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Day 30: 112.5 miles from Worthington, MN → Mankato, MN

Minnesota looks more like home than anyplace we’ve been, with lots of agricultural fields and trees in between, although it’s less hilly than home.

Today’s schedule: When the alarm went off at 5 AM, I made a cup of coffee, took it back to bed, stared at the wall for 15 minutes, checked email for another 15 min, and then got dressed in my riding clothes. Scott, my roommate, had already left for breakfast. After organizing my things a bit, I went downstairs for breakfast myself and returned to pack my bags in time to load them in the trailer by 6:30 AM. Once the bags were loaded, we all checked the air pressure in our tires and set out for the day’s ride. It was a long ride (112 miles), which took about 6 hours and 20 minutes of pedaling, averaging about 17.6 mph. (I mention the average speed because it’s so much faster than any ride we do at home in our hilly terrain. I’ve never ridden 50 or 100 miles at home faster than about 15 mph.) There were three SAG (supply and gear) stops today along the route, one roughly every 30 miles, where we got “road food” such as bananas, peanut butter, corn chips, fig newtons, Gatorade, and water to keep us fueled and hydrated. We finally reached the hotel at about 2:30 PM after which we showered, did some laundry, cleaned bikes, and met with the entire group (about 30 riders and six America by Bicycle staffers) about tomorrow’s schedule and route. After the meeting, we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner—I sat with five other riders—and then I went to a store for some supplies and a sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch. Finally, I returned to the hotel to work on this blog and other odds and ends in preparation for tomorrow, which will include another 100-mile ride across Minnesota. Lights out will be about 9:30 PM. We have one more full day in Minnesota before we cross into Wisconsin.

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We shared the hotel in Worthington, MN, with attendees at a corn convention, fitting because there is so much corn here in MN. There was a monstrous John Deere combine in the parking lot that harvests and shells 12 rows of corn in a single pass.

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The roads today were flat.

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We passed a wind farm with 100s of these gigantic wind turbines. The turbines towered over fields of corn, and together they evoked thoughts of renewable energy, as the corn is used in part to make ethanol for adding to gasoline.