I wish I knew more about how the winds were blowing back in 2017 when I look at this stage. Mark Beaumont had taken a 300 mile detour south to avoid the fierce eastern headwinds as he rode across Minnesota and here we are in neighbouring Wisconsin needing to track north east to make the land gap between the Great Lakes. But instead, stage 648 heads directly east towards Green Bay, almost halfway down Lake Michigan. Would a ride up the western shore of the lake offer any protection if the wind is still blowing east? Will the route hang a left before Green Bay and cut the corner across the hypotenuse? All will be revealed in the coming stages.
648 is an uphill stage, and a lumpy one at that, but only if you believe the elevation profile. It packs only two hundred feet of climbing, but because the descent is significantly less than that, and eighty per cent of the stage is uphill, it will just feel that way.
But first, the good news: the rollout is downhill, and for two miles. That’s enough to take Highway 10 down into Mondovi where the road meets but doesn’t cross the Buffalo River at the lowest elevation of the stage. The fact that the road follows the meandering river for the rest of the stage, and that that journey is uphill, is enough to confirm that the road is going against the flow of the river.
Once out of Mondovi, the highway runs alongside the Buffalo River State Trial: indeed it sits between the highway and the river all the way to the finish. County Road BB crosses all three at seven miles: the highway, the trail and the river before County Road FF does the same at eleven miles and Highway 93 in Eleva at thirteen miles. The road is climbing all of this time.
There’s a sharper ascent approaching Strum at fifteen miles where 5th Avenue North cross Highway 10 heading north and south, and it’s at Strum that the Buffalo River becomes Crystal Lake for a couple of miles as it flows through the lake. Beyond the lake and Viking Golf Course which sits just north of it, it’s a steady four mile climb to the finish which is just past the junction with Floyds Road at the highest elevation of the stage.
Distance: 23 miles / 37 kilometres
Ascent: 285 feet / 87 metres
RGT Magic Road: k2bV6BidHPJB
Max elevation: 943 ft
Min elevation: 849 ft
Total climbing: 287 ft
Total descent: -223 ft
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