Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apples, Corn Mazes and Bike Rides, oh my!

As autumn slowly (or kick-ass quickly, as the case currently is) descends over our northern state, the cooler air, smell of dying leaves and wood smoke from those lucky enough to have fireplaces serves to remind me that it's time again for a few of my favorite things:

1) Pick-your-own apples and pumpkins! There are a number of farms all over the state and many near to Madison that allow folks to come in and gather their own goodies. It's a fantastic way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning/afternoon and the bounty is delicious. This site, though the layout is a bit wonky, is a very decent resource of local PYO farms:

A yearly favorite for me and my friends is the Eplegaarden, just down Seminole Hwy into Fitchburg. They've great swaths of apple orchards, pumpkin patches and hay rides. Plus I'm told there's a haunted barn, too, though I haven't braved that adventure just yet.

2) Corn mazes! It seems kind of schlocky, I know, but how often do you get the chance to wander around in a castle or Bucky shaped maze made of corn? dane101 has a good list of local-ish mazes to check out.

3) Autumn bike rides: summer's great for a ride, sure, but there's all that sweating and humidity and mosquitos to worry about. The fall colors up here are gorgeous, more-so when see from the saddle of a bike instead of trapped inside a fast-moving vehicle. There are lots of organized rides through the state, but you can also tour independently. Some great organized rides for both mountain and road biking are:

  • The Fall Color Festival - (mountain bike) Saturday, Sept. 29 at the John Muir Trail in Kettle Moraine State Forest (Southern Unit). I've been on these trails and they're amazing; extremely well kept, smooth single track for both beginner and advanced riders. Good obstacles but nothing too crazy if you don't want it. The colors in the park are bound to be amazing.
  • Sugar River Bike Tour - (road) Saturday, Sept. 29 starting at Veteran's Memorial Park in Brodhead, WI. Supported ride with 15, 30, 50 and 100 mile route options.
  • Maywood Earth Ride - (road) Saturday, Sept. 15 through Sheboygan County, with 12, 25, 50, 65 and 100 mile route options.
  • Rural Hill & Valley Experience - October 13 & 14, Elroy, WI. With routes for road, mountain and family bikers, this looks like quite the event. The bike trail from Elroy to Sparta is world-class and incredibly scenic. Plus there's a bluegrass festival in the evenings that registered riders can get into for free.
I only wish I could make each one of these rides, but the laws of time and space prevent me from doing so. Still, worth trying for at least one or two over the last remaining months before we go into our annual deep-freeze. Sadly, I'm not hardcore enough to keep riding through the snow.

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