Sunday, April 14, 2013

Go East Young (well, not that young) Woman

Nine rides out of ten, I ride due West, Northwest or Southwest from my home--except when there is food or beer involved.  I have spoken of the driftless zone in previous blogs and it has one hell of a magnetic pull on me.  Flatland and populated areas lie East, neither of which I've felt compelled to ride to...until this weekend.

Most of you know the kind of weather the Midwest has been experiencing.  Cold.  Rainy or snowy.  And windy.  I tend to need incentives to ride in these conditions.  A weekend getaway in Milwaukee is a really good incentive.  Not wanting to be stuck in a car for the drive over, being in great need of training miles, having good food/beer waiting for me at the end, getting to see two friend's new bike shop and having a tailwind/crosswind vs. headwind made the decision easy.  I'd bike to Milwaukee and hopefully get my first century of the season in.

I rolled out around 8:30am on Saturday.  I made a brief stop on the East side to say "hi" to my riding group, who were heading guessed it, for a Northwesterly loop.  At least, I thought, the sun is making momentary appearances and the temperature is out of the 20's.  The first thirty miles rolled by with ease.  Other than the annoying traffic and crumbling roads, I had not a worry on my mind.  Just before hitting Lake Mills, the sleet started.  My heart jumped and I got a bit nervous since I only donned a wind jacket vs. a rain jacket.  If I got wet in these temperatures, it would spell trouble.  A quick coffee stop in Lake Mills allowed the precipitation to pass and I was left with only clouds.

Johnson Creek passed by in a blur, and until I hit Concord, I didn't really stop to look around.  I was treated by a beautiful wind block and I sat to eat my sandwich next to an old hand hewn home--not unlike the type you'd find in the Smokies.

I won't go into what I thought of Waukesha--a place I try very hard to avoid.  Let's just say it took me at least thirty minutes to find my wait out.  It reminded me of a Las Vegas casino...or hell.  It took three residents and one mail carrier to get me onto Arcadia/Greenfield/59, which is the major road heading East out of town.  I'm guessing people who live in Waukesha never leave.

As I pulled into the place I'd be staying for the night, I decided I wasn't ready to end for the day.  Over 85 miles and I still had a little kick left in me.  After a bit of fuel and a warm beverage, I was off to Coast In Bicycles (you'll read more about this shop in my next post).  Riding down Greenfield and National, two roads I'd never ridden before, I couldn't help think of Nicollet, Lake and Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.  Block after block brought great Mexican and Asian restaurants as well as grocery stores.  Oh how I miss living near this!  On my way back to quickly shower before dinner, I couldn't resist doing a speed lap through the State Fair Grounds.  It was so odd being there without the hoards of people and animals--almost eerie.  Fond memories of hot summer days, coated with fryer grease and animal hair came to mind.  I know, that sounds disgusting.

Dinner at Alem
I must have gotten through the last few miles--clicking off 105 total by shear willpower.  I knew a beautiful Ethiopian feast awaited me at Alem.  Funny thing is I even have a bike connection with Alem. The owner of the restaurant is cousins with a woman I'm doing a bike Ethiopia project with.  Even if I didn't know the owner, I would gladly drive to Milwaukee just to eat at this amazing restaurant.  My legs and stomach thanked me profusely.

Could it really be April 14th?

Biking along the Menomonee river
After a deep slumber, I looked out the window and my heart sank just a bit.  Snow.  A bit of me wanted to stay indoors, but noooooo, I had to go and ride the Menomonee rain and 20 mph winds.  Thankfully the river was flooded and the ride was cut short.  By abstaining from a long ride, I was treated to seeing a garage full of baby pheasant, and more yummy food (no, not the baby pheasant).  My trip ended with a stroll in the Third Ward.  Overall, the trip was a great choice and a much needed adventure.

baby pheasant

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