Day 34 Phillips to Eagle River WI
I took an easy day, riding 80 miles with, mostly, a moderate tailwind. Dick Boyd from Iron River MI met me at Eagle River and took me to his place north of Iron River. If I had ridden to Iron River it would have been a 115 day, but after yesterday's exhaustion, I wasn't up to that long a ride even in close to ideal riding conditions.
I left my motel at about 8 AM after a decent nights sleep. Considering how I felt when I went to bed, I was in pretty good shape in the morning. The motel had an OK continental breakfast which I ate about 7 AM. I stopped at a cafe in downtown Phllips for a big breakfast - I had strawberry pancakes which turned out to be almost like a large strawberry shortcake. Yum. Then I rode north on WI 13.
It was good riding, but a few jerks did detract from my riding pleasure. The worst was a truck towing a large trailer who didn't bother to move over as he passed me. The shoulder, typical for this part of Wisconsin, was about two feet wide and the bailout area was sand and gravel. Since I have trouble controlling my bike on sand and gravel, I tend to ride with my panniers pretty much on the white line which gives me six inches or so of pavement beyond my tire track. This trailer extended within a few inches of the white line, so there was probably about half a foot of clearance as he came by me. I sensed he was too close and stopped pedaling to go into careful control mode. It was good that I did since even a pretty small wobble would have been dangerous. If the truck had pulled over even six inches the other way, it would have been much safer for me, but either he was incompetent or he was didn't care about my safety, probably the latter. There are too many folks like him (or her?) on these roads. I would expect better riding conditions during the week when there are fewer folks who have come to the northwoods for the weekend.
In Fifield, fourteen miles north, I stopped for a third breakfast. Actually I stopped to get a light meal, but the only place to eat - a 'resort' restaurant/bar offered only a breakfast buffet. I paid too much money for the food I was able to eat, but it was thirty eight miles to the next services, so I took what was available. Fifield, which is on WI 70, doesn't offer much, but Park Falls, which is four miles north on US 13 seems to have all services.
When I turned east on 70, I was greeted by a 'rough road next 19 miles' sign (those damn expansion cracks again) and no shoulder. The road conditions actually didn't improve much for the next 30 miles. It may have gotten a little smoother after 19 miles, but it didn't get back to a decent shoulder till after it left the Lac Du Flambeau reservation about eight miles before Woodruff. Riding wasn't bad (thump-thump a lot, but less than county road W) most of the time. I did bailout twice onto the sand and gravel. The first time was when a string of vehicles approached from the rear on an empty, straight, and level stretch of highway. No problem I thought, but then I saw a pickup in the middle of the group pull out to pass. That didn't leave the folks he was passing much opportunity to get around me without slowing down a lot. I got off the road and cursed the pickup driver as he passed. The second time was when a big RV came up without showing any sign that he saw me. I pulled over onto a side road to let him pass. He beeped at me, so at least he saw me. I had, both yesterday and today, several unpleasant moments that were the result of rude or incompetent drivers. I had many more drivers beep encouragement, wave, or give me a thumbs up sign. This is a bicycle friendly area.
I stopped in a sports bar in Woodruff for lunch (pretty good and I got to watch ESPN coverage of the X games and find out what was happening in the Tour du France). Riding was very easy from Woodruff to Eagle River: both the decent shoulder the tail wind were pretty consistent, but my legs were feeling tired and it is a long way without much of anything between Eagle River and Iron River, so I decided Eagle River was a good enough place to stop for the day.
Dick had volunteered to come get me and I gave him a call before having supper at a Subway. I typed yesterday's ride report while I waited. Then, as we left the Subway and Dick was telling me how he had decided to keep his truck for a long time, its clutch went out. Dick managed to drive to Iron River without being able to release the clutch.
Now I'm taking a day or two for Rest (me) and Repair (my bike) before heading north and east to Marquette. Dick is a most excellent host.