July 23rd, Day 35: Fond du Lac, WI to Manitowoc, WI: 61 miles, 1115 ft. ascent

A couple of things today have reminded me that I haven’t been banging on much recently about the sheer scale of things in the US. It maybe that I’m starting to take it for granted or it may simply be that I have been distracted by the dismissal of Heggie and the induction of Owers. But fortunately the new boy seems to have got the general gist of what he needs to do now, judging by the fact we averaged 17.9 mph today, and it was actually him hustling me to do less faffing at the refreshment stop rather than vice versa.

The first thing that reminded me of scale was an enforced stop for most of the group for 10 minutes while a 200 car freight train crossed the road, accompanied by iconic sounds of hooting, clanking and ringing bells.

The huge freight train. Photo courtesy of Martin Stabler.

about 20 cyclists wait for a train to pass. Chris and James are in the middle. James is doing a stupid thumbs up.
The waiting riders! Photo courtesy of Martin Stabler.

The second reminder of scale was a brief detour to view a lighthouse on Lake Winnebago. This is a lake that is definitely big enough to accommodate lighthouses, being some 30 miles long and 137,000 acres (215 square miles) in area. But it is tiny compared to Lake Michigan which we reached later in the day. The latter is, in comparison 10 times bigger at 22,404 square miles. This is approximately 3 times the size of wales! Our ferry journey across Lake Michigan on our rest day tomorrow will take 4 hours (4 times as long as crossing the English Channel).

James and Chris are seen in the foreground and the lighthouse in the background.
James and Chris whizz pass the lighthouse on Lake Winnebago for a 'cheeky selfie'.

As we will all remember from school there are 5 great lakes, of which Michigan is not even the largest – the latter being Lake Superior which is almost 50% larger than Lake Michigan.

I have also been a bit remiss in not commenting more on the scenery or wildlife. I forgot to mention the Minnesota state bird, which is allegedly the mosquito. And regarding the scenery in these parts, I omitted to mention that there are in fact 4 distinct vistas: firstly Corn to the left and right as far as the eye can see, secondly soy to the left and right as far as the eye can see, and two more interesting variants: thirdly soy to the left and corn to the right, and finally corn to the left and soy to the right.

A fairly nondescript field of corn!

Soy to the left, and corn to the right (configuration 3)

Cyclists stand with their bikes in front of corn as high as an elephants eye
Some of our cycling friends in a field of corn. From left to right: Nikki, Deb, Greg, Bev, and Alan. Photo courtesy of Martin Stabler.