Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Saturday was a very good day. Instead of driving all the way out to Cross Plains for the official training ride, me and another rider got together with two of our friends for our own trip. We went from Madison out to Cambridge and back, passing through a few other small towns along the way. You can see our route map here. Ended up hitting a total of 45 miles almost exactly, which is officially the longest bike ride I've done yet (though I'm told this only equals the shortest day of the ride). The good news is that my body didn't shut down on me the next day, which is very reassuring.

We used one of the routes on the ACT V website and ended up loving it (except for one small stretch of road that was covered in fine gravel, but that's not their fault). Many of the roads traveled are very out-of-the-way country routes, but most of them were amazingly well-paved. There are few things better on a ride than gliding smoothly down a traffic-free road surrounded by bright red barns, golden fields of wheat and wild flowers on a mostly sunny summer day.

I was informed by one of my fellow riders that Wisconsin boasts the most paved roads of any state in the country. For bikers, that's great news. Apparently this fun fact has to do with the dairy industry getting together back in the day and deciding to lobby the crap out of the state government for more paved roads leading to and from the many dairies. This makes perfect business sense when you think about what Wisconsin winters are usually like.

There were plenty of very decent hills on this route to keep us on our toes, so to speak, and I'm happy to report that none of them completely killed me. Between the better bike and the slowly improving lungs and legs, I think I'm getting a decent handle on my arch nemesis, the hill. Even so, I will always prefer a good downhill rush. And it's likely I'll never wear a polka-dotted jersey, anyway, so oh well.
We stopped in Cambridge for lunch, getting sandwiches and delicious pastries from a local bakery on Main Street. The prices were extremely reasonable and the food delicious. We ate outside in a little park and watched the people out shopping, which is apparently one of Cambridge's big draws. Then, after some more stretching, we jumped in the saddle and headed off back toward Madison.

A few tips for anyone taking this route by bike:

1) The turn off from Door Creek Rd. to Koshkonong Rd. is missing its sign. Just be on the look out for the only road that goes left at the mileage where the turn is supposed to be.

2) Prairie Rd. is absolutely beautiful: new pavement, smooth, straight, level and pretty much free of traffic. Enjoy!

3) There is a stretch of Ridge Rd. (or West Ridge, I forget) that is covered in fine, loose gravel. You can navigate it just fine on road tires, just be aware and be careful.

4) At the beginning of County Rd. PQ, you'll start seeing signs that say the road is closed ahead. It is closed, but only once you're actually inside the town limits of Cambridge. At this point, it's just a short portage over the construction to get you and your bike back to where the street continues.

5) The bakery on Main St. in Cambridge is delicious and affordable. They have kringle.

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