Genoa, WI to Prairie du Chien, Wi – 40.9 Miles
…It’s a day we’ve long awaited for. -Sharon Wilson
We never dreamed it would take four years before we returned to the Mississippi River Trail to pick up where we left off in 2018!
Our lives have changed dramatically since 2018 when we originally decided to try to follow the Mississippi River Trail by bicycle from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to somewhere beyond New Orleans. The logistics of planning this year’s “return to the MRT” trip were especially challenging for this segment. It didn’t help that Labor Day weekend was squatting smack-dab in the middle of the limited time we had available to ride. We didn’t like the idea of sharing the road on a busy holiday weekend, so needed to figure out a way to work around it.
It also didn’t help that our journey started with us driving from Florida to Wisconsin by way of Buffalo, NY. Here is where I admit that we have have gone “to the dark side” and purchased E-bikes. We bought the kind that will not assist you if you are not already pedaling.
We took the leap because we knew that the area we’d be biking through this time is chock full of hills -big ones. During the time this trip was on hold, we started a conversation about E-bikes. There were (and are) mixed emotions about the idea of owning E-bikes. We’ve always been good riders and we knew we could get through this section OK with our regular bikes if we had to, but we also admit that we’re not getting any younger and why not get through this section with a bit less struggle? Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate climbing hills on my bike!
The bikes Mike finally decided on were not readily available which always seems to be our luck. He spent weeks trying to track down our bikes for us. He ended up finding his in Clearwater, Florida -which was a 14 hour round-trip drive (the week before we left). Then he found mine near Buffalo, NY, That meant we’d have to drive there from Florida and from there to Wisconsin. Just a teeny bit out of the way (tongue in cheek).
The silver lining to that side trip was that we were able to arrange a swing through Michigan to pick up my sister Nicky who’d agreed to be our “hag” (which is a family joke for the sag car driver). With the new bikes, we liked the idea of someone assisting us for the first few days by following us with our car.
A few hours into our trip from Michigan to Wisconsin, Nicky said there was some bad weather crossing Lake Michigan. We decided to sit it out and have lunch in Union Pier, MI. This was the weather map on the TV:
This first day of riding was also the first time I’d ever ridden my new bike more than 50 feet. As we started riding, I focused on getting a feel for the bike on its own and since the road today was slightly downhill and not too hilly, I was just rolling along at a good pace.
I commented to Mike that when we started riding again I was going to try out the assisted pedaling next. He said… You haven’t been using it???? He thought I had been because of how fast I’d been riding.
The day showed us the beginning of the hills we’re expecting ahead and just to make things fun… A very breezy wind …sometimes slightly behind us and sometimes seeming to be a headwind.
The river was more or less a constant companion.
We try to stop and stretch our legs about every 10 miles. We made a few extra stops this day for seat adjustments -one time Mike’s seat just started sliding lower and lower. It needed to be tightened up! Nicky stopped at a picnic area to video us riding by.
Along the way, Mike’s phone rang. It was the doctor’s office giving him the results from his recent lab tests. They said his cholesterol was a bit high and he needed to start an exercise program. He answered, “I’m standing on the side of the road in a middle of a 40 mile bike ride, Do you think that covers things?” They said…OH!
The locks and dams are always a nice place for a rest stop. They have areas for picnics and restrooms. Sometimes a soda machine. It is extra interesting if a vessel is locking through. Nothing locking through today for us.
Mike needed to adjust his seat again here. I happened to stand directly behind my bike at one point and when I looked at it, I could see that the seat was crooked. That explained a LOT about me not being entirely comfortable on the bike up to that point! Mike set me straight.
Nicky had seen a sign in the lobby about a place with the coldest beer in town…that sounded like a plan! After we had our showers, we went to check it out… It kinda wasn’t what we were expecting, but turned out fun.
We thought Nicky might like to see one of the riverboat casinos -and we were just a few miles from one, so we went to check it out. (This was taken from the pedestrian bridge connecting the riverboat to the parking lot across the road.)
They had donation boxes near the exits for small tickets like ours. The tickets collected are used for the benefit of the local community. We ended up donating a total of 45 cents.
The casino boat was on the Iowa side of the river. I was able to snap this quick photo of it from the car while on the bridge heading back to Prairie du Chien.
We went back to our hotel and settled down for the night. We wanted to get a good night’s sleep because the next day we would be getting into the beginning of several days of very hilly riding.