decided to bike the Douglas Bike Trail starting in Pine Island. We could then travel towards Rochester and choose to turn around when we had enough. This was Alan and Michelle’s first time back on the bike since their fall in June so this was a good choice for our riding today. They impressed us by biking over 17 miles and we now know they will be ready to tackle biking in Madison and the Dells this September.


As we opened the van door to get the bikes ready to ride we noticed a flat on the Bacchetta—the first since its purchase. The tire was quickly changed and minor adjustments were made to all bikes before we ventured onto the trail. It was a beautiful day to be out riding and all went well. The gravel dumped at each intersection was quite rough causing us to walk over these crossings but we endured.  It’s so good to see our friends back on the bike!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Neighborhood Prep Ride

Amish Market & Home: 9.47 miles
SINGLES Pedal Time: 44 minutes, average speed unknown (Computer miscalculating)

With the tandem out of commission, we realized how fun the singles are to ride. We biked over to the Amish Market near St. Charles and then back home as a practice run before taking the bikes on the road further from home. All seemed to be in working order so after our short ride, we packed the bikes in the van for an undisclosed ride with Michelle and Alan, their first major miles since their bike accident.