Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's my birthday and I'll bike if I want to...part deux

Post ride meal at The Noble in Milwaukee
As I quietly left Carolyn and Tristan's apartment early this morning, in the Walkers Point neighborhood of Milwaukee, WI, I noticed a small piece of paper taped to the door.  It read "Work hard, but don't forget to live."

Taking my time on the Glacial Drumlin trail to Milwaukee

I found myself there not by chance.  Consider it a wormhole, named "crazy idea", which bored deep into my brain.  Only by seeing this idea through to the end would I have been able to spackle that worm hole shut.  You see, I was meant to drive to Milwaukee for a photo shoot this weekend.  When the photo shoot got postponed, and I still wanted to head East, I just couldn't bear making the trip in a stinky car.  I've biked to MKE before--but it wasn't the distance that made me second guess myself.  Prior to pedaling out there, I had battled one hell of a nasty head cold.  One where I called in sick to work and was flat on my back, doped up with medicine for a couple days.  Being the type who only gets truly sick once every couple years, I wasn't a happy camper.  When I finally had enough energy to stand, I stomped my feet like a tantrumy child saying "But I'm not supposed to get sick.  This isn't fair.  It's my birthday week and the last big week of summer.  I WANT TO BIKE!"  Of course all this complaining was interjected with a disgusting hacking cough and mad dashes to try and find kleenex.  But I digress.

Saying goodbye over beers
Thursday night, in a slightly boozed state of mind from a friend's going away party, I made my choice.  I was going to ride to and from MKE in a matter of a day and a half.  Leave pieces of lung by the side of the road--why not.  Start sweating at 7:45am in what I could only think was still a reminant fever (it turned out to be over 90 degrees on Friday...and humid)--sign me up.  To my husband's quiet disapproval--he knows me well enough now that I am mule like and my heels would only dig in deeper if he tried to stop me--I took off on my Spacehorse.

The only plans I had were a) get to MKE in one piece before thunderstorms hit, and b) visit with great people.  Everything else I was leaving the door open to.  I chose to take the trails one way and the roads heading back.  I find out and back routes mind numbing (know I sometimes greatly appreciate this), and I felt the need to shake things up and test my map reading skills.

It had been awhile since I had done any long miles via crushed limestone trail.  Of course I forgot how slow going it would be.  A trip by road bike to MKE would have only taken about 6 hours, maybe less depending upon the wind.  Instead, the long slog, with temps in the 90's, and two panniers, took almost 8.  Granted, I did stop umpteen million times to refill water bottles (I downed eight of them and still only had to pee once), I got turned around in Waukesha...again, and to make matters worse, it was the 110th Harley Davidson Anniversary gathering which meant over 100,000 more loud people in the area making it nearly impossible to cross major roads on the New Berlin Trail.  When I finally hit 124th and Greenfield, I ditched the idea of trying to piece together the "under construction" Hank Aaron Trail and just b-line it downtown.  With thunderheads building and the promise of good food dangling in front of me like a carrot, I geared up into my big chain ring--something I rarely do on my touring bike--and hammered down Greenfield, then down National, all the way to Carolyn and Tristan's bike shop, Coast In Bikes.

One look from Carolyn and she knew I was dreaming of a shower.  My legs were so grimy it looked like I hadn't shaved in years.  A handmade map leading me to her apartment was the best thing since sliced bread.  Somehow, I managed not to rush, and instead, enjoy the sites and sounds of Walkers Point.  This neighborhood is a beautiful mix of cultures, but is home to primarily a Hispanic population.  Riding down the streets brought me back to Pilsen in Chicago, Lake Street in Minneapolis, sections of Hartford in Connecticut and so much of LA.  I tend to love Hispanic neighborhoods almost as much as Chinatowns and make a point to visit them whenever I travel.  Storefront signs reading "Lavanderia" and "Panaderia" are somehow, in a weird way, comforting.  In fact, after my shower and a quick bite to eat, I couldn't help but walk around in search of fruit, and hopefully churros.  I came back to the apartment with conjunto music pouring out of the neighbors window.  It felt so good to be "so far" from Madison.

Coast In Bikes
I rolled back to Coast In Bikes and was greeted with one of Carolyn's home-brews--a rye stout.  It was great to see what she and Tristan had done with the shop.  When I was there last, they were just in the "build out" stage.  They had done so much with the space and I was tickled to see a friend's, Gloria Van Dixhorn's, beautiful mugs with the Coast In logo.

When the shop closed, we rode over to The Noble for dinner.  Walkers Point is now considered a foodie mecca.  THE place to go in Milwaukee for creative dining.  It didn't disappoint.  A wonderful post ride dinner with a group of great friends.

My ride back to Madison today was blessedly cool and cloudy most of the way.  It felt good to be on roads and rolling hills.  I hate to say I got turned around in Waukesha once again.  I don't know how this keeps happening--well, I do, their road sign names don't match maps, and no one who lives there seems to explore outside a two block radius.  A few little curses, plus backtracking down a big hill, and I was back on the "correct" road.  I forced myself to stop at one of my favorite coffee shops, The Water House, in Lake Mills.  I was so close to home but chose to get a cookie--okay five cookies, but I only ate one--and some coffee.  As I came into downtown Madison, I realized a bit too late it was not only Taste of Madison, but also the first Badger football game.  Since I was already stuck in the thick of things, I chose to keep winding myself through a sea of red until I reached home.  Aside from the very minor "hiccups", it was the perfect way to spend my birthday--my first double century but better yet, I got carrot cake from Hubbard Diner when I got home.

Me in my "birthday suit" as well as loads of sunscreen

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