April 30-May 2, 1999

Scott Ellington


The weather forecast is absolutely spectacular as seven of us begin our first overnight tour of the season.  The start is slightly delayed Friday evening as we’re packing up when Judy’s back tire explodes.  No matter, we’re soon on our way on a warm, sunny evening.  There’s not much traffic on the familiar route south out of Madison, and comfortably before dark we’ve covered the 30 miles to the small town of Albany.  After we set up camp in the park we have dinner at one of the town’s two cafes.   The night is quiet, with those clear skies one usually sees only out  west.


There’s frost on the ground Saturday morning, but we’re up early anyway when the construction crew arrives to work on the softball field.  Over breakfast in the other cafe, we plan the day ahead.  Blanchardville is just 26 miles west, so we take various devious routes.  Some of us loop south of Monroe, nearly to the Illinois state line, then north through Argyle, for a total of 62 miles.  Others take more direct routes.  It’s fairly challenging cycling in this hilly country where the roads tend to follow the section lines over the hills.  No one is complaining, though, as it’s a perfect day for cycling.  Jane suggests that if you can’t enjoy cycling today, you ought to sell your bike.  Lots of sunscreen is required.  During one hour on the road, four cars pass.  Miraculously, we all converge on the grocery store in Blanchardville at the same time.  Roger has a serious problem, though:  He can’t get one shoe out of the pedal.  Eventually we free him so he can join us in the restaurant for dinner.  We camp in the park along the Pecatonica River.  Less than two weeks ago the water was some 7 feet higher, flooding the whole campground, but things are dry enough now.  It’s another peaceful night, with more frost in the morning.


There’s only one restaurant in Blanchardville, so we’re back there for breakfast.  With bright sunshine again, it warms up quickly.  The wind has picked up from the southeast, though, so we’ll have a bit of a headwind.  Four of us detour to the northwest through Hollandale, while the others take the direct route.  After a lunch break at the park in Hollandale, we turn into the wind towards Madison.  It’s not a long trip, though, and there’s even a tailwind near the end when we turn north.  Closer to home, we start to see dozens of other cyclists on day trips.  There’s just no excuse for not riding your bike on a day like this!