Mike and I are back in Wisconsin for more fun on the bike. The fact that we’ve knocked out 15,000 feet of climbing and 176 miles in two and a half days is a clue to how much fun we’re having. We’re working hard enough for food fantasies to crop up by mid ride:
I’m gonna make the mother of all salads tonight.
Turkey burgers with bacon and tomato.
The continuously rolling terrain peppered by numerous 15-20% climbs are a grimpeur’s delight. The climbs aren’t long by Colorado standards – gaining between 300 and 900 feet at a time. Its all about the grade. Whereas many western climbs unfold in the 5-7% range over several miles, Wisconsin climbs put all your suffering into a 1-3 mile package. The good news is, as we toil up these grades [which are steeper than a cow's face], mostly you can see the top. Sometimes, as I’m grinding up a particularly steep section, I start giggling.
Our first day we followed our intuition – making up our route as we rolled along. Whatcha think about this? Sure, why not. Whether drawn by aforementioned intuition or by some darker force, we found ourselves at the turn off for Mounds Trail: the CAT 3, 900 foot climb up the north side of Blue Mounds State Park.
Sure why not.
As is the case when I suffer, I tell myself that I’m most likely not going to seek out any additional climbing in the near future. However, when I rolled up to the turnoff for the summit I found myself continuing to ascend. This was a noteworthy moment. It’s not just that I continued to climb, but that I did so knowing full well that ice cream was available in the opposite direction: down the hill.
Yesterday we did a 70 mile route north of Mt Horeb [alleged home of Trolls], and then south of town – no trolls, only corn and cows. In the northerly direction its all about sharp climbs and long descents through hardwood forests. The south is a study in red barns with white trim and constantly rolling corn fields. The smell of manure is in the air, and was in my jersey by the time we got back. It was a two turkey burger night, followed by me making a complete mess out of my front derailleur. More about that later.
Today we headed west for a brief sojourn into Iowa County: home of great cycling, and people who hate cyclists. As the story goes, an elected official of some sort tried to bully the county commissioner into forbidding cycling events in the county. From what we’ve heard, the events have continued, but not without considerable rancor on both sides. The photo to the left rather sums up the local attitude. My theory is that it has something to do with a collision between two worlds: one of carharts’s and rusty Ford F 150’s, the other of carbon and spandex.
Maybe I should investigate a flannel jersey with the arms ripped off?
Before we rolled out, Mike went to the pharmacy, said a prayer and happened to find a bike mechanic named Seth standing out on the sidewalk. So, says Mike, can you fix my friend’s bike? It happened just like that. Seth the bike guy reset my derailleur and refused to take anything for his time. We were back in business.
We encountered a stiff challenge in three consecutive 16-22% walls. The first one was so steep that both of us were climbing out of the saddle after the first 50 feet – and from a dead flat start that gave us no momentum whatsoever. This was followed by a steep drop where we shifted into the big ring and pedaled furiously so that our speed would carry us a ways up the next hill, and save us from as much climbing as possible. Repeat as needed.
As we got into the late afternoon, we began to feel the 88 degree heat and humidity. Stewart Lake appeared to our left, and with it, a water spigot with really cold water. Mike and I spilled about 10 gallons of water paid for by Wisconsin tax payers, dousing our heads and neck. Maybe we had gotten a bit delirious in the heat. Whatever the case may be, we both found the icy water to be the height of hilarity. And why not? It was another gift of many received in a splendid three days – and we’re not done yet. On Sunday we’ll be riding the Wright Stuff Century, with close to 9K of climbing. The details may be found here.
I leave you with a final image…