Northern Tier 2010

August 8, 2010

The Third H

Filed under: Minnesota, Section 06, Wisconsin — Henry Scott @ 8:00 pm

Yesterday’s south wind delivered the worst humidity, presumably from the Gulf of Mexico, I’ve experienced so far, and it made what I thought would be an easy day fairly challenging. The expression in the photo is staged…but it pretty much sums up the day. I knew from the start I’d only go about 75 miles because that would place me near Stillwater, and I’d like to spend some time there during the day. Thinking I had an easy day ahead of me, I took my time leaving the Adventure Cyclists Bunkhouse and, in hindsight, squandered the most reasonable riding weather.

I felt sluggish, and by mid afternoon each mile seemed to drag on forever. I got some welcome relief during a big, and quite good “home cooking” style meal in Harris, but that was quickly forgotten once back on the bike.

Normally biking in the heat isn’t much of a problem because there’s enough airflow to keep cool, but today reached the point for which I couldn’t ride fast enough for the sweat to evaporate. In addition to fatigue from overheating, I had trouble keeping my eyes open due to the constant flow of sweat. It was a long 75 miles, and a strong reminder that I’ve entered the Midwest. Several folks from home have told me about this summer’s oppressive humidity; now I can better commiserate.

Previously I had been thinking there were just two major factors that have the ability to slow me down dramatically: Hills and Headwinds, but now I realize there’s a third H — Humidity. From what I’ve been reading, the northeastern portion of Iowa through which I’ll be riding was spared much glaciation and is, accordingly, quite hilly. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to face all three H’s simultaneously?

Near the end of the day, while taking a break in Osceola, WI, I could see storm clouds developing to the west, and they were an incredibly welcome sight for hope that a good rain would break the humidity. The closest campground was in Somerset, about 15 miles away, and I decided to go for it. I started to get a few raindrops after only about five miles, but they brought immediate relief to the heat, and my legs finally started to come alive.

It was raining by the time I reached the campground, but I made it under a pavilion before the main event. It turned into a spectacular thunderstorm, and I had a great view. I’m now camped under the pavilion, the air does indeed feel much more comfortable, and tomorrow I’ll cross back over into MN to explore Stillwater.


1 Comment »

  1. Never forget that Iowa is not flat. Not at all! Matt Mooney made that discovery on RAGBRAI in ’06 and we continued to confirm that in subsequent RAGBRAI’s. Tonight I finally looked up the Northern Tier Route and discovered that you’ll travel a goodly portion of the eastern edge of Iowa. In fact, when you hit Muscatine, you’re a scant 30 miles east of my hometown, Kalona. (Due west on Hwy 22.) At Elkader, Iowa, you’re about 45 miles from Gail’s hometown, Sumner. If you need anything at either of those points, I’m sure our families would be happy to come to your aid. Cheers and tail winds! PS: I’m mightily looking forward to your “Welcome to Iowa” picture.

    Comment by Bruce Spitzer — August 10, 2010 @ 1:01 am

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