July 26 Prescott to Alma, WI

Posted by on Aug 4, 2012 in Mississippi River Trail | 2 Comments

Distance 63 miles, 10.7 mph average, 5:51 ride time, on the road for 8 hours and 20 minutes, expenses $52.00

Thanks to Bicycle Bob and wife Jackie needing to leave for work early I was able to get a great start to today’s ride  Bob made sure I had the right fuel for a hard day of riding, he prepared me a healthy and filling cheese and mushroom omelet which was so good, too.  Bob even showed me a short cut out of town which allowed me to avoid a steep hill heading south on Hwy 35 and brought me out at the visitor center I had visited the day before so was able to take another look at the blue water of the St. Croix River merging with the Mississippi but again was unable to capture a picture which shows the colors merging.  Over the next 50 miles or so I had to do some long climbs where my speed would drop down to 3-4 mph taking close to an hour to climb but were still doable as the road generally flattened out or even had a nice downhill on the other side.

Stopping for my favorite midmorning snack a BLT on wheat toast with mayo I found this interesting v-hull aluminum boat at the entrance to Driver Dave’s Diner in Bay City to be a unique yard ornament.

The roads in this first section of Wisconsin are as smooth and nice to ride as they were in Minnesota making for an enjoyable ride, even considering the few hills I had to climb.  I especially enjoyed the beauty of the bluffs riding into Alma.

Bluffs along the Mississippi just before Alma

Unlike the previous four nights in Alma I would have to be resourceful to find an inexpensive place to stay.  I really don’t care to pitch a tent and try to sleep in the sweltering heat even the north is suffering through this summer.  My first stop was the Visitor Center/Chamber of Commerce.  The gentleman there referred me to an older home that had just been renovated and turned into a B&B but it was full.  My next stop I saw a lady going into the Alma Senior Center and checked to see if I could stay there but again struck out.  Leaving the Senior Center, which was on the main street through town I was passing by the Hotel Alma which was also a local bar and restaurant.  There were four gals sitting out front enjoying a cold one or two and waved to me.  I thought what the heck maybe they would know where I could stay this night without costing a small fortune in this resort town.  One gal spoke up and said sure right here it will only cost you $30.00 which got my attention.  I introduced myself and agreed to the rate.  The gal who gave me the quote turned out to be Crystal the owner of the establishment.  After my introduction she said what the heck you can stay for $15.00.  Now that is more to my budget considering I had to pay $32.00 to camp up by Bena my first night out.  The hotel is 40’s vintage shows it’s wear but the room was clean, had AC something I’m quickly learning many places here in the North don’t have.  I did have to share the bathroom but there were no other guests staying the night so in essence I had the whole upstairs of the place the place to myself.  My tent was still wet from the night before and I was able to hang it out the upstairs balcony overlooking the main drag, wind was blowing hard enough it looked like my tent’s rain fly was a giant tent.  It only took minutes to dry my entire tent, fly and ground cloth.  I then cleaned up, went downstairs and enjoyed a couple cold beers during “Happy Hour” long necks (12 ounce bottles) were only a $1.25 each.  Crystal got the extra $15.00 I saved on the room in beer sales to me.  I then went into the dining room and enjoyed a great fried chicken dinner for a whopping sum of $8.95.  The Alma hotel, if you don’t mind staying in a dated and not quite a 100% condition which I don’t, turned out to be quite a bargain.  Great food, room rate hard to beat and locals in the bar were friendly and fun to visit.  Crystal is doing a great job with the Alma hotel as well as her lead barmaid Marian.  Finally to my surprise and delight the locals did not get rowdy and by about 10:00 PM had called it a night.  I was needlessly worried about not being able to sleep being above a bar for the night but not problem.  If you’re on a budget and want a bargain in Alma, WI you need to check out this hotel.

Crystal, Old Guy and Marian in front of Alma Hotel


Entrance for Pepin Museum. Across street from here is a great place to stop for a piece of homemade pie.


  1. Terry
    August 15, 2012

    I’ve sure enjoyed reading your ride log/blog. Just returned from vacation in western Nebraska. Met a nice young couple on bikes in my “old” home town of Harrison, NE. They were just coming out of a restaurant there that we were going into and asked how to get to county fairgrounds to see the rodeo(co fair was going on). Anyway we then visited with them for quite a while. They were from Philidelphia, had ridden from Seattle to San Francisco, taken a train then to Sacramento then ridden on to Nebraska. They said they were taking a side trip to the badlands of South Dakota, then planned to be back in Philadelphia by end of Oct. I told them they were living my dream!! The next day we passed them on the road east of Chadron, NE so I pulled over and gave them some bottles of cold water that I had in my cooler and some fig newtons. They told us also of some wonderful things people had done for them in NE along the way, things that they said they would never experience in PA. Anyway to make a long story shorter, they were quite an inspiration to me, as you are also, Frank.

    I’ve got two older bikes down at the shop to sell so I can get a Long Haul(disc) Trucker to start touring. I may get it going in the next year, may even start a blog of my own, and call it “Following Frank”.

    May god continue to be with you in your travels.


    • 4theoldguy11
      August 15, 2012

      Hi Terry!
      Its great to hear from you and pleased to know you are reading my journal. Just as you met the couple from Philly there are lots of folks, especially us older generation riding around America and the world. It was most kind of you to stop them on the road and provide cold water and fig newtons. Random acts of kindness such as yourself are what makes the journey so special.

      You will love the Long Haul Trucker, the disc brakes are a nice addition. My bike was backed into and has a substantial bend in the top tube, it doesn’t track straight but still it keeps going, no mechanical problems. I’d recommend setting up the shifting as I did with a bar end friction shifter for the front rings and a shimano style for the back. I shift the rear cogs constantly and this is the best combination for me. Also, be sure to gear the bike as low as possible to make it easier to climb hills and mountains. If you haven’t already learned, it is easiest on the joints to spin. Except on very steep climbs I keep my cadence to between 80-90 RPM.

      I look forward to one day getting to ride a tour with you. Take care and may the wind always be at your back.


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