Back on our bicycles once again, we began anew in Harmony, Minnesota, just a bit over the Iowa border. I had mapped out the perfect day – 53 miles of paved trail to Houston, Minnesota. The trail winds along the South Branch and Main Branch of the Root River through beautiful scenery and quaint small towns, that by and large have espoused the river and the bicycle trail. There are lots of businesses catering to cyclists, rafters and anglers. Lanesboro is a quaint old railroad town and Whalan offers a pie shop with 25 varieties of pie. Cycling on the Root River Trail also marked our reunification with the old grade of the former Milwaukee Road rail line which was where we began our journey in Washington state.
We set up camp at the Houston Nature Center, which is exclusively for walk in camping. Though we were forewarned that it was the annual “Hoedown” weekend and that bands would be playing right next door to the campsite at the fairgrounds until 1 a.m. we didn’t pay it much heed. What we didn’t know was that there would be a tractor pull, followed by a truck pull at the fairgrounds that lasted for four hours, throwing billows of black smoke into the air and driving us asunder with all of the engine revving.
At 7 am on Sunday, we were the first guests at the Houston Lion’s Club annual gravy and biscuit breakfast. Though we didn’t realize it at the time, this would be the day’s highlight. Before leaving Houston, I discovered my rear tire was shredded. Fortunately, I had just purchased two replacement tires in Decorah – one for my bicycle and one for Shevonne’s. What I presumed would be a quick fix turned into a two-hour work-out that included destroying two inner tubes as well. Thankfully, a bicycle repair guru finally appeared on the scene and with our last tube, he was able to get the tire back on successfully. His recommendation is to stop using the tire levers because they rip the inner tubes.
Wheel back on the bicycle, I then discovered my front tire was about to blow. Without another tire that fit my bicycle and without a local bicycle shop we were a bit stuck. Miraculously, Dan and Faith appeared and offered to give us a ride into Lacrosse. We had met Dan and Faith earlier in the morning when attempting to repair the tire and they were now back after their 26-mile ride. “We believe in karma,” said Dan as he loaded our bicycles on the back of his pick-up truck. Dan describes himself as a cook for cows –he makes sure they are getting the right nutrients and Faith works at the University of Wisconsin in Lacrosse, doing what she describes as triage for college students to ensure their success.
After driving past multiple closed bicycle shops, we gave up and rented a hotel room for the night. We checked out the Mississippi River and the bridge we had planned to ride over the river. When they open we will visit a local bike shop to have them inspect all of our tires, replace any as needed and perform any other tuning up as needed.
Follow us as we spin our wheels