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Day 16: 31-Aug-2002 The Finale -- Hudson - Connorsville (map)
Today's distance       37.9 miles
Time moving: 3 hours, 07 minutes
Time stopped: 0 hours, 42 minutes
Ending elevation: 1000 ft
Max speed: 33.5 mph
Moving average speed: 10.5 mph
Overall average speed: 8.8 mph
Cumulative climbing: 1750 ft
Cumulative descent: 1700 ft
Total distance: 969.9 miles

The last leg. My old friend the southerly wind today was a distraction, as it was a crosswind for most of the ride, although there was a fun 3-mile northbound stretch on County road O, through rolling hills, some of it former farmland now growing tallgrass prairie plants like big bluestem, goldenrod, and various other flowers. Part of me wanted to ride slowly and enjoy the last moments of this adventure, and the other part just wanted the ordeal to end. It has been a trying experience, and maybe a bit overambitious. But I have no regrets about it at all. When I reached about 6 miles from home I called Markey, who was bringing a cake. She wanted to time her arrival at my parents to be just after I got there. She left shortly after I called, and the timing should have been about right.

I rode down the next hill, and turned left onto highway 128, for one more northbound mile. The final 5 miles, on highway 64, go up and down some rolling hills, then descend about 200 feet down the "Mile Hill" into the Hay river valley, and home.

As I was climbing the very final hill of the entire journey, about halfway up, I heard and felt a sharp "twang" from the rear wheel. At first I thought my tire had kicked a stone up into the spokes, which sometimes happens. But a few feet later the bike shuddered to a halt, with the feeling of something stuck in the rear gears, and there was a wobble in the rear wheel. A spoke had snapped about an inch from the rear hub, and the long piece gotten wedged between the chain and cassette. It was easy to get the spoke out of the way, but the wheel was so badly out of true that it wouldn't pass through the brakes. Fortunately I had taken the time to learn to repair out-of-true wheels before the trip. About 10 minutes with the spoke wrench and I was ready to move on.

I had been looking forward to zooming down Mile Hill, but I decided to keep it under about 20 mph. I would feel awfully stupid to make it safely 965 miles, only to crash because of going too fast on a wheel that was missing a spoke. I coasted down the hill, and cruised across the three bridges that cross the meandering Bolen Creek, and stopped to photograph the "Connorsville - unincorporated" sign. Just as I was getting reading to ride on into town, Markey pulled up behind me. She wanted to stay behind me to maximize the "surprise factor" for whomever might waiting for me at home. I had told my parents that I would arrive between noon and one in the afternoon, and it was now exactly 1:00. I got there and on the porch was a welcoming committee of my parents, grandmothers, sisters and their kids, and one of my uncles and his wife. We had a nice lunch, and it was wonderful to be at the end of this road.

Getting ready to leave for the last day.

The blue gramas I picked in Colorado are still with me, now riding on the back.

Ginseng field.  If  you look closely you can see two farmers underneath the canopy.  Ginseng grows well in sandy soils in warm, humid climates, but cannot tolerate direct sunlight, hence the canopy.  There is another field in the distance.

The last right turn.

Five more miles.  What can possibly go wrong so close to home?

Typical Wisconsin farm scenery.

Oh!  That's what could go wrong.

The tiny village of Connorsville has maybe 100 residents.  The town is just around this bend.

I wasn't expecting this!

The entire welcoming committee.

The cake.  Thanks Markey!