C2C Day 33 Red Wing MN to Trempealeau WI

A brisk 55 degrees at departure time today, with a cool breeze out of the Northwest. Received some helpful directions from a local rider who happened to be riding around town – “if you can keep up with an old lady, I’ll show you the best way to the state bridge” – well, I could keep up with her speed wise, but she lapped me several times when it came to talking. After hearing about all the nearby trails, why she lives in Red Wing (closer to grandkids), and how her husband sleeps in while she rides in the morning – I made it to the bridge with one parting piece of advice: “Minnesota drivers will slow down for you, Wisconsin drivers won’t”. I’d put her adage to the test after crossing over the Mississippi and into Wisconsin.

Checking out of the St. James Hotel

Cruising down Wisconsin’s Great River Road, the morning scenery was stunning. William Cullen Bryant boasted the area “ought to be visited in the summer by every poet and painter in the land”. Hard to argue with that. An early stop at the small town of Maiden Rock introduced us to a wide berth of the Mississippi called Lake Pepin, formed by the Chippewa River dumping sediment into the river and forming a natural dam.

My fellow metal heads will appreciate this.

Jackie took the opportunity to break out the paddle board and ride the Great River.

Jackie paddle boarding on Mississippi River’s Lake Pepin
Wisconsin 35 – Great River Road
Best sign of the day

Winds picked up as the day wore on, about 15mph NW, which equated to a fabulous tail wind into the picturesque riverside town of Trempealeau and the quaint Little Bluff Inn – our stay for the evening.

Trempealeau, Wisconsin

80 miles total today, averaging a swift 17.4 mph. Oh, and as forewarned, Wisconsin drivers on the road today did not slow down much – but with a nice wide shoulder, smooth roads, few cars, and a glorious tailwind, I was having too much fun to really notice.

Tomorrow will be a totally car-free ride on State Trails for about 72 miles to the tiny hamlet of Elroy. Bye for now.

C2C Day 32 Red Wing MN

Red Wing Rain

A rest day means a perfect day for rain. Total miles biked today: 0. Which also means some time for exploring the town of Red Wing.

Big Shoe

Red Wing is, rather appropriately, the home of Red Wing Shoes, and a cool little museum/store that chronicles the history of the company and it’s relationship with the town.

Memorial Park Bluff overlooking Red Wing

A couple of bluffs overlook the town and a winding Mississippi river.

#1 Tee

In between rain storms, some time for a friendly round of Disc Golf. Really fun course on top of one of the bluffs.

Birdie putt
Mississippi River

And finally, a stroll along the river in celebration of our 29th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Babes!

Hopefully the last of the storms are rolling through, and it’ll be a dry ride into Wisconsin tomorrow.

C2C Day 31 Mankato To Red Wing MN

Reconciliation Park

Today’s ride began with a stop at Reconciliation Park in Mankato, a sacred parcel of land near the site where 38 Dakota Warriors were executed during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 – the largest mass execution in U.S. History. The poignant park lists the names of those lost, features a spiritual buffalo statue, and tries to both teach and amend the clash of cultures through a powerful phrase: Forgive Everyone Everything

Starting point of the 43 mile Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail

Just a bit North of Mankato is the trail head for the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail. Sakatah is a Dakota-Wahpekita tribe word for ‘Singing Hills’ – so the trail literally translates to ‘Singing Hills Singing Hills’ – which is very apt, with chirping birds, humming dragon-flies, scurrying chipmunks, and singing recreationalists lining the route. A former rail line connecting Mankato and the Minnesota River with the town of Red Wing and the Mississippi River, about 95 miles distant. Teeming with trees, the converted Rails-to-Trails line elicits spontaneous bouts of Singing from those on the path!

Jackie joining for some riding near the trail town of Elysian

Jax parked the car at an old rail stop building midway along the trail in Elysian and joined the trail for several miles, doubling back to fetch the car. We were tempted to leave the car behind, but figured it might prove useful for the rest of the trip. Alas, the Sakatah trail came to an end at the town of Faribault, but a few low-travelled and wide-shouldered roads led to a reconnection of the rail-trail line, now called the Mill Towns State Trail.

Mill Towns State Trail, Dundas MN

Owing to advanced milling equipment devised and implemented in this area, Milled Minnesota Flour became a popular commodity in the late 1800’s and brought fame to this valley. Rail cars served the river-powered mills and brought enterprising settlers into central Minnesota. The mills eventually burned down, but the history remains.

Cannon River

From the town of Cannon Falls, the Cannon Valley Trail offered another beautiful car-free corridor towards today’s destination of Red Wing. 20 miles of down-river and down-wind bliss, complete with rest-stops.

Cannon Valley Trail Rest Stop

And then, the Mississippi River town of Red Wing – home of Red Wing Shoes. 97 total miles, the vast majority on well maintained paved trails. What a great ride…

Mississippi River at Red Wing MN

Celebration

… and a great celebration at the end of the day! Tomorrow is a rest day as Jackie and I celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. See ya.

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