Over the past three days, we have cycled 135 miles further east through Wisconsin. We now find ourselves just outside of Racine, a city on Lake Michigan. The two of us have gotten spoiled by the network of Wisconsin State Trails, which crisscross the state, are very well maintained and heavily used. We have also enjoyed spending a few evenings with Wisconsin residents through the Warm Showers program.
Warm Showers is a concept where fellow cyclists agree to host travelling cyclists passing through their town. Typically, they provide you with their extra bedroom or a place to stake a tent, allow access to their bathroom and if lucky, invite you to dinner. Cyclists download the Warm Showers app and then look for hosts in towns where they plan to stay for the night. We are told it’s all part of that “cycling karma.”
After that wild overnight in Reedsburg, we set out on Thursday for our only day in Wisconsin where we had to spend the entire time on roads. Being on roads also meant we had to deal with real hills and vehicular traffic, something we hadn’t had to do for a while. After climbing to the top of a ridge, we were graced with a long downhill and then found our way through flat terrain into Sauk City, which is on the Wisconsin River.
There we stayed with Warm Showers host, Kelly. Kelly is very animated and we had no problem carrying on a conversation with her for the entire evening. She has done plenty of cycling in Wisconsin and perhaps, has her sights set on a cross-country trip in a few more years. Kelly’s mom, Mary, was also staying there for the night and she enjoyed showing us she is the queen in a game of Yahtzee!
The following morning, we set out for Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city. After riding for a few miles in the shoulder of busy US Route 12, we were able to once again pick up a bicycle trail that took us into the outskirts of Madison.
Madison is a magical city, situated on two lakes. We saw plenty of people kayaking, sculling and water skiing. It is also an absolute Mecca for bicyclists. There are scores of bike trails throughout and designated bike lanes on many of the city’s main streets. We saw cyclists everywhere and rode by a couple of signs that keep count of how many cyclists pass by each day.
One, on the Southwest Commuter Path, indicated that 500+ bikers had passed by that day. Another, on the Capital City Path, stated that some 1,167 cyclists had gone by that day, and it was only 3:00 on the afternoon! While we were getting some serious bicycle repairs done at Machinery Row Bicycles, (cassettes and chains replaced) we headed over to Great Dane Brewery and enjoyed a couple of IPAs.
That evening we stayed with Aram and Polly, on the east side of Madison. Between the two of them, they have worked and traveled in Asia and Africa and are certainly keen for more adventures. Aram had prepared a Lebanese meal with hummus that is the best we have ever tasted! Their cat has an affinity for chewing on cords including cell phone and laptop cords. They have to put protection on all of their cords as did we or he will readily destroy them with his teeth.
After departing Madison, we set our sights on the Glacial Drumlin Trail, which stretches 53 miles from Cottage Grove to Waukesha. Things were going great until we got to just east of Sullivan, where some tornadoes had passed through a couple of nights before. After navigating our way around a couple of blowdowns, we got to a spot which was impassible, and had to jump over to US 18 for a few miles. Eventually we were able to rejoin the Glacial Drumlin Trail and rode it from Dousman into Waukesha.
On Saturday, we travelled from Waukesha to Racine via the New Berlin State Trail, Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail and some back roads in Racine County. Along the way, we bumped into Patrick and Rachel who are also travelling across the country from Everett, WA to Maine and their Warm Showers hosts Barb and Gene, who showed them the way to the Oak Leaf Trail.
Thanks to the forward thinking of the parks commission in the early 1900s who purchased and protected the land, Charles B Whitnall, the landscape architect who designed the parks in a necklace of green, and Zip Morgan, a staunch bicycle advocate, who conceived the idea of the Oak Leaf Trail, there are some 135 miles of trails connecting several county parks throughout Milwaukee County. Portions of the trail follow the rivers and run along Lake Michigan. We, New England folks had no idea of the richness within Milwaukee.
Tomorrow we will pass into Illinois and ride along a section of Lake Michigan.
Pat and Shevonne
Follow us as we spin our wheels