Saturday, June 28, 2014

5 Counties, Two Days

Zac Barnes, WI Bike Fed staff, riding with me to Spring Green
What happens when you hit five driftless counties in a matter of two days?  Some damn fine riding, that's what!  Although my rides went through these counties again and again over four days on the bike, I was lucky enough to hit them all the first time in just two days.  Dane, Sauk, Iowa, Columbia and Juneau--all beautiful, all spared by the glaciers (at least the portions I rode through) and all so different in their own way.

Zac, Peter Mulvey and Nathan Kilen talking bikes
The "warm up" was the gift of riding to the Shitty Barn concert with my friend Zac.  We had planned to ride out to see Josh Harty and Peter Mulvey play for some time, and when the weather radar started showing pop up red storm cells, my heart sank and we had to make a Russian roulette decision.  Do we risk it, roll over high hills and pray we don't get hail and lightning, or do we take the easy way out and drive?  A thirty second confused conversation went like this, Zac: "Have you heard they are calling for hail...should we postpone it?", Me: "Well, we have to be out there by 5:30 so we won't have much time to sit under shelter if a storm comes.", Zac is confused on the other end and meant "postpone" as to drive, not sit out the storm, Me: "How do you feel about riding through the rain?", Zac:  "Fine, I've got rain gear."--less than five minutes after this we were on our way to meet up and ride to Spring Green.  The bike gods smiled down on us, and after a brief sprinkle--we never did see a storm--we were blessed with sun and a light tailwind the entire ride.  The beer stop--we were searching for strawberries...honest--at the General Store and the jaw dropping performance by both Josh and Peter (along with his drummer and guitarist), made the evening one to go down in the books.  In about a month, you can read more about this in Silent Sports magazine since I was able to interview Peter Mulvey for the article.

Going driftless

Day two meant waking on just over three hours of sleep, working 'til lunch and then pointing the bike in a Northerly direction, over the Baraboo hills, to Lyndon Station for a Wisconsin Bike Federation staff/board member retreat.  I think I made it to the Merrimac ferry with ease, although I can't really remember anything about it except stopping for mulberries every chance I could get.  Post ferry I remember.  Climbing, lots of climbing, as well as magnificent views, new bike territory for me, seeing the GRABAAWR crew roll by, riding through the Aldo Leopold nature preserve, having my face slapped when I went from farm roads into the Wisconsin Dells (think Gatlinburg or Las Vegas) and couldn't understand WHY anyone would want to spend time there, having someone ask me in the dells if I wore a helmet for aerodynamics,  riding further North into more new territory and bypassing my turnoff not once or twice but three times--sleep deprivation was not to blame--the road wasn't marked, and then seeing friends...better yet, with beer and food.

Bike Federation staff and board meeting

Retreat compound for the bike fed gathering in Northern Lyndon Station

Day two was capped off by wading in the river along the sandstone bluffs, more eating, drinking and socializing with a bunch of folks who feel the same way about bikes as I do.  I don't remember falling to sleep--although I remember going to bed before most--all I remember is how good it felt.

Aldo Leopold nature center

Lichen, sandstone and riverwater
Day three meant riding back to Madison, after our bike fed meetings, into a 15-20mph headwind for 65 miles.  What the hell was I thinking?  What I was thinking is sometimes a good bike flogging is fun--at least parts of it anyway.  Although my mind was on keeping one pedal moving over the other, and getting back at a reasonable time, I couldn't help but think about how much I love the smell of pine needles baking in the sun, the scent of minerals where rock and water collide, how big bumble bees can get when they are feasting on clover near the side of the road (I noticed this one while climbing big hills...slowly), how many shades of green there are and how lucky I am to be alive.  Tired legs and chaffing aside, it was a fine day!

Tomorrow will see another attempt at my favorite Devil's Lake loop with friends.  Bluff road, here I come...again, but this time, for the first time in ten days, on my plastic bike vs. my heavy steel touring bike.

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