Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2982.2
Weather: Sunny, Hot
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 20 (8 Birds, 3 Turtles, 3 Raccoons, I Snake, 5 Unknown)
Bugs Swallowed: 3
Mean Dogs Chasing: 0
Animal Rescue: 0
Today's ride was pure yeoman's work. Wisconsin's beautiful asphalt sizzled under the blazing sun and the 8000% humidity made for a crotch soaking experience--not ideal for saddle sores. It's also hilly here. It's not official yet, but this day has to qualify in the top five for total elevation gain. Despite the challenges, it was a great slog.
I hit the road before 10 a.m. after my morning ointment ritual. That's pretty good for me since I always loiter with the locals. I procrastinate because the worst part of the ride is settling in for the first few miles finding new pressure points to aggravate and struggling with catatonic legs.
I stopped in Cornell after being tipped off that I'd fiind the exotic Wisconsin cheeses I crave at Dylan's Dairy. It's a little cafe with big taste. I ordered a salad and made a special request to have some aged cheddar and horseradish cheese shredded on top. I was not disappointed. It was going to be a long day, so I ordered a homemade chocolate cherry malt on the side. It was delectable and necessary as I suffered a major caloric and glycemic deficit by day's end.
40 miles later on 64 Hwy, I took a long pit stop at the Gilman Cenex gas staton. It's the town hub, like so many places I've patronized. I filled a cup full of my favorite energy drink, cherry Slushpuppy, and sat at a round table with a rotating cast of old farmers. These guys are all comedians and give me reason to stay, chat and enjoy air conditioning.
One standout, the 93 year old patriarch of "Hopeless Dairy, Inc." was a kick in the pants. I wish I caught his name. He was spry, sharp and cantankerous in the most entertaining way. While we were making fun of the PC gluten free/organo/local movement, I asked what his secret to long life and good health had been. He explained that he just ate seasonally off of the land his whole life: rabbits, squirrels, fish, beets, carrots and whatever his family grew or raised. He also described fantastic hikes in the woods where he'd disappear for weeks at a time using nothing but rivers for navigation. The local forest is gone now, due to decades of logging.
I had a 60 mile goal, but felt "inspired" to go further since I'd been listening to the audiobook, "The Secret Race" by Dan Coyle and Tyler Hamilton. It's about the euphoric era of pro cycling between 1999 and 2008. Americans were silly with enthusiasm for Lance Armstrong and the Philistines on the U.S. Postal team. Just like baseball, the fans, the sponsors and the governing bodies looked past he statistically improbable success of these "heroes." Armstrong and his feats were lauded as miracles.
That decade of cycling mania was special for me. An American tifoso, I attended the 2001 Tour with a press pass arranged by my Reuter's pal, Greg. I had access to the peleton and looked ridiculous with my "Kansas City Post" credentials and Best Buy consumer camera. It was a time that I was on cloud nine personally and professionally. I later discovered that the Lance Era was also a period marked by an intimate scandal in my own life. The ugly truth of camouflaged doping was a metaphor, of sorts, for a lot of things I naively loved.
So, this fascinating book conjured old anxieties and gave me an artificial adrenaline boost. Fueled by adrenaline, and a wee bit of rage, I chose to ride in the dark to Merrill, WI. I called on a roach motel and was given horrible instructions that added a mildly annoying few extra miles.
It was after 10 p.m. and the only joint open for food was Wichita, KS-based Pizza Hut. Kansas Pizza is a contradiction, but I didn't care. I asked if the delivery guy could bring me a lot of ice and a two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi. The friendly gal on the other end of the call obliged and left a nice note on my "pizza" box. I guzzled the brown elixir like a parched dog. I wouldn't dare drink the water from the mildewed sink in my motel bathroom.
Not a bad day.
Getting close to the ferry for Michigan. It will be an important milestone, but I'll sure miss this great Wisconsin asphalt. Smooth and creamy! The baby's bottom of road aggregate.