Day 31
Riding south out of Hutchinson on highway 15 was not a good idea. The shoulder went away and I had to ride 20 miles with moderate traffic, narrow lanes and a sand and gravel shoulder - not rideable. At roughly the midpoint of that section I was run off the road by a jerk in a pickup truck pulling a trailer. The trailer was essentially as wide as the lane and the pickup truck driver didn't want to slow down for me - which actually was a bit inconsistent since he had a least half a dozen cars trapped behind him - so he simply laid on his horn and drove through the space I had been using. Rather than get run over by his trailer, I veered sharply off into the sand and gravel. I managed to keep control of my bike and to get it back on the pavement (there was an inch or so drop off) after he had passed. I made a rude gesture (and got some sympathetic looks from the folks behind him) and I think he saw me because he slowed down. I was hoping he'd stop, but he drove on.

After that experience, I got off of 15 ASAP. I stopped for a milkshake near the intersection of 15 and 19. Then I took 19 over to Gaylord. It was nice to head east since the wind was out of the south at 10 mph, plus 19 has good shoulders (where I rode it, YMMV). I ate lunch in Gaylord before heading south on 22. Highway 22 had much less traffic than highway 15 and all of it appeared to be local. No RVs and few truck. Nice riding except for the head wind. 22 heads east 10 miles south of Gaylord, but 111 continues on south to Nicollet. From Nicollet I rode east on 14.

Roughly 10 miles later 14 changed character. It had been a nice two lane road with a good shoulder. It became a 'interstate like' road with fair shoulders, but the shoulders were covered with debris (rocks, wood, truck tire fragments, etc). The next half a dozen miles, through Mankato, were some of the most unpleasant of my trip. Too much traffic, dangerous exits and entrances, and shoulders that were barely rideable because of the debris. I was not happy. I did have one passing car that waved and honked. That helped. I also had a truck that set off a deliberate backfire as he passed me. I didn't react to the backfire. On this tour I only had one juvenile prank (e.g. the backfire) that actually startled me. That one happened in southern Virginia just as I was thinking about how polite drivers in Virginia were. At the easter edge of Mankato there was a large shopping center with a Barnes and Nobles, so I stopped and looked for a book Sam had recommended. I didn't find it.

For 6 miles after Mankato 14 was two lane with little or no shoulder. It also had moderate to heavy traffic near Mankato. After I got out of the heavy traffic, I stopped by the road in some, fairly rare, shade for a rest break and a snack. At Janesville I stopped and had a large pineapple milkshake at a Dairy Queen. Riding conditions were pretty good from Janesville into Owatonna. The wind had died down, traffic wasn't bad, and the shoulders were good. I was tired and I thought of stopping at Waseca, but this was July 4th and Waseca is on a lake. It was packed with tourists. I continued on to Owantonna, where I found a cheap motel (no cold water in the shower(!), but the hot wasn't too hot so I managed) and had a good supper at a Perkins Restaurant. 100 miles mostly into head winds.

Previous Page Next Page