My motel was at the intersection of 14 and I-35. There were two 'chain' restaurants there so I ate a pretty good breakfast at the other one before riding through town. 14 joined I-35 as it went around Owantonna, so I couldn't go around. After riding through town I found myself on a nice, interstate like, highway 14 which soon became two lanes with good shoulders. Those shoulders lasted till several miles before Dodge Center, then it was back to the narrow concrete strip. This one had no shoulders, not even sand and gravel, just a nasty drop off to rough dirt. Traffic was fairly heavy and I was lucky, e.g. the concrete truck passed me when there was no oncoming traffic. I stopped in Dodge center for another DQ milkshake: They had small ones on sale so that's what I got. Their medium and large shakes were 50 cents more than the DQ I had patronized the day before. Rip off.
The bad road condition continued for several miles after Dodge Center and then highway 14 became a divided 4 lane with good shoulders. It was pretty with rolling hills, and pleasant riding. This continued into Rochester where, once again, highway 14 joined an interstate and I had to ride through town. After Mankato, I was not looking forward to riding through Rochester and, as I passed under I-90, I was greeted with construction for a mile or so. Despite the construction and a lot of traffic, riding through Rochester (right past the Mayo Clinic) was not bad. I stopped for lunch after I got through most of the town at the busiest Burger King I have ever been in - it was lunch hour and near downtown - and still enjoyed my lunch. Nice town.
After lunch traffic was heavy heading east and the shoulders were bad/nonexistent, but the traffic let up after Dover, as I had hoped/expected it would because I-90 runs just south of 14. A pretty good rule for choosing roads that are good for touring: pick routes that parallel interstates. From St Charles on 14 has good shoulders. I went into town in St Charles and had a good desert, cherry pie with icecream, and coffee at Dell's Cafe. A pretty town. Coming out of St Charles I was behind an Amish buggy on the shoulder. I was l lot faster down hill and we went at the same speed uphill, but the buggy turned off at an Amish farm before I caught up with it. It was pretty hilly.
Highway 14 climbs quite a bit after Lewiston and then suddenly you aren't on the plains any more. There is a 400 or 500 foot drop in a mile or two before Stockton and the country you are coasting through at 35 mph looks almost like Vermont. Quite pleasant, except for the nagging feeling that you are going to have to climb back up the other side of the valley. There is a 400 ft climb on the other side of Stockton. The country you are cranking through at 5 mph still looks like Vermont, but it feels hotter. Then another good downhill and you have reached the Mississippi River.
I stopped for some sports drink (after the first real hills in weeks) at the intersection of 14 and highway 61 and then headed down the river and into Winona. I thought of having supper there but I was anxious to get across the river into Wisconsin. There is something very satisfying about riding into new state. In this case crossing the Mississippi also meant that I was back in the 'East' and, in a way, close to home.
Crossing the river also meant leaving behind all those nice places to eat. There was nothing, well a bar or two, on the Wisconsin side. After 5 miles or so I stopped at a rest stop and had a snack from my supplies. Then I bicycled on in search of supper and a place to sleep. Just before Centerville which is at the intersection of 35 and highway 53, I came upon a cafe and a bar. This was not a high class establishment, but it was the first place I'd seen to eat in 20 miles and I was hungry.
I went in the cafe (the Acorn Cafe) and found a gray haired lady sitting at the bar smoking a cigarette. No one else was around. I asked her what I could get to eat and she recommended the fish dinner. Then she called the order to the cook who came out to ask me, in the thickest Norwegian accent I've ever heard, something about the meal. It was one of the best meals of my tour and I spent a, very enjoyable, hour visiting with the waitress and the cook. In the middle of that hour the owner came in, dressed in overalls. He liked the looks of my salad so he ordered some for himself and then he had some soup and bread. I enjoyed his company as well, although he was less talkative than the women. He advised me about the motels in the area and suggested I go to the Sonic Motel in Galesburg. It was only about four miles on down the road, and I spent a comfortable night there in a 4 poster bed. 105 miles.
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