Bill Weidenfeller

Home: Naples, FL

Hobbies: Biking, Tennis

 

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Rails to Trails Conservancy

America by Bike

Across America North Ride

This summer along with a group which includes many friends from previous long distance rides I plan to bicycle across America AGAIN! This second crossing is another fully supported ride with America by Bicycle, a touring company specializing in long distance cycling adventures. It is called the "Across America North Ride", a fifty day journey from coast to coast, beginning in Astoria, OR and finishing at the beach in Rye Beach, NH.

  • Posted: Tue, 18 July 2006

    Day 30 Worthington to Mankato, MN






    FRONT PAGE NEWS?


    The razzing began before 6:00am this morning as the Worthington, MN “Daily Globe” newspaper was passed around at breakfast. There-ON THE FRONT PAGE- was a picture of me and my TREK and the headline: “Cyclist stops in town on way to New Hampshire”. The story told the details of our cross country tour, and my efforts to raise funds, awareness, and increase membership in the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

    Unfortunately, the kidding continued after one of our gang overheard a group of senior citizen ladies at the McDonalds in Windom, MN ask: “Which one is Bill?”, when some ABB cyclists entered the restaurant. Our first SAG stop happened to be in that McDonalds parking lot–30 miles from Worthington. Apparently the “Daily Globe” is read far and wide, and it is also evident that there is a real lack of serious news in Southwest Minnesota on this day.

    Today’s challenge was a 102 mile ride to Mankato,MN. I think many of us worried about today more than we had to. There was concern about the wind after we learned that the gusts were actually 30 mph yesterday, and that it had blown Jim off the road on his recumbent bike. The record heat in the area was also on our minds. But, once underway this morning it was just “forget the worries and DO THE RIDE”. The milder winds were mainly cross winds and the heat was never a factor. It was a beautiful blue sky day in rural Minnesota. We saw enough corn and soybeans in fields today to feed China.

    We started and finished our ride on Rt 60 East, a busy divided highway. In between, we enjoyed the peace and scenery in the farm belt on quiet county roads. The town of St James seemed like a comfortable and attractive place to live. At Madelia (“Pride of the Prairie”) we ran into road construction, but detoured ourselves out of town. Dan, Keith and I helped Nancy repair her flat tire along the route–after all she is a Team RTC member, and probably needed a little help.

    Dan and I biked into the town of Lake Crystal hoping to find some lunch. We did. We also found Dave (CA) and Jim (Hawaii and CO), our biking friends who were classmates at Annapolis and are doing this trip together. Good guys.

    Another 100 mile day is tap for tomorrow, but I am not going to WORRY about it. I have no control over the weather.

    Bill

  • Posted: Mon, 17 July 2006

    Day 29 Sioux Falls, SD to Worthington, MN






    WINDSURFING IN WORTHINGTON, MN


    Monday morning. Back to work. With the rest day behind us, we had a 74 mile bike ride ahead of us to Worthington, MN (“You’ll Come To Love Us” is their slogan). Worthington is famous for WINDSURFING (“Put some speed in your sails”, they say) and holds an annual regatta on its Lake Okabena, which we could see as we came into town early this afternoon. It was no surprise to any of us who had cycled today’s route that WIND would put Worthington on the map. We were in 20-25 mph winds most of the morning. The mainly cross winds rattled the cornfields. It forced us at times to lean into it on the bikes, and it whistled through our helmets and the soybean fields.

    We began our ride out of Sioux Falls, SD at 6:30 am and rode casually for 10 miles through beautiful Falls Park along the Big Sioux River on a curving bike path. Keith (IA) mentioned that it was “the prettiest real estate since Mt Rushmore” with woods and playgrounds and acres of trimmed green grass. It was that.

    It was quite a transition from the city’s bike path to Rt 140 East and big farm country. We cyclists say that on a bike you not only SEE America, but you can also SMELL it. Today’s passing of pig farms was a good (or bad!) example. Our views were exclusively corn and soybean fields bent in the constant wind. On two occasions we saw wind mills in the fields generating electricity.

    We passed through the town of Brandon before crossing the State line into Minnesota. We had our only SAG stop in the lovely town of Laverne, and rode through Magnolia, Adrian and finally into the Dairy Queen in our destination city of Worthington. A good ride day.....maybe a little windy!

    The media parade for Rails to Trails has heated up considerably. My appearance yesterday on KSFY (ABC TV affiliate in Sioux Falls) was the first with a film clip on the 5:30 and 10:00 pm local newscasts. It showed the interview and my story of the cross country bike ride dedicated to support Rails to Trails Conservancy. The clip must have been well edited, as I believe it came off quite well–on and off the bike–and wearing my RTC jersey.

    Today I was interviewed and photographed (in the jersey) for the July 18 edition of the Worthington Daily Globe newspaper (www.dglobe.com). WIZM radio in La Crosse, WI has asked me to be interviewed “on the air” on Thursday morning for the “ride to work “ crowd at 8:20 am while enroute on the bike. I accepted. I hope it is positive publicity for RTC.

    Windsurfing through Minnesota,

    Bill
    (Photo shows roadside grass blowing in the wind)

  • Posted: Sun, 16 July 2006

    Day 28 Sioux Falls, SD




    REST DAY

    Activities:
    Breakfast with the gang, a brief look at the Tour de France, thoroughly clean and lube the bike, write and post my blog the the hotel with wireless internet next door, wash biking clothes in the bathtub (no laundry in this "luxurious" Super 8 ---and I'm not walking a mile to a laundramat), shopping center visit for necessities, catch up on phone calls--(now that I am connected to the Cingular world with a few bars), meet with local ABC-TV reporter at the hotel--set up by Rails to Trails, .........etc.

    Bill

  • Posted: Sat, 15 July 2006

    Day 27 Mitchell to Sioux Falls, SD







    BENT PRAIRIE GRASS


    South Dakota is the only place on earth where you can get heat rash and a wind burn in the same day. Both were available today for the cyclists on the Across America-North ride.

    But first the RODEO! Twelve cyclists in cowboy hats, rodeo caps, and rodeo t-shirts were on hand for “one of the top 5 rodeos in the country” held last night in the outdoor arena outside Mitchell, SD. A patriotic crowd of 2400 was on hand for the singing of God Bless America and the National Anthem before the festivities and competition began. The “fragrance” in the air from the horses and cattle was not subdued by the delicious smells from the barbeque tent. We were excited to be a part of this “Badlands culture” and enjoyed the nights events along with the local farming and ranching crowd. Bucking broncos, steer wrestling, and the clowns were our favorites. It was an event we will remember fondly.

    The ride to Sioux Falls, SD (pop 123,000) was 75 miles “in the elements”; that is heat and winds. We received a call on our cell phones at the rodeo from ABB that luggage load and breakfast in the morning would be earlier than planned, as the weather report (accurate) was for 20-30 mph winds and 100+ temperatures. The winds were from the SSW, so fortunately we experienced mainly heavy cross winds, but for several stretches of the route we plowed directly into them-slowing the pace and increasing the work load.

    However, we had only 75 miles to the oasis of a REST DAY. The mood was upbeat, the route was calm country roads through large farm tracts of mainly corn. Not a person in sight, except the occasional passing pick up truck.

    We traveled Rt 262 and SR42 East through the small farming communities of Alexandria, Emery, and Canistota where a town parade with floats was being organized. In addition to the regular stops for SAGs, many of us are now more religious about stopping at a convenience store for cold Gatorade and something to eat on these long days in the heat.

    We lose 9 riders here in Sioux Falls. They have completed their course as planned and depart after 2000 miles. We will miss them all: the Swiss father (Franz the Dr) and his athletic son, Ben, who is off to college, Mike (CA), covered in zinc oxide and wearing a long sleeved shirt on his recumbent bike, and especially my 4 cross country mates from the 2004 ride. My good friends Tim and Kathryn (ME), Dale (AZ), and Joyce (MA) leave us here. They are all very special people to me, members of Team Rails to Trails, and more than riding buddies. God Bless!

    Bill

  • Posted: Fri, 14 July 2006

    Day 26 Chamberlain to Mitchell,SD











    A PLEASANT RIDE IN CORN COUNTRY


    It is 100 degrees in this part of South Dakota this afternoon and our cycling group couldn’t care less. We are in Mitchell, SD and have completed the 75 mile ride from Chamberlain. By noon our bikes were in the barn -so to speak-, and we were enjoying the sights of this farming town.

    It was a most pleasant Friday morning ride on very quiet farm country roads which paralleled I-90 on a straight shot into Mitchell, SD. The weather was perfect; sunny, no wind, and not yet reaching the high temperatures of the afternoon. I again felt good on the bike; healthy, hydrated, and enjoying the ride, fully recuperated from the previous two days. We really had fun today.

    Annie (England) and Lois (CO) caught up with us as we were riding 2 abreast on a country road and passing corn field after corn field. They began singing: “This land is your land, This land is my land....”, it was an amusing yet appropriate reaction to our surroundings.

    We stopped for Gatorade and ice cream at a convenience store at the 4 corners in Mt Vernon at the 58 mile mark. A few of the local farmers started a friendly conversation about our bicycle trip and local lore. They strongly advised us to attend tonight’s RODEO in Mitchell for a great cowboy show. Some of us plan to do just that. Photos tomorrow.

    Mitchell, SD is famous for the unbelievable CORN PALACE- “the Boston Garden of the Midwest”, named because numerous basketball games , stage shows, proms and graduations are held in this multi-use facility each year. The one square block building hosts 500,000 tourists (like us) each year–because it is a “building covered with CORN”. Truly. Hugh murals–inside and out–are made entirely of corn. It really is “A- MAIZE- ING!

    It is Bastille Day in France. On our bikes we had passed through farm land planted in sun flowers–and made reference to the photos of the Tour de France with the sun flower fields in the background. At lunch in Mitchell we watched today’s Tour and applauded the success of Landis, an American, retaining his yellow jersey, and a member of Discovery Team winning today’s stage race.

    It was a beautiful bike ride day...and it’s not over yet.

    Bill

  • Posted: Thu, 13 July 2006

    Day 25 Pierre to Chamberlain, SD




    HALF WAY –USA
    (Note:See day 24 posted today)
    I was not up to par today following yesterday’s experience with dehydration . Many riders were in a recovery mode. I had serious doubts as to whether I would be able to ride today, right up until the time to depart. I thought I would try to ride to the first SAG—and then see if I felt well enough to continue. It worked out fine. I felt better as the day went on.

    We had crossed the Missouri River in Pierre and are now on Central Time (We lost an hour of sleep!)

    The ride today was 84 miles to the river city of Chamberlain, SD, situated high on a bluff above the Missouri River.

    We rode out of Pierre on a bike path while getting showered by the park’s sprinklers. The route was along the River, which is dammed up and forms “the world’s largest reservoir”here. We followed the River all day. Our CCC group planned to take it easy in the expected 100 plus degree heat today, and we did. It was overcast part of the day– a break for us looking to avoid the sun. We biked along with another touring group that is following the Lewis and Clark Trail.

    The first SAG was at the HALF WAY POINT ACROSS AMERICA–1800 miles in 25 days.

    We had a few climbs today and it was again very HOT, but the winds were milder and even cooling at times. We paced ourselves–and drank and drank.

    We had some beautiful views of the Missouri River from high on the bluffs. The water appeared clear and the river was free of barge traffic. It is as impressive as the Mississippi, and as big in several places.

    I am feeling much better after today’s ride.
    And I wanted to show you my picture of George at Mt Rushmore

    Bill

  • Posted: Wed, 12 July 2006

    Day 24 Wall to Pierre, SD





    DISAPPOINTMENT IN PIERRE


    The events of today’s ride unfolded in ways I had not expected. I did learn from this ride, but I hope that I will never have to repeat the experience. It was the most difficult cycling challenge I have ever faced—without a doubt. It left me physically drained and disappointed.

    The route was 117 miles from Wall to Pierre, SD (pronounced PEER) , the State Capital. We rode out of town at 5:30 am into wide open big sky country. There were no services until Pierre; no convenience stores for food or drink. The temperature would be 106 degrees, “the hottest day since 1936" according to the weatherman. We faced unfavorable winds for 70 miles of this route. Winds at a punishing 20 mph with gusts that moved our bikes. The prairie grasses were bent over in the wind. We struggled to get above 10 mph on a regular basis. There is a saying on the prairies: “There is nothing between you and the wind but a barbed wire fence”. That was true today. The winds howled through our helmets. There was not an inch of shade anywhere–we were totally exposed all day long–no clouds, no trees. The heat soaked in. We were caked in salty sweat.

    We climbed nearly 4,000 ft over the course of 100 miles on mostly long rolling hills, one after the other. It was a long and physically demanding cycling day.

    I rode with Dan, Keith, Joyce and Dale until flat fires and hills separated us. By then Joyce and I were well to the front of the majority of cyclists–stretched out over 30 miles on this 117 mile route. We were ahead of the support vehicles—and the water. We relied on the 3 SAG stops for our only food and water, but they were hours apart. Our water bottles were full and cold when leaving the SAG, but suitable for making tea shortly thereafter. It was so HOT!

    We left the last SAG at the 83 mile mark. The wind held us to 10 mph–we had over 3 hours left. The hill climbs continued, the temperature hit 100 degrees, no shade, and finally no food and no water.

    At the 100 mile mark I got off the bike. I was nauseous and felt faint, I began to cramp. I sat at he side of the road waiting for water–and resting. I wanted to continue. The van arrived full of cyclists with their bikes on the roof. I thought with water and some rest I could go on. Against the advice of others-- I did. I reached 101.4 miles, 16 miles short of Pierre....and could not go on. I was cramping in both legs–I could not stay on the bike. It was over. I stopped to wait to be picked up. I could not finish the course...I was completely drained, physically unable to continue, and terribly disappointed.

    There were more than half of our cycling group that did not complete the course. A sheriff’s car picked up2 overheated bikers, one was taken to the hospital at 120 mph for an ice bath and IV fluids. Another rider went to the emergency room later in the evening for an IV. Two had crashed earlier in the day. We were a beaten crew. I have never felt worse after cycling or any athletic endeavor. I was totally dehydrated and drained of all energy.


    Some cyclists made it. I congratulate them. A few were out on the road for 13 hours in that heat and wind and hilly terrain. One cyclist hitch-hiked and came into town in a pick up truck.

    I’ll chalk this one up to experience: Keep hydrated, keep eating, and stay within range of the support vans.

    Tomorrow will be a better day,

    Bill

  • Posted: Tue, 11 July 2006

    Day 23 Rapid City to Wall, SD




    REUNION RIDE
    Note: See Day 22 posted today

    We rode out of Rapid City through 5 miles of city and suburban streets on a sunny, warm morning. We had every expectation of a leisurely 57 mile essentially flat ride to Wall, SD. We planned to be finished early and relax for the 117 mile marathon to Pierre tomorrow. Things don’t always work out as expected!

    Steve (CO), Joyce’s brother, who rode the Cross Country Challenge in 2004 with Dan, Tim and Kathryn, Joyce, Dale and me, was visiting and had his bike. We had dinner and planned to ride together to Wall. It began on a happy note, but circumstances turned against us. The bridge was out on our scheduled route , so we were diverted to I-90 ...AN INTERSTATE ...for an extra 20 miles UGH! , narrow bike lane, debris, rumble strips, etc.

    We did get off and have some great rolling hills in the unpopulated South Dakota prairie lands. We could see the peaks of the Badlands way off in the distant South. Then we were back on I-90 for the last 20 miles.

    In the final 5 miles the trouble began—road repaving– with new hot tar and stones. Yes- we rode through it until we could go no further. Our tires were caked with tar, the police were “bonkers” about bikes on what was now a one lane highway. We stopped. The SAG and construction trucks came along to carry us and the bikes over the remaining 3 mile stretch of road work. It was hot. The bikes were a mess. Not a pleasant experience. A stop at the Dairy Queen on the outskirts of Wall helped.

    At the motel we all spent a good deal of time cleaning the bikes and tires. I bought a new set of Specialized Armadillo Elites and put them on as I was ready for a necessary change. A little grumbling was heard as you can imagine, but all is well. Chalk it up to “experience’

    Wall, SD was so named because it was built on the edge of the northern extension of the “Badlands wall”, and is home to the famous Wall Drugs, which survived the Depression by offering free ice water to thirsty travelers and by building its reputation on friendly service. It is now the main tourist attraction in town.

    We’ll be on the road by 5:30am tomorrow to minimize our riding time in 100 degree heat.

    Bill 7/11/70

  • Posted: Mon, 10 July 2006

    Day 22 Hot Springs to Rapid City, SD




    SCULPTURES IN STONE


    Today’s bike ride to Rapid City, SD may be the best example yet of why we are here, why we are determined to ride across America, and why the experience is so unforgettable. The challenge of the terrain with 5455 feet of climbing and 6% and 10% descents was one factor today. Being overwhelmed by the landscapes and landmarks of this country was another. Sharing these experiences with friends-new and old- is so satisfying and memorable.

    The weather was overcast with some sprinkles on occasion, but we didn’t have the debilitating heat often encountered in South Dakota this time of year. We will take the rain and clouds.

    This was the day in the Black Hills with visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt Rushmore. A day we looked forward to... and were not disappointed.

    Eight miles out of Hot Springs we encountered Wind Cave National Park and saw a sign “Warning! Large Wildlife On The Road”, followed by one that said: “Buffalo Are Dangerous–Do Not Approach!” I did not see any buffalo today (some did)—only scores of prairie dogs standing at their mounded homes. I enjoyed the scenery and the ride through rolling hills in open prairie land with the Black Hills all around us.

    We entered the Black Hills National Forest. One can see how the Black Hills region got its name. The heavy coverage of dark green coniferous trees that cover these hills/mountains give it that appearance from a distance.

    Passing through the town of Custer, we made a turn to see the “World’s Largest Mountain Carving”, now in progress: the colossal Memorial to Crazy Horse. It honors the North American Indian of all tribes , but is a sculpture in stone of the Lakota warrior Chief who defeated Custer at Little Big Horn. It is a “”monumental” undertaking in size and scope. It is a wonder to see and visit.

    We then went through the most incredible big boulder rock canyons as we approached Mt Rushmore. At one point we stopped and looked behind us to see the head of George Washington carved in the mountain –a side view of the Memorial.

    The ABBer’s in bicycle gear drew much attention in the crowd of hundreds as we posed in front of “The Four Presidents”. What a monument to American heros–and what a stage; the magnificent Black Hills of South Dakota. It is easy to understand why these Hills were a sacred place to the Indians. They are so different from the Cascades and Tetons, but certainly on and equal plane.

    A 10% fast descent took us from Mt Rushmore to the pleasant tourist town of Keystone for lunch at the Trail Driver Café for a Buffalo Burger.

    More swift downhills brought us into Rapid City and the completion of our TERRIFIC cycling day.

    Bill

  • Posted: Sun, 9 July 2006

    Day 21 Lusk to Hot Springs, SD


    GREAT FACES, GREAT PLACES Note: See Day 20 also posted today.
    Photo: Ft Casper


    There was no rainbow as we left Lusk, WY in the morning rain, just dark skies and scattered showers all day. It rained for the first 30 miles– and the last 10– of today’s 92 mile bike ride to Hot Springs, South Dakota.

    I rode most of the day with Keith (Iowa), Dan (CA), and “new guy” Dave from Syracuse, NY , who joined the group in Casper. We kept up a good pace all day hoping to outrun the chasing rains. We did not succeed, but the rain was not a big deal. We could see well and be seen by the limited Sunday traffic, and conditions were not slippery. We simply did the route in rain gear-when needed- and had to clean and lube our bikes well at the finish.

    Just outside of Lusk, we got a kick out of a pack of 10 to 12 horses who galloped along beside us before finally pulling ahead. They playfully trotted until restrained by the fence line.

    The countryside was a composite of grasslands (Buffalo Gap National Grasslands), mesas and buttes rising from the prairie until we reached the beginning of the Black Hills of South Dakota at the 70 mile mark of today’s ride.

    Following the established pattern, we dismounted for photos at the South Dakota line-56 miles into the ride. I love the slogan on the border sign and license plates: Great Faces-Great Places, a reference to Mt Rushmore of course.

    After turning onto Rt 18 East at Mule Creek Junction, we had a great descent into the town of Edgemont for our SAG at the 67 mile mark. From there we could see the famous Black Hills of South Dakota, and even see the ascending route ahead. We climbed for 4 miles, then descended at 6% for 2 miles, followed by another 1 mile climb before the final descent into Hot Springs...”Southern Gateway To The Black Hills”. Great day....so we had a little rain.

    RECAP OF THE FIRST 21 DAYS:

    After 19 days on the bike (and 2 rest days), I thought I’d recap just how far we have come on this ocean to ocean journey:
    * We have cycled 1514 miles, averaging 80 miles per day.
    * We have climbed over 52,000 feet.
    *We have climbed through the mountain passes of the Cascades, the Tetons and have entered the
    Black Hills.
    * We are in our 4th State
    * WE ARE HAVING A GREAT TIME!

    Bill