Wisconsin Tour, July 2007

My big trip this summer was a two-week ride in southern and western Wisconsin. It was scheduled to meet the group for the usual ride up the Kickapoo River valley the second weekend, after which Brenda and Alan joined me for the second week. My route first went southeast from Madison, then west to the Mississippi River, north up the Kickapoo Valley, north and west through La Crosse to Trempealeau County, back south and east to Elroy, then pretty much straight south back to Madison. Overnight stops were Albany, Blanchardville, Governor Dodge State Park, Platteville, Bagley, Muscoda, Gays Mills, Wilton, Esofea, Norwalk, Perrot State Park (Trempealeau), Whitehall, Perrot State Park again, Elroy, and White Mound (near Plain).

In Platteville, I got flooded out of my tent and, I later learned, they had major flood damage in Bagley, a small town on the Mississippi River. I went through Bagley the next day, found helicopters hovering overhead, and all sorts of government emergency people in town. The center of town wasn't flooded, but a bunch of houses down near the river were. The town water was declared contaminated, though I drank some of it before I learned that, with no apparent ill effect. It started to rain again when I got to town, and by the time the thunder and lightning was over, it was too dark to ride up the hill to Wyalusing State Park, where I had intended to camp. One of the volunteer fire department guys gave me permission to camp in the park shelter, so there I stayed.

The road out of town the next day was flooded but, against the advice of the government types in their air-conditioned headquarters trailer, I walked my bike around it. There was a lot of damage to the ditches along the road after that, but no big problems. After passing the flooded spot, I turned east, leaving the Mississippi, and followed the Wisconsin River to Muscoda.

The next day, I crossed the Wisconsin and rode west to Gays Mills where I met the group for the Kickapoo Valley ride. One of my STI shift levers was getting balky, so I found a ridgetop spot outside of Gays Mills where my phone worked, and had a bike shop in Madison ship a new one to Trempealeau. The guy at the bike shop also suggested hosing the old one with WD-40, which worked. (The convenience store in Gays Mills had some.) I picked up the new shifter, but didn't have to use it.

Fifteen others met me in Gays Mills. It was an exotic collection of cyclists: One from Ohio, another from Arkansas, two from Illinois, and a whole bunch from Iowa. We natives were outnumbered. We did the usual ride up the Kickapoo for 3 days, then most of the others went home. Brenda and Alan, on their tandem, continued on with me. They tow a trailer behind their tandem, making the whole thing almost as long as one of those Australian road trains. We had breakfast with the rest of the group in Viroqua, then turned back north to Norwalk.

We three followed the bike trails past La Crosse and north to Trempealeau, once more on the Mississippi. After one night at Perrot State Park, we did a short ride further north (and away from the river) to Whitehall. By then, it was getting pretty hot, so we spent the afternoon in the air conditioned library. Brenda and Alan bought a battery-powered fan to cool their tent, which made it easier for me to keep up with them on the hills the next day.

On the road back to Trempealeau, we had a comical race with a young cow on the road. First I passed, the cow stopped, saw Brenda and Allen coming, and the race started all over again. First time I ever saw a cow gallop. We were back in Trempealeau early, and it was warmer still. Another afternoon in a library. That evening, after dinner in town, we got caught in a thunderstorm riding back to the park (4 miles/ 6 km), and got completely soaked. Another soggy night.

Back down the bike trails south and east the next day, and we parted company at Norwalk. Alan and Brenda had to retrieve their truck in Gays Mills and drive back to southeast Iowa, while I continued east to Elroy. There I parked my bike at the bottom of the hill, hiked up to the campground with only my tent to claim a campsite, and got caught in another downpour. Drenched again. That was the last of the rain, though, and things started to dry out on the way south the next day. I camped at White Mound County Park that night and rode the rest of the way home the next day.

Altogether, I rode 833 miles (1340 km), as usual without any help from the wind. I did have a couple light wind days, though. The only time I actually had to ride in the rain was that evening ride from Trempealeau back to the campground. The ride covered all of our usual overnight routes, except for a couple we do in central Wisconsin. In spite of a little heat and dampness, it was a great trip.

First Bridge Out, on the way to Albany Saturday
Four trips across the footbridge
Why surveyors shouldn't be allowed to design roads.
Flouting the Law in Argyle
A Good Sign
Enterng Governor Dodge State Park
IMG_0030 copy
The Governor Dodge trail in March
Second Bridge out, on the way to Platteville.
Another footbridge
I had to reposition the second footbridge myself
Wind Turbines in Iowa County
Drying out in Cassville
In Bagley after the flood
County X north of Bagley
County X
Looking Back County X
$2 Million to take the kink out of County F
Gays Mills Campsite
This road sure is getting crowded!
Tandem plus trailer
Dinner in Wilton at Pies are Square
Whitehall Campsite
Warm day in Trempealeau