Weeks Six and Seven of the Cross Country Bike Ride

Reader Contribution by Rick Stiles
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We left the flat land and easy pedaling in Minnesota behind on July 29 and entered Wisconsin at St. Croix. This was an eye-opening experience because the hill in front of us looked straight up; oh well, back to reality. At the top of the hill is a small town called Dresser with a coffee shop called the Joyful Morning. This is where we met Ruthie, a Nigerian transplant with an infectious laugh and mile-wide smile. Just when you are questioning your ability to go any further, someone like Ruthie shows up.

Everyone thinks of Wisconsin dairy farms, but our route took us through a lot of corn fields and other types of agriculture. We saw a few dairy cattle, but not many. This was beautiful country, filled with roadside flowers, well-manicured lawns with flower beds, and all types of barns, both old and new.

On a trip like this, you never know what you will see or who you will meet. How about a knitted scarf-adorned dragon in Marshfield, Wis.? What about a bicycling statue titled ‘Late For A Date’ in Manitowoc, Wis.?

Manitowoc turned out to be a special place because my wife flew in from Billings Mont., my son and his wife came up from San Antonio, and my brother-in-law came up from Germantown, Wis. We all rode the ferry across to Ludington, Mich., where my wife had arranged for 18 of our friends from St. Joseph, Mich. to come up and have lunch. Friends. You certainly can’t live without them. Their warmth, friendly comments, prayers, and blessings are one key reason I am able to keep going.

Michigan gave us the first exposure to Rails on Trails riding. Up to this point the trails were not along our route. WOW! These routes should be all over the U.S. They are relatively flat, beautiful, go through towns for easy entry and exit, and with no auto-traffic, you can be more relaxed. Think about turning unused railroad beds into bicycle roadways running east to west and north to south. Wouldn’t that be something special to encourage people to get out and exercise?

Ever heard of a ‘Tridge?’ I hadn’t either. It is a three-way wooden footbridge in Midland, Mich. crossing the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers. It is amazing what you find out by traveling at 10 to15 mph and talking with other travelers. In this case, it was Larry, a quadruple by-pass guy, who has been riding 2,500 miles per year for the past ten years to raise money for his daughter, who is a missionary in Myanmar.

At Marine City, Mich. we took the Bluewater ferry to Sombra, Ontario and did a 100+ mile ride to Thamesford, Ontario, where we spent the weekend at the Maple Grove Christian Retreat, a Free Methodist Camp started in 1945. We had a wonderful cottage at our disposal. We will be in Canada for about 11 days, and this was certainly a wonderful start.

This trip is quickly coming to a close, and I want to soak up as much of the experience as I can in the remaining 19 days.

Take care, and talk at ya’ later.

Photos by Rick Stiles

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