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