Cycling Date: Friday 17-July-15
Mileage: 76 miles
Weather: Sunny. Upper 60s to start. Upper 80s to end. Winds light and built out of the west.
Highlights of the day:
We headed out of La Crosse on two-lane farm roads. Sound familiar? And guess what we saw…. Corn, soybeans, cows, and some horses. It was very pleasant. Winds were mostly non-existant and we all flew into the first SAG stop in the town of Sparta. Sparta is the self-professed capital of bicycling in the US. I’m not quite sure why other than an amazing rail trail and a really big penny-farthing with Ben Cycling perched on its seat. Quick side bar, penny-farthing is the old fashioned bicycle with a really large front wheel and a tiny back wheel. Its name comes from the British coins, penny and farthing, and their relative sizes. Who knew??
Out of Sparta we entered the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. It’s one of the first rail trail projects in the US. The trail is packed gravel, but the surface is as good or better than some of the roads we’ve ridden. It runs through woods, often under a full canopy of trees, and well away from roads. We walked our bikes through three converted railway tunnels, one of them over a mile long. Bikes are walked because the tunnels don’t have lights. Riders carry flashlights to find their way. Some of us geeks quoted the King of the Dead from the third book of the Lord of the Rings, proclaiming that “The dead do not suffer the living to pass” as we entered the cool dark cavern. Others just shook their heads at us and walked on.
After the trail, we had 15 more miles and the big climb of the day. It was less than a mile but with legs used for 30 miles on an unpaved bike path, it was noticed. We finished the day on farmland rollers into Mauston.