Fun Facts #3

Wheel full 70px In the course of bicycling the length of the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana on the delta out in the Gulf of Mexico my friend Gary Schmidt and I will see a lot of the United States.  We will cross all or part of ten states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and, finally, Louisiana.  The river is officially 2,320 miles/3,734 kilometers in length according to the United States Geological Survey [link].  Our route along the river is, because the roads aren’t right alongside its banks, a somewhat longer distance.  The route, as it stands today, is 2,416.4 miles/3,888.2 kilometers long [link].

Route 170406 800px

Wheel full 70px We asked a couple of days ago which, looking at the above map, states are entirely on the left (west) bank of the river; which states are on the right (east) bank; and which have land area on both sides.  Nobody took us up on our little quiz, so here’s the answer.  We’ll start with the easy ones.

Wheel full 70px Our beginning and end states: Minnesota and Louisiana, are easy to spot as being “both sides” places.  The river flows for its first 440 miles/708 kilometers or so entirely within the State of Minnesota and for its last 275 miles/443 kilometers more or less with the State of Louisiana on both banks.  Between those two states the Mississippi would appear to form a natural north to south boundary between the remaining states, with Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Louisiana lining up to the right (east) of the river and Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas to the left (west).  Careful reference to a map, though, shows that this is not near so simple as it appears.  In fact, it looks like there is only one state: Wisconsin, that lies entirely to one side of the Mississippi River.  The remaining seven states have land area, albeit in very tiny amounts, on both banks.  This has occurred due to shifts in the main channel of the Mississippi over the close to 200 years that states have been established along it.  In some places, particularly south of Cairo, Illinois, these changes have been pretty dramatic.

Wheel full 70px As Gary and I ride down the river and pass by and sometimes even through some of these state boundary anomalies, we’ll call them to your attention.


So Very Close!

AR 4 400px days left!!

Wheel full 70px I just got off the phone with the mechanic at Northern Cycle [link] in Bemidji, Minnesota.  My Surly Disc Trucker arrived just fine and it is assembled and ready to go.

Surly Disc Trucker 01

Wheel full 70px The shop is replacing the Supernova USB power tap [link] on my headset, as the old one never worked properly and, on inspection, the USB socket was broken.  Other than that, though, all I need to do now is get there on Friday to pick it up.


One Year Ago Today

Wheel full 70px I fell off my bike.

Wheel full 70px From my crazyguyonabike journal [link]:

I was climbing Haddon Hill on NS 3 and had gained on a challenging grade a little over half of its 180 foot elevation. There was no shoulder and the edge of the pavement under the white road edge line was rutted and crumbling. It was not the worst condition I had encountered on the ride to this point but it was pretty bad. At M119.3 a perfect storm came up consisting of a poorly-timed shift, a wobble and a rut in the road. Without warning the bike went out from under me and (as I learned from a driver right behind me who stopped to offer assistance) I flipped over the right side of the handlebars and into a yard/meter deep drainage ditch filled with weeds on the roadside. My right shoe came off as I was in the air and landed past the ditch a couple of yards/meters from where I landed. I came down on my helmet and right shoulder and I was pretty badly stunned as it took a few minutes to reorient Myself.


My head rang, my neck stung and my shoulder hurt, but I was not bleeding or even badly scraped anywhere. It could have been far worse. The aforementioned driver told me afterwards that he was afraid that I would be grievously injured or even dead when he reached me. Several other vehicles stopped and I was literally overwhelmed by people who wanted to help. Just as amazing as my coming through the crash more or less unscathed was that neither the bike nor the gear suffered any damage. There were some scratches on the Ortlieb panniers on the right side, but they are quite apparently made of pretty tough stuff. Several people who stopped urged me to go to the local medical clinic- apparently the one I had just departed where I had weighed myself- and one good-hearted fellow offered to drive me back into Halifax to a hospital. I’m afraid I disappointed everyone in the end, as I begged off all the kind offers of help, telling everyone I just needed to sit and rest for a while and then assess how I felt. The first driver to stop walked my bike for me about 75 feet/23 meters up the road where I sat down on a rock wall for about 45 minutes.

And then I climbed back on the bike and started back on my way to Key West.

I was, mind you, still hurting. My head ached and my neck and right shoulder were pretty sore. But looking back as I write this journal entry over the space of almost six months I think I made the right decision by continuing on. If I had gone to a clinic or an ER I probably would have been told how lucky I was and told to rest for several days. This almost certainly would have been sound advice, but I would have suffered a major break in the momentum of my ride so early on. Who knows what the ultimate impact of such a break would have been? I think, again in the light of 20/20 hindsight, that I needed to feel at that point that I was going to make it all the way to Key West despite such obstacles as the road might throw at me. So I pedaled on.

Wheel full 70px Hopefully the ride this year will go without any such incident,


An Early Day

KY 5 400px days to Itasca!

Wheel full 70px I got up at Zero Dark Thirty this morning to call the Minnesota State Parks Reservation Center when it opened to make campground reservations for our stays at Itasca and Crow Wing State Parks.  There was only one site (!) left available at Itasca for the 25th as of last night, so I wanted to nab it.  I attempted to do this online yesterday, but my profile came up “already in use” when I tried to set it up n the Reservation Center’s website and I thus couldn’t proceed on to make the reservation.  A call to the nice lady who assisted me this morning cleared that up- my wife Heather and I stayed at Itasca five years ago before Minnesota adopted a state park campground reservation system and our old landline home phone number, collected at the time, was somehow creating a glitch in the system.

Wheel full 70px So Gary and I are now paid guests of the State of Minnesota at Itasca SP on the 25th and Crow Wing SP on the 30th.  A ten dollar call center reservation was added to each night, so I start the day a sawbuck poorer but relieved that this task is taken care of.  I hope Minnesota puts the money to good use.  It is fortunate that friends are hosting up over Labor day weekend- I never thought about that until yesterday.

Wheel full 70px Three nights and a wakeup until I fly out of Anchorage!


Working, working…

MO 6 400px days to go!

Wheel full 70px Crazy busy today, so this is short.  I’ve been alternating getting back to close to 30 different overnight hosts, getting the last unconfirmed lodging nailed down, making state park reservations and getting my gear looked over, organized, inventoried and packed.  A couple of things fell into place- more about that over the next few days.

Wheel full 70px You folks down south- enjoy the eclipse!  We’ll have not near the show up here in Alaska, but that’s the luck of the draw.


One Year Ago Today…

Wheel full 70px I was spending the first night on the road of my 3,600 mile/5,800 kilometer solo bike ride down the Atlantic coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Key West, Florida.


Wheel full 70px That ride took 84 days.  Gary Schmidt and I will ride this year about two-thirds of that distance in just over half the number of days.  Of course, I spent the first full six weeks of the 2016 trip in full tourist mode, averaging only about 30 miles/50 kilometers a day.


Wheel full 70px You can read my partially completed journal of that ride (through the ferry across the Bay of Fundy at this point) at here [link].  I plan to write the journal of this year’s ride as I go along, so I promise I won’t get so far behind.