Daily miles – 64. Total miles – 2895.
We knew this morning would be momentous! We got up early, had our first breakfast of coffee and oatmeal, and then headed out for New Ulm for second breakfast. We talked to the youngest of the Simmons boys at the campground and got to totally explode his brain when we told him how far we’ve ridden. He said “You’re really going to Sleepy Eye in a single day?” (it’s about 14 miles – hehe). It was fun to see his persepective shift around.
We finally had a tailwind again to head east – nice for a homecoming day! The ride to New Ulm was easy and everything was so familiar that the sureality of having ridden here on our own power was overwhelming! We turned north from New Ulm, climbed out of the Minnesota river Valley, and met up with the Old Fort Road (5) that would take us into St. Peter. Brady’s dad, Jim rode out about 11 miles to ride into town with us. After some cellphone logistics we met up with him just east of Nicollet. We were chatting away as we saw a car pulled over ahead. In the car were my mom (with her newly replaced bionic knee – just 5 days after the total knee replacement surgery!), my grandma Hosea, and my dad. They took pictures and cheered us in! It was awesome to feel welcomed and everything felt like home. Dad pulled his bike out of the trunk and rode the final few miles with us. It was nice to have an escort into town. We stopped for photos at the water tower and hit 45 mph racing Jim down Broadway. Mom and dad had put up a banner at the house with photos from the journey so far and they were wearing the T-shirts that SJT had given them. It was an early arrival – only around 2pm – so we had plenty of time to have a couple beers on the back deck, duck in out of the afternoon rain, and have a nice long shower.
The journey is not over, but four days and 350 miles to Madison is small potatoes compared to where we have been. Dad showed us our photos from the coast and it feels like a different world, populated by different people in a different era. We are so stoked to have made it this far. We rolled into town light on food but heavy on nostalgia. Light on body mass, but heavy on the hunger to reconnect with family, and to connect with our old and now new homeland of the midwest. The traverse from Devil’s Tower to here feels like a gradual descent into a gigantic valley – fertile and green, humid and close-in. There are open spaces – fields and forest patches, but it is a closer-knit world. While people don’t always wave as much as on the desolate badlands of the Dakotas, they are quick to start a conversation, to ask about us and maybe even more to talk about themselves. But generalizations aside, we are now in the company of family. Our new home is just over the next major river, and we are in th environment of home.
This will be the longest rest we get – two days – since Bozeman, Montana. We are looking forward to re-energizing and staving off the anxiety and stress of the “real world.” Re-entry can be a challenge, but we hope to do it gracefully. The couple days here and four remaining days of riding will be the transition from the transition – our victory lap. We need to savor it.