Day 6: Blackhawk Rec Area, De Soto WI – Wyalusing SP, Bagley WI, 50 miles

A Blustery Day

In addition to getting quite cold, yesterday’s wind neglected to calm down overnight. I’ve been wondering why it takes me so long to get going in the mornings; today I realized I spent 90 minutes trying to boil a little less than a quart of water for morning coffee and oatmeal. Having worked as a software engineer for 12 years, I’m sadly used to waiting around in the hope SOMETHING will happen, be it the meeting end, the compile fininsh without errors, or some test run to completion. Very glad I picked up the lighter because this morning I used it repeatedly in the cold until both thumbs wouldn’t grip; they’re still sore tonight. I decided I either had to get a windscreen in place for the trangia stove, or I had to take Lanny up on his offer of sending me his old, unused MSR Whisperlite. Salvation by mail would be at least at week off, pending my deciding where I will be in 10 – 14 days so that something could be mailed via “USPS General Delivery”. That left me with having to buy a windscreen or the materials to make one out of.
Eventually the stove warmed up enough that I made coffee and oatmeal, and even attempted to fry some bacon. By the time I rolled out of Blackhawk at the crack of 11:30, I was chilled to the bone, and my hands were barely working. It was cold enough that I didn’t care I had forgotten to get change for the pay showers; I wouldn’t have taken one even if it was free.

Fortunately I had found my cool-weather cycling cap, the one with the ear flaps, so I didn’t have to suffer through the day with a headache.

Once I was on the road, and away from the wide open river, everthing became much more pleasant: the gale-force winds subsided to merely stupifying, the temperatures soared to almost pleasant, and I settled into the day’s routine of climbing hills, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since I left Red Wing several days before.

I passed the Great River Road House restaurant in De Soto about noon, and briefly considered stopping for lunch even though I wasn’t hungry yet. I decided to take my chances with the next town, Ferryville, and rolled on. The next town almost let me down. I passed two bars that both had crowds of pickup trucks and were assummedly full of hunters. As I came to the edge of town I passed a non-descript bar that wasn’t crowded and bore the sign “LAST STOP”, so I did.  The menu proclaimed hamburgers in 4, 8 and 12 oz sizes, and I almost ordered the latter till I remembered a pound was only 16 oz; 3/4 pound of beef seemed like the quintessential gut-bomb to ruin the day. Exercising self restraint, I went for the half-pounder, with bacon and cheese (of course). And onion rings. Chased by coffee. And apple pie. Because *that* isn’t a gut bomb, It’s Just Lunch. The onion rings were excellent. The bacon-cheeseburger was simple yet met expectations. The pie was sadly lacking. I still ate the whole works.

I rode on to Prairie du Chien, stopping at the Cabella’s in hopes of finding an answer to my stove problems. No luck. I continued into town, looking for the Prairie Peddler bike shop. It’s on the corner of Blackhawk Ave & Prairie Street, GPS coordinates N 43 deg 03.088′, W 091 deg 08.887′. Sadly Marty, the owner, had taped a sign on the door stating family matters had called him back to Minnesota today. While I was trying to find directions to Wyalusing State Park, a white haired gentleman with a cane (and an attractive young brunette who could have been his grand-daughter) came up to me and asked where I was from, where was I going, and is that how people pack for long distance bike tours now? Turns out he had done four trips from Alaska to South America, at one point having had his tent stolen by “banditos” so he learned to pack much more lightly. He said he finally had to quit bicycle touring when he had his knee replaced; he could still ride but walking was now very difficult. Any time I asked a question he acted light he was in a hurry to leave, so I never got his name. I can only imagine at the stories he could have told.

The coffee shop next door to Prairie Peddler had closed at 3pm, so I headed for the grocery store on the south end of town, scoring another pint of 91% isopropyl and a pair of heavy-duty aluminum foil “oven liners.”

Wyalusing State Park

Riding towards Wyalusing State Park, County Road C curves to the right and then proceeds to climb 400 feet in one mile, an 8% slope. It climbs another 120 feet over the next mile, topping out at 1180 feet. The climb into the park itself is feels steeper, but is not nearly as long nor as high.

Windscreen for Trangia Stove

The first order of business, (after checking in, setting up the tent, and stringing up the line for hanging the food bags of course) was constructing a wind screen for the stove. As luck would have it this campsite was almost windless, a welcome change from the rest of the day, although the wind did gust up a little, generally I think the windscreen makes a big improvement, especially considering how it contains the heat around the pot.

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9 Responses to Day 6: Blackhawk Rec Area, De Soto WI – Wyalusing SP, Bagley WI, 50 miles

  1. Sean says:

    captcha test.
    I’ve been getting lots of apparently automated comment spam, so I’m trying this to see if it helps. Please let me know if it’s too obnoxious.
    Thanks,
    -Sean
    Sean recently posted..Day 6: Blackhawk Rec Area, De Soto WI – Wyalusing SP, Bagley WI, 50 milesMy Profile

  2. Randall says:

    I’ve used an alcohol stove a lot and it seems a wind screen is essential even on calm days. You might also consider switching your fuel source. Try some HEET (in the yellow bottle, not the red) from the gas station. It burns hotter and with less soot.

    • Sean says:

      Thanks Randall,
      I’ve learned you’re right about the windscreen. I’ve tried the red bottle heat and found it no better than rubbing alcohol; I’ll have to try the yellow bottle heat.

  3. Lanny Hoff says:

    I can send the stove Friday, Sean. Live a little!

  4. Shawn says:

    Hey Sean, you should check out the Jet boil type of stove, it is a little spendy, but great to boil water in 5 minutes and is wind proof for the most part. REI does sell them.

    Just wondering if you are aware of the sites of warmshowers.org and couchsurfing,com

    I traveled for 4 years with a backpack and will be heading out to cycle this next spring. I bought my long haul trucker from Jim at Hiawatha cyclery and he mentioned about you heading out.
    Shawn recently posted..Photos of the Packing System for TouringMy Profile

    • Sean says:

      Thanks Shawn.
      I’ve used JetBoil stoves, and while they boil water REALLY well, I was looking for something more general purpose.

      I am, however, expecting a stove upgrade (MSR whisper lite) in the mail early next week.

      • Sean says:

        And thanks for the suggestion for warmshowers.org: I’ve got an account there I need to update. I’ve heard of couchsurfing;I’ll have to check it out.

        • Shawn says:

          You can do some house sitting. two good sites are housecarers.com and mindmyhouse.com, and there are many others.

          House sitting is great, it is free, and if allows some good down time if needed.

          • Sean says:

            Thanks Shawn,
            I’ve heard of house sitting before and always had way too much stuff to consider it. That’s millinery an impediment.

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