Out the door at 5:30 with the Moon at my back and the rising Sun to the front.
Beautiful early morning roads as I quickly got out of Rochester.
Not alone in enjoying the early sunshine (and the still sub-90 degree temperatures)
A few hrs had passed and "sand hill road" had been conquered, this was along a great road winding it's way toward the Rushford area.
More from between I90 and Rushford. Great bluff region with many gravel roads- sort of like the new Almanzo course but amplified on every level. Couldn't resist the shot of the bike itself.
The Root River Trail. I had gone 25 or 30 miles out of my way in order to ride this and I was not at all disappointed.
Bicycle art and Segway rentals marked the end of the Root River Trail for me. The temperature was now approaching 90 and I was around 80 miles. I had left home intending to be in LaCrosse by mile 76, but still had at least 15 miles left to cross the mighty mississippi.
I was stuck on pavement for much too much of the ride from there down to Hokah. The views were great, but the roads here had no issues with going right up and over far too many of the bluffs for my tastes. I was beginning to feel like I might bonk and new that I needed more food and water, but decided to push it hard and fight through it instead. My plan had been to make LaCrosse and I would do that- come the Trans-Wisconsin race I likely wouldn't have so many 'convenient' gas stations along my route. I thought things were going well, but then I realized I was hallucinating...
Or was I? Usually when I'm riding I start to imagine food, air conditioning, beer and coca-cola. Seeing something else as a mirage probably should have tipped me off that it was real. Regardless, the picture proves it. Now try to picture how this looked from half a mile away across the shimmering heat of the valley.
I was at mile 88 or so now and the temperature seemed to be rising faster than my odometer. For some reason my butt was starting to hurt from my saddle and I was spending more time thinking about that/coasting than I was actually pedalling.
The low-point of my entire weekend came near here. It was another hallucination. There was another attractive girl (weird huh?), this time riding in front of me. She was on a Raleigh mountain bike with running shoes, jean shorts and a tank top. I wasn't gaining on her. We rode like this for at least a mile before my pride got the better of me and I decided I would turn it up and pass her because I just had to. I did slow up beside her in order to ask if she knew how to connect to the 'great river trail' as it left the other side of LaCrosse. Her response was roughly what I would have expected if I had pulled up in a 1983 fullsize van and asked if she needed a ride. God knows what I probably looked like at that point- 7 hrs into my day, near bonk, what kind of a creeper has panniers on their bike anyways? That encounter left me thinking about Hunter S Thompson and his classic coverage of the Kentucky Derby. In short, he goes looking for a certain kind of person in order to see what the thing is all about... in so doing he becomes what he was looking for to the fullest. I'm not sure what I was looking for or what I'd become. Regardless, those thoughts had gotten me a bit down the road and thankfully I'd outpaced my buxom competition (I double checked that she was still back there- still just barely in sight).
Wisconsin! Nice to be there. Felt good to be over the River. Decided to press on to the far end of town before I ate. Knew I wouldn't be making it all the way to Barneveld as had been one of my original plans/options. I was already 30 miles over my planned distance and I knew I needed a legitimate break. Decided on Applebees, was seated, was ignored for 10 minutes, very angry, left for McDonalds. Emerged feeling great and began to try to find my way to the beginning of the trail. My GPS was showing a location, but I couldn't get to it. I decided to leave town on roads that I knew would eventually cross the trail.
7 miles later I crossed the trail...
too bad those were the two most exciting things that happened for the next 15 miles- a spot of shade and a train! It was hot and it was boring.
There's some proof I was getting bored. That trail was no place to be 120+ miles into the day in 90+ degree weather.
Then I hit Sparta and the beginning of the 32 mile Elroy-Sparta trail. The majority of that trail is shaded, it has some ups and downs and three awesome tunnels. My day was looking up.
Sorry that I didn't take more pictures along the trail. It was scenic the whole time, but rarely anything cool enough to actually trigger pulling the camera out.
I pulled into Elroy with about 170 miles on the odometer, found a nice place to sleep and a wonderful Prime Rib dinner.
Was back on the road at 6 Sunday morning. I had orinally planned to continue on to Barneveld whether I got there on Saturday or Sunday morning. However, I spoke to Laura Saturday night and we would be bringing the remaining foster dog, Diesel, to the East side of Madison to meet his new family. It wouldn't make any sense for me to stray so far away from I90, just for her to then have to come pick me up. The new plan for Sunday morning was to explore the Winsonsin Dells area. This was good new to me! I was ready to get off the rail trail and up into the hills a bit. Nothing wrong with the rail trails, but I'd had enough!
Those are all the pictures I took. Saw a lot of cool stuff, but it's harder to take a photo while moving on a road and the camera stayed in the bag most of the way. About an hr into my ride I realized my butt hurt pretty bad once again... for some reason at that time it was blatantly clear to me that it was probably the fox DH shorts I was wearing over my bibs that was causing the pain. I removed them and the pain went away. Wish I would have realized that about 12 hrs or riding earlier and the day before.
Wound up meeting Laura at 10:30 or so in the Dells after an almost 70 mile ride on mostly pavement.
The Vaya was a good partner through everything (except for the DH short issues). I could try to say more, but doubt it's necessary or would be interesting.
Results - Thanks to all who came out to make the 2017 Dirt Bag another good day for the gravel community. The previous days rain made the course a little soft and put...
1 day ago