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Iowa to Michigan Tour, part 2

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Iowa to Michigan Tour, part 2

Old 03-20-22, 06:50 PM
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IPassGas
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Iowa to Michigan Tour, part 2

Iowa to Michigan, short report part 2: Minnesota/Wisconsin. The route map is shown in part 1 (https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/12...-part-1-a.html) and the link to RWGPS (ridewithgps.com/collections/22466?privacy_code=qOJvYsc3UeAdc5MA). From St. Ansgar IA near the MN/IA border we headed northwest to Lake Louise near Le Roy MN. We rode on the Shooting Star trail to a very nice camp at Lake Louise. One cannot mistake this Lake Louise for the well-known Canadian lake of the same name. We hiked from camp to the lake but had a hard time finding it. After pitching camp, we rode the short distance into the nice small town of Le Roy for supplies. From Lake Louise we deviated from the RWGPS route, instead of straight west to Harmony, we found nice backroads NW to Preston MN. We traversed some significant hills along this route. Some really splendid expansive views of MN farmlands at the top, but hard to capture in a pic.




At Preston (great lunch stop) we picked up the Root river trail, another beautiful trail for many miles along a river! This trail is paved and we continued on it to the town campground in Lanesboro. The camp was nice with bald eagles diving for fish on the lake. As often happens, our neighbor campers lent us some chairs, which we gratefully accepted. Lanesboro has nice restaurants with a deck overlooking the river within walking distance from camp. Although we sometimes stealth camp in a pinch, we much prefer a regular campground with a table to sit at and these days most have showers. Back on the trail again to its end at Houston, we then continued on MN 16 towards La Crosse. We are now approaching a city with a major river crossing and hoping that the route over the Mississippi would be bike friendly. Indeed it was, MN 16, MN 14, to bridge, there was either a bike path or significant shoulder all the way and onto the bridge. The city of La Crosse has significant cycling infrastructure. Near the bridge on La Crosse side, we stopped at a nice area with a bunch of restaurants for dinner. After, we followed wonderful bike trails along rivers/streams some miles to our camp at Veterans Memorial park on the La Crosse river.





While our time in Iowa was with above normal temperatures (very hot sometimes), it was also without rain. The good people of Iowa wished for rain, but we were happy without it. That changed upon entering MN, the rain gods giveth/taketh. La Crosse has some major storms that we were on the edge of the day before. It rained extremely heavy during the night at Veterans camp. The next morning we continued on the La Crosse river state trail from camp heading for the Elroy/Sparta trail. The heavy rains and wind in the days before caused significant trail damage. Several times we had to lift the bike over large fallen trees. We also learned that the Elroy/Sparta trail was not passable. So somewhere near Bangor, we diverted onto WI U/J/19 into Sparta. In Sparta, we changed our plans and headed for Tomah. That was sad, because we very much wanted to ride the Elroy/Sparta trail. Tomah had some kind of monster truck pull thing going on, with a sea of big trucks at the county fairground. Fortunately, during the Big Pull, all the trucks were there and not on the roads. We stopped at a nice (empty) restaurant for linner (lunch/dinner), and then slipped through town on empty roads. Somewhere to the east of Tomah in the middle of nowhere (the place to be), we found a nice camp (Woods Edge). Always love campgrounds that have a grassy area away from RVs.

The rain was again heavy during the night at Wood Edge. We woke to rain and waited for it to slow a bit before breaking camp. Changing our course on the fly, we biked in the rain to Necedah and stopped at a restaurant to wait out the heaviest rain and warm up. We took WI Z on the east side of Pentenwell lake since it was closer to the lake than the route on the west side. It was a beautiful route and slowly the rain stopped. We came across a tiki hut bar along the road…had to stop. After a beer, the sky again looked ominous and we skedaddled to Wisconsin Rapids. More rain was in the forecast, so we got a room to dry out. Fortunately, there were plenty of drying hooks. Just in time, heavy rains came soon after.



We have been generally following the Wisconsin river now and in many places we saw Sand Hill cranes. They are spectacular to see!, difficult to get good pictures. We discovered a nice camp at Lake Dubay park past Stevens Point. Here we meet some bikers on a supported ride across the US heading straight east. Always great to share stories. We usually do not meet cross US bikers since we typically take meandering routes rather than the more straight shot ACA routes. Onward along the Wisconsin river past Wausau we stopped in Merrill. Heavy rains were forecast for the next 2 days, so we found a motel. It rained hard that night and into the morning. So a layover day here was great for food, laundry and to dry out. The rain broke for a while in the afternoon, enough to let us walk around the town. That night it rained hard again, should have brought our kayaks.




After Merrill, continuing along the Wisconsin river on WI 107, the ride was beautiful. At Tomahawk, we picked up the Hiawatha trail to Minocqua. We chose to ride 2” tires this tour. For tours with a mix of roads and trails, it is nice to have wider tires with a narrow center smooth strip. The wider tires, with lower pressure, soften the ride on damaged road surfaces and track well on softer trail surfaces. In 2019, during a tour around Nova Scotia, our rear wheel failed, it happened before, a loaded tandem does test wheels. US wheel builders have too little experience with Rohloff hubs, so I rebuilt our wheels after that tour, and since then, the wheels have remained true without problems. Back to the tour, sometimes farm dogs can be a concern, so sometimes I just let them have their way with me.






After Woodruff we meandered through a number of small towns (St. Germain, Sayner, Boulder Junction) on a mix of great roads and trails. This area of Wisconsin is particularly nice, with many small lakes. We stopped at a grocery store for supplies and to figure out where to camp. It was July 4 and everything was booked. Someone stopped to chat at the grocery store and kindly offered to let us camp in his yard. One of the many special things that happen on tour. His house was well off our route and a campsite further along our route did open up, so we thanked him for the offer and moved on. We are nearing the Michigan border at Presque Isle. The next report is about the part of the tour in Michigan.

Last edited by IPassGas; 03-20-22 at 06:58 PM.
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