Immortal Bird Postscript

Doron Weber on Immortal Bird Aftermath

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Big Ride Update: Days 41 & 42

— Saturday we biked 60 wet miles from Burton, Ohio to New Waterford, Ohio. There was thunder and lightning throughout the night and we set out at 6 am in a steady drizzle. It was mostly rolling hills and farmland interspersed with small, hard-scrabble towns and a fast-moving, urban traffic. We passed through several Amish and Mennonite communities, including Middlefield Township, the fourth largest Amish community in the world, and spent time wandering through Das Dutch Village in Columbiana. We set up tents in Terrace Lakes campground where it was raining heavily and several people slept in the wooden pavilion with wet towels and biker clothes hanging from the rafters.
–Sunday we biked 62 hilly miles from New Waterford, Ohio to Washington, Pennsylvania, entering our eleventh state. The morning was wreathed in a thick fog which lifted once we crossed into western Pennsylvania. We stopped in Midland and paid six dollars to have a big breakfast at a Veterans of Foreign Wars center with a helicopter gunship outside.We passed two nuclear power plants, one on each side of the Ohio River, in Shippingport, and the big expansion joints on the bridge caused several bikes trouble, including mine. We had lunch before Burgettstown and rode on through rolling farmland into Whispering Pines Family Campground near Washington, Pennsylvania, where we are staying for the night.


Starting the day’s ride with rain jackets under wet skies.


Horse and buggy on the soggy road in Middlefield, which is the center of one of the largest Amish settlements in the world. The local Walmart’s supposedly caters to the Amish community, providing hitching posts for buggies in the parking lot.


White fence, red barn and horse, on the road to Champion, Ohio


Warren coke factory. In 1890, Warren was the first city in the U.S. to get electrical street illumination.


A house in Canfield, an affluent suburb 9 miles southwest of Youngstown, Ohio.


Drag racers zoom past us toward Beaver township


A field of soybeans under overcast skies


A high school in Beaver


Farm with grain silo


Unprepossessing but essential cell phone tower that keeps us from falling completely off the grid.


Entering Columbiana, home of the Shaker Woods Festival


A local store in Columbiana


Eating a Moose Tracks ice cream at a store in East Fairfield. The young woman behind the counter wears a traditional Mennonite dress and head covering.


Big Riders shelter under the pavilion at the Terrace Lakes campground


Once the skies cleared,Terrace Lakes shimmered in the evening light


Entering East Palestine, Ohio, “a little city with a big future” in the fog


A country club in East Palestine


Calcutta, Ohio, along Ohio State Route 170


There is no state welcome sign as you enter Pennsylvania from eastern Ohio on a long descent but this sign indicating that Ohio is one mile away tells you the Big Riders have entered their eleventh state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


As we entered Pennsylvania, this lumbering train ran parallel to us along the
Ohio River on State Route 68 so I decided to race it and managed to overtake the lead locomotive just before we entered Midland.


An Apache gunship outside the Midland chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where we stopped for breakfast.


Big Riders eat breakfast with Midland veterans. The two largest employers in town are a cyber-high school and the steel mill.


The cooling towers from one nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, site of the first commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S.


The gaping expansion joints on the Ohio River bridge in Shippingport that chewed up my bicycle tire and gave me my first flat, as well as a little tumble.


Heading into Burgettstown


Cornfield and a farm near Burgettstown


A house near Washington, Pennsylvania


Our campground in Whispering Pines


Big Ride update: Day 40

Today we biked 92 miles from Sandusky, Ohio to Burton, Ohio. We rode along Lake Erie to downtown Cleveland and got caught in a torrential downpour for about 20 minutes. One of the Big Riders, Liz, lives in Cleveland so her mother cooked us delicious food for lunch and brought it to our checkpoint. Liz also showed us around the estates of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights and took us to a great pastry shop and a bakery. We finished by climbing through some steep hills until we reached the town of Burton. We are camping at the Geauga Fairgrounds.


The first half of our ride was along the Lake Erie Ohio Coastal Route, a 293-mile stretch that passes island, coastal marshes, prairies, rivers and waterfalls.


The city of Huron, originally part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, lands largely in northeast Ohio (originally the Northwest Territory)offered to residents of Connecticut who had lost properly to British raiders during the American Revolutionary War.


The boat basin in Huron, once a major port and shipbuilding center which still receives iron ore and limestone cargoes.


On the coastal route between Huron and Berlin.


Old Woman Creek State Nature Reserve and National Estuarine Research Center, part of a network of 28 coastal reserves connected nationally through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address state and regional management needs.


Big Riders, all wearing the official bike shirt, cycle through Ruggles Beach


Vermilion, Ohio,once a shipbuilding center which remains a draw for boating and vacation homes


An electricity plant owned by FirstEnergy, the largest, investor-owned electric system in the country.


Crossing the Black River near Lorain. There’s a Ford assembly plant nearby.


Homes along Sheffield Lake.


Big Riders enjoy a special lunch cooked by Liz’s mother including pesto pizza, caprese salad and home baked cakes.


Entering downtown Cleveland shrouded in fog just after a downpour.


The neoclassical Cuyahoga County Court building, an example of City Beautiful design


A Big Rider paws a guitar with one gloved hand in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Cleveland. The building, with a pyramid protruding from a tower, was designed by I.M. Pei.


Biking along Lake Erie


A local reporter, her mother and a few friends wait to greet Big Rider Liz as she cycles through her neighborhood in Cleveland Heights.


Liz takes us to On the Rise bakery and pastry shop in her neighborhood.


Some stately mansions in Shaker Heights Park


A farm as we near Burton


The Geauga County Fairgrounds where we are camping.


Big Rider tents, guarded by a tank in honor of American Legion veterans from Burton and environs.


Tom and Jerry’s Grille, where we ate dinner.


A horse and buggy pass us on the street. There is a significant Amish community near Burton, founded in 1798.

Big Ride Update: Days 38 & 39

–Wednesday we biked 88 miles from Napoleon, Ohio to Sandusky, Ohio. It was a flat route along gentle farmland that showed Ohio’s agricultural and rural side–the Buckeye State is part of the Grain Belt as well as the Rust Belt. We stopped at a bike shop in Bowling Green that opened early especially for us and continued along Greenburg Pike through small towns like Ballville Township, Fremont– home of President Rutherford B. Hayes–and Erlan and Castalia until we reached Sandusky on the shores of Lake Erie, home of the Cedar Point Amusement Park and a major tourist destination as well as formerly a major stop on the Underground Railroad’s freedom trail. We are staying in cabins at the Bayshore KOA Campground.
–Thursday was a rest day as we prepared for six straight days of cycling through Ohio and the daunting hills of Pennsylvania. The Big Riders went to Cedar Point Amusement Park, agreeing to don official bike shirts and pose for a group photo with bikes, in exchange for free admission to the amusement park.


Leaving Napoleon just before sunrise


The sun starts to come over the horizon on Country Road P


The sun breaks the horizon


The sun begins to spread its light over Country Road P.


A field of soy beans fresh in the first light of day


Water mirroring the sky on West Poe Road



Tall turbines on a wind farm


Cycle Werks bike shop in Bowling Green, which opened its doors to the Big Riders at our first check point. Bowling Green has over 30,000 people, is home to Bowling Green State University, the National Tractor Pulling Championships and the Black Swamp Arts Festival.


The village of Portage, Ohio, population 428.


Fremont, Ohio, home to the Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) Presidential Center, a Heinz Company Ketchup Factory billed as the world’s largest and many cutlery companies.


The Miles Newton Bridge which crosses the Sandusky River shortly after Fremont.


A farm on the road between Erlan and Castalia.


These beautiful wildflowers lined the roadside for miles and miles


A Big Rider standing in a tall cornfield.


The village of Castalia which has a spring-fed pond that never freezes so when Lake Erie freezes during the winter, many waterfowl take up residence here.


A lumbering farm vehicle that was so slow, we had to overtake it. On a good day with tail winds, the Big Riders average over 20 miles per hour.


As we enter Sandusky, Todd and I stop for milk shakes and ice cream. Sandusky is on Lake Erie, about halfway between Toledo and Cleveland. Among its impressive number of references in American culture, it was the hometown of Sugar, aka Marilyn Monroe, in Some Like it Hot.


Two Big Riders wash and lube their bikes at the Bayshore Campground where we are staying. We got to stay in the compact cabins, which have air conditioning.


Downtown Sandusky, on Lake Erie. We ate dinner nearby. Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the five Great Lakes, is bounded by Ontario on the north, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York on the south and Michigan on the west. It provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the US.


Big Riders wait outside Cedar Point Amusement Park entry for a group photo with the Park’s marketing staff


Cedar Point features one of the largest collection of roller coasters in the world and the largest collection of rides in a single park.


The Raptor, which along with the Dragster and the Maverick, are among the largest, fastest and scariest roller coasters anywhere. The Dragster hits 120 mph in four seconds.


A Big Rider relaxes on the Sky Ride after floating down the Lazy River.

Big Ride Update: Days 35, 36 & 37

–Sunday we rode 86 miles from Coal City, Illinois to Valparaiso, Indiana, entering our ninth state and enjoying an easy ride except for construction detours and reroutes as well as some rough roads and rough motorists. We saw the suburban side of the Hoosier state with many homes, both grand and modest, decked with the American flag and basketball hoops. We stayed in dorms at Valaparaiso University and some us went to see The Dark Knight Rises at the local cinema.
–Monday we rode 110 miles from Valparaiso to Kendalville, Indiana and savored the farm roads, horse farms, corn and soy fields and cattle, including longhorns, of Indiana. We also saw more Amish and Menonite in horses and buggies. We camped in Bixler Lake Park.
–Tuesday we rode 70 miles from Kendalville, Indiana to Napoleon, Ohio, entering our tenth state and riding through a steady, soggy but cooling drizzle. We had a check point in Butler, Indiana, then crossed railroad tracks and followed the signs for Christian Faith Ministries on Country Road 28 until we crossed the Indiana/Ohio state line. We rode through small Ohio towns like Williams, Bryan and Evansport, then took long,flat farm roads to Napoleon before crossing the Maumee River to the Henry County Fairground, where we are camping.


Another Big Rider birthday. This time it’s Heather who gets the cake with candles from Lynn.


Coal City at dawn looks empty


Passing the Sand Ridge Savannah Nature Reserve


Crossing the Kankakee River which flows through northern Indiana and separates the suburban northwest from the rest of the state


Big Riders stand down at a construction detour and wait for reroute instructions. It was one of the few times all 18 of us gathered in one place during the ride because we tend to bike in groups or ride solo.


Wire storage bin in a field


A white farm, still on the Illinois side


Riding along the State Line Road into Indiana from Illinois


Lakeshore Drive in Indiana


Indiana horse in an Indiana field


Many large homes with grand, sprawling lawns


Big Riders head to Valparaiso along a rough road. Valparaiso, a crossroads with 31,000 people, has a distinguished cultural, religious and educational history.


On US 30 as we approach Valparaiso University, where we stayed. With 5 undergraduate colleges, one graduate school, a nursing school and a law school, Valparaiso is the largest independent Lutheran university in the US.


Riding from Valparaiso to La Porte under a lowering sky.


Typical suburban house with basketball hoop and American flag


Salem chapel. Houses of worship are ubiquitous.


On the way to Fish Lake


Cattle lying down in a field. Most of the corn is feed-lot and goes to fatten the hogs and the cattle


State of the art athletic field in Newton Park, shortly before North Liberty, Indiana where we lost another hour and joined Eastern Standard Time


Sunflowers in Lakeville


Crashed plane and quixotic figure brandishing a frayed flag near Dogwood Road, Indiana. It appeared to be an installation by a local (and talented) farmer-artist, possibly related to 9/11, but this is pure speculation as there was no signage or any visible identifiers


Another quixotic figure, easier to identify


Entering Wakarusa, a small farming and manufacturing town where in 2009 President
Obama announced a major stimulus package to revive the state economy. There are two grain mills in town while recreational vehicle manufacturing, modular home manufacturing and custom truck production are the main industries.


A horse pulling two wagons, one open and one closed, near Wakarusa. Either Amish or Menonite.


A local farm in Elkhart County


The Elkhart River, a 48 mile tributary of St. Joseph’s River which connects Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River watershed.


The drought has really damaged the corn crop this year all across the Midwest


Big Riders stop at Humpty Dumpty ice cream store in Wolcottville to cool down as they near the 100 mile mark during near-100 degree heat (from left tonight: Mike, Sarah, Doron; Tod took the photo)


Haley works at Humpty Dumpty Ice Cream, one of the few businesses that has survived more than a year in Wolcottville. Haley is studying for a nursing degree at Fort Wayne.


Plain View Farms which boasts beautiful longhorn cattle


Entering Kendalville, a town of nearly 10,000 residents in Wayne Township, Noble County Indiana. It has a significant media presence and as in several places we visited, local reporters came to interview us.


Bixler Lake at night. We camped in the park and I took a late dip to cool down.


Leaving Kendalville and riding along Country Road 28 in the rain.


Soggy and sodden but still lots to see–when the camera lens is not too smudged from the rain.


Entering Butler in DeKalb County Indiana, where we had our first checkpoint


Standing on the Ohio state line as we leave Indiana and enter the Buckeye State


Four Big Riders–Rob, Mike, Sarah and Doron– humor a fifth, Tod, and spell out O-H-I-O as they cross the state line and enter their tenth state.


House with street lamp in Bryan, Ohio


A field near Evanston


Riverview Frosty Boy ice cream store, our first stop in Napoleon, Ohio, a town of over 9000 situated along the Maumee River which boasts the world’s largest Campbell’s Soup Company plant and four historically designated buildings.


The Henry County Courthouse in downtown Napolean, one of the town’s four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1880 in the Empire Style with a fifteen foot goddess of justice topping the clock tower.


The Maumee River, a 137- mile Ohio State Scenic River that flows between northwestern
Ohio and Northeast Indiana.


The Henry County Fairgrounds where we are staying.


The 159-year-old agricultural fair is still going strong.


Unloading the truck and setting up tents for the night

Big Ride Update: Day 34

Today we rode 106 miles from Garden Prairie to Coal City, Illinois. It was a long but fairly straightforward ride with many small towns and flat, open fields of corn, wheat and soy bean interspersed with horse farms and wind farms. We had two riders join us for the day. We are staying in Coal City Area Club, one of several abandoned strip mines that was turned into a recreational site once the coal mines left town.


Setting off at dawn to beat the heat for a long, 106 mile day.


A red farmhouse in Garden Prairie under an early morning sky streaked with pink.


Riding between open fields of corn on Shattuck Road. Illinois is ranked second in corn production and much of the corm is used for ethanol. Illinois produces 40% of the ethanol used in the U.S. This year’s drought has reduced the corn height by 20%–it’s supposed to be seven feet tall by July 4.


Horse farming is popular in northern Illinois.


A green field of soybeans with dark rider shadows. Illinois trades places with Iowa as the leading producer of soybeans in the country.


A wind farm between Kirkland and Shibbona. With taller turbines and sustainability concerns,Illinois has seen renewed interest in the use of wind power to generate electricity.



Paul Carpenter, an experienced rider, joined us for a day of biking. Paul teaches at Northern Illinois University and commutes 62 miles daily on his bicycle.


Crossing the Illinois River, a 273-mile tributary of the Mississippi. It was important among native. Americans and early French settlers as the major route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi.


Entering Coal City Area Club. The abandoned strip mines were filled with water and turned into lakes and other recreational facilities by enterprising locals after the coal mines left town. Parts of the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles were shot in Coal City and it is also a reference in the film Blues Brothers (the state prison at Joliet is not far from Coal City)


Local rules about catch and release


An exhausted Big Rider sprawls under a tree after completing his century. The feet are elevated so that the accumulated lactic acid can drain down.


Big Riders relax at a picnic in Coal City Area Club.

Immortal Bird interview and Big Ride update: Day 33

Immortal Bird interview and Big Ride update: Day 33.

Immortal Bird interview and Big Ride update: Day 33

–For readers and would-be readers of Immortal Bird, a half hour interview I taped with Richard Heffner, the fabled host of Open Mind, will start its on-air broadcast career at 12 noon tomorrow Saturday, July 21st, 2011 on WNET/Channel 13. It will be re-broadcast on CUNY-TV, Channel 75 on Sunday, August 12th at 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and on Monday, August 13th at 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
–Today we biked 94 miles from Madison, Wisconsin to Garden Prairie, Illinois, entering our eighth state. The weather was good and the roads generally flat with a few long rollers through Wisconsin dairyland and then a lot of urban riding through Illinois. We got a relatively late start and I had a 3 pm conference call on the east coast relating to our Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) initiatives, so I rode briskly under favorable conditions and made it with time to spare, jumping into the pool at Holiday Acres campground before calling in.


All 18 Big Riders pose with a sign showing their progress to date–2,192 miles–before leaving Madison, Wisconsin in the morning.


Lynn presents Big Rider Jim with a birthday cake. I bought Jim a copy of Immortal Bird, which I’m glad to report was in stock at the University of Wisconsin bookstore.


The decoration for Jim’s cake.


Big Riders ride single file along the Capital City Trail as they exit Madison, one of our favorite cities on this trip.


Entering Brooklyn, Wisconsin, population 1401, which boasts “a great school system, three Village parks and a community center, which makes Brooklyn a great place to live.”


A nice stretch of farmland between Brooklyn and Evansville


A working family dairy farm.


The beautiful cows of Wisconsin


The rolling hills offer some lovely vistas at the crest


Welcome to Illinois, “The Land of Lincoln” and our eighth state in 33 days. We crossed over in South Beloit, Illinois.


An aluminum parts factory in an urban setting


But Illinois has golden fields too.


A farm seen through a cornfield


Jim (on left) a Big Rider from 2008, generously hosted us with fresh watermelon, ice cream, cold drinks and deck chairs off La Grange Road.


A collage Jim assembled from his 2008 Big Ride.


Holiday Acres camping resort, where we are staying tonight.


Gene and Sharon relax in the pool.

Big Ride Update: Days 30 &31

Tuesday we rode 67 steep miles from Winona, Minnesota to Viroqua, Wisconsin, crossing the Mississippi to our seventh state–“America’s Dairy”–and riding along the river valley before we climbed arduously into Amish country in 100+heat, then roller-coasted through more hills into Viroqua. We pitched our tents at the Vernon County Fairgrounds until some people learned they could stay at an air conditioned church up the path and moved there. Wednesday we rode 99 miles from Viroqua to Madison, Wisconsin, the state capitol, rising at 4 am for a 5:30 am start so we could beat the heat. It was a long day but the temperature stayed in the low to mid 90s, a break from the day before, and we made some interesting stops en route. But everyone was happy to reach the University of Wisconsin campus at Chadbourne Hall for a rest day.



Leaving the Island City of Winona in the early morning.


The Mississippi River in the early light. The Mississippi starts in northern Minnesota and flows over 2500 miles south to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. It touches 10 states and its watershed drains all or part of 31 states between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. It remains a working river and is used to transport coal, gravel, lime and grain.


This section of the river valley is known as the Mississippi River Blufflands and includes tall bluffs, deep valleys and rocky outcrops as seen in the upper right hand. The area is referred to as “driftless” because it avoided the massive glaciers that carved the rest of Minnesota so the landscape is closer to its original appearance before the Ice Age.


Another view of the Mississippi


After about 20 miles, as we enter Dakota, Minnesota, we were treated to a fabulous reception at the home of the Meyer family. Five sisters who started by welcoming Big Riders over a decade ago with a lemonade stand have turned it into an annual banquet replete with delicious home-made cakes and fruit and sandwiches and cold drinks and heartfelt hospitality. They keep a scrapbook with every Big Rider and interviewed and photographed each of us.


The Meyer family sisters and cousins


Mississippi marshland


Crossing the Mississippi at La Crescent


Entering Wisconsin, our seventh state (from left to right: Rob, Mike, Doron, Rick)


A partial, moving-bicycle-oops-I-almost-missed-it view of the largest six-pack in the world in La Crosse, Wisconsin



Riding along the Mississippi River on the eastern or Wisconsin side now.


Entering Chaseburg, just before the creamery and the steepest, hottest 1.5 mile climb.


It’s always beautiful at the top


We stopped for lunch by this lake and several Big Riders jumped in to cool off.


Entering Viroqua. We immediately headed for an air conditioned pizza parlor cum ice cream store


Two Big Riders, Ben and Cam, exhausted from the day’s riding, swimming and 104 degree heat, unwind at the fairground.


The Driftless Cafe in Viroqua where we had a nice dinner in original surroundings, including two trees that grew through the ceiling.


On the road between Lewiston and Viola. Wisconsin produces a quarter of the nation’s cheese and butter and is second in milk production.


More cheese, butter and milk being cultivated.


We bike through the town of Richland Center, birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright and an important place inthe history of women’s suffrage


A working farm along the Frank Lloyd Wright Memorial Highway.


Crossing the Wisconsin River


In one of our more inspired roadside stops, Big Rider Liz spots Carr Valley Cheese and we are transported into an air conditioned paradise of gourmet cheese, fine chocolates and wine. We partook of the first two but left the wine alone since we still had 25 miles to go.


A check-in by a lake in Mazomanie


The proprietor of Uphill Grind Bicycle and Coffee shop makes me a fruit smoothie. I bought a new chain from him since after 2500 miles, mine is worn out.


Lake Katherine, with an unusual turquoise hue


Big Riders unwind after 100 miles at State Street Brats with a bootful of beer ( from left to right: Mike, Doron, Camillo, Ben, Liz)


Gene puts on the chain I bought.


Science Hall at the University of Wisconsin campus


The state Capitol in Madison, as seen from State Street


View over Lake Mendota from the Wisconsin Student Union

Big Ride Update: Day 29

Today we rode 89 miles from Owatonna to Winona, Minnesota and officially passed the 2000-mile mark in our 3300-mile bike ride. It was a hot day with temperatures breaking 100 degrees–one rider registered 104 degrees–but otherwise the ride was fairly smooth with some minor construction and a long stretch of rolling hills dotted with lovely farmland and woods. We are staying at the Tau Center dorms in Winona State University.


Charlton and Lynn, our ride directors, suit up and go for their own ride after making sure all the Big Riders have returned safely to camp.


Claremont, the first town after leaving Owatonna.


Big Riders relax and rehydrate at a checkpoint


A little wetland en route


Passing the town of Byron, which features a grain elevator, a rail line and two golf courses


Pleasant rolling farmland between Byron and Rochester


Riding into Rochester, Minnesota’s third largest city and home of the Mayo Clinic, which employs 30,000 people in the city. There was significant construction underway.


A store in Rochester. We did not have time to verify its claims.


A cornfield between Chester and Eyota


St. Charles, where we stopped for lunch and where a woman at the coffee shop spontaneously donated five dollars to our cause and paid for our ice coffee. This is not the first time we have been so well treated. We have found Americans largely a generous, good-hearted people on this trip.


More construction, between St. Charles and Utica.


Rounding a bend between Lewiston and Stockton


A nice river on the same stretch


Entering Winona, “the Island City,” built on the Mississippi River where it was a railway and steamboat transportation center and a leader in milling and shipping wheat.


The Main Channel Bridge and the Mississippi River, from downtown Winona. The city is set in the Mississippi River valley with wooded bluffland all around.


The Merchants National Bank in Winona, another example of Prairie School architecture with terra cotta ornamentation and stained glass.


The Blue Heron In downtown Winona, a nice cafe cum bookstore where we stopped for refreshment.


From Winona, Minnesota, looking east over the Mississippi River to a small beach on the Wisconsin side.

Big Ride Update: Day 27 & 28

Saturday we had a rest day in New Ulm, that German-founded “town of charm and tradition” in southern Minnesota; and Sunday we rode 72 miles through farm country and various towns to Owatonna or “O-town” a city in Steele County with significant manufacturing, insurance and historical buildings that include the Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children and Louis Sullivan’s beautiful National Farmer’s Bank. We are camping at the Steele County Fairgrounds, site of the largest free fair in Minnesota.


One of several bookstores on Minnesota Avenue in New Ulm.


The Hermann Monument, also know as Hermann the German, is on a hill overlooking New Ulm and the Minnesota River valley. It commemorates Hermann’s uniting of Germanic tribes to defeat the Romans in 9 AD.


The entrance to Martin Luther College, where we are staying in New Ulm. It is a college of ministry operated by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.


The copper kettle at the Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, the second oldest family brewery in the country.


Big Rider Tod lines up half a dozen different bottles from the Schell Brewing Company that we got to sample on our tour.


View from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway as we ride from New Ulm to Owatonna. The highway, part of US Highway 14, connects places that relate to the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote Little House on the Prairie.


Crossing the Minnesota River as we enter Mankato


A farm near Janesville


A Dakota Minnesota and Eastern railroad car as we enter Waseca


Loon Lake, one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Several Big Riders jumped in to cool off.


As they enter Owatonna, the Big Riders find paradise: an ice cream store that shares ownership with the bicycle store. So they gorge on milk shakes and ice cream floats in the shade at the “S’Cream”–“the Betty” stands for a female cyclist–before picking up new chains, tires and other biking paraphernalia at the Straight River Sports and Fitness.


The ice cream store proprietor, Julie, let’s the world know how she feels about the Big Ride in big, bold white chalk


The bike store owner, Anne, opens up her shop on a Sunday to let the Big Riders pick up bike supplies.


The front of the National Farmer’s Bank, Louis Sullivan’s glorious 1908 arch-within-a-square design that is an exemplar of the Prairie School of Architecture. Today it houses a branch of Wells Fargo and is a National Historic Landmark.


Gene, officially the Big Ride mechanic–one of only three support staff, along with Charlton and Lynn–but also an all-purpose problem-solver,reclines on a bench at the end of the day’s ride. Today was his birthday. Happy Birthday, Gene!

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Doron Weber on Immortal Bird Aftermath

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