Once again, we had a tailwind, for most of the day. I had to stop and get a picture of the Al-Corn Clean Fuel factory just for the irony, and another of the haze that had been on the ground the past several days. We rode pretty fast, through Dodge County (where the roads were pretty bad, so we wanted to get the heck out of Dodge..*grin*), through Kasson and Byron, and eventually into Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic. Rochester was actually a really nice town, although the downtown streets had absolutely no shoulder. We ate at a place called Canadian Honkers, which had great sandwiches, right across from the clinic, and then continued into Pit 2. Rochester is the first city in a while with a downtown picture of tall buildings in a long time -- or maybe it just seems that way. All the days have a tendency of running together sometimes.
The second half of the day was blazingly hot -- just outside of lunch we started talking with an older couple on the street, and she inquired as to how far we were going yet that day. We told her "Winona", and she said "Uff da! In this heat, that's such a long way!" My first time with someone using that expression in normal speech! whoo-hoo!
Anyway, we continued about 12 miles out of Rochester, and by the time we got to Eyota many of us were really tired. Several of us stopped in a Kwik Trip, and just hung out in the air conditioning and bought some ice cream/cold pop stuff. Tom bought the four of us push-ups. yum yum yum. Re-energized, we went back out into the heat (and the wind, which had shifted to the south, and was being occasionally hell when we had to turn that way), and made it to Lewiston, MN (no reference to Lewis and Clark, we think). At that point we had a nice long 2 mile downhill to Stockton, into the Mississippi River Valley. While still hot, we started going north, regaining our tailwind! We continued on, actually missing the city of Winona, but camping on the Prairie Island Park and Campground site, about 2.5 miles away. The site was really pretty, but there were tons of mosquitos, and deer ticks and chiggers to boot. Needless to say, I wore my rain pants and boots! We got in fairly early for an 88 mile day -- just about 5pm. Plenty of time to eat, shower, and hide in the tent reading until bedtime. *shudder* I hate bugs sometimes...
We rode through Cortland, and on into Mankato, crossing the Minnesota River from North Mankato. It's a truly nice town! We met a a few of kids, one with a parrot-type bird at the Pit 2 park, who had come out with their mom to say hi. We asked a couple of locals (part of a local university news crew?) for a good place to eat, and they mentioned the Bagel Brothers, on Cherry Street (the main downtown street, as opposed to the retail strip further up the route that we were being directed towards). Boy was it good! Heidi (duck heidi, from SF) joined us, and as it turned out the Gilligan's Island singers (they have squeaky duck heads on their bikes) were there too. We told them that we hadn't managed to find a bagel place since we left LA.
We continued on, after I took a picture of the Blue Earth County Courthouse (at least I think that's what it was). After this the day got even hotter, well into the 90s, so I started taking fewer pictures. This happens. However, I did get pictures of the town signs for Janesville and Waseca, the Pit 3 and almost-to-camp towns.
We got into Owatonna amazingly early for us; 3:13. Stunned and amazed, we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves, but we knew we had a long day tomorrow so we didn't do much! The announcements that night were really cool; they had Miss Minnesota come out and sing for us! The mosquitos were once again annoying, but that's become a usual thing. *sigh*. We got to bed early, and crashed!
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